Last week I posted about my discovery of Storybird. (You can read more here.) Storybird has been around since 2010, so I was feeling a little late to the party… but it soon became apparent that I wasn’t the only late arrival. So… for those of you who’ve never flown the nest, here’s a little peek into the process of creating a poem in Storybird. (You can also write picture books and chapter books, without the word ‘tags’ but I love the immediacy of the poetry – and haven’t yet spread my wings much in the other areas. And besides, this is Poetry Friday. 😉 )
First, you choose a photo (1) as inspiration. There are so many illustrations to choose from, generously shared by incredibly talented artists. There are vibrant pieces with an abundance of colour, or simpler black and white illustrations – or muted colours in between. (Something for every mood and preference!) For this example, I chose bright rain by thedreamygiraffe
Once you’ve chosen the photo (1), and the poem format (2) you are given collection of word tags (3) that you can use in the crafting of your poem (4). Simply drag and drop them onto the picture, being sure that words don’t overlap, or overhang. The coloured dots down the bottom of the screen (3&4) enable you to change the word tag colours. Experiment with these to enhance the mood/visual effect.
Working with a limited selection of words means that sometimes you have to find a different, better way to say things. With limited punctuation marks – and few capital letters – word placement and alignment work to dictate pausing and flow. And that is a beautiful, freeing thing. (And a valuable skill of poetry!)
If you don’t like your collection of words – or change your mind about the image – you can click on the refresh icon (bottom right of screen 4) and choose to refresh words, or artwork. (Although there is a certain challenge in working with what you’ve got – and I’m not sure I’ll be quick to share this tip in the classroom, as this function has the potential to stall productivity.)
Once you have finalised your words, colour and placement, click on the Menu icon (bottom left of screen 4) to publish your poem.
In a school setting, the Storybird experience enhances English, The Arts, and Digital Technology curriculum. If you sign up as an educator, you can create classes for your students. (All you could ever need to know about class accounts is here.) Class accounts are not visible to the public, but still enable kids to interact, giving praise and ‘stickers’ for peers’ work.
I’ve blogged before about how writing poetry benefits all writing. Storybird Poems have so much potential across abilities, enabling those who struggle with spelling, punctuation or handwriting (but often express a creative way with words), whilst also extending those who have a flair or passion for writing and design. Storybird poems also negate the oft heard complaints ‘I haven’t got any ideas!’ and ‘I don’t know what to write.’ because the words and inspiration are a gift. The process is freeing, and fun – and the finished product is simply stunning!
If you want more control over the words of a poem, once you have selected your picture (as above), choose Picture Book. You are then given a blank box, where you can type your
picture book poem. An added benefit with this option is that you can save your project (bottom left of screen), and come back to finish it at a later time. And you can add pages as required (bottom right of screen) to create a whole book of poetry – or a poem spread over a number of pages. (You might even like to write a rhyming picture book…)
In the classroom, I see Storybird as a means of enthusing and inspiring students – lighting the creative fire that is so often extinguished by the demands of a dreary curriculum, or the fear of failure. With the ability to create poetry, picture books and chapter books, the possibilities are endless… and the option to read and respond to others’ poems is also enriching. Extra time on Storybird is also a fabulous way to reward students for positive behaviour or effort in the classroom.
Perhaps you even need a little reward, yourself…? Because Storybird is not just for kids and schools. And the more you play, the more you will discover!
PS Having compiled my blog post, I now find THIS! More information than I could EVER give you!
Don’t forget to do the rounds and read more Poetry Friday posts. The full collection of links are being collated at Writing the World for Kids . And if you do test your wings on Storybird, please drop back here to leave your profile page link. I’d love to see what you hatch!