Storybird and StoryJumper – two web 2.0 tools for telling illustrated stories

Storybird is a free web tool for creating art-inspired stories. Users choose from art hosted on the site and build a story around those images that can then be shared with others. Storybird encourages creativity and supports working collaboratively. Final Storybirds can be printed, read on the screen, or shared via their unique URLs.  Storybirds written in a second language are automatically saved as a private story. Private stories are not reviewed by Storybird moderators.


The beauty of Storybird is its ease of use – students simply drag and drop images onto the blank pages of their story. According to where they drop each image, a text box appears to the left, right, top or bottom of the page.

How to get started with Storybird

  • Create a Storybird account. If you intend to use Storybird with students, use their free Class Accounts to set up classes for your students. A class is a private learning space on the Storybird platform that lets you create student accounts without email, issue assignments, build libraries of Storybirds and easily track and manage the activity of your students.
  • The free version enables you to use Storybird with up to 75 students. Beyond that number you will need a paid annual subscription. Once registered, customize your avatar and  add your students! Unless you have Pro membership, you will have to add students one at a time.
  • Storybird will allocate each student a username and temporary password to login. Your students will be prompted to create a new password when they login.
  • Once you’ve added students to your class, Storybird creates a “class graph” that knows who’s connected to whom. When your students want to collaborate, they’ll have a class list of collaborators from which to choose. They’ll also see each others’ work in their class library and through search, so they can easily find stories and comment on them.

How to make your first Storybird

  • The first step is to search for suitable artwork. You can search by theme or by artist.
  • Once you’ve selected your images click on Use this art for a story.
  • Your images are then arranged around a blank storybook.


  • It’s then just a matter of dragging an image to your first page. According to where you drop the image, a text box appears to the left, right, top or bottom of the image. Check this out by dragging your first image around the page.
  • To create additional pages click on the plus sign (bottom right hand corner of the screen).
  • Likewise click on the minus sign to delete pages (bottom left hand corner of the screen).
  • You can click and drag individual pages in the black task bar beneath your story, to reposition them in the story.
  • Don’t forget to add an image and title to your cover page! Only the “classic” Style comes with the free account but you can customize it by changing the border colour.
  • Remember to save your book regularly as well!
  • If you want to invite someone to work on the Storybird with you, click on Menu and then on Invite Collaborator. Select someone from the class list or another person entirely.
  • Once the story is finished click on publish. The Storybird will be stored in the class library.
  • Parents can view Storybird’s via their child’s account.
  • You can also email the URL for each story or put the embed code in a wiki, blog or website.


How to post a Storybird on a wiki

  • Click on your published Storybird.
  • Click on the Share button.
  • Copy the embed code. The copy shortcut is Ctrl+c (PC) or command+c (Mac).
  • Go to your page on the wiki.
  • Click “Edit Page”.
  • Click on the embed widget in the edit tool bar – this looks like a TV set.
  • In this widget menu click “Other (other html)”.
  • Paste your Storybird code in the html box on this page. The paste shortcut is Ctrl+v (PC) or command+v (Mac).
  • Click Save and a widget will now be on your page.
  • Click Save again to go to the normal page view!

The Storybird site has a useful help page for users.

Consider using Storybird for the following purposes:

  • Primary and secondary: Rehearsing vocabulary by theme, practising tenses etc.
  • Secondary: Creating stories to share with primary students as a transition activity.
  • Teachers: Creating stories to emphasise certain grammatical points.

Check out some teacher developed French, German, Italian and Spanish stories here and an Indonesian story here.

How to get started with StoryJumper

Like Storybird, StoryJumper has a classroom edition that is designed to:

  • give teachers an interface to manage and review students’ work.
  • enable students to share stories between the classroom and home.
  • maintain strict privacy controls over student information.

The classroom edition section of the site has a detailed step by step guide for teachers to create an account and setting up a class.

Support for using StoryJumper is provided through a tutorial, and the following video:

In any event, it’s very intuitive to use:

  • Click on create and either select an existing (theme based) template or start a story from scratch.
  • Themes like Space, Under the Sea, Trucks, and Treasure inspire young writers to make their own books.
  • Students can also explore the finished stories online and personalize them by deleting the text that is already there, and adding their own words in the target language.
  • The benefit of this is that students spend less time on the art work and more time on the use of language!

Although there is an option to buy the finished story in print format, this is not necessary to use the site.

Click here to see some published French and Spanish StoryJumper books. 


Stories published online through StoryJumper have a realistic book appearance and a papery “whoosh” sound when pages are turned.

Consider using Storybird for the following purposes:

  • Primary and secondary: Rehearsing vocabulary by theme, practising tenses etc.
  • Secondary: Creating stories to share with primary students as a transition activity.
  • Teachers: Creating stories to emphasise certain grammatical points.

