Susan Lee, teacher at Te Kura o Kutarere shares how using Storybird, a free digital story writing tool, in her classroom has made a significant impact on the literacy development of her students. She describes how students have become self motivated and proud of their work. Using Storybird has meant reluctant writers are now, "constantly reading their own work and reading other students stories and the writing is just flowing because it's not pen to paper it's keyboard, choose a picture and tap away."
The word that springs to mind is, it gives them mana. It makes them feel proud of themselves what they’ve achieved and it gives them a sense of, I can do that. I think it’s helped in those literacy areas because when they’re writing they want to know how to spell words all the time and they’re having to break them down and do some of that independently or asking peers to check, is this right? They are constantly reading their own work and reading other students stories and the writing is just flowing because it's not pen to paper it's keyboard, choose a picture and tap away and that’s what they like.
Boss, he’s got a cool story, I like reading it. It’s cool ‘cos it's about Māori people and dragons and stuff and yeah, it's Maui. He put on a meeting for all the people of Opotiki and he had to, he made a plan to stop the dragons from taking over the world and then he killed the king dragon and he became chief of Opotiki.
This is the first time that we’ve covered narrative as a genre. It's one that I avoided at the beginning of the year because I thought that the kids didn’t have the skills to do that and I can now see that they do and they’re loving it.
As the students have progressed I’ve noticed that of their own accord they are borrowing ideas from stories that they’ve read and heard from other people and adding them to their own ideas and linking them together. Also the way that the kids have learned by the modelling, watching and then doing and the way that it's progressed them in all areas of literacy. Their reading, writing and spelling and we’ve seen huge success in those.
Through this journey most of the children I would say at the commencement would be lucky if they were level 1-1 as far as their literacy skills were and from that, through introduction of Storybird and the writing of stories on the laptops that we purchased, the level of achievement has gone from the very bottom up to just under level 3 at the end of Term 3.
It’s not me as a teacher having to motivate them all the time they’re self-motivating now. Most of the boys in the class weren’t keen on writing but they did it because they had to. Now that they’re using the Storybird they love the writing. They’re asking when are we doing Storybird, they want to be a part of it. There’s no, doesn’t seem to be any barrier for the boys like there used to be and I see equal improvements in boys and girls. The way that the kids felt being able to share their knowledge and skills, that was awesome to watch and that they were proud to share what they had and we hadn’t seen that in them before.