Exploring Social Justice with Storybird

This is the second in a series of two posts where in a brief assignment, my students explored Social Justice integrated with technology and I share their results with a wider audience.  (Take a look at the first post on Thinglink accessible here.)  This post highlights Storybird, an online visual storytelling site. It had been a few years since I played with Storybird, and I was happy to see the teacher account now includes ways of managing classes and assigning projects.  Check it out!

Here are a few of my students’ creations and thoughts about Storybird:

“I really enjoyed using Storybird, even if it did take me a bit longer to finish than I would have liked. The artwork available for use is simply amazing, and if you use the right search words you can find exactly what you need. I loved being able to customize my own story, and this could be a great tool for a specific problem or occurrence in your classroom. My story was pretty simplistic, hoping to be for a younger audience; however, it is about celebrating our differences. It's pretty superficial but with more time and using more resources it could be great! Enjoy :)”  (EN)

“I really wanted to create a story about how humans affect animals’ environment for young elementary students. I wanted to show students that people do affect others by their actions by showing how we affect pandas, foxes, rabbits, and polar bears. There is a little bit of a science part to the story because people do affect the environment with global warming.”  (KL)

“I liked using Storybird http://storybird.com/teachers/ to create my book because you can choose an image style and they give you a wide selection of images in that same style to use as your book illustrations. Sometimes, however, the images did not really fit what your image of the right image for the page should have been, so you have to be flexible. I was surprised how easy it was, but coming up with the content to put in the book was a little more difficult. I found my book turned out pretty superficial and with a lot more time, I would have liked to come up with a more intricate story that delved a little deeper into social justice issues, tackling some of the Bomer & Bomer article points. However, I think this would be a great way for ELLs to simplify what they have learned into a short story, concreting their knowledge and using language to describe what they learned. If they did a screen-cast or presented it in class, that would also give them speaking practice too.” KG 

Thanks to my students for their work and willingness to share!


Exploring Social Justice with Thinglink

This term, I assigned a short mini assignment for my students to play with some technologies that can be easily used in Digital Storytelling, working with English Language Learners, and in exploring topics of Social Justice.  We have also been talking about the power of visuals and video.  They had several choices, but most of them chose Thinglink, Storybird, or Tagxedo.  This is the first in two posts that will highlight these sites, showcase student creations, and look at potential uses.  (Access post two about Storybird here.)

Here is a past post I wrote about Thinglink that discusses what it is.  Be sure to move your mouse over the picture and click on the dots to discover the links.  Explore some of my students' creations and read their reflections.

“Once we saw the example in class, I had a ton of ideas in my head of what I wanted to do. I chose to do child poverty because it is an issue that cannot be brought up enough. I focused a lot on the United States because most people don't realize how bad this issue really is.  Children deserve better than what we are doing, and it needs to be brought to the attention of others. I chose to do five different links on the picture of a child who is clearly struggling. One link that I chose to use was the NCCP website, which has state information, data tools, and news about child poverty. The second I used was a link to a Youtube video that gives some basic information and then had a very sad piece of children talking about what it is like to be hungry. The third link is the No Kid Hungry site. It discusses the problem, solution, and how to take action. The forth is a made of 35 countries and shows the poverty rate in each country. The fifth is a link to the Voices site which has articles and facts about child poverty. This was a really fun assignment and I thought it was a great way to learn about some new technologies! Some of these sites could be used to talk to older grades about this issue and what we can do to help make a change. This site could be very fun for students to make their own with many different topics. I plan on using this again in the future!” KW

Positive Body Image
“I decided to create a story about positive body image because I really enjoy talking about body image and find it very interesting to learn about. I think that it is important for students to know what positive body image is and that every individual is beautiful no matter who they are. Talking about this topic can be applied to any grade level and can open up the door to talking about how the media's representation of beauty is distorted because of the use of Photoshop. Teachers can also talk about how society creates this notion of beauty that is unrealistic as well as talking about stereotypes that are associated with body image. The goal is to give students the resources to have a positive body image of themselves and teach them not to base judgment on how another person looks.“ LW 
“Using this tool would be easy for any subject. I think that students would find this useful for research projects. I think that I may use this as a resource in student teaching, as well as my remaining college courses!!” MF

Lyndon Johnson
“I used Thinglink because it is a very interesting concept and has so much potential for all grades. I love history, especially the Kennedys, and so I decided to use a picture taken after JFK was assassinated and LBJ was being sworn in. I can see how this would be interesting for students because they can easily find out additional information just by following the links on the picture.”   KC

Thanks to my students for their creativeness and willingness to share!


Scavenger Hunt: Social Justice

Freedom by robynejay, on FlickrWhen Tech  I recently sent my pre-service teachers in my Approaches for P-12 ELLs on a scavenger hunt.  They then shared their results in small group blogs.  I told them I would aggregate some of their responses and share.  (This is another way I see my role as an instructor shifting as I use Social Media.) Here are their social justice lesson plans, sites, and video results.  I am not endorsing these sites (although some of them are my favorites), but posting them in one place for my students to further analyze.   Access the list here.

Met Ed  I encourage my students to take a critical look at the sites in a way that goes beyond the directions of this small assignment.  What are some questions a teacher at your grade level should ask when looking for educational sites related to social justice?  How could the sites be used in a way that fosters learning?  For the teacher as a springboard? For the students?  What questions should be asked as one evaluates sites related to social justice for educational uses? If you taught one of the lessons from one of these sites, how could you integrate it into a content area?  What language would need to be addressed to help your language learners be successful?

Happy evaluating!
A special thanks to my students for their willingness to share.

(Photo by  robynejay) 


Play, Create, Share, Reflect Online Presentation

Play, Create, Share, Reflect is the title of a presentation at the Oregon State University Faculty Forum 2013 I recently gave.  It is the motto that provides a framework for both my students and myself as we explore technologies for educational purposes.  It contains student and instructor made examples in action.

Here are a few versions of it.  The embedded one is 20 minutes I created on my computer with Camtasia as I gave it a practice run.  Here is the actual presentation (40 min) recorded by Ecampus.  Here is the Prezi if you would like to access any of the links in the video.

Enjoy other Ecampus presentations here.  I didn't have the opportunity to attend many presentations, so enjoyed watching a few, such as Stevon Roberts' presentation called Practical Video Tips for the Novice.  You are likely to get some good ideas if you watch this presentation, Step in Front of the Camera.  Here's one from two of my colleagues in the College of Ed, Maggie Niess and Henry Gillow-Wiles, entitled Building Educational Bonds Among Learners in Blackboard.

And, there's always more for those with an interest.  Here's a link to my presentation last year, Connect Using Screencasting and Web 2.0 Tools.

Happy watching!