Tools, Tips & Samples

Some favorite tools to review today: (more for your own review on other pages)

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StoryBird - Free online tool to create digital books -illustrations provided in a set - select what you like and create the story from there. Many choices of illustrators and art work !

  • Teacher accounts with individual log on cards
  • Use assignment function – spell check on or off
  • PDF $ minor cost if desired – print off like picture book
  • If you publish privately cannot embed –must publish publicly to embed
  • Great to use as intervention tool - students create story and do all writing and then you edit with line below of correct spelling and language - becomes very clear what sight words need to be studied
  • Students must select illustrator and images choices and THEN create a story with some of those
  • Great and engaging for 2nd grade and up
  • Have a new chapter book option which allows multiple chapters for older students
  • I can't get my students off of it !
  • Best to have a rubric given in advance and a story map for kids to outline otherwise tends to get out of hand
  • Tech support very good about answering emails and helping

How to :
Here is a screenshot "how to" I created, but of course, shorebird has updated - These will get your through however util I update the photos


Blabberize – Free online tool to download and image and “make it talk”

  • Create ONE account so all student work is saved to one account for easy embedding
  • Need microphones and script ready to read
How to:
by Karen Bolch
Student Sample 2nd grader animal report


Vocaroo- Free online tool to record voices, which is very simple to use. It can easily be embedded as a widget. They are considering a fee for this service. I have asked about educator accounts.

  • Create an account so all student recordings will be saved into one place and can be emailed to you directly
  • Remind each student to begin their recording with their first name (no last names) and the title of your project.
  • The final product is easy to embed

How to:

by Karen Bolch

Student Sample:
2nd Grader- ELL student - LION report - scripted on paper FIRST then read aloud into microphone.

Free download used for recording of voice.Additional tracks can be recorded or added. The finished project can be exported in the mp3 format, which can be embedded into other projects.

  • Download software onto computers in advance of use
  • Projects can be edited so remember to save each project as students are working
  • Time shift the tracks so they play in the desired order
  • Add effects like 'fade in' or 'fade out'
This link will take you to a Read Write Think handout on creating podcasts
How To
By Megan Mc Quinn
Student Sample

Here is a link From awesome Teacher-Librarian Megan McQuinn's student booktalks. The bar is the mp3 file and the image can be anything including a power point or other embeddable tool.
Student Book Talk

Please note: this "bar" can go under a power point, book image, used as a sound track for ANYTHING - great tool ! it is a podcast.

Wordle - A free online word cloud generator.
repeated words are larger and incidental words omitted.
  • Have students type in word and then cut and paste text if older
  • younger students can type directly in - however, check spelling before generate cloud
  • cannot go back and retype errors - must retype everything
  • paste text from speeches (ie presidential addresses) to compare focus
  • paste text from own writing to see what repeat most often
  • use as analysis tool of writing
  • generate posters about self, books, authors, poetry etc.
  • Take it to the next level integrating shapes into the cloud with TAGXEDOTAGXEDO
How to:
By Karen Bolch



PicLits text and images - teacher accounts coming as well as print options


  • Simple little tool designed by a teacher using words and images
  • Great for poetry - see the help section for a how to guide
  • Lesson plans are wonderful and filled with ideas
  • By Fall 2011 there will be teacher accounts, Spanish versions, print options and embed capabilities

PhotoStory- quick slideshow with audio and music - PC only - Lots of other voice over image tools available !
Download from here PhotoStory 3
  • Final project is a WMV movie and can be uploaded
  • Need microphone to record student voice
  • Has music inside tool which can be added to movie
  • Save pictures as jpgs from online images or personal digital images
  • Software downloaded onto each computer to be used
  • Movie can be basic or elaborate depending upon student ability

How to:
By Megan Mc Quinn
Student Sample:

PhotoStory sample

Make Beliefs Comics Generate Comic Strips -3-4 screens that are printable, although not embeddable
website very self explanatory

How to:

