Author Biography: Klein has worked with teachers across the state of Michigan to help develop creative ways

for technology integration into the classroom. Though Klein firmly believes in preparing students for a global society, she continuously reinforces that technology is simply a tool to support and enhance instruction – the teacher and the students drive the learning. Those who have worked with Klein state that the most surprising aspect they walk away with is seeing how truly motivated the students become. Not only are her resources beneficial, but her enthusiastic approach is contagious as she works with fellow educators and students. Klein is the technology co-chairperson for the Michigan Reading Association, a national A Plus Workshop Presenter, SMART Technologies Exemplary Educator, Really Good Stuff Monthly Blogger, Edutopia Guest Blogger, National Writing Project member, Teaching Blog Addict Business Manager, guest contributor to Edudemic, EdCamp Detroit Organizer, and award winning EduTech Blogger at Activity Summary
The writer’s workshop is one of the most powerful tools for teaching students to write well and promote thoughtful peer review with significant teacher-student interaction. This paper explores collaboration and publication with appropriate digital tools. Class or subject area: Language Arts Grade level(s): K-8 Specific learning objectives: • The student will explore new forms of creative writing. • The student will cultivate the art of revision as part of the writing process. • The student will incorporate Internet technology as part of the learning process. • The student will acquire the knowledge of how and where to publish her/his creative writing.

Anniversary Book Project


Digital Writer’s Workshop:
Troubleshooting through Collaboration & Reflection

By: Erin Klein Creative Commons License: CC BY-ND Author contact:

One of my favorite platforms for publishing student’s stories is Storybird. Recently, a colleague was telling me how her class just published their stories in writer’s workshop. Together, we decided to share their written compositions digitally, through Storybird. What is Storybird? Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print. Read them like books, play them like games, and send them like greeting cards. They’re curiously fun. Reasons I love Storybird: • The ease of the program - six year olds can do it! • Beautiful illustrations available to select from • Opportunities to share work: email, embed, etc... • Safety features - you can even get a teacher account for each class • Not only can kids publish work, they can also get feedback on their work from others through comments (way to naturally teach dialogue and digital etiquette) • Students can create a summary of their work to publish • Include ‘tags’ for their work (great way to incorporate a mini-lesson on main idea or adjectives) • Parents can purchase a hard or soft printable version of their child’s story • Kids truly become published authors! I recently introduced a new favorite find, Mee Genius, a free site for reading and viewing digital picture books. I mentioned how this site could be a platform to use prior to introducing Storybird to students (in effort to get children to publish their stories online). I’ve received a few emails with questions about how I use Storybird in my class. One email in particular inspired me to share my response. A new friend, Marty, had a question for her second grade classroom. First, I’d like to mention how thrilled I was to see that such technology was being introduced to second graders - how beneficial to give them the opportunity to become published authors. This was Marty’s main concern... “I have had my students begin using this wonderful resource (Storybird) this year. They initially were very excited to read stories and put their pictures into their personal books. But, now that they are writing the stories to go along with the pictures they are getting bogged down. Not all of them, of course, but even some of my best writers are having trouble.” The following is my reply to Marty and her second graders... “I can understand how from our perspective this could be quite the engaging task; however, once you introduce it to a class, the sparkle only seems to remain for a short period. Once they realize they have to ‘work,’ the motivation seems to fizzle. This occurred with my middle school students as well. I found what worked best for our kids was to: - psych the kids up about being published authors - explain that their work will be read by people all over the world - how exciting! - have the writings be completed before they go to the web... I’ve found that often kids can’t find the right words to go with the pre-made illustration -- they become frustrated trying to make their stories ‘fit.’ However, if they already have a draft of a story, it becomes easier to chunk their sentences to import into different pages to represent the given art work.

