Top 15 digital learning resources for storytelling in K-12

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May 20, 2019
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Author: Jay McGrane, K-12 Educator and Freelance Writer

The impact of digital technologies on storytelling for elearning cannot be overstated.

It feels like a claim too grandiose to be true, doesn’t it? Human beings have been telling stories since before they even put paint to cave. Why is today any different?

Today, we create stories faster than any previous generation.

For teachers, the speed of digital storytelling becomes a gift to enhance student learning. Now, students can effortlessly show their digital learning through many different tools and apply it to any subject. Here’s a list of the best tools for digital elearning that help students tell their stories.

Multimedia tools

Too often, storytelling gets relegated to language arts, but multimedia tools can turn ANY subject into a story.

This digital learning strategy automatically deepens student learning because they need to organise their thoughts digitally. Educators can also see what they were thinking more easily and quickly through online learning.

Here are some curriculum examples for each of these tools on how to incorporate digital storytelling into math, science, and social studies.

1. Explain Everything

This interactive white board’s power comes from its simplicity. Students can document their science experiments by taking pictures of their process and adding either their voice or small bits of text to explain the results.
Year level: 3-12
Price: Free or subscription for added features
Features for teachers: Offers formative assessment, saved presentations, and a personal drive.

2. AdobeSpark

This resource helps you design blog posts, web pages, and video stories. Language Arts can benefit from teaching students how to make stunning online posts. At the same time, students can create websites for social studies projects instead of a poster board. This webpage example shows a student project of the Revolutionary War with beautifully integrated primary sources.
Year level: 6-12
Price: Free with a subscription offer
Features for teachers: None. This platform does not target the education market. It also does not offer a management platform where you can access all of your class’s work. There may be privacy concerns.

3. Binumi

This video creation software provides professional footage as well as the option of recording your own. Videos can demonstrate any sort of online learning. Here is an example of a student election video for social studies, but the sky’s the limit with how-to video options, virtual field trips, and more.

Year level: 4-12
Price: Free for adults, but paid for kids or education platforms
Features for teachers: They have a safe and secure online education platform that provides pre-made video projects attached to curriculum standards.

4. Microsoft Sway

It’s go-to presentation software. Microsoft Sway makes connecting content from multiple sources very easy. Any research project benefits from Microsoft Sway whether in science, social studies or health.

Year level: 6-12
Price: Paid
Features for teachers: None. Sway is part of the Office 365 Suite, so it’s only useful if your school board already uses Office 365. If it does though, Sway becomes an easy and safe platform.

5. Seesaw

This digital portfolio provides much cooler features than any physical portfolio ever could. Students can explain their thinking by creating drawings, videos or voice recording over photos. In math, students can easily explain different strategies. The best part is that it’s designed for small children so it is truly a useful app for all students in K-12 online learning.

Year level: K-12
Price: Free
Features for teachers: It’s designed for teachers so you have your classroom and instant access to anything posted by your students. Since it’s a digital portfolio, it’s designed to be shared with parents. They also create activities for teachers to use or teachers can create their own.

Collaborative storytelling platforms

Digital elearning can mean solitary learning, but it doesn’t have to. Collaborative platforms allow students to work as a digital team.

They also provide opportunities for students to connect with the global community and an authentic audience for their work. Any writing teacher can tell you how difficult it is to create authentic texts because students have very few audiences available.

The power of this digital learning strategy is that these platforms automatically create an authentic audience and, thereby, boost student engagement by providing a purpose for their communication.

6. Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365

Both platforms allow real-time communication. Often, educators are looking for the next best app when they might already have one that works. Students can work on documents together and remotely using these applications.

Year level: 2-12
Price: Free and paid
Features for teachers: Google Classroom has features specifically for teachers.

7. Tell About This

K-2 will love this app because they get to tell a story about a picture prompt. It does not need to be collaborative, but two children could tell the story together during centre time. It’s designed for small children so it’s easy to use.

Year level: K-2
Price: Free and Paid
Features for teachers: The paid version allows you to create multiple profiles so that you can have one profile for each student.

8. StoryBird

It’s just a creative writing platform. BUT the professional artist images make it so much more. StoryBird has collaborated with artists from all over the world to create stunning art to spark creativity and writing. The educator version allows you to pair students up making it not only a collaboration with an artist but also with a peer.

