MAT Blog

PowToon is Offering Educators $5 Million in Free Accounts

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Aug 29, 2014 12:13:00 PM

disital_storytellingPowToon is probably my favorite digital storytelling application. Everything is as simple as drag and drop and once you’ve completed your animation, you can use PowToon’s easy export system to place your animation on YouTube or download it to your computer.

Although I’ve mentioned PowToon before, this morning I received an email from them letting me know that they are giving away $5 million in free accounts to educators. Each account gives one teacher and 60 students complete access to all of PowToons features which, if you were paying for it, would cost you nearly $100. Not bad.

Click here to sign up. You’ll also need to enter this promotional code when you get there: ToonUp5M




Pedagogy with a Personality

Tags: digital storytelling, apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, writing skills, K-6 writing strategies

5 of Our Favorite Digital Storytelling Apps for Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Aug 29, 2014 10:01:00 AM

Storytelling is an indispensable human activity, one that we use not only to convey our identity and experience, but also to convince others of our arguments. Because storytelling is so important, we believe it’s important that we encourage students to tell their stories—and in a way that challenges and inspires them. One way to get students excited about storytelling is by using a medium that they not only love, but are completely comfortable with: technology.

As with  traditional storytelling, students must write, but what makes digital storytelling engaging—and often less intimidating—for students is that it gives them the ability to add computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music. If you’re looking for a few applications to get your storytellers started, we’ve got 5 of them!

5 of Our Favorite Digital Storytelling Apps for Teachers

tellagamiTellagami is a free app that allows users to create short animated movies called "Gamis.” Here’s how it works: After you choose your character, you can alter his or her mood, swap out backgrounds, doodle, record your voice, or add text. When you’re satisfied with your work, all you have to do is save and publish it to your favorite social media site, blog or website.


zooburstZoo Burst (free) gives students the ability to create their own 3D pop-up books. Arrange your characters and props and customize your 3D world by using uploaded artwork or items found in the Zoo Burst database, which contains over 10,000 free images and materials.

We should also mention that readers who have a standard webcam installed on their computer can also experience any ZooBurst book in augmented reality. This feature gives readers the ability to interact with the book and turn pages simply by waving their hands!

superhero_comic_book_makerSuperhero Comic Book Maker ($1.99) is an award-winning app that helps students create personalized, animated comic books with monsters and superheroes. Choose from 27 unique background scenes and over 170 animated stickers with sound effects. Students can also illustrate their work and narrate it.

puppet_palsPuppet Pals 2 (free) builds on many of the features available in the first version of the application, giving users more flexibility and a wider variety of choices. Choose from a collection over 30 unique “puppets,” which include historical figures like Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln, or design your own character from scratch. As with real puppets, users can flex their digital puppets’ joints and alter their poses. If you have access to a microphone, you can also make your puppet speak when you tap on it.

toontasticToontastic Jr. Shrek Movie Maker (free) is always a class favorite, especially with younger students. This app allows students to “remix” and the classic Shrek movie by picking a beginning, middle, and ending for the movie, and recording their voice. Whether you choose to storm the Dragon’s castle, rescue Princess Fiona, or battle Lord Farquaad, the decision is entirely up to you.


New Call-to-Action

Tags: digital storytelling, apps for educators, Writing, writing fluency, apps for teachers, K-6 writing strategies

Make Writing Less Intimidating with these 2 Digital Storytelling Apps

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 12, 2013 6:00:00 AM

Storytelling is an indispensable human activity. Not only do we use stories to share our experiences and convey who we are, we also use them to create analogies, convince others and illustrate our arguments. Because storytelling is so valuable, we try to incorporate this activity into our lessons as often as we can—and do so in a way that both inspires our students and makes them more comfortable with the writing process.

In our experience, one of the best ways to teach storytelling to beginning writers is by using digital comic book generators. As with traditional storytelling, students must write, but unlike traditional writing, students are never faced with a blank white least not for long. Instead, students drag and drop characters, images, backgrounds and objects into layout boxes; then they write around the images.

This morning we came across a couple of new comic book generator apps and wanted to share them with you.  