Although the sentences and graphics available appear juvenile, the fact that writers can delete the text and add their own original text, photos, and drawings makes this site flexible enough to use with older students, as well.

The MakeUseOf team have written a great article on StoryJumper if you need further inspiration.


Curation tools


Pearltrees is a collaborative curation tool that allows users to collect, organise and share any URL they find online as well as to upload personal photos and notes. It has a visual interface that allows users to drag collected URLs into units called pearls that themselves can be further organized in a hierarchical structure with pearltrees. Users of this tool can collaborate in teams on the same pearltree and they can pin pearls found on other peoples’ pearltrees to their pearltree.

New links added to user accounts and new pearltrees created by users can be broadcast via a user’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, if users have enabled this feature. Users can also embed a pearltree into most content management systems such as wikis and blogs. See an example of one of my pearltrees below.

Pearltrees has an online version and apps for iOS and Android devices.
My favourite writing tools in My favourite digital tools for languages teaching


Pinterest is a service that lets you visually bookmark web sites for later reference. You can create multiple “boards” or categories to which you pin your finds and can share links to these boards. “Pins” (bookmarks) are created by “pinning” an image from a web site to one of your boards. You do this either by clicking on a Pinterest icon on the web site (if there is one) or by clicking on the + symbol alongside your name on the Pinterest web site and selecting add from a website. You then select an image that best represents the site as a pin, write a brief description and save it to the appropriate board.

As well as sharing your boards with other Pinterest users, you can also browse through their boards and repin some of their finds to your boards. You might like to click on the follow button of people who have a lot of pins that you like. Pinterest has proven especially popular among educators. Teachers like to pin sites for later referral. Students also use Pinterest to organise sources and collaborate on projects. Check out some of the Pinterest boards that have been saved in the education category , or search by individual language to see some of the topics that interest educators and find some people to follow. Once you have created your own board(s) why don’t you write a comment on this post and share the URL of your finds?

Here is a screen capture of my Pinterest boards. Click here to go directly to them.


Padlet (formerly Wallwisher)

Padlet is an online tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, including the curation of web sites. I used Padlet to create the page element below. You can use it as I have to just curate and display web links in a visual manner but the beauty of Padlet is that users can work collaboratively on the same wall to access/post links to various websites. Possible additional uses in the languages classroom might be to post a web site or multimedia item (YouTube video, PowerPoint Presentation etc.) and invite general comments or answers to specific questions. Your students can provide feedback/answers in the form of post-it notes.

Check out this YouTube video for a good tutorial on how to make a Padlet.

Below is an example of a Padlet that I have made. Don’t worry if you don’t like the background that I have selected . I admit that it is very busy but I thought the robot theme was relevant to the content of this page. There are lots of calmer backgrounds and even a cork pinboard!

Speaking tools


I’ve just come across Audiopal again and think it’s a great tool for embeding messages into a wiki or blog with a compact flash-based video player. The way Audiopal works is very similar to Voki – you can record directly through the microphone, prepare a message using a pre-recorded text, or convert typed text to speech in a range of languages.


To make a voice recording click on the microphone  tab. You will be prompted to let the computer take control of your microphone. Once you grant permission you will see the record button and can start the recording. If you prefer, you can use a file that you pre-recorded using software such as Audacity. Just remember to export the file as an mp3 file (or export it as a .wav file and convert it to mp3). Navigate to this file and click upload for the file to be attached to the player. Once your recording has been uploaded you can preview the message by clicking on the play button of the sample player. When you are ready to export your message type in your email address and then click on Get It! Your message will be sent to you by email with the embed code ready for you to copy and add to your site.

If you want to practise writing skills in the target language rather than speaking skills, click on the Text-to-Speech button and select a language and gender from the drop down menu.


With the movie maker Xtranormal being no longer available after the end of today I have been looking around for an alternative. I think that Go!Animate is an excellent replacement. With a free Go!Animate account there are two options: a basic “quick” text-to-speech movie maker, and a more sophisticated “full” program with features like character movement and scene changes. Both versions are very easy to use. When you go into into the full video maker for the first time you are taken through the steps of making a movie. Go!Animate has also published a number of YouTube videos to support  both the quick and the full video makers. Go!Animate supports text to speech in a range of languages. You also have the option of recording your own voice. There is a limited number of options for exporting your finished movie with the free account but you can embed it in a wiki or blog or email the link. You need a paid account to upload to YouTube. Have a look at the quick version that I’ve made with a French voice over (text to speech). I was a little disappointed that the adult voices don’t really go with the two child actors. Next time I’ll record my own voice.

On va au cinéma? by krispaul on GoAnimate

Useful tools for teachers


Apps Gone Free – a free iPad/iPhone app

Apps Gone Free, as its name suggests, is a source of free apps. While many of these apps may not be of interest to educators, there are enough that are useful to make it worthwhile installing Apps Gone Free on your iPhone or iPad. I download quite a few of the free apps to check out their features. It is easy enough the delete them later if I find something better.

