Archive of ‘Digital Storytelling’ category

Making ePub Books

Thanks to a how-to tip on creating ePub books by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, I figured out how to make an ebook of student work. 2ePub is a free ePub converter that is easy to use. Our first graders had drawn their “Wacky” self-portraits in MS Paint so I inserted those pictures into MS Word, saved it as a PDF, then uploaded it to 2ePub. Extremely easy!! Following Silvia’s instructions, I pulled the book into my iTunes account and added artwork for the cover. To put it on our school iPads I had to email the file to myself then opened it in iBooks.

I didn’t have as much success with the 3rd grade poems! The 1st grade books are just pictures; no text. The 3rd grade students included clip art with their poetry. I tried all kinds of formatting; uploading several different documents. Unfortunately I wasn’t pleased with any of the ePub formats. Page breaks weren’t where I wanted them to be. Occasionally, words were split. I ended up saving the poetry as a PDF and opening them in iBooks that way. You don’t get the “book” feel that you have with an ePub book but it works.

When I showed the students that their work was on the iPad, they were ecstatic! 

1st graders

I’ll email parents with the ePub and PDF files so that they’ll have access to them. It seems that many of the students have either an iPad or an iTouch so they could easily add these to iBooks.

From what I’ve read, it seems that the ePub conversion would be much easier if I had a Mac but, alas, that isn’t in the budget now so I’ll just work with what I’ve got.

Cantrell seuss (open in iBooks or open with Adobe Digital Editions)

2nd Grade Success!

We have ALL of the 2nd graders recorded in VoiceThread. After a rough start a couple of weeks ago, the iPad app worked just as planned when the students created their own VoiceThread. It’s so much fun to watch the students as they quickly grasp the technology (and help their teachers learn how to do it!). We had student photographers taking pictures of the process (they loved that job!) and hopefully this weekend, I’ll create an animoto to share.

Here are a few examples.








Book Reviews with 4th Grade

Our 4th graders have been reading the Texas Bluebonnet books over the past few months and they voted on their favorite this week in the library. I’ve been wanting to get the students into VoiceThread and thought creating book reviews might be an easy introduction to the application. So, in the computer lab, we illustrated our favorite choices using MS Paint. The students then wrote their book review using either MS Word or pencil and paper so that they would have a script to read while recording (Much easier than trying to “wing” it!).

Next step was to create a VoiceThread. This is the first time we’ve used this application this year and the students were quick to catch on with uploading and adding titles. Unfortunately, the recording didn’t cooperate. The students learned how to plug in the mics but when they spoke, their voices weren’t picked up. Not sure what the problem was but when you’re in the middle of class, you have to quickly come up with a backup plan!

Fortunately, I happened to have some iPads in the lab. I gathered my tech support helpers for the day, showed them what to do, and had them record their VoiceThread. They were really excited to be “in charge” of helping their classmates sign into the VoiceThread app and guide them through the recording process. Below is one of the book reviews:


On the first day we were only able to get about a third of the class recorded but by today, we had several experts to help speed along the process. I was so proud of how well the students worked together! We had a couple of photographers (see the animoto below), several tech support personnel (every once in awhile, I’d hear someone call, “Tech support! I need some tech support!”), and a scribe (who checked off who had finished recording and sharing their VoiceThread). 


The idea of a VoiceThread is to create conversations. I’d wanted the students to make comments on their classmates’ book reviews but we just ran out of time. Next week I work with another 4th grade class and hopefully we’ll get more accomplished. I hope to meet with my tech support group during recess which should help things move a bit more smoothly during class. I was very pleased with how the students took on their leadership roles – they were truly taking their jobs seriously. My goal is to continue incorporating ways in which students can contribute to their learning.

**The idea of  students as contributors is based on Alan November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Digital Learning Farm and iPad Apps, and Silvia’s presentation of Orchestrating the Collaborative Classroom. These resources are some of the best I’ve ever experienced – I highly recommend taking a look at them.

Reflections on Digital Storytelling

We’ve been discussing digital storytelling and it is a fabulous method to use in the class. There are SO many uses across the curriculum. I worked in PowerPoint to create Rules for the Computer Lab. The hardest part was searching for and deciding which pictures to use. I was trying to take a shortcut, though. I had a rough idea of what to say but didn’t write the script; instead I spent too much time looking for pictures. This is what some of the students do so I can now say that there truly is a reason for following steps in order to create a digital story. When I create a digital story, I tend to use PhotoStory 3 or VoiceThread. This time I chose VT but unfortunately, I was unable to record my story because I wasn’t able to get the mic on my computer to work.

My goal is to help our lower school teachers find effective ways to incorporate digital storytelling into their curriculum. Just thinking off the top of my head, here are some ideas that teachers are already doing that could be transformed digitally:

  • Did You Know facts
  • Book Reviews/Reports
  • Biographies
  • Self-portraits using I Am poems or bio-poems
  • Junior Great book reflections
  • Teachers can create short presentations to introduce content to students.

VoiceThread is excellent for collaboration as others can leave feedback through comments (by voice or type). Students are sharing with a real audience. This is also a good way to share with parents so that they can get a snapshot of what is happening in the classroom.

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