Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest Blog: Sharon Rosner & Jessica Gallico—Using Storybird in 6th Grade

This week Sharon Rosner and Jessica Galico are guest bloggers.  It is a particular pleasure to welcome both to Between the By-Road and the Main Road. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Sharon five years ago when I was consulting at the middle school where she works.  Sharon is a veteran sixth grade language arts teacher, having taught for 15 years at Frelinghuysen Middle School (FMS) in Morristown, NJ.  Storybird, Sharon said showed her that students are able to create and extend their imaginations with the help of technology. “This is so easy,” joked Sharon. Sharon says that she continues to look for new innovative lessons to motivate her students to achieve greatness.  I only recently met Jessica. She is the new Educational Technology Specialist at FMS and is already contributing greatly to the Morris School District through direct services to teachers and students.  Jessica embodies the spirit of collaboration. She assisted Sharon in the work outlined in this blog post. 
I had the pleasure of reviewing several stories students composed earlier this week when Sharon invited me to class.  What impressed me the most, in addition to the fine work students composed, was the joy evident in making written art.  As students were still engaged in the composing process, I took a moment to look at the class.  Huddled around MacBook laptops, pairs of students were engaged in the work at hand, spread out at multiple tables in the school's media center.  There was that most appropriate hum in the room, interrupted from time to time with laughter--the type of noises that lets you know students are deeply involved and empowered by the work they are doing.
Two of the stories (authored by Shelby and Kathleen, and Lennart and Nick) are featured in this blog. 
You can contact Sharon @

Sharon Writes:
Sharon Rosner
Storybird is a collaborative approach to writing stories. My students were excited and motivated to write using this website. The students chose their theme and the artist and then began the writing process.  Having pictures to inspire them increased their imagination. I used Storybird as a follow up for reading/writing workshop. The students felt confident after learning through mini lessons ways to use dialogue, ways to structure paragraphs, and ways to represent a character's internal and external thoughts. As the students explored the different artists, they learned to think about how they as writers might communicate meaning to their readers--people they more than likely will not meet as their work is now accessible to the public through the website. As the students worked cooperatively they listened to one another.  They shared the tasks and considered each other's perspective. They shared goals and accomplishments. I was and am very impressed with Storybird and enjoyed observing my students as they smiled, laughed and worked together as a team!

The Sandwich Prince  and A Hip Vacation are two examples of sixth grade students' first attempts at collaborative storytelling using Storybird.

Below are the opening three pages to A Hip Vacation.

Page 1 of Shelby and Kathleen's story.

Page 2 of Shelby and Kathleen's story.

How to integrate Storybird into the Classroom: Jessica writes:
Jessica L. Gallico

Storybird is an excellent way to get your students enthusiastically writing. The imaginative artwork will have your students creating stories in no time. Storybird stories are meant to be collaborative between multiple authors, as well as authors and artists. Students can work together in teams to create stories. This type of learning through play reminds me of the “let's pretend” stories that students create on the playground. Students feed off of each other’s ideas, creating finer stories while having the opportunity to learn from one another. Storybird is also a fantastic place to create a classroom story; each student can contribute pages to the story. The final product can be easily shared with families and friends in the online library. Storybird can be used by teachers to make ‘special’ stories for their students. They can include students as characters, emphasize classroom themes or curriculum, and be created for specific reading levels. Encourage your students to create and share their stories on Storybird.

I was so excited when Sharon Rosner came to me with her ideas and lesson for using Storybird with her class. The students created original literature pieces and became authors. It was so rewarding to see how excited the students become about learning and writing. Even struggling writers became inspired and were excited to participate. I was even more thrilled when I saw Sharon overwhelmed with joy when rereading student pieces. By incorporating Storybird into her lesson, Sharon created a more rigorous standard for her students—one her students met. Sharon and her students are a pure example of how technology and 21st century learning can change education from good to great!

Wonderful job Sharon and the 6th grade students! I am eager to see what the future holds as I know this is just the beginning of your technology education journey. Kudos to all.

Tips: StoryBird is currently in an open Beta version. Right now all features on StoryBird are free. Storybird plans to keep story creation, reading, and sharing as free features.

Screen Shots from The Sandwich Prince.


Page 1  by Lennart and Nick.

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