By Karen Bolch

Big Huge Labs Free online tool with a big variety of projects.
  • Get an education account – you can import student names from spreadsheet
  • Big Huge Labs will create log on cards for each student.
  • Trading Cards – One page with image and students can dictate or type own short story
  • Magazine cover – one page – great for nonfiction – 5 sentences
  • .
How to
By Megan Mc Quinn
Student Sample

Animoto Free online web tool for creating videos using imported images and voice in mp3 format
  • free education account using gmail account that will be available to all students
  • project is saved in established account and can be edited at any time
  • must have 25-40 images or text slide for 1 minute of voice recording
  • text slides can be added with 1 or 2 lines of text
  • images and text slides can be moved around
  • once finished copy coding and embed in a web site

How to document
By Megan Mc Quinn
Student Sample:


4th Grade Book Trailer

Skye- Human Rights

Part of a 5th Grade Report

Bronco Spirit Day

to record a school event - Bronco Day Sample

Treehouse Ideas

as a way to give students some ideas outside the box regarding a project

Free online tools to create scrapbook style books - very cool ~
Here is a "how to" handout from another educator:
Screen shots for MIXBOOKS are on pages 55-68 - too large to load
Digital Storytelling


  • No audio but lots of writing and layout
  • Great for class book of topic
  • Use .edu page and stay away from the purchasing pages - not necessary !
  • Search for other samples in gallery

Sample of 5th Grade Class Work:

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

Free online tool that allows you to upload a series of images, include short captions and then record on each page. You may also comment on each page. Can be used as a tool for one report/story or one page per student.

  • Not intuitive - need to play a bit and download guides to asssit in initial set up
  • Create account - educators are free for ONE account - subscription educator for $60 - 100 accounts - GREAT way to go
  • Upload photos - add an extra for the cover - I upload any image into Publisher - make it pretty, add text - save the whole thing as one jpeg THEN use it for the cover as the first photo - my comments are the introductions
  • Then upload students - use icons or individual pics - NO LAST NAMES or SCHOOL reference for safety
  • Set parameters - monitored etc.
  • Invite students to participate
  • NEED- headphones and mics
  • Class logs in and follows handout below
  • invite people to view or comment
  • .
Here is a great handout from another educator:
Screen shots for VOICETHREAD are on pages 69-88 - very detailed and helpful !
Digital Storytelling
This link will take to you a great Pro Educator Guide easy to follow

My Student Handouts:
By Karen Bolch
feel free to copy and edit accordingly

Commenting guidelines for students (older):
By Karen Bolch edited from online versions and suggestions
  • Can use educator account and upload each student's photo- $60 per year for 100 accounts
  • OR can use one account - different identities
  • Not intuitive - be patient ! worth the time
  • Upload jpeg photos - one for each page -include one for a cover
  • Add captions - add title for cover page and record (comment) to explain project
  • Do not reference school name or student last names for safety concerns
  • Can use for one student project - HS projects or one page per student project
  • Allows for others to comment - can screen if desire
  • Can share via email invite
  • See "how to" screen shot sheet for assistance
  • Not intuitive for teachers - allow time to play with it a bit or have someone show you the first time
  • Can rerecord as many times as necessary
  • Search Gallery for other samples of how teachers use tool - search 3rd grade poetry etc.....great ideas !

Student Sample of 3rd Grade Book Review - 6 read alouds in class - upload covers
Each student selects one they would like to review and recorded their essays
Student Sample of 2nd Grade Poetry with Illustrations by kids - took digital pics of each illustrated WORD document on a tabletop and uploaded


Middle school student's Human Right's report
Voicethread Sample

Google Forms used as an Exit Slip:

By Karen Bolch

Other Options to explore:
SuperCollage - photographic collage -combine with recording
Microsoftresearch Auto collage 2008 at least 7 images
Iphoto - MAC version of photostory
Kerpoof (not embeddable but great drawing program for little ones)
Frames– Pay software specific for digital storytelling tech4learning

Other Resources :
DigitalStorytelling wiki by Joyce Valenza - great audio and picture resources

Digital Storytelling for Educators- a How to Guide - (pdf to large to upload)- download from this link:
Screen shots for all tools !! Worth the paper to print out and review.

Fabulous free online book of web 2.0 Tools: