ZooBurst is "A digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D popup book." This a fun tool that would really get students engaged, and eager to share their work with others. Books can be viewed later and controlled via keyboard commands or webcam. (Let's face it, though--the webcam option is so much more fun!) Below, I'm embedding a Screenr screencast of myself interacting with a very simple pop-up book that I created in about 10 minutes in order to "test drive" ZooBurst.
Creative Commons allows users to search for media online without violating copyright laws. This is a great tool for teaching students about fair use, copyright, and plagiarism. If your students are looking for images that they can display publicly on websites and blogs, have them use the Creative Commons.
Sumo Paint is a free website that offers some pretty impressive features. In addition to mimicking the appearance of real art tools, such as paintbrush, ink and pencils, it also has some unusual features, including: smudge, blur, rotate, custom shape tool, and many more. The images below are from Sumo Paint's "Popular Artwork" section. With the right amount of time, patience and talent, Sumo Paint is capable of creating some truly inspiring artwork.
Juxio is a website that allows you to create custom posters. several templates are available, including a set aimed at educators. Juxio allows you to combine photos and text to make organized, eye-appealing collages. Create and share your "jux" with others for free, or buy printed versions of your creations.
Be Funky allows you to upload digital photographs and then add special effects. It's completely free, with nothing to download and no account necessary. Simply upload your photo and then choose the effect you want to apply. You can edit the photo first (crop, resize, rotate, adjust brightness, etc.) and then apply an effect (pop art poster, cartoonizer, charcoal, vintage colors, and many more). My favorite effects are color pinhole and cyanotype. This is a great option for creating visually appealing images for students projects, publications, digital storytelling, and websites.
Big Huge Labs has an endless supply of fun creation tools for photos. My personal favorite option is the mosaic maker (pictured left). I created a mural of famous African American writers to display on a classroom homepage. You can also create motivational posters, puzzles, magazine covers, movie posters, trading cards, slideshows, and tons of other goodies. This a great website for anyone who wants to create some visual appeal for their handouts or websites. You could also have students use the website to create interesting visual aids for projects and presentations, or for posting on e-portfolios.
Google Lit Trips offers several files that work with Google Earth and serve as virtual field trips marking various settings in different works of literature. I've used the Google Lit Trip for The Odyssey and Macbeth personally, both with great results. I'm also eager to explore the student-created poetry lit trip. Lit Trips are organized by grade level (K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and Hi Ed). The trips that I have used were relatively easy to navigate, and contained photos and textual quotations to augment my lesson. This is a great option for stories in which the setting is highly important, and visualization would be helpful.
Myna is the free audio editor offered by Aviary, which also offers photo editing among other useful tools. In the past, I have always stuck with Audacity and, while I am still a fan, I like the fact that Myna is web-based and doesn't require the user to download anything. This would be a great tool for creating student podcasts, practicing foregin language skills, manipulating audio for student projects, etc. Check out this website for some great tutorials to get you started.
Audacity is a free download that allows you to record and edit audio. I've used this in the past to record oral interpretation pieces, with great success. The Audacity in the Classroom website is a great place to start.
Photo Story 3 is a free download from Windows. It allows the user to import pictures and audio, along with narration, to create amazing digital movies. In my opinion, this is one of the best options out there for digital storytelling. It ranks up there with Movie Maker, but gets bonus points for being free, which means that students can download it at home and use it at no cost. (Did I mention that it's free?) I have used Photo Story by importing pictures that I have scanned from books; it's a little more exciting than holding up the book and walking up and down the rows, and more attention-grabbing than Power Point. I've also had students create audio files of themselves reading their personal narrative essays and then combining that audio with Creative Commons photos to create original digital stories (with amazing results).
My first Photo Story project involved scanned photos from a comic book version of Beowulf. It was a great way to visually represent a scene from the story, and it really benefited my struggling learners.
Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Ed.D.