16 September 2012

Behind the Grass - Digital Stories, Writing and Spelling

I spy with my little eye......

Windows with stories unwritten, lives waiting to be unravelled, untethered, unbound. 

I spy with my little eye.....

A child giggling with a kitten. 

Is it her kitten? A stray kitten? Does it have a name?

I walk the streets, with stories jumping out at me, stories waiting, longing to be told. 

And so again I turn to story-telling and writing. 

And writing and spelling - because the two come hand in hand. 

The Easy Storyboard Creator is exactly that - a simple storyboard for creating stories. You choose how many "cells" (or scenes) you want to create, choose the character, all other details and then save. Later, you can upload it to your blog or print your story to post on the class wall. 

It's not entirely free; you can create 3 stories a day for free but should you want added features, then you have the option of paying monthly or quarterly. At the moment Easy Storyboard Creator has a late summer/early autumn promotion, so it may be worth considering as prices are not that high. 

Writing implies grammar and spelling - two characteristics which are quite challenging in the English language. In my blog entry on plagiarism,  I offered several suggestions which may help learners not to plagiarize. Paper Rater is another tool against plagiarism as well as an online aid with grammar and vocabulary.  It also offers writing suggestions - something that most learners will certainly appreciate. 

There may be those who argue that if students use writing suggestions, they are not learning. Personally I don't see the difference between teachers giving out handouts with linking words or other writing items and students looking up suggestions to improve their writing on their own. Quite the contrary. 

There comes a time when learners need to learn how to become autonomous - autonomous in learning how to read a screen, how to search for information and how to use online tools in their advantage. They may not always achieve perfection in their writing, but are certainly using skills which enable them to learn and become autonomous as learners. 

But writing implies spelling....and how well English language  teachers know the challenges of English spelling!

Spelling City not only has recently released a free app, but also has a whole page dedicated to writing practice. Paragraph Writing Practice presents different writing topics and exercises; always a helpful resource for busy teachers to turn to. 

Although I usually have my students keep their own blog, I tend to keep an eye on publishing alternatives, as different platforms will serve different needs and purposes. Mightybell is a space where one can create on their own  or collaborate with others; it may be used, for example, when small groups are researching a specific topic or working on a project. 




Creating digital stories, whether with cartoons, comics, videos or a mash-up of visuals, sound and text, is an integral part of digital literacies. Motivating and original, learners take pride in sharing their work with classmates and their families. Often there is a trickle down effect as they will teach younger siblings who are not yet learning with digital tools. Classroom walls open, and learning is unleashed into the real world beyond school gates. 

What's your story today? 

Further references:

Digital Storytelling: A Tutorial in 10 Easy Steps

Digital Storytelling - A Tool for Teaching and Learning in the YouTube Generation

JakesOnline! - Digital Storytelling

What is a [Digital] Story?




Essay Writing Workstation

Comic Strip CS

Story Buddy 2 



Digital Storytelling with the iPad

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