Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Friday, April 26, 2013

Soaring with Storybird

My "I need to play with this" list is comically long and expanding everyday (as I'm sure all of yours are as well). However, recently, a resident teacher inspired me to revisit a particular entry on this list - Storybird.com. And boy oh boy--- am I glad she did.

This iPad-friendly website describes itself as "Artful Storytelling: Create, read and share visual stories." And... that's exactly what it is.

Students begin with original, professional drawings. These brightly colored illustrations draw you in from the moment you enter the webpage. The kids then can choose to create a storybook or a poem. From there, the platform puts them into a book creator with more colorful images of the same genre literally strewn around the edges of the book canvas. Kids can drag and drop new illustrations, create new pages and rearrange their story. All the while, they are entering the words that are inspired by the visuals they see.

Teachers can help manage this for their students by creating a class and adding their students (no email addresses required). They can assign stories or poem prompts to their kids or just let them create with free reign. All of the class' stories are viewable on teacher dashboard. This is all free - however there is a paid option that allows for more dynamic editing and visual options.

Something that really struck me is how many educators have chosen to use this. While there is the obvious "let the kids create amazing innovative creative stories / poems / etc inspired by great illustrations" - foreign language teachers have taken this to the next level. By having their kids do it in German. And French. And Italian. In fact, they've banded together to create a Wiki to collaborate and share these publications with the world. Awesome stuff.

And to add amazing to inspiration, families, colleagues and fans of the students' work can buy print versions of these stories for a small price. In fact, you can even turn this into a class fundraiser. Teachers can earn $5 for every order a family member places!

I've already begun to explore this tool with the students I work with in my Student Innovation Team, and have presented to a few teachers who are trying it out in their own classrooms. Please share how you are using it in yours below!


  1. Side note: In the "Must Reads!" tab, the link to "teaching with the cloud" link doesn't work. I assume you meant "teach the cloud".

  2. Gone are the days when the teacher had all the knowledge and would give this knowledge/information to the students. Now...kids have access to the same information that we do. Times have changed and so should we.

  3. Great article and timing. I'm writing a essay about the future of education and transmedia as integral part. We need to return to the roots. Our ancestor teach their people using fascinating stories. We are the storytellers of the future. We have the technology and the story DNA within us. We are living in interesting times. Now is our time. Lets work together for a better world. Very positive mode :)

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    I have read several of your blogs and know that you use Toontastic in your classroom. I am wondering if your prefer this program over Toontastic or if you feel they have different uses in your classroom. I currently teach first grade and have taught my students how to use Toontastic. They love creating their own original stories and then sharing them with each other. The app is simple and very user friendly for first grade students. This webpage sounds very similar.

    On another note I enjoyed reading your post on differentiation using Everyday Math. I also teach Everyday Math and have been differentiating my math for individual students.

    Thanks for all the great posts!

    1. I love them both! They have their own pros and cons. Definitely try them both out. Toontastic has more wiggle room and options for visuals, and can animate. Storybird is more for a book and can't have audio / movement. Toontastic can also put a kids' picture right into a character. So different tools for different needs!

  5. I used storybird to have students do a literary analysis of Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie. They turned out great and engaged students who had never produced anything before. You can see an example of one where the student recorded the story he created as a video book at http://www.screencast.com/t/ySQIC29EXr, and a blog entry about the project is at http://cybenglish.blogspot.com/2011_12_10_archive.html. I wish i could get back to using this site again.