Link Things with ThingLink

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I know I have introduce a couple of presentation tools so far, but I think it is important as a teacher to have a wide range of these tools, because it is a way to keep students attention. From my personal experience as a student I know that a good presentation tool makes all the difference between being interested versus falling asleep. This is why today I decided to introduce you to ThingLink. The concept behind ThingLink is to create interactive images. It is possible to take any image and to add links to whatever website (YouTube, Twitter, SoundCloud, etc.) When your creation is complete, it is possible to share it on the website and allow people to comment, re-share it, and even modify it!

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People can modify your picture once it is share. It brings another dimension to this educational tool, because you can have your students collaborating on the same project from their home or from their own device. Collaborating skills are becoming more and more important in today’s educational curriculum. For educators and students, a special stream has been implemented so that users with a student status will only see the pictures of users with teacher or students status. This way the teacher and the students can collaborate easily.

In an article on Teaching History website, Jannelle Legg, a Ph.D student in the History department at George Mason University, mentions that what she likes the most about ThingLink is its flexibility. For example, she says that she likes to have students working together and presenting their research information to their classmates. I think it is an interesting way to create a study report. Instead of writing a boring paper, they could use a picture linked to the subject of their study and use tags and links to presents their information. Tags may be use full to break down information into smaller pieces. After the presentation, all the students as well as the teacher have access to the content of others. This is only an example of ThingLink application in an educational context.

On another website,  10 ways are proposed to integrate ThingLink in the classroom. Here are my 6 favorite just for you !

1. Have students illustrate research about a local landmark on a picture of that landmark and then link it to a ThingLink map of your community.

2. Have students illustrate the events of a story on a ThingLink map with images from Google Earth.

3. Have students create autobiographical ThingLinks using photos of themselves.

* Have them add links of websites they like, illustrations of their favorite hobbies, their favorite music and some places they would like to travel to.

4. Have students define a word or concept by linking to examples on the web.

5. Have students create a call-to-action persuasive ThingLink that links to evidence for the student’s claim.

6. Have students create a character analyses of major characters or historical figures.

A Little Bird Told Me a Story with Storybird !

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In the context of a Computer Application course at University, the teacher asked us to explore and use the web tool of our choice from a list he had written on the board. I chose to look at StoryBird. I began by exploring what other people had done with this website to get a broad idea of the tool. At first, I thought it was really nice. The stories people wrote were looking good and kind of inspired me. I signed in and began to invent my own story.

Overall, the tool was great and I have been able to publish my story on the website, so people could read, comment, like and share it.

A point I disliked, however, is that you have to choose a set of images from an artist and that you are stuck with these images to write your story. Sometimes, it gets annoying not to find the perfect image to fit your idea.

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Anyway.

StoryBird had been designed for parents who desired to write stories with their children. However, more and more teachers are beginning to use StoryBird in their classes. For example, Stephen Davis, an 8th grade teacher from California tried and used StoryBird with his students. According to him, StoryBird gives students the chance to express inner feelings that they could not express in another way through stories and images . I totally agree with what he said as I experienced it myself.

I think that writing a story is a good way to get students to use their creativity and their imagination. It also brings a feelings of pride to invent something that is meaningful to you. Students will like to write about something they know or experienced and share it with their peers, their parents and the world because they can publish it on the Internet and get feedback and comments.

Another teacher, this time from Ontario, used StoryBird in her class. Aviva Dunsigner reports that she had students make a story so they could apply what they learned about story elements into a real context. I think this is a very good way to make learning more concrete and more interesting to students. I would definitely to the same kind of activity with my classes.

Writing stories is not only a way to practice writing skills, but also a way to practice reading skills as you may want to have students read each other’s story.

On her blog, Erin Klein answers to the questions of a certain Marty who has trouble keeping the motivation of his students when writing a story with StoryBird, because students often don’t find the words to fit the artwork provided. Here are my two favorite answers from Erin:

1. She suggests to have students write a story before actually using StoryBird. It becomes easier then to chunk their sentences and modify them to fit the images rather than starting from zero and building something.

2. Do a model with the whole class before having them work individually.

I definitely liked these two solutions because I think it easily triggers students’ creativity before actually doing the task. It becomes easier for them and easier for the teacher to manage 30 students because they know what to do.

I truly plan to use StoryBird in my future classes, because I enjoyed my personal experience with it and because there are many ways it can be used pedagogically.

** Here is a link to my first story made with StoryBird