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5 push / pull digital storytelling tools that work on Chromebooks (and Macs and PCs)

I grew up out in Western Kansas. As in, west of Dodge City. West of Jetmore. West of Kalvesta. As in, far enough west to get incredible views and horizons that are miles away. Old barns and windmills. So it was a great day yesterday when I got the chance to drive out that direction to work with middle and high school teachers at @NessCityEagles.

The goal was to share ideas and work with technology integration tools that can be used on their student Chromebooks. Much of our conversation and work time centered around a few of my favorite story telling push / pull digital storytelling tools and what they can look like in the classroom.

What’s a push / pull tool? These are tools that you as the teacher can use to push your instructional content out to kids. But kids can use the same tool to create their own content which you pull back from them. One teacher yesterday used the phrase:

“kids can use this to both consume and create content.”

And the cool thing is that because these tools are designed to work on the Chromebook’s Chrome browser, they work just as well on your Mac or PC Chrome browser. So in no particular order, five awesome digital storytelling tools:

Knightlabs Northwestern Projects
So cool. And free. The Knightlabs people have created a variety of easy to use tools that let you tell stories with images, maps, audio, and timelines. I especially like the StoryMap tool – insert almost any type of file or online resource, tie it to a specific place, and boom – you’ve got a geo-based, multimedia story that can be shared and embedded.

I created a quick sample of Civil War battles. Yesterday, middle school social studies teacher Dawn used the Juxtapose tool to create a before and after image of a neighborhood fire.

I made a quick Juxtapose that highlights changes over time in the area that would become the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto. It could be handy for an hook activity leading to a conversation around the Holocaust, racism, or white supremacist groups.

Be sure to explore all of their other tools, especially their beta VR tool called Scene. Huge potential there.

Adobe Spark
We talked about all three of the Spark tools – Page, Video, and Post. But I really like the simplicity of Post. This tool lets you easily generate graphics and text designed for social media using a powerful editing and customization tool. You can choose different sizes so think social media but also presentation slides, posters, infographics, and promotional campaigns.

As in, what sort of political campaign would FDR have run if he had access to social media tools? How would the US government have encouraged the Home Front during WWII? How might the 1940s – 1960s Civil Rights movement or 70s Vietnam anti-war protests have been organized if they had access to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook?

Google My Maps
This is not Google Maps or Google Earth. A relatively new Google tool, think Google Docs for Maps. It’s a fast and easy way to create collaborative maps that tell stories. Each place marker can act as a mini webpage with text, links, videos, and photos. Perfect for student-created Google Lit Trips or for sharing foundational knowledge with your kids. One teacher used My Maps to help her student visualize migration patterns with different layers representing three different family generation birthplaces.

Ness City collaborative travel map

(Get a quick online My Maps Tutorial and for you hard core users, experiment with creating layers with spreadsheet data.)

Originally called HSTRY, this multimedia timeline creation tool is powerful and easy to use. I posted an article about a year ago that gives a quick overview. Get some Sutori examples here.

Book Creator
This sweet tool started out as a simple iOS app. But now is available it’s also on the Chrome browser. It has all of the same great features as the original – with the basic idea to create digital books with images, text, and audio. The end product is an ePub formatted eBook. Great for sharing info with kids but even better for student assessments of knowledge and student digital publishing options.

Need an extra bonus tool? Of course you do.

Google Slides
We skimmed over a ton of Google apps and probably should have spent more time with Google Slides. Yes, Slides is an easy to use presentation tool but it also works for creating digital stories and hyperdocs. You get text, photos, video, shapes. So be sure to add it to your toolbelt and the toolbelt of your students.

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