Tuesday, March 6, 2012

APP Review: My Story iPAD APP

By Mark T. Burke

Storytelling, the predecessor to formal education, takes center stage once again. Storytelling has a history that goes back to the very first human communications.  In early cave drawings, isolated images are rare.  Rather, drawings depict events, stories, beliefs, instances of great complexity that only a story can convey.  I believe when man first put rock to wall, he had to be thinking, "How can I share this story?"

In an interesting twist, storytelling led to formalized instruction.  Over time, education circles realized that students learn best through teaching others.  But, HOW we guide them to teach others is critical.  Should we teach students to lecture?....uh...NO....Should we teach them to read to others word by word from a book?...again, no.  What about creating stories for others?  YES!

Guiding students through the creation of stories is certainly not new.  Computers provided some significant enhancements from the techniques used during the days of Rock-to-Wall composition.  But, think about the world of story creation before computers.  Rock-to-Wall, Ink-to-Parchment, Pencil-to-Notebook, Typewriter-to- Paper, all pretty similar in terms of story development and delivery options. Enter, the tablets.

We've had tablet created and delivered stories in the past.  But of course, tablets of stone have some limitations. Technology-based tablets offer a set of amazing tools, including drawing tools, cameras, audio recording, playback templates and sharing tools (Cloud and Social Media).  Additionally, the portability of tablets ensures story creators aren't tethered to a desk.  The devices can be taken into the field providing remote access to a full tool set.   

My Story is a great APP for early learners through junior high.  The APP provides three easy to understand screens.  The first provides an interface to view and access the pages of a new or existing story.  Stories are created in the form of Books.  Each book can have as many pages as needed.  Each page can contain a variety of resources including custom drawings, photos, audio recordings, imported graphics and text.

I gave the APP a test drive and actually had a lot of fun creating a few pages.  My story was titled Bandatar.  Being a HUGE Avatar fan, I imagined my story taking place on a foreign planet called Bandatar.  Of course, it was covered in beautiful blue oceans, green mountains and silky sand beaches....hummm...maybe I need a little vacation :-) .  Anyway, even with my limited drawing skills, I was able to create a few pages within minutes.  I even recorded a little audio file to go along with one of the pages.

Sharing the book was as easy as emailing it or sending it to iBooks.  In iBooks, the book could be viewed like all others, just flick, flip and play. 

Storytelling is a key skill for musicians.  I believe kids benefits when they learn how stories unfold.  Listening to Ben Zander's "One Buttock" playing always reminds me how musical line is so, so critical.  Musical line unfolds like a story.  When stories successfully engage an audience, the audience doesn't feel the pulses of the story, they only hear, envision and feel the flow of the story line.  While we can certainly attempt to teach students about the story flow of music, which is rather metaphorical, why not provide a more concrete activity, such as creating and sharing stories? 

The iPAD once again proves itself a significant asset to the musical classroom.  Not all APPS that benefit students will be musical.  As you seek out tools to help students, think about non-traditional, but directly applicable tools and teaching strategies that can greatly increase student's musical abilities. 

My Story is available on the Apple Store at:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-story-book-maker-for-kids/id449232368?mt=8.  The current price is $1.99....a real bargain. 

Enjoy!  Oh...if you create your own stories, post here! 

No comments:

Post a Comment