How I Use It
Our school focus was on writing, so we used Storybird with 3rd grade students to publish their own writing by pairing it with the illustrations they found on Storybird. By using the professional illustrations on Storybird, students felt inspired, and it gave a special polish to the stories they created. There is also the option of buying hard copies of the students' books and/or poems. The librarian, the tech teacher, and the classroom teachers chose the best stories to have published and bought them to put into the school library for checkout. The top 3 stories were sold at the school Book Fair! The copies we bought were very professional looking. It was very exciting! Seeing their stories in print in a very professional looking book was very motivating for students! They couldn't wait to keep writing!
Students can also write poems with Storybird. The students wrote poems for Mother's Day by pairing their poem with one of the beautiful illustrations they chose. They can share their stories or poems digitally for free, or they can buy a hard copy. You can also host a fundraiser through Storybird, and 30% of the sales are given back to the classroom.
Storybird is a great way to motivate students to write for an authentic purpose and audience. The polished look of the stories they create make them feel like "real" authors. The students can also comment on each others stories within the class and send emoticons to each other as a review of their story. This feature is also a great, safe way to teach students how to be digital citizens and comment on their classmates' work.
There are some drawbacks to using this program too. Students only have the option of using the illustrations on the site; they cannot upload their own. Also, once they choose an artist, they can only choose illustrations from that author. That can limit the direction of their story if students cannot find a picture that tells the story they are writing. And if students have a story in mind, sometimes they cannot find a picture that matches. Another drawback is that if students decide to buy a hard copy of their book, it can be pretty expensive. The number of pages determines the price of the book. We had one student whose book was $40!
Even though there are some limitations to this site, it is well worth using. I introduce the drawbacks to the students as an opportunity to decide what program will best fit their needs for the story they are working on. Sometimes Storybird is a great fit, and sometimes it isn't. This helps students begin to evaluate tools on their own.
The bottom line is, this program is definitely worth using in an elementary classroom!