Earlier this year, I stumbled across StoryJumper. This is one of many websites that lets you create colorful ebooks. You can even share them for free, or pay a small fee to download them, and about $11 USD to actually have them printed out as physical books. And to boot – you can add your voice narration to each page! *Note: I have no affiliation with this website, and I am sure many others do the same. I am just a big fan.
This means that students are using all of their language domains – reading, writing, listening and speaking – making it a perfect activity (in my mind!). It also serves as an alternative to traditional assesment, helps students connect to the target language, and lets them be as creative as they want.
HOW DID TEENAGERS REACT?
So, I knew that I wanted to incorporate this into my online classes. I wasn´t sure how it would go over with my 11-16 year old students… They typically don´t want to write or learn a foreign language. To be honest I thought they would see it as childish. But, wow! They really surprised me – in a good way – with how much time and effort they put into their Spanish language books. They added pictures of their friends and family, food, and activities – and went above and beyond the Spanish that we saw in class.
MY EXAMPLE SPANISH E-BOOK
Here, you can see an example book that I prepared for students to be able to refer back to. They were allowed to use any design they wanted or they could use my templates to write their books. Most choose to create their own from scratch, again to my surprise.
At the end of my six week introduction course, the students were given the chance to present their books. I anonymously polled them to see if they wanted to present in class or if they prefered for me to review them and give private feedback. EVERY. SINGLE. STUDENT. choose to present in front of their classmates. This makes them much braver than myself in middle or high school – especially in a foreign language.
USE IN PRIVATE LESSONS
Now, I use Storyjumper´s book creator as the basis for my Spanish 101 Writing class. But I also use it in online lessons with private students, depending on their computer abilities. I have used it with students as young as 8 successfully. If a student needs help, they can invite me to edit the book with them, which can also include video conferencing for collaboration.
Overall, it serves as a great review for students who are taking courses long term. It´s an easy way to get them to write for practice between classes. Not to mention that parents love that their children are interested in creating content in Spanish. They also get to see their child´s progress over time.
EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK
Here are some examples of work from my students ages 8 to 14. They show how different topics and projects can be displayed.
PERFECT FOR BILINGUAL PARENTING
Of course, as a mom myself, I use StoryJumper to create bilingual books based on my daughter´s life. Especially since we live in Mexico, and are far from family in the U.S., I like to include their pictures and funny annecdotes about them in the stories. Not to mention how much my daughter loves seeing her pictures and reading about her amazing aventures. From space travel, to birthday parties, trips to museums and zoos – the possibilities for vocabulary in English/Spanish are endless.