As some of the apps are only free for one day. I usually check what’s available first thing.  The time sone difference with the United States means that some apps will have expired by the end of the day.

Triptico – a free downloadable app for PCs or Macs

Triptico is a free downloadable app  for computers that runs on Adobe Air, making it compatible with both Macs and PCs. Triptico provides you with a set of resources that you can use with your interactive whiteboard.  The great feature of Triptico is that it will work  with any make and model of interactive whiteboard unlike many of the commercial programs which are brand specific.


 When you come to install the Triptico app you will be prompted to install Adobe Air if you don’t have it already on your computer.Once you have installed and launched the application, you can explore the different activities available by clicking on the tabs: Tools, Timers, Selectors and Quizzes. You don’t need to register with the application to use the resources.

Available resources include:

Tools: Word Magnets, Order Sorter, Class Count, Think/Link, Task Generator

Timers: Flip Timer, Hourglass, Circle Timer

Selectors: Student Group, Flip Selector, Pin Board, Text Spinner, Sliding Scores, Score Tapper

Quizzes: Find Ten, Match Maker, Word mix, What’s the question

An annual subscription of around AU$23 to Triptico Plus will give you access to additional resources such as Word Magnets PLUS, Card Board, Calculate, Student Selector PLUS, Image Spinner and Triptico Bingo and bonus features such as Save to Cloud.

Check your version occasionally. If there is a new version, be sure to uninstall your old one before installing the update.

Screen Time – a free iPad/iPhone app

This app enables teachers and parents to control the amount of time children spend on a device. It’s relatively easy to use: just set up a passcode, choose a time limit, set a user and hand it to your student. When the time runs out, the device will lock up and the only way to unlock it will be to enter the passcode.

This app is great for setting time limits when you need students to be purposeful in their use of apps. Teachers can use it to monitor their students and to support them with managing their time.


Welcome to this new blog!

I plan to use this blog to share new additions to my wiki with languages teachers (new apps, tools etc) and to provide suggestions for how to use them in languages lessons.

I welcome your input into this blog so that it meets your needs. Tell me what you would like to read about on these pages.

I’m hoping that this blog can be interactive – information sharing and collaboration should be a two way process. I welcome input from you by way of comments, suggestions, queries etc. Over to you!

2 great iPad apps for speaking

I have just added details of some great apps to my wiki that you can use to provide prompts or conversation starters for role plays.

Decide now is  one such app. It comes with a range of conversation categories included

Not all of the lists are suitable to use with languages classes. Click on the cog to edit them. You can modify or delete existing lists or click on the plus symbol to generate your own list. For example you could put together separate lists of hobbies, food and/or drink items, activities to do on the weekend, film genres etc.

As you make each new wheel you can choose a colour scheme. Pick from Rainbow, Colourful or hues of the same colour. Once you have selected the wheel to use, click on the circle to spin it and make a random selection.



I’ve just come across a great blog by Karen Whitehead (@kazWd) from the International Studies department of Stanwick Hall in the UK. The following ideas come directly from Karen’s post of 6 June. Check out her teaching ideas and resources for French, German and Spanish too!

: All students choose one of the vocab items, write it on a scrap of paper and stand behind their desk. Spin the wheel and any who have the same as the wheel remain standing. The students still standing choose again. Repeat the process until you have a winner.

Choose a card
: Create a set of flashcards to match the vocab on decide now and pin these around the room. Students choose which card to stand near and you spin the wheel. They are out if the word they have chosen appears.

Dictionary race
: To introduce new vocabulary, you could enter the new words on decide now!, spin the wheel and students have to race to find the meaning in the dictionary. The first to hold the meaning up on their whiteboard wins a point. The wheel may well land on a word that has already been checked, so the first to shout out/re-write the meaning wins a point – allowing for re-enforcement.

: Students compete to draw items fastest on their mini whiteboard. Decide now! could determine what they have to draw.

Talk for a minute: 
Thanks to Amanda Salt (@amandasalt) for this suggestion. Enter topic areas and students have to talk for a minute on the topic chosen.

Strip bingo:
 Students have 5 boxes in a line and fill each with an item of vocab. They have to tear off each box from the outside working inwards as the items get called. The winner is the person who gets their final box called first. This is more effective than normal bingo as it means the vocab has to be called more than once (a player might have a word on the outside and tear it off immediately but another player may not need the same word until their last square). Decide now! would be a good way to select the vocabulary.

Another great iPad app for turn taking is Tap Roulette. Use it to randomly select whose turn is next among small groups of students. They simply launch the app, place their finger on the screen and click on Pick Finger. The person whose finger lights up in red gets to have a turn.