Storybird Narrative - Practical Advice For Amateur Multi-dimensional Time Travelers
Here is a link to my attempt at a narrative story using storybird:
Self-Scores and Analysis
I have scored myself using the 6+1, 3-12 Traits rubric from http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/new-rubrics-3-12.pdf
My written analysis of your scores using information from Chapter 4 from:
Culham, R. (2014). The writing thief. New York: Stenhouse
Key Question: Does the writer engage the reader with fresh information or perspective on a focused topic?
Score: 4 (Capable)
I think that my narrative conveys a clear idea, but is weak when it comes to following it through in a conventional narrative style. According to Culham (2014), “We expect the plot to be well developed and present a compelling problem that is solved -- eventually” (p. 99). My narrative structure is more implied than a straightforward journey. Also, the problem, (staying safe while traveling through time), is solved in a more round-about fashion -- allowing Captain Whiskers to declare that reading books is the only suitable solution for the human amature time traveler. In addition, I believe that the unconventional narrative structure is engaging by virtue of its unique delivery, but ultimately fails to present a narrative architecture for readers to engage on multiple levels.
Key Question: Does the organizational structure enhance the ideas and make them easier to understand?
Score: 5 (Experienced)
In looking back over the organization of the price and comparing it to the rubric, I definitely feel that the unique sequencing, the transition words, the purpose revealed by the structure (7 practical tips), and the unusual but creative title -- all land it in the 4-5 range. Culham (2014) states, “the writer anticipates and answers and lingering questions that the reader may have, providing a strong sense of closure” (p.107). Definitely, the protagonist (Captain Whiskers), comes up with a concrete solution for amateur human travelers by suggesting that they stick to books and leave the dangerous stuff to the cats. I feel like this is backed up throughout the story, and should provide the reader with a certain amount of clarity.
Key Question: Does the reader clearly hear this writer speaking in the piece?
Score: 5 (Experienced)
As Culham (2014) writes, when the author is successful in establishing tone, “the reader feels the writer’s conviction, authority, and integrity” (p. 108). I feel like with Captain Whiskers as the narrator of the events through his advice, I feel I have created a character that conveys a very specific and purposeful tone. That tone of pure superiority supports the main idea well, leading the reader to the conclusion that reading, for humans, is the safest way to travel to other worlds. It is my hope that through the protagonist's dry humor, the reader will be engaged or entertained enough to buy into the construct of the main idea.
Key Question: Does the author's choice of words convey precise and compelling meaning and/or create a vivid picture for the reader?
Score: 5 (Experienced)
Even though this is a very short story, in a somewhat unconventional structure, I tried to pay close attention to word choices to paint a proper picture of possible events. Through the use of alliteration (Brash Broadsword of Bubblebrook), and vivid imagery (lemon-lime flying fizz potion), I hope to, as Culham (2014) states, “sparkle and show pizzazz” (p. 111). Because this story takes place somewhere between science fiction and fantasy, my word choices were selected to evoke magical imagery of extraordinary locations. I used imagery like the “infinite plains of Soaphaven,”fold time-space maps,” and “singe your fur” to create specific sensory images for the reader.
Key Question: Does the author control sentences so the piece flows smoothly when read aloud?
Score: 5 (Experienced)
The sentences in my story utilize many transition words, and I believe they flow smoothly, in a sing-song way. As the cat gives advice using, as Culham (2014) puts it, “an effective mix of long, complex sentences and short simple ones. Perhaps some of the sentences run a little too long, but I did envision the Captain Whiskers character as a bit of a wind bag. Some of the transition words I used to make the piece flow better: however, of course, but, also and while.
Key Question: How much editing is required before the piece can be shared as a final product?
Score: 3 (Developing)
I would guess that my adherence to proper conventions is pretty low. Although I did, as Culham states, “go outside of the conventions box...for emphasis” (p. 120). Many times I am unsure of capitalization when it comes to imaginary magical items or locations. I am also fairly generous with the double dash, the comma and some other overused conventions. As far as editing, many of these assignments are created between 4th grade STEM and lunch duty. I wish I could catch it all, but I understand that in order to properly comb through, I need more than one pair of eyes.
Key Question: Is the finished piece easy to read, polished in presentation, and pleasing to the eye?
Score: 4 (Capable)
No matter how much I love Storybird, it is those maddening constraints that make me believe that my project is just too packed up with words. I think that this platform is great for elementary aged students, so that they don’t have a million possibilities, and have to stay within certain parameters. I personally would like the ability to crop, make text boxes, alter artwork. For example, the ability to give multiple cats captain's hats would have been such a great thing. If I were to do it over again, I would create a simpler story in a more conventional way. A story with less words, in order to make the page breathe. Perhaps a hero's journey to retrieve a magical object... or maybe a lesson in friendship. I just couldn’t get out of my own way as soon as I saw Captain Whiskers.
Culham, R. (2014). Narrative writing. The writing thief (pp. 89-128). Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
In Reading, Writing and Talk, the authors emphasize that many perceived differences that stem from diversity are sometimes seen as deficits. They go on to give the example of children that rightfully should be considered nascent bilingual students, but are more often framed as limited learners with a lack of English understanding. This “deficit perception” of a diverse range of students is extremely pervasive in the the standardization of curriculum, teaching and assessment. Instead of approaching diversity through the lens of “deficit perception,” we, as teachers, should recognize the value of a non-homogeneous classroom -- filled with new energy, rich perspectives and depth. Using culturally relevant and authentic writing and reading resources can help tap into diverse backgrounds, utilizing a wide range of learners that are typically marginalized.
Some helpful strategies are suggested for disrupting the “deficit perception” mindset in Reading, Writing and Talk. These strategies include choosing relevant resources based on cultural backgrounds of students, utilizing oral narratives for multilingual students, capitalizing on student interest in “unofficial texts” and non-traditional texts (internet, TV), and showing value with acknowledgement of multiple languages used by students in the classroom. Chapter two encourages teachers to carefully document and observe how a student communicates in multiple scenarios, and for multiple purposes -- all while being careful not to categorize differences found in these observations as deficits. One way to facilitate this process of observation is to arrange a home visit or participate in a community sponsored event attended by the student and their family -- dipping into that student’s “family funds of knowledge.”
As a teacher, it’s also important to recognize that differences in dialect within a classroom should never equate to a deficit of knowledge. In the article, “Dialects in Schools and Communities,” the authors emphasize that while some dialects (or even accents) may evoke a certain social status, all linguistic systems have structural integrity -- and should not be used as a tool to evaluate a student’s ability. This can get especially tricky when standardized assessments can contain various levels of bias, and lead to inaccurate evaluations or suggestions.
Adger, Carolyn Temple., et al. Dialects in Schools and Communities. Taylor and Francis, 2014
Souto-Manning, M., & Martell, J. (2016). Reading, Writing, and Talk: Inclusive Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners, K–2. New York: Teachers College Press. ISBN-10: 0807757578 (This one can be access at no charge, online through NCSU’s library)
I am a K-5 STEM teacher at Brentwood Magnet Elementary School of Engineering. I work with full classes in our Makerspace and STEM lab, as well as small Boost groups in our Makerspace. We cover robotics, coding, 3D printing, Engineering challenges, community design and so much more!