Make Writing Less Intimidating with these 2 Digital Storytelling Apps

digital storytellingBitstrips for Schools is intuitive and a heck of a lot of fun. As with most comic book generators, users are able to customize their own cartoon characters, backgrounds and images, but Bitstrips also allows users to import pictures into their comics. We also like the fact that we can share, remix and collaborate with others on our comics, set up virtual classrooms, and access an administrator dashboard.

Bitstrips is free, but only for the first 30 days. After that, it costs $9.95/month for your first classroom. Additional classroom are $4.95/month.

digital storytellingIf you don’t need administrator controls and you’re on a budget, but still want a powerful comic-creation tool, ToonDoo is an ideal choice. ToonDoo gives you sophisticated results, but without the learning curve.

Everything is as simple as click, drag and drop. When you finish your masterpiece, grab your comic’s embed code, or click on the Facebook and twitter icons to share it with the world.




15 Classroom Management Apps for Educators

Tags: digital storytelling, reluctant writers, apps for educators, apps for teachers, reluctant readers, technology in the classroom

Pixton just may be the best digital storytelling application yet

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Aug 6, 2013 9:28:00 AM

digital storytellingIf you’ve followed our blog, it’s no secret that we’re fans of using digital storytelling apps and comic book generators in the classroom. While there are dozens of useful applications out there, this morning we stumbled upon what just may be the holy grail of comic book generators: a nifty little application called Pixton.

Unlike most comic book generators—which have limited flexibility—Pixton allows users to completely customize their work: Choose from a wide variety of characters, change their facial expressions, shrink them, enlarge them, and rotate and shift their body movements. This only scratches the surface of what you can do with this app. Whether you’re zooming in and out of panels, swapping out background images, adding props, speech bubbles or text, everything is as simple as drag and drop.

Free accounts are available, but you’ll have to put up with advertisements and you won’t be able to print and download the final product. Upgrades begin at $8/month.

To learn more about how you can use digital storytelling in the classroom, watch the video below.



Surfing for Substance II Download

Tags: digital storytelling, reluctant writers, apps for educators, apps for teachers, reluctant readers, technology in the classroom

Using wordless picture books to engage reluctant writers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jul 27, 2013 6:00:00 AM

We’ve noticed something about our students: When we give them a topic to write about, they say “it’s boring.” When we don’t, we hear things like, “Tell me what to write about, I can’t think of anything!” Sound familiar? We thought so.   

In our experience, wordless picture books have been a useful, anxiety-reducing foundation for creative writing. Instead of starting with a blank “canvas,” students already have a sketch that they can write around. All they need to do is supply the narrative voice, the dialogue, and develop the story.

Using wordless picture books to engage reluctant writers

There are hundreds of picture books, but one of our favorites is Molly Bang’s The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher. It is as bizarre as it is amusing and for these reasons, students seem to love it.

reluctant writersIn this story, we follow the misadventures of a nameless, strawberry-loving grey lady who simply wants to buy her basket of fruit and be on her way. But no sooner does she exit the grocer’s when she finds herself pursued by a blue, impish-looking creature: a Strawberry Snatcher who loves his fruit as much as, or perhaps more than, she does.

The chase winds through sidewalks and into the streets—we didn’t know that Strawberry Snatchers could ride skateboards—and finally into the woods. We won’t give away the ending, but even if we did, your students would still have the freedom to make up their own.

As you can see from the image above, we’ve taken a scanned image of the book and added speech bubbles and dialogue with the help of Pixlr, but there are several ways your students can approach this assignment. They could simply type up the story in a Word document, or if every student had his/her own copy of the book (you can find cheap used copies on Amazon), they could print speech bubbles and use masking tape—or any kind of tape that is not very sticky—to attach them to the pages.

If you’re looking for more ways to engage your reluctant writers, check out a couple of our recent blogs, Storybird uses digital storytelling to engage reluctant writers and 5 of the Best Digital Storytelling Applications.


Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: digital storytelling, reluctant writers, apps for educators, apps for teachers, reluctant readers, technology in the classroom

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