Monday, November 19, 2012

10 Apps & Sites for Digital Storytelling & more!

Have your Students Tell their Stories Digitally!

What is digital storytelling?

Students can tell their story in a digital manner the same as they would orally or on paper.  Digital storytelling is simply applying one's creative ideas in a manner that allows him or her to add multimedia (video, images, and audio) to their voice. 

Why use digital storytelling?

Using technology can be engaging.  We use a variety of mediums to tell stories in our class.  Many of our stories start out as oral rehearsals.  We tend to incorporate a variety of webs, outlines, fold-able templates, and graphic organizers to start our planning process.  Sometimes I use MindMaple and Popplet to brainstorm ideas.  Then we begin drafting our story using pencils and paper.  However, Google Docs and Storybird are a great way to have students draft their stories on the computer.  When we share our work, students enjoy the choice of creative outlet to express their learning.  This is where we use a variety of tech tools to support our publishing efforts. 

Which tools are best?

Personally, I like tools that are free and easy to use.  If a tool is great, I don't mind spending the money to access the paid version.  However, I've found that there are too many free sites and apps that are just as wonderful as many of the paid versions that do similar tasks.  

I often get asked if I prefer iPads or laptops.  My answer is always the same... it depends on the comfort level of the teacher, what the device will be primarily used for, and the age group that will be using the device.  In general, I've found that mobile devices (ie: iPads) work best for younger children.  The touch feature and size of the device is a benefit for primary aged learners.  As students get older, I do believe there are limitations with mobile devices.  Regardless of device, there are fantastic sites and apps available for each system.  

A few of my favorite tools for digital storytelling:
(the descriptions below were taken from the tool's site)

(available as an app and a website)
- yay -

Enhance your digital classroom with Animoto. Turn photos, video clips and music into stunning video slideshows which can bring your lessons to life.


Sonic Pics for itouch devices. Narrate your photos like never before, flipping to each image as you are ready to talk. You choose the timing. SonicPics makes it easy to make slide show movies on your iPod touch or iPhone.  
Capzles: Time Captured. All of your media, your life, your stories. Together like never before. Create rich, multimedia experiences with videos, photos, music, blogs, documents and more. 

Motivate students to participate. Improve message comprehension. Introduce technology in a fun way. Utilize Voki as an effective language tool in the classroom and create individual avatars.

Glogster provides a digital platform for students to create a multimedia poster. Import video (from a file or YouTube) or images. Glogsters are great for book reviews, describing important events in history, showing a detailed description of a novel's setting, displaying images and video from an engaging science experiment... Easy to create - Students love making them!

Storybird has become one of my new personal favorites. This free site allows teachers to create an account and invite students so that projects can be monitored. If you simply decide to allow students to create their own accounts, which is what I did, they can send you the link to their project. Students take ownership in selecting their illustrator's artwork and developing their written work as an author. These beautiful books can also be printed to share. 

(available as an app and a website)
- yay - 

MindMaple is available in a free Lite version, which is what I use.  Students can plan out their ideas and organize their stories by using this digital graphic organizer.  They love to add color to organize their thoughts and ideas.   I really love that this site is available on both the computer and on the iPad.  

The free iPad version allows students to create and edit collaborative mind maps with a user-friendly interface.  There are numerous features to assist in making each map unique and fun!  The app also has Dropbox integration for collaboration with ease.  Click here to download the app while it's free and try it out... the possibilities are endless.

PowToon is the brand new Do-It-Yourself animated presentation tool that supercharges your presentations and videos!  Simply drag and drop the designed elements into your slides.  Save massive amounts of time and money by creating Presentoons that bring the WOW!-factor to product demos, business presentations, social media clips, and much more.

PowToon wants to also make a difference in the education sector and our tool is designed to allow education professionals (and students) to create content that is visually engaging, captivating and fun to make.  

Meograph helps easily create, watch, and share interactive stories. Our first product combines maps, timeline, links, and multimedia to tell stories in context of where and when.  Click here to see educational examples. 

Authoring is structured into a few simple prompts on an intuitive interface. Viewers get a new form of media that they can watch in two minutes or explore for an hour. Sharing is easy: the two most viral types of media are videos and infographics ... Meograph is both.

This is the only tool I'm including in this post that I haven't tried.  I just found out about it and thought it was worthy of sharing.  I plan to give it a try soon.  I'm not sure if this would be best as a teacher tool or for student use.  I'm anxious to explore it further.

A Creative Learning app for the iPad that empowers kids to draw, animate, and narrate their own cartoons and share them with friends & family around the world.  Creating cartoons with Toontastic is as easy as putting on a puppet show - simply press the record button and tell your stories through play! Once you’re done, share your cartoons with friends & family around the world.  This is one of my kid's favorite apps.  Period. 

(available as an app and a website)
- yay - 

ZooBurst is a digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books.  Using ZooBurst, storytellers of any age can create their won rich worlds in which their stories can come to life.  ZooBurst books “live” online and can be experienced on your desktop or laptop computer, or on your iPad via the free ZooBurst mobile app. Authors can arrange characters and props within a 3D world that can be customized using uploaded artwork or items found in a built-in database of over 10,000 free images and materials.

Other great resources:

My friend Shelly put together an amazing slide show sharing fabulous tools and ideas for digital storytelling.  She has an amazing website at Teacher Reboot Camp.  Click here to visit her post on digital storytelling where she shares 20+ tools and additional resources for getting started.   I'm embedding Shelly's presentation below; be sure to check out her site by clicking here!

Assessing Digital Storytelling:

My kids often collaborate on the assignment objectives before we begin working on our project.  As we start our work, they refine their expectations.  We make anchor charts to determine what will guide their process.  They use quality mentor work to set the bar for their work.  We use professional mentors and student mentor examples to shape our perspective. 

When I use rubrics, they're often created by the students.  They discuss what they are aiming for in their work.  I like using RubiStar because it's free and easy to use.  Additionally, the site allows you to edit each box, or cell, so that you can enter the exact language your class developed for their project.  They also offer several prompts to help guide the process of creating your rubric.  You can use their examples without editing, too.  There are a ton of subjects and project ideas to choose from!

When you click on any of the topics, there are many options to customize your rubric for assessment:

When I taught middle school, I often let my kids develop their own rubrics to self-assess their work.  Each rubric was similar but had a different focus.  This allowed me to see what they wanted me to focus on when offering feedback for their projects. 

Here is an example I quickly put together for this post to show for digital storytelling:


  1. A really great post!! Thanks a lot...

  2. Great post! I love finding posts that summarize lots of resources for me to check out.
    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack

  3. I love this post! I'm preparing a presentation and a chunk of it deals with digital storytelling tools. Thanks for the recommendations and suggestions!

  4. Thanks Rachelle! Happy to help. I bet your presentation will be wonderful. :)

    Have a great holiday,


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