Tuesday Tech Tip – Digital Oral Storytelling K-2

Thanks to Stefanie, we are beginning a new series, Tuesday Tech Tip!  Look for these suggestions for using technology in your classroom every other Tuesday.

Storytelling is very important for students of all grade levels, especially our friends in K-2! Sometimes, though, kids struggle to tell stories to their fullest potential when writing them down. They have so many ideas, but writing takes a lot of time for them. Sometimes student say, “I don’t know what else to add…” and teachers say, “Well talk to me about it!” and then students tell such detailed elaborate stories. It’s important to think about and ask ourselves as teachers, “How can my students orally story tell in a way that is recorded like writing is?”

Well, one way that students can tell stories orally is by using an iPad application. There are LOTS of different iPad apps and web-based programs that allow students to orally story tell, but after exploring and trying things out in my teaching, Storybook Maker is my favorite one. It is $2.99, and there are many free ones out there, but this application in particular has features other free apps don’t. If oral storytelling is something you want to prioritize and practice, this one is worth the investment!

Click this icon for a link to Storybook Maker in the App store!


Here are 3 of many ways that K-2 teachers can use Storybook Maker in the classroom tomorrow!

1) Book Creation: This app allows for many pages, fonts, stickers, colors, photos, drawing tools, and voice recording. Students can write their own stories, draw pictures, upload pictures, and then record themselves telling the story.

2) Supporting ELLs: Students who are learning English can tell stories with images and just a few words and then they can record either in their own language, or if they are more confident in speaking English than writing it, they can do so here.

3) Anxiety-Free Shares: Many students are absolutely terrified to go up in front of the class and share their writing. Writing on Storybook Maker can allow students to share their stories in a less intimidating way. They can pass around the iPad to share, or share to a small group without having to read their work live.

Lastly, here’s a TIP:

For this app, let the students explore how to use it on their own. It’s really interesting to see what they figure out and come up with themselves.


I ❤ New York – Friday Book Favorites


Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Melissa Sweet won a Caldecott Honor for her stunning collage illustrations in Balloons Over Broadway. This well-crafted picture book beautifully describes the life and story of Tony Sarg, the mastermind behind the helium balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s work complements Tony Sarg’s achievements well and will forever change the readers’ view on the traditional Thanksgiving parade.


Little Humans by Brandon Stanton

Based on the pictures from the popular blog “Humans of New York,” Brandon Stanton creates an empowering text that any little human can relate to. Stanton uses photographs of children from all five NYC boroughs to add depth and meaning to his book. Its rhyming text and diverse pictures will delight, engage, and encourage little humans (and big humans!) everywhere.


Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman uses this story about a retired fireboat to sensitively address the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in an age appropriate manner. While the text remains on the surface level and describes the uplifting tale of the John J. Harvey Fireboat’s journey in a changing city, the illustrations provide the reader with a better understanding of the tragic day. Kalman sheds light on an important moment in history without scaring young readers, and also honors those heroes, including the John J. Harvey, who worked hard to help people when New York City needed them most.

What a fantastic day to be a bibliophile in the city!

Thank you, Cristina, for this post!  

Saturday, March 7, 2015, marked the Grand Opening celebration of Bank Street Bookstore’s new location on Broadway at 107th Street. The celebration included thirty-one local children’s authors and illustrators who read and autographed their books. It was fantastic to watch children meet authors for the first time and listen to the authors not only read their stories, but talk about the process of being a writer.

The new location is amazing! It is wall-to-wall windows, creating a bright and cheery atmosphere, several spaces for reading and author visits, and rows and rows of books. Every shelf is clearly labeled with magnetic foam letters. It is a great place to spend the day.

Shael Polakow-Suransky, president of the Bank Street College of Education, spoke of the bookstore as a place for children to gather together to learn, inquire, play, share, and celebrate. He spoke of Bank Street Bookstore being the place that teachers come to find literature for their classrooms and how it is critically important to have resources like Bank Street Bookstore in the community.

Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, talked about the importance of saving the “mom and pop” stores, and especially the bookstores. Bank Street Bookstore is a place that brings people together:  parents, teachers, children, visitors, and the community.

Last, Mark Levine, District 7 Council Member, spoke about how children love the printed page and that there is no substitute for words on paper. He shared how reading is a sensory experience — from touching the paper, to looking at the pictures, to hearing the words — and nothing can replace children’s literature.

All of the children were called to be a part of the ribbon cutting ceremony before being directed to different areas of the store for story time with the authors. I was able to speak with several authors who were so excited to be a part of this celebration. Many said that they love to meet their readers and are open to coming into your classrooms. It is important to note that all of the authors present were local; the bookstore wanted it to be about the community around them.

While the bookstore is now a bit farther away from Teachers College (just a few blocks!), be sure to check out the new location. They host over 500 free events throughout the year from story time to author meet-and-greets. Be sure to check out their website for these events.

Friday Book Favorites!

With the help of our wonderful students, we have lots of plans and ideas for our blog. We’ll get started with a new weekly feature, Friday Favorites. Becca and Elexa are taking charge of these posts which will showcase favorite books and literature selections. Check out these five popular and award-winning titles:


The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Award winner. Have you ever thought about where imaginary friends come from? Well, they are in their own world, waiting to be imagined. When the yet to be imagined friend Beekle gets tired of waiting, he sets off on an adventure to the real world to find his friend. The illustrations show a stark contrast in color between the real and imaginary world (a subtle nod to the loss of creativity in today’s fast-paced, standards driven world).

Nana in the City

Nana in the City

Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo, highlights the beauty and wonder of big city living. Its stunning watercolor illustrations won a 2015 Caldecott Honor as they so vividly capture the essence of New York City. Written in first person, the story is told by a young boy who is frightened by the sights, sounds, and smells of the intimidating city where his Nana lives. However, when Nana gives him a magic cape, he begins to see his surroundings in a different light and embrace this new place. Nana in the City lends itself to classroom use both in and outside of New York City.


Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is an exciting new release from 2014. Awarded the 2015 Caldecott Honor for its illustrations, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is a whimsical tale of two friends who dig a hole in their backyard. Written in classic postmodern style, the illustrations play an integral role in the development of the plot. Be sure to study the pictures at the end of the story very carefully, because this author/illustrator team leaves the reader with a few unanswered questions and a lot of room for prediction!

You Are Not Small

You Are (NOT) Small

You Are (NOT) Small, by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, is the 2015 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner. Who is small and who is big? Can we be the same and different? It all depends on your reference point. Empty space and bold outlines add depth to the story. Telling illustrations and simple yet specific text allow for a tale of perspective to unfold.

Farmer and the Clown

The Farmer and The Clown

The Farmer and The Clown, by Marla Frazee, is a gorgeous wordless picture book released in the fall of 2014. Winner of a Charlotte Huck Honor Award and featured on many other ‘must read’ lists, this charming story of an unexpected friendship is both powerful and heartwarming. The wordless pages with detailed illustrations leave room for multiple interpretations and beg to be studied again and again. With an ending that will tug on your heartstrings and put a smile on your face, The Farmer and The Clown is a must read.