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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Stories - Back-to-School Activities

The new school year is here for many and will be here soon for the rest of us. The first days of school are always exciting as we meet new students, they meet their new classmates, and we all start to get to know each other. As we all know, some students will start chatting with us and each other as soon as the classroom door opens while others may take a while to warm up.

One way that you can get almost any student to share a story about his or her summer break is to ask them to share some of their favorite pictures of the summer. I don't have hard numbers on this, but it sure feels like middle school and high school students take ten pictures for every one that an adult takes. The point being, is students scroll through their phones they will find plenty of story prompts. You could leave it right there and ask students to just tell stories about favorite pictures on their phones. That might be enough to get students talking to you and each other on the first day of school. Or you might take it a step further by having students create short image-based stories that they can share.

A couple of my favorite tools for creating image-based stories are Adobe Spark Page (formerly called Adobe Slate) and Pic Collage for Kids. Adobe Spark Page is available to use in your web browser and is also available as an iPad app. Pic Collage for Kids is available on as an iPad app, but there is a Pic Collage app for Android that doesn't have the "kids" label.

Adobe Spark Page lets students create simple webpages to showcase pictures accompanied by text captions. Students can import pictures of their own and or search for Creative Commons-licensed pictures within the app. Completed pages can be published publicly or shared privately. Learn more about how to use Adobe Spark Page by watching the video in this post.

Pic Collage is a simpler app than Adobe Spark Page. All images that students import appear on one page. Students can add text and emoticon stickers to the images on their collages. Students can also edit their collages' backgrounds. A video demonstration of Pic Collage is included in this post.