Russell Stannard, winner of the British Council Innovations Award 2010 and owner of teachertrainingvideos.com returns with another useful web tool for language teachers and learners. This time it’s a website that enables you to create your own illustrated stories.
I dedicate half my life to looking for interesting websites for language learning. Just like London buses, the good websites all seem to come along at the same time. The last few months have been amazing but I think there is one site that really stands out.
The website in question is Storybird.com. In its simplest form it is a website that allows you to create short illustrated stories or books. There is nothing much new about that, but the actual tools and illustrations that the site provides are what make it stand out from anything similar I have seen.
Storybird provides whole collections of artwork around a theme or topic. The artwork is by amazing artists and the collections are linked. So all the pictures have the same ‘look and feel’ and can be easily fitted together to create a very professional looking story.
A student can visit the site, choose a certain artist or topic and then use the pictures to build up a story. The student can build up his/her story by dragging pictures they like into the centre of their screen and then writing the story in the space provided. The artwork is simply breath-taking and the tools allow the students to easily add pages, add and delete pictures and edit the text.
The resulting books can then be saved on the website for others to read or for the teacher to view. What’s more, the whole site is free! The stories can also be printed out and a cover is even provided.
Writing stories is not for all students. The key, in my opinion, is to give students help with the writing process. So, for example, if you are going to get the students to write a story around the theme of “parks”, you might start by thinking of a series of exercises you could do to get them to brainstorm and focus on ideas. It might include listing related vocabulary, putting students into pairs and giving them an image of a park to describe together. You might provide the students with a list of activities and ask them which ones they would do in a park. The idea is to get them thinking about the topic, building up their vocabulary and generating ideas.