Story Bird is a website where you can create your own story. Totally free! It leaves place to imagination and creation for both students and teachers. It is a very user friendly website, simple and filled with varied options of images. Anyone can use this website without having to search on Google how it works. The images and pictures are divided in simple categories that are easy to understand for both younger and older ones. There are three types of stories that can be created: picture book, long form and poem.
You can create an account in not even two minutes. Once you are signed in on Story bird you must simply start by clicking on ‘Write’ then you can choose the theme of the story you are about to do. Once you have chosen the theme that you want, you select the type of story (picture, long form or poem). The first, picture book has several pages where you can put images and text. The image can either take the whole page, three quarters of the page or half. While the text takes the empty space left, if there are some. The second, long form is one single page, with once again different images that are centered with text underneath. To create a separate chapter you can simply insert a divider, identified with three diamonds. The third, poem is a single page where you can write your text and add one image.
This story website is useful in an ESL classroom because it gives the opportunity for teachers to write stories adapted to their students level of learning, but also give the possibility for students to practice their English. A teacher can ask students for example (maybe more elementary) to create a book with family members, such as Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Cousin, etc. Students can have the possibility to be creative and have fun, while doing an English project (wow, isn’t that amazing, students enjoying English!). Having the students practice some basic but important words. If need be, when students are having a hard time for any types of words, such as verb tense, the teacher can create a story to have them practice exactly what they need. Teachers can use these stories to explain and demonstrate: grammar, syntax and spelling in an interesting way. Such as Chad Sansing says, bringing a purpose for writing is essential for any classroom use, here for an ESL class. An ESL teacher can easily present this to the whole class if they have a Smartboard© or a simple projector. If a teacher knows that it will be useful for future groups that he/she will have, it is possible to get a printed version of the book. Since second language courses are not what interests all students, having an interactive and original presentation will keep them interested. Since teachers can add students to their group, they can help edit the English in the story, and then have the students read it over. It is their own work; they will be interested in reading it over and seeing how improved it is. In an ESL classroom it is good to go over what students have learn, teachers can see what they have learned or even have them do simple book reports on it. Storybird can give the possibility to students to practice their English in a fun way, without actually realizing that their English is being evaluated and practiced. If you want to make your students read your story you can either show it in class on the website or make it public where they can go see the story themselves as homework. Having the students write stories and show them to their parents after can make students even prouder and create a good story. It can easily bridge house life and school life together, as agrees Mr.Avery a 6th grade teacher in Massachusetts.
Some disadvantages are that on the side of creativity is that the images are character theme based, so the images are mostly all the same. This makes Storybird somewhat limited since you can’t download your own images. Another disadvantage according to me is that you cannot save the document in a PDF format, it can only be online or you have the possibility. An interesting part is that you can order a printed copy.
I myself as a future ESL teacher would use this to teach English in Elementary because it brings about children imagination and creativity while having the chance to develop and improve their English skills. I think that it is important to find interesting ways to teach a second language to students to motivate them.