Thursday, June 27, 2013

Story Cube Apps

There are several apps available for teachers that use stories in their language classroom.  

With the Story Dice app by Thinkamingo, you can choose to roll 1 to 10 dice that have 100+ sketches to give you ideas for a story.  The app includes an example lesson plan that explains several ways to use the apps in the classroom.  It costs $1.99 at the iTunes store and is available for the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone.

A second option is Rory's Story Cubes app.  There is less flexibility with this app compared to Story dice, but the idea is the same.  It also costs $1.99.  

If you prefer using real dice, you can find Rory's Story Cubes in educational/game stores or online.  The packages of 9 dice follow themes such as action verbs and dice related to travel. 

I envision using the Story Dice app with both my beginning and advanced levels of Spanish classes.  One way to use the app that is not mentioned on the example lesson plan is as a listening activity, explained below.
1. During lesson planning, roll any number of dice until the objects shown on the dice "speak" to you or inspire you with a story.
2. Take a screen shot of the dice to use during the lesson.
3. Write a short story that uses the objects on the dice (or one that uses most of the objects on the dice).
4. Pre-teach any unfamiliar vocabulary to students using TPRS or Comprehensible Input methods. (This may be a day or so before you actually use the app in class.)
5. Photocopy the screenshot to fit four copies of the screenshot on one piece of paper.
6. The teacher reads the story and students cross out the dice when they hear them in the story or students can write a number above the dice in the order that they hear them.
7. Alternative idea: If the screenshot is of 10 dice, tell a story that includes only 7 dice. First discuss which dice where not in the story; then as a class (for beginning levels) or with students working in small groups (advanced levels), continue the story, including the objects on the last few dice.

Thinkamingo has a free app called "Name Dice" that creates names for characters in a story.  Also available by Thinkamingo is the app Story Spark. The app creates writing prompts. This would be terrific in an ESL class or English class. MFL teachers can translate the prompt for use in class. Cost is $2.99. Lists for Writers, also by Thingamingo, is another app that English and ESL teachers may find useful.

I bought the Story Dice app and I am looking forward to using it with my Spanish students this fall. If you think of a great way to use the app, please share it!