Monthly Archives: May, 2012

Story Kit and the iPad: It’s Not Just a Toy

Kindergartners in Mrs. Isom’s class use their Camp Think -A-Lot Blog and Story Kit on the iPads to write for a global audience and they can’t wait each day to see who in the world has read their blog.

As these kindergartners are learning to write in their Writing Workshop program, they are also learning geography by locating the people who are reading their creations on their class blog, Camp Think-A-Lot.

They were thrilled to find readers from many states in the United States as well as Kuwait , India and New Zealand.

In addition to using these engaging Web 2.0 tools (Blogger and Clustr Maps), these Kindergartners are also adept at using the iPads for the publishing step of their Writing Workshop program.

First, they write their stories in their Draft Book

Then they edit their story with the help  of an editing checklist.

Once their stories are edited and approved by their teacher, they are ready to publish!

While there are many great story creating apps out there…we chose the Story Kit app for publishing. It’s free and the text and paint tools are easy enough for kindergartners without too many bells and whistles.

Here is a great resource from which I learned about digital storytelling with Story Kit:  Creative Apptitude, ipad Multimedia Tools for Creativity by Karen Bosch.

Mrs. Isom showed the students how to start a story in Story Kit, and how to add text and drawing to their pages.

And they were off!  The intensity of focus, the level of engagement, and the conversation in the room during this publishing step was delightful.

The students knew they had to get all of their text in, with one sentence to each page of their book, before they were able to start their artwork.  This really reinforced the concept of a sentence.

Once their pages were checked for sentences copied from their Draft Books correctly, students were free to illustrate their pages.    

When their books were complete, students filled in the Details Page with the title and author.

Then it was time to share their creations.

Students clicked Share, which saved the story to the Story Kit App on the iPad.

The next step was to email it to their teacher, which required adult help to be sure the email address was typed in correctly.         

After a story is emailed to the teacher, she receives an email message with a link to the story.

Mrs. Isom put these links into her blog so family and friends from all around the world can read and comment on these wonderful stories.

Drop in and read these delightful stories and leave comments…these young authors will be thrilled. Go to:

Then, on the right, in the pages section, click on Published Stories from Writer’s Workshop

About Story Kit

There are a few great things about Story Kit that make it a perfect publishing app for the primary grades.

As I said earlier it’s free. But the power lies in the simplicity of it’s text, graphic, and recording tools for primary students. It is so easy to publish student work on a website or blog because Story Kit emails a URL that opens a very clean view of the book. This URL can easily be placed into your blog, wiki, newsletter, tweet, etc.

Another great thing about Story Kit, which these Kindergartners will be using soon, it the voice recorder. Students can click the record button on their work window and record narration with each page of their book. This narration plays on the website when the story is published to it, by clicking the speaker on each page.

The collection of student stories is saved in the Story Kit App on the iPad. But, be cautious because..if your district updates the iPads, these stories get wiped out.

Since our iPad lab is a school lab, on checkout to everyone, teachers assign iPad numbers to each student so that they work on the same iPad each time, and can find their saved work. This is not ideal, since there have been instances of someone accidentally editing or deleting a project or camera roll item that another student has saved. Personal devices would be the best way for students to manage their digital work…maybe someday in the future.

Another nice thing about Story Kit is the ease of emailing a story. The email window opens up and all the student needs to do is enter an email address. We put a generic email account on each iPad.  At first the concept of a generic email account on student iPads was quite a dilemma because of security and appropriate use…and although we now have generic email accounts on the student iPads, it still has the potential to be troublesome.  We decided to go ahead and try it out because some of the best apps required email to get the product to the intended recipient. With this trial goes the responsibility of additional supervision on the teacher’s part and embedded instruction in digital citizenship.

The iPad : Toy or Tool?

There has been quite a bit of discussion in our district and in many others about the value of iPads for education.  Some still consider it a toy and are concerned with passive screen time. Mrs. Isom’s Writer’s Workshop is just one of many authentic learning activities that the talented teachers across our district ( and in many other districts) are doing that integrate iPads along with other digital tools. Research and opinion pieces are now surfacing stressing the difference between passive screen time and engaged or learning screen time. Here is a recent one from Harvard Health:

I would answer these concerns with the view that we trust our children to our teachers every day. We trust teachers to provide meaningful and engaging learning experiences, whether it is with crayons and scissors, books and paper, a video clip and a follow up discussion, or digital tools such as computers and iPads. The advent of iPads brings mixed ideas to the conversation, because many of us saw the iPad first as a toy or an entertainment device for our children. We would pass it to them to keep them occupied. While the iPads can still be used in this way, we have to trust our educators when they say: “The iPad is not just a toy, it’s an educational tool.”  ….Trust  and watch and be amazed at what teachers and students can do with the addition of this tool to their learning toolboxes.

Post by Margie Brown Eanes EdTech