Recently, I've been working with PreK-2 teachers who are new to ed tech. I've been trying to find tools that are easy for both the teachers and their (often pre-literate) students to use.
So far, my favorites are Little Bird Tales and UJAM, but I'm also a fan of Voicethread and Blabberize.
I wrote a blog post about these four tools, called Digital Storytelling for Beginners, if you're interested.
Are there any other easy-to-use tools that offer BIG rewards in the PreK-2 classroom?
I know your goal is to have your students practice reading but http://www.storylineonline.net/ is a very cool site that has celebrities reading the children's books. It could be a model for what your students are going to do when they read aloud.
Look into Little Bird Tales. You can sign in for free.
Free, easy, and fun to use!
I do not have any previoues experience using tools like this, other than a short introduction to Voicethread. I think these are great opportunities for kids to be creative and use technology in the classroom. It would also help those students who like to learn visually. They each get the student to look at information in a new way and do something with it. I know that Voicethread allows comments to be posted and encourages interaction between the students and teachers. I think I would recommend that program for that reason.
The only one of these programs I have had exposure to is Voicethread, but from what I have experienced, I would recommend it to other users. It’s a great tool for students to be creative and actively involved in the learning. It also allows for interaction and feedback between students. All of the programs mentioned sound like great tools for teachers and students in and out of the classroom. Not only are they great learning mechanisms, but they also help create an environment where students can be safely exposed to new technology and learn how to properly use it.
UJAM looks like a really neat tool to use for storytelling,it is very easy to use and is very creative. Another tool I really liked was Blabberize and Voicethread. These are all similar because in each tool the students can use their voice to record a story. This is perfect for children who cannot write stories yet. This also helps their story telling ability and gives them experience using technology. I have experience with Voicethread and I like how many different things you ca do with it. You can speak, write, and draw. This allows for multiple ways of getting the story across. This also allows the students to have even more creativity.
I really enjoyed reading this and learning about different story telling! I have never really thought about all the applications you can use story telling for, and I think it is a great way for students to express their creativity and to learn while doing it! I really liked the UJam application. I think it looked like a really great way to story tell, but also to incorporate music into curriculum. The only one of these I have had experience with is Voice Thread and I thought that it was a really easy, fun way to incorporate childrens stories and artwork, and for students who cannot write yet, it is a great way for them to express themselves and explain what they are drawing! Thanks for all of these great ideas!
Thanks for your blog post; it was very informative! I am new to the ed tech world so do not have anything new to offer except sites you're probably very familiar with--sites like Sesame Street (http://www.sesamestreet.org/games-landing) and their educational games are very fun for students. Sites like Sesame Street are different from Storybird, Voicethread, etc. because there is no finished product at the end that you can show to parents and say, "Look what we accomplished!" Collaboration is also minimal at these educational game sites; nevertheless, they offer good exposure to reading concepts in a kid-friendly technological format.
The sites you listed seemed to all combine either audio and visual creations or combine pre-formatted/pre-created art and the students' original work to produce a more "professional-looking" product; what confidence this must give children since there is almost no way to "fail."
These programs show great potential in improving the integration of technology. Of the listed programs, I had only ever heard of Voicethread. My new favorite has to be Little Bird Tales. This is a great tool for children who aren't literate yet, and those who are just learning English could find this useful as well. My specific interest is is ESL education, so it is really great to find programs that I can adapt for those who are on different levels of language. I also really liked Blabberize because it is a great starting tool. For someone who has never really had any experience with digital storytelling, this program seems to be an ideal way to ease into these new educational tools and resources. What a great and instructive post!
Have you had your students use Educreations at all? It's a free screencasting tool (it can be used at http://www.educreations.com, or via a free iPad app), and it's GREAT for ESL kids. They can explain their thinking, define new vocabulary words, and tell stories. I like to have students all create a screencast on the same simple topic (i.e., describe the body parts of a fish). Then, they share their screencast with three other kids in class (this is easiest with a set of iPads, if you're lucky enough to have access to them). That way, by the end of the day, the students have heard their own definition three times, plus the definition from three other students -- a total of six exposures to the content. And it's fun!
I have used Voicethread and found it very easy to use. I think it is a fun and interactive tool to incorporate into a lesson plan, and it is simple enough for younger students to use. A big plus to using tools like Voicethread or Little Bird Tales is allowing younger students who may not be very advanced in reading and writing to create a story using a voice recording tool!
I really like the use of VoiceThread. I have had some exposure to it, and I think it is great for the kids to be able to upload their own drawings and explain them in a forum that you can understand. I would definitely use it when teaching a younger grade, so that the students would be able to express their creativity, and share it where the other students in the class would comment. Another thing is that it is different from the typical, "draw a picture, post it on the wall," type of idea.
I would definitely use the other links that you included though. I love the UJAM tool, just because I love music, and it would be cool to let the students be able to create their own, simple musical pieces.