Year level: K-12
Price: Paid
Features for teachers: They offer a writing curriculum, feedback tools, private classroom, and Google classroom integration.

9. Write the World

This platform takes digital elearning to a global scale by connecting your high school classroom with other young writers from around the world. It’s special because it offers peer and expert review of drafts. The peer model can also encourage conversations about digital citizenship.

Year level: 9-12 (the website only welcomes writers 13-18)
Price: Free
Features for teachers: Educators can create a private group where they can share prompts, rubrics, and resources with their classroom. There would be privacy concerns for the global platform. Also, high school students may give immature feedback and/or plagiarise.

10. StoryCorps

This app focuses on bringing oral history alive in your classroom. You can also listen to various oral histories, although they collect a lot of serious themes. The collaboration comes between a student and someone they choose to interview. The App includes different sets of questions for different people, such as Grandparents or First Generation Immigrants or Veterans. StoryCorps created “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” where they encourage American high school students to interview an elder to preserve the history of the United States. If you don’t live in the United States, you could post your oral histories to a blog or contact someone collecting oral histories in your region.

Year level: 9-12 (account holders must be over 13 with a guardian’s permission for an account)
Price: Free
Features for teachers: Lesson plans available for educators, and they also have a StoryCorps Facebook Group. There are privacy concerns with this app though.

Animation and comics

Animation and Comic tools take traditional narratives to the next level in k-12 online learning.

11. Storyboard That!

This platform creates beautiful comics. Beyond the comics, they include other features such as graphic organisers, worksheet creation, and presentation software. They include lots of different graphics, including historical people for the creation of timelines and historical presentations in social studies.

Year level: 3-12
Price: Paid
Features for teachers: Worksheet generator, lesson plans, rubric integration, and teacher dashboard with secure access for students.

12. Pixton

It’s a great comic app that’s easy to use for students. The content packs focus on commonly read texts making lessons on retelling and summarising a snap.

Year level: 2-12
Price: Free individual accounts, paid for school version
Features for teachers: School version allows teachers to create private rooms and for students to collaborate.

13. Toontastic 3D

This easy-to-use app does all the work for the students so they can create cool, little animation clips. It’s a great tool for teaching the story arc with a choice of either Short Story (beginning, middle, and end) or Classic Story (setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution). They also have a Science Report option.

Year level: 1-5
Price: Free
Features for teachers: None. Can use offline to limit any privacy issues.

14. Lego Movie Maker 2.0

Lego makes the list because of how engaged students become at the mention of anything to do with Lego. By adding Lego to your English curriculum, students will find enjoyment in retelling and summarising stories or key concepts.

Year level: 2-8
Price: Free
Features for teachers: None. It’s designed for kids and parents, but your students will love it. Lego moderates all videos promising to remove any with personally identifiable information, but there may be privacy issues.

15. Stop Motion Studio

Here’s a go-to stop motion app for students to use to make their own claymation videos. They can show their learning in any subject, such as an animation on food chains in Science. Stop Motion Animation can also enhance a makerspace at your school.

Year level: 3-8
Price: Free. There is a paid version with more functionality.
Features for teachers: None. Can use offline to limit any privacy issues.

All of the tools available make it even easier for teachers to include digital learning strategies in their toolbox. Digital learning strategies, with the right tools, can improve student engagement and student voice. They can also connect our students to the global community and provide authentic audiences. Check out another great Oppida article here for more on Education in the Digital Age: Teaching and Learning. Hope you found some new tools for k-12 online learning!

Post a comment to any tools you love to use in your classroom! What are your favourite tools? We’d love to see links to how your students are using digital storytelling in your classrooms!

At Oppida, we believe in creating dynamic learning environments through learning management systems which engage with your learners on a deeper level. Whether you’re at project inception or you’re struggling knee-deep to manage content deliverables, Oppida will tailor learning design support for you. Setup a quick consultation with our founder Bianca Raby and discover how we can help you project manage, design, develop and enhance your online courses from any stage in the course’s lifecycle. Also, sign up for our FREE Designing Digital Learning Course to better understand how to design for digital.

 


Writer’s Bio

#JayMcGrane profile picJay is a K-12 educator and Freelance Writer with a passion for learning about learning. You’ll find her trying out new teaching strategies in her classroom or reading about them online. When she’s not reading about teaching, she can be found hanging out with her toddler, preferably at the library.

Follow her on LinkedIn.

 

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