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Thursday, March 29, 2018

5 Good Story Starters for Students

On Tuesday morning I shared the idea of using the Story Dice apps (available for iOS and Android) as writing prompts or story starters for students. A few of you wrote to me and asked about similar options that will work on Chromebooks. Here is a handful of story starter options that will work in your web browser on a Chromebook or any other laptop.

StoryToolz offer a nice collection of useful tools for writers. Writers who are struggling to come up with ideas for fiction stories will like the story starters featured on StoryToolz. StoryToolz has three tools that you can use to get story ideas; Random Conflicts, Half Title Generator, and Story Idea Generator. To use any of these three tools just select the tool from the main menu then look at the randomly generated idea. If you don't like the options, run the tool again until you get options that you like.

Make Beliefs Comix is an excellent service that offers comic strip templates and writing prompts in seven languages. The templates and prompts can be completed online or you can print them out to give to your students. One of the great offerings from Make Beliefs Comix is a free ebook called Something to Write About (link opens a PDF). The free ebook contains dozens of writing prompts. Students can write in the ebook online and print their work. Alternatively, you can print all or part of the book to give to students.

Scholastic Story Starters is a great tool that students will enjoy using to create short, creative fiction stories. Scholastic Story Starters offers four story themes; fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, and scrambler. To create a story on Story Starters a students picks a theme, enter his or her name, chooses his or her grade, and spins the big wheels of prompts. The student can spin the wheels until he or she finds a prompt he or she likes. After the prompt is selected the student can write his or her story using the letter, postcard, notebook, or newspaper format provided by Scholastic Story Starters.

Flippity offers a template called Mix & Match. Mix & Match lets you create an online grid featuring random bits of information or random phrases that you write into your spreadsheet. You enter the information that students see into a spreadsheet arranged in columns with headings of your choosing. When students view your Mix & Match page they can then hide parts of the page's display to create sentences. See the demo here or look at the screenshot below for a visual.

Speaking of Flippity, they also offer a Mad Libs template that you can use in Google Sheets. Watch the following video to see how to create Mad Libs activities through Google Sheets.

NoteStreaming 101 - What You Need To Know To Get Started

Earlier today on Twitter I posted a question about notebooks. Specifically, I wanted to know who still uses physical notebooks and, if so, if there is a preference for lined or unlined paper. By the way, I use a notebook with unlined paper and I draw with a Uniball Signo 207.


One of the many responses to my Tweet came from Dr. Tom Grissom. I've followed Tom's work for almost as long as I've been writing this blog. He replied with a link to his video in which he introduces viewers to the concepts of notestreaming. In the video he demonstrates how he uses OneNote, Microsoft Forms, and OBS Recorder to create notestreams. It's a great concept that, when applied correctly, could be very helpful in providing students with video content to supplement course instruction. Watch Tom's video as embedded below or jump to his OneNote notebook of resources which includes this introductory video.

Free Webinar - Behind the Scenes at Common Craft

When it comes to producing clear explanations of tricky topics, no one is better than Lee and Sachi LeFever at Common Craft. Their videos, featuring paper cutouts and flat white backgrounds, have helped millions of people understand topics like RSS, copyright, cyberbullying, and much more. In fact, their style has come to be known as "the Common Craft style" and has been used by teachers and students to create videos of their own.

On April 11th Lee and Sachi are hosting a free webinar titled How We Produce Common Craft Videos. In the webinar you'll see how they make videos from start to finish. There will be opportunity for Q&A with Lee too. They hosted a similar webinar last summer and it was excellent. I'll be joining this webinar and you should too. Click here to register for How We Produce Common Craft Videos.

If you're not sure what a Common Craft video looks like, watch this one embedded below.