Sunday, March 13, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 13 and DigiLit Sunday - Transitions

    It's Day 13 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our                                   house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.
When Margaret Simon, our Digilit Sunday host, tweeted out her topic today, TRANSITIONS, I knew I had to somehow connect that with my SOLSC theme since I'm in such a state of transition with our move.  How do I connect that with digital literacy?  Here goes my attempt...
     I love our house in the snow.  One of my favorite places to sit is in our sunroom (which is empty now since we just moved all the furniture out and rolled up the rug) is in one of the wicker chairs opposite the glass door with a book, a cup of coffee, Ben curled up beside me, gazing out at the snow falling in front of the trees in between pages.  It's even better when it's a snow day!
     I also love that our front yard has a hill and the neighbor kids get to use if for sledding.  We have the extra bonus of being at the end of the culdesac, so the plow pushes up all the neighborhood snow at the foot of our yard.  The kids love making it into a fort.
     The trees surrounding our property become beautiful with ice and snow on their branches, made especially picturesque when cardinals perch among them.  Our birdfeeders are especially busy in the snow!
   However, when the transition from winter to spring happens here, it is just as, if not more so, breathtaking!  The lawn turns an emerald green, the pear trees and weeping cherry bloom, and the perennials emerge in bright colors.  It becomes time to enjoy that deck I wrote about a couple days ago!  Later in June, all the Rose of Sharon bloom, and it becomes a paradise.  I plant containers and scatter them around the deck - even color-coding spring parties: maroon and white pansies for Libby's high school graduation (Lebanon colors and her favorite flowers), crimson and gray for Katie's high school graduation (she wanted OSU colors), and yellow and navy for Libby's wedding shower (wedding colors)!
Now to connect this to digital literacy...
     There are SO many digital tools and technology available to students these days, it can be overwhelming!  My philosophy is to introduce as many tools to the kids as I can throughout the year, even when I'm not an expert at them.  That way, transitioning toward the end of the year, from winter to spring, I can provide more choice.  They've been introduced one at a time to various tools, and then during the last literacy contracts, they can just choose what they want to use to showcase their products.  Sometimes, though, because I'm not an expert at the tool before I introduce it, it causes consternation for all of us. 
     For example, I recently introduced Storybird to my fifth graders.  A gifted ELA teacher from a nearby school and I got together a couple months ago to collaborate.  She had done Storybird with "a hero's journey" stories with her kids, which was perfect because I have my students write journey stories, also, during our JOURNEY literacy contract.  She sent me a few examples which looked awesome, so I made accounts for each of my students and let them have at it.  I will admit, I didn't thoroughly test it out.  This philosophy of mine is a survival tool for me - if I sat down and became an expert at each digital tool before I introduce it to the kids, I'd never get around to letting them use it!  I would be swamped, and I just don't have time.  Besides, they're more fearless, and many times, more savvy than I am at technology anyway!
     As the kids started playing around with Storybird, they soon got frustrated.  The illustrations available weren't exactly what they wanted for their stories, and they couldn't download new ones. 
They did the best they could that day, and I sent them home a little discouraged.  I should have investigated more that evening, but because of time constraints (mostly this move!), I didn't get to it.  Fortunately, I have kids who live for this stuff.  One of them discovered the purpose of Storybird:  to START with the illustration and then get inspired to write a story around it.  Duh!!  THAT made total sense!  (And it pretty much tells educators that on the educator page if I had bothered to research it further...I'm just being completely honest here).  When Kyle told me that, I breathed a sigh of satisfaction and made it into a lesson.  I also make no qualms about fessing up to the kids when I make mistakes or don't know something about the technology.  Using Kyle's discovery, I explained the purpose of Storybird, and then told them that sometimes digital tools don't live up to our expectations, or we learn that a particular one doesn't necessarily fit the purpose of what we're tying to do.  However, we put it in our tool belt for future use.
     That was the thought transition they all needed.  Once they could accept it wasn't going to be the absolute best tool for this project, they were able to relax and accept what it offered.  They were able to play around more with it because they weren't mad at it, and use it for what it was.  Their stories came out great!  In April and May, we can transition from introducing new tools to using the one that's the best fit.  It's a great time of year!
     Check out some of their creations:


  1. Beautiful pictures of transition around your home. And you found so many ways to make the connection to digital literacy. You discoveries about the troubles and uses for Storybird are wonderful. It was really up to the kids to find their way. Transition from what it appeared to be about to what they could use the tool for. Lovely.

  2. I love the pics of your home, especially the snow pics. This is our second winter with no snow and I feel really cheated. As for your technology story, I appreciate your honesty. You're so right, that there is no way we can become experts on all the tools. Learning experience all around for everyone.

  3. I have not used Storybird beyond second grade for this very reason. My students get angry when they can't find the pictures they NEED to go with the story. Younger kids are better at creating for the picture. How did you get that first story in the continuous format rather than page by page? I wish some of your kids would do a video lesson for my kids on how they used Storybird. Thanks for linking up and transitioning your SOL into a DigiLit post.

  4. First, your (old) house is beautiful! And second, you have piqued my curiosity with Storybird. I am going to check that out "in my spare time," which will probably be this summer. I'll holler if I have any questions! :) Thanks for sharing and good luck with the move.

  5. Holly, winter at your house - how beautiful the photos are. Then, you transitioned to digital literacy so easily. I introduced StoryBird to our ESL teachers who created wonderful stories with their students on journeys to America. Then, the students read the stories aloud to their parents. What a powerful family night we had. No one complained about the illustrations being a difficult match but I had my consultant friend Blanca at the helm.