I love the opportunity to explore new resources as I never seem to have the time to try them out unprompted! I chose to look at the site, Little Bird Tales as I had never heard of it and it looked like it might be suitable for primary age students…which is right up my alley! 🙂 I am always looking for new ways to have my students share their knowledge and try exciting tools in the classroom so I was looking forward to trying this out! Read on if you’re interested in learning more… gif source
First, there was something that stood out in the reading of Bates’ text this week that gave me a different perspective in reviewing this program – in section 7.1, “Thinking about the pedagogical differences of media” it pointed out that there are, “five critical questions that need to be asked about teaching and learning in order to select and use appropriate media/technologies” they are,
- what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
- what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
- what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
- what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
- what resources are available?
I cannot stress this idea enough –
DO NOT USE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE SAKE OF TECHNOLOGY! UGH!
Although technology can often enhance a child’s learning experience, if consideration is not given to why we are using the device or program I don’t think it should be used. In the SAMR model it shows how shallow substitution can be for our kids. If we can’t use technology to allow students to explore and extend their knowledge, get to the transformation stage, it might not be as worth it as some people think. As it says in the reading, you MUST consider the learning outcome you are trying to accomplish and match the resource to that – consider before you begin what teaching methods you are wishing to use and how each will impact the next. Are you doing a blended approach? Strictly online? Leaving technology out completely? These questions need to be addressed before you begin so that a deep understanding of the how the technology will/could be used to benefit the learning outcome can be achieved. Finally, there is a definite need, in particular in this economic climate, to ensure that you are planning lessons around what resources are available – realistically to you in your school or classroom. Pick something that will enhance and transform your students learning experience but be available in a useful way to your kids…don’t plan a lesson on Little Bird Tales with the intention of having everyone designing at once when you have 2 computers and a tiny space to work in where they can’t raise their voice to speak into the microphone. Lots to consider! If I still have your attention, check out what I think about incorporating Little Bird Tales into my classroom – spoiler alert – I think it will be a must try in my classroom!
LITTLE BIRD TALES
Little Bird Tales is an online platform where students can go to record, write and illustrate an online book! It allows primary students to take part in story writing whether they can print or not on account of the fact that they can either type text or simply add photos and record their speech! It is also a site that teachers can access for free cross-curricular lesson plans as well as a gallery of student created books on many topics that can be used for information or examples for their class. Little Bird Tales is a free site for teachers and students although there is a premium teacher membership for $24.99 annually which gets you extra features and capabilities as well as a paid parent platform for content transfer at the end of the school year. I only tried the free version and was really impressed with options and functionality for kids of all ages and abilities.
What I loved :
- Logging in is easy for kids as they have a classroom code – for kiddos of the age I teach having easy access is crucial! 🙂 It’s the small things.
- There were lots of things I loved about this website. The first one is the cross-curricular lesson plans that are offered to teachers on the site. You can search any topic and lesson ideas pop using the program to have kids participate! Plus you can assign these lessons to your students so they come up when they login! Most of these features are only available with the paid program but I still like the idea.
- There is a section called “Public Tales” that you can search through by topic! The coolest part is that these are all videos kids have done so they can see what their stories might look like!
- I love the easy to use layout – you can upload or draw a cover or book art and everything is clean and easy to navigate. I appreciate easy to use sites as I often don’t have the time to read through pages and pages of directions to work with a program that might not be an everyday user.
- Finally, the last thing I would like to highlight in the love department, is that you can share the tale with someone through email! This is a wonderful feature if you would like your kids to email you their assignment, or they could email it to a friend or family member. Because my little ones are quite young, I am not sure I would have them emailing anything out, but I would be happy to send it for them, or post anything available to our classroom Facebook page. There are embed codes with each video for easy uploads and the opportunity to purchase the MP4 for an easy share.
Didn’t like :
- Although this was in the love department, I wasn’t crazy that you have to purchase the story, even if it’s only .99, if you want an MP4 version that can be played on any device. I don’t really see the point of offering this because under most circumstances I would think teachers would be fine with the other free options…however, downloads are free with the premium account.
- The push to purchase the premium account is real! There are SO many extra features on the premium account – not that I don’t understand having to pay for higher functions on programs but there is an insane divide on this site. Honestly, in some respects, it’s almost so much so that you can’t properly try the functions of the program as is.
- Another thing I noticed when trying to record is that it is a little quiet. Even with my computer volume and the program volume turned all the way up. When working with young kids, I am sure there would be some struggle getting kids to speak loudly enough to be heard. It is also quiet on the playback.
- Again, this also cropped up as a positive – but the lesson plans in some areas are very vague and harder to navigate. I’m not certain what functionality is available on the paid site, but there are definitely issues with the free lessons as some are sparse and incomplete feeling.
Overall, I like this site! It certainly has its issues but I think it’s basic functions are really cool and will be wonderful addition to my classroom! Many of my students this year have needs that prevent them from reading and writing in a typical way and this will be a way they can feel successful and be able to create the same way as other kids. I am looking forward to trying Little Bird Tales next week and exploring more of its functions.
Thanks for reading,
“Educating the mind without educating the heart,
is no education at all.”