Write stories with Storybird

I have picked and education oriented video about Storybird because this blog has always had a strong education focus. Storybird, though, can be for anyone who wants to read or write stories and provides a lot of support to help you achieve your aim to be a writer. There are so many aspiring writers out there. So many who have an idea for a book or piece of writing. There is also room for artists on Storybird too because people want their books illustrated and don’t necessarily have the skills. It then becomes a collaborative site and a site where you can encourage yourself  and others to write if that is what you want to do. It provides incentives for you if you want to participate in that kind of approach and ,yes, there is a paid section where you can actually publish your writing and get a print or digital copy. The prices are more than reasonable. It is a site which will guide you through the process of getting your writing into reality. How many never get to that stage? Change is action. If you want to be a writer , you need to write. If you want use your imagination and write creatively then the site will probably help you. There are quite a few other YouTube videos about the site. Children have to be 13 to join but can join at a younger age with parental permission. Commonsense media has a review of the site. There is also a teacher review here. It is a platform for all readers, writers and artists, not just a site for young children.

Cube creator

 

Cube CreatorImage: Readwritethink

If want to get good value from technology as you teach literacy you’ll enjoy using the Cube Creator in class. Take your time to understand how this works and look at each of the sections so you see the advantages of each to help students develop their literacy and literary skills. Cube learning works because it is a shape students are familiar with and it lends itself well to 3D learning which appeals to current students. If you use the Story Cube download the Story Map provided because it supplies the prethinking for the cube sides and shows you how to set up work in a cube thinking way. You can also scroll down and find the graphic organisers for prethinking and ideas development. Cube learning isn’t just for language arts. You can see how Chemistry does well on cubes with Elements 4D.

The benefits of learning languages

There is a constant stream of information now about the cognitive benefits of learning languages. Learning a language develops your hippocampus, enables you to retain and recall information and helps you sort information better. SBS television has just put out another article about the benefits of bilingualism and again there is indisputable evidence that it benefits your brain and your thinking amongst other things. I can relate to what they are saying in the video about people speaking more than one language . When you are immersed in a language you can block other languages. If you are in a situation which is prompting other languages you know, then it’s true, you will think of the German word instead of the French one. I have taught a number of German international students French. My instinct is to talk to them in German. They are here to improve their English and are in my French class. Like me they have a ready facility to go from their native language to another but to make them go from English to French or French to English is initially very hard. They will then revert to German. I find it hard to go from German to French. One language has to be dominant but I have been in places where people readily go from one language to another in 10 minutes. In Sydney airport I heard a businessman go from Dutch to German to French to English in one call on his phone. That kind of linguistic capacity is learned and becomes a habit. The internet and technology devices have improved considerably in helping people to learn languages. YouTube has some good channels and then there a number of apps for learning languages in a sequential way. My own favourite is Duolingo because it works across all devices and delivers very good practice. Depending on the language you want to learn you can learn it in bite size pieces very easily on a phone or tablet.

Free Public Domain Audio Books

sherlock holmesBooks Should Be Free has a huge selection of audio books in European and Asian languages. They are downloaded as mp3 or mp4 files so you can save them onto any device to listen to them. It’s nice to read a book but there are times where listening to a book is what you want. It means you can use them in class and play a part of the story to fill in those few spare minutes in a helpful way. Listening to books is often a way to help readers improve their reading skills as well. As these books are in the public domain then print copies will be available to download as well. Project Gutenberg would be a good place to start. One thing I’ll do with my choices is save them onto a USB and use them as an option to fill driving time along with the podcasts I regularly listen to.

Versatile NoteLedge

NoteLedgeI have used the free, older version of the NoteLedge app on my iPad and there is a MacBook version as well which is pretty handy. NoteLedge is easy to use, offers some good note making options and is something which suits a classroom well. If you look at the images you can see my original handwritten ideas are much neater than the stylus writing. To be honest, I am better on a graphics tablet and with something like Tux Paint. Is it me? It is the app? I look at it this way. If I use it the developers will see how bad I am with a stylus on an iPad and make the app more responsive. It prints quite well but , you know, I am an adult, I want to use cursive. If I wanted to print , I would type. That said, you can look at the screenshots on the app site and it may just be I need to practise more. Electronic things can develop as you do and they become familar with your way of doing things as you use them. My next thought is a perennial one. Should I pursue handwriting on the iPad or just keep it to my graphics tablet? Do I pursue something which looks pretty sloppy or do I use the tool which makes me look effective? My answer is a bit of both. Keep practising but use my graphics tablet when I really need to have a credible image. I have tried different styluses and so far…no. Not that good. Last week I was able to get NoteLedge Ultimate for free on App of the Day. I really like it. My handwriting is a bit better but there is so much more with this one. It is 9.99 paid so you would really want to know that this is something you would use regularly and would be of good help. I started to work more effectively with this version because it runs really smoothly. One good thing about NoteLedge is you can export it to different file formats. The free version is very effective, though, and you can sync across devices.

If I am using something like this in class for the first time, we do the 5×20. 5 things in 20 minutes. It could be 5 things I like, 5 things about winter, 5 things I want to do, 5 things I did at the weekend. Sometimes I get the students to load their efforts onto the LMS so I can have a good look at what hey have done. Other times we just do show and tell and oral feedback. Students love using new things, they love exploring and they love reviewing. I always tell them that we won’t know if this is any good for learning or not unless they try it out and tell me what they think. I usually use Edmettle to get the feedback. Meanwhile, I shall keep practising.

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