Monday, August 19, 2013

Story retelling with Explain Everything app

Story retelling is a key strategy in promoting early literacy skills in young learners.  Story retelling supports language development, increased comprehension and encourages a deeper understanding of the language structure of books.  It provides opportunities to practice sequencing and use new vocabulary.  Research suggests that story retelling is more effective than teacher questioning in increasing comprehension.  The Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress include two related indicators, retelling information from a story and representing stories told or read aloud through various media during play.  

There are various strategies for story retelling.  Using props or toys related to the story, using sequencing cards, role playing and acting out stories are some of the strategies that are effective.  This post highlights the use of an app as another strategy for retelling stories.  The app is Explain Everything and it is one of the apps I think every teacher should have on the iPad.  It is versatile, easy to use and affordable.  It is my "go to" whiteboard app because of one particular tool, the free select cropping tool.  This tool essentially allows you to create stickers/props that can be manipulated to retell the story.  Think of it as technology’s version of flannelboard stories or tongue depressor props and the best part is the animated video can be shared with others.    

Here is a quick explanation of the process I used.   I went to the site, Kizclub to get the visuals.  Under "Stories and Props" there are visuals for many of my favorite books.  I saved the PDF’s to Dropbox in a shared file folder so that other teachers can access them.  I reviewed the PDF guide for Explain Everything and went to work.  Here is a link to the PDF guide for your reference. In order to use the free select tool I took screenshots of each page of the PDF so I could edit the photo.   I took a screenshot by pressing the home button and power button at the same time. I opened a new presentation in Explain Everything.  

I selected the insert image icon and chose “Existing Photo/Video”.  I found the screenshot in the camera roll and selected it.  Next, I chose the free select tool and outlined the image I wanted and selected done.  I repeated this process until I had  all of the props on the slide.  In the example, I created a second slide with the images of the characters in “wake up” mode.  

The next step is to record the child retelling the story and manipulating the props.  The finished product can be sent to You Tube for sharing or can be viewed on the iPad.  

Here is the example using the Napping House props.  I read the story with Olivia and then we went through the book again and looked at the pictures more closely.  I had printed out the props and taped them onto blocks.  She stacked the blocks in the order of the story as I retold the story without the book.  I presented the app and told her that it was her turn to tell the story.  She was somewhat shy about being recorded so I provided some support and prompting.   

In this second example, we personalized the experience.  I took a picture of Olivia in a sleeping position and we removed Granny and put Olivia in the story.  She asked me to tell the story, so I did, but she couldn’t resist joining in, it is a great example of how technology can be socially engaging and promote cooperation and interaction.  She liked this version of the story even more! Next time I would have her draw a house and a bed with the drawing tool.  What story are you going to try?