- The key for me was to do a whole class Storybird as a model first. We did this by reading a short story from our textbooks, and then retold the same story, in our own words, through Storybird. I found it easier to start creating Storybirds by first having the writing done before logging in - and not creating original, creative pieces but rather simple retelling stories. - At first, most of the kids were so literal about retelling the events. For example, we did a retelling of The Titanic. Kids were so frustrated because they couldn’t find illustrations in Storybird that included a big ship or water or ice burgs. Then, luckily, our Leah had an amazing moment. She understood how to interpret the story into a creative manner. She had her writing completed first, and then began to search for inspiring art from Storybird to represent her story. Her high school cousin helped her at home to work on her project (what a natural Tier 2 home intervention). I was so excited that she, on her own, sought out additional support to complete her project. Leah has given me permission to tell her story. Leah named her protagonist “Spoon.” I thought this was so creative and adorable. When asked about how she came up with this name, she explained that she and her cousin were discussing ideas for the story over dinner -- hence, she was eating with a spoon. She thought I would think it was lame and silly. Quite the contrary... when she first told me this, it was through a whole class discussion - each child turned to me wondering how I’d handle this idea of just giving a random name to a character. We took advantage of this teachable moment to explain how creativity stems from our own lives and how our audience begins to relate to us as authors as we begin to humanize ourselves and make connections to our readers. Then, I began to see others take the permission (that I thought was assumed) to think outside of the box. Leah offered her peers something that I could not... an authentic example of how to tap into an internal, creative spark that each of them possessed yet didn’t realize where to find. You see, as much as I told them that they were all creative, they didn’t see it. They thought they had to be these experts, artists. Now, they started to see life as a creative opportunity - common objects began to personify themselves... I was able to tie in figurative language mini-lessons into natural conversations within the classroom. Students began to swap ideas for metaphors -- collaborative learning took off in a way that I could have never asked for... they took over the class. I was in teacher heaven. I wasn’t leading the discussion but rather bopping back and forth between groups to either offer advice or listen to an idea a group couldn’t wait to share with me. Kids were even buzzing at lunch about their stories and encouraging others (families, teachers, and friends) to view their work. We began to work in our celebration stories as a part of our daily class discussions. This encouraged others to jump on a computer and fix up their stories. - Another idea we did that worked was to offer choice. After students had a start on their writing drafts, they were given a choice to publish their digital writing stories. Not everyone chose to do a Storybird. Actually, I found that mostly girls gravitated to Storybird. The boys in our classes (2 sections of 7th grade language arts) chose to create a Capzles or a Glogster. The males were into uploading video into their digital posters via Glogster. They needed multi-media. - I will share with you the document I used to introduce the digital writing project (click here and download the Word file - next to the Voki). The choice option gave everyone a creative inspiration. Without the children realizing it, I personally created a Capzles (see here), a Glogster (see here), and a Weebly website (see here) so that they could be introduced before I even threw the assignment their way. Then, they were comfortable with the web 2.0 sites before I even asked them to use them for a project. Naturally, when the kids saw my personal Capzles, they wanted to know how I did it so they

could do it at home. I always offered the site so they could take advantage of it on their own, for fun. This way, they get to see the sites as fun, not work. I’ve done this with Animoto, too. I find that the kids come to school and want to show off their personal creations they’ve done just simply from me showing off my own stories. This does two things: builds a community within our room (we all get to know each other better) and the ones that take advantage of creating a project first, for fun, become my ‘experts’ to help others when the actual assignment is eventually assigned. - I also encourage the kids to seek out fun web 2.0 sites to enhance instruction. They come up with the greatest stuff. I always work it into our assignments. The children take ownership of their learning as they are the creators of their learning. I give them the resources and they work together, synthesize their findings, and continue to make their work better and more unique. Blooms at its best! I was very inspired by your questions. I like that it helped me to reflect on my own teaching practices. I’ve even thought of a few new ideas to try. I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any additional questions, please pass them along. I have always been thankful for those who have helped me, so I always try to ‘pay it forward’ when possible. After writing this, I thought others may have similar questions. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to publish pieces of this email so that others who may have the same issues can get insight on how it’s worked for us. Please continue to keep me posted on the progress of your class. I love sharing ideas with other teachers.” I would love to have other teachers leave a comment to share ideas of what they think about Storybird, how they’ve used it or are using it, and reflections on my response to Marty. I look forward to hearing your feedback. I get so excited when teachers come together to network and swap stories and share ideas. Is a Storybird just digital? You can certainly share your work online. With Storybird, keep your work secure and private on the Storybird website. Or, you can share it publicly on the Storybird site. You can also embed the Storybird onto a class site or blog, and you can share the link on Facebook or Twitter. Simply put - you can make your work as public or private as you’d like. Teachers - you can set up student accounts, too. Additionally, after a student has finished creating their work, they can integrate their reading strategies by adding an ‘about the author’ page, story summary, tags (key words for their story - main idea), and more! Students can even use the Storybird website as a safe place to comment on each other’s work. I really like that I can purchase my daughter’s Storybird creations. As a parent, I can get the link from her teacher and choose to purchase a hardcopy of her book. The best part, if you choose to purchase a hardcopy, your child’s classroom gets $5 for the purchase. The hardcover books are so beautiful and special.

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