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Do you ever teach CLB 5 narrative paragraph writing? Do your students usually write something with pencil on paper that they later discard? Have you ever thought of using Storybird to engage and enhance writing skills or create a class anthology of stories?

Publish it

Alan November says, “Teachers should stop saying ‘hand it in’ and start saying ‘publish it’ instead.” Usually projects written with pencil on paper are later discarded. Have you ever thought of using Storybird instead, which allows students to choose from beautiful artwork to either inspire or enhance their written work? Personally speaking, I find that student confidence, pride, and engagement in their language skills goes up when using tech instead of paper. Once students have chosen a narrative event, established the chronological order of the story, and added some descriptive language and connectors, they are ready to write and publish their narrative.

Consider this writing task

I asked students to choose an animal from the Toronto Zoo. Using the zoo map, their chosen animal had to make four stops to visit other animals. Students used a storyboard to establish each stop on the journey answering the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the setting, characterization, and plot. Then, they wrote simple sentences. Further, they included the purpose of the journey in the topic sentence as well as the result in the concluding sentence. Finally, they added descriptive words and even connectors like suddenly, quickly, and cautiously to make the story more interesting to read. When their narrative was ready to publish, they choose artwork from Storybird. Afterwards, the students embedded the viewbook of their story as an eportfolio entry, connecting the CLB outcome and reflecting on their writing skill and process. They used a personal reflection technique called head-heart-hands-feet – what did they think, feel, do, and what are their next steps.

Exemplar: Sample student viewbook and eportfolio entry

For CLB 5, I wrote a narrative paragraph about an animal at the Toronto Zoo, chose some artwork on Storybird, and published a viewbook. Usually, I like writing, but it is hard to write in another language. Truly, I enjoyed this activity because we got to publish on Storybird. Next, I plan to work on my grammar.

Hello. My name is Paula Ogg and I’ve been teaching English for over 20 years - everything from beginner conversational English to postdoctoral fellow grant research writing to mentoring teachers, seasoned and new, in innovative approaches to education. I hold a Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum Instruction Technology, a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Theory, Methodology, and Language Instruction designation, and a Bachelor of Arts in English. My interests include instructional design, curriculum development, distance education, health education, travel and tourism, technology, eportfolios, and, of course, English language arts. In my teaching practice, I use a constructivist approach that focuses on what the students are doing and what they can produce in a publishable artifact for an eportfolio.


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