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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
Volume 3 Number 12

COVER STORY
Eric Carle said, "I long dreamt of a museum for children and families," and now his dream has come true...
COLUMNS
No Problem With Hurricane Lili Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Accountability in Schools Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
December Survival Guide - Ten Special Management Tips for Your Classroom & Ten Ways to Rest and Recharge over the Winter Break Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers by Barbara Gruber and Sue Gruber
"I Hate Homework," Says Mom Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Writing on Demand---As Necessary as Process Writing The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
Sites For Grades 7 to 8 The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Storybook Weaver: Terrific Software for Lower Grade Writing/Story-making Ed-Tech Talk by Rob Reilly
A Little Stress Relief with Timing Issues 4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
December Postcard from Planet Esme - News from the world of children's books by Esmé Codell
December Articles
December Regular Features
December Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Dr. Rob Reilly...
Dr. Rob Reilly is the computer education teacher at the Lanesborough Elementary School in Lanesborough, Massachusetts USA. He is also a Visiting Scientist at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is conducting NSF funded research in the area of affective computing, emotions and learning. He has been a Visiting Scientist at MIT's Center for Educational Computing Initiatives, a Post Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts' Office of Information Technologies, and a Teaching Associate, at the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts. His email address is: reilly@media.mit.edu His Web site is: http://www.media.mit.
edu/~reilly


Teachers.Net Tech Center...
Teachers.Net features a number of specialized tools designed to help teachers easily integrate technology in their classroom and lives. The Teachers.Net Tech Center includes four specialized tech-related chatboards, three tech mailrings, and a Web Developers Solution Center for developing the hottest website possible, no matter what your skill level. Be sure to check out each of the specialized tools listed below for teachers eager to embrace new technology!
Teacher Tech Chatboards...
Teachers.Net offers four specialized chatboards for technology support for educators. The Comp/Tech Chatboard provides access to a huge network of tech-savvy teachers from around the planet. The Apple Classroom Chatboard is the place to brainstorm ideas and solutions for teachers using Apple products in the classroom. The Ed Software Chatboard connects teachers seeking information and advice regarding the latest educational software (as well as the timeless favorites). Visit each of these specialized chatboards and bookmark and contribute often!
Teacher Tech Mailrings...
Teachers.Net has three mailrings designed to help teachers quickly learn the secrets to the technical challenges demanded by the new millenuium. Visit the Teachers.Net Mailring webpage and subscribe to the Web Authors Mailring, the Apple Teachers Mailring, and the Computer Teacher Mailring.
Ed-Tech Talk...
by Rob Reilly Ed.D.
Storybook Weaver: Terrific Software for Lower Grade Writing/Story-making

Once upon a time there was a teacher who wanted to find a terrific piece of writing software that would work for students in grades K through 6. Then one dark and stormy night that teacher (I'm really talking about me) decided to venture forth to every nook and cranny of the Internet until he found a story-making software program that was fun, held the interest of children, made noise, had graphics, allowed for text-to-speech, had an obvious education value--and encourages children to write--a way to get reluctant writers to want to create stories. The teacher (it's really me, remember?) spent hours and hours examining demos of various pieces of story-making software. And then there was a brilliant flash of light and a magical elf appeared and said: "Click your mouse twice and say the magic words (al la peanut butter sandwiches) and the most terrific, most incredible story-making software will appear. So the teacher clicked the mouse and said the magic words and found Storybook Weaver Deluxe.

Storybook Weaver Deluxe provides outstanding inspiration for children in developing basic as well as creative writing skills. The reviews I have read support this observation. Reviewers have:

"found that [the children] didn't have to write as fast as their creative thoughts occurred. The pictures can be quickly designed to encourage their thinking processes, and having their own images seemed to allow them to remember what they wanted to write."

Reviewers have also noted that "even younger kids will enjoy designing scenes with this program, but they will need assistance writing the text."

Storybook Weaver has tremendous educational value. Here's the review that says-it-all:

"Storybook Weaver is for kids that want more than just a sheet of paper to jump-start their creative writing. Young writers choose between themes like - outer space, a king's castle, oceans and more, and then pick from a variety of characters available to fit with the almost never ending choices of scenery. Our kids loved changing the time of day in the scenery, from morning to night, in their stories."

Storybook Weaver has hundreds of excellent graphics (e.g., dinosaurs, people, backgrounds, fantasy beings and things, structures, etc.). These graphics can easily be inserted into the storyboard and moved about. It's quite simple to change the size, direction and color of the graphics. There is also a paint program included to change the colors of the graphics.

Storybook Weaver allows for the creation of an actual book. Students can have multiple pages in their story. Each page is created individually. The bottom portion of the story page has a section where text can be written. Storybook Weaver has a text-to-speech feature that when clicked, converts the text into audible speech. This is a terrific feature to this or any story-making program.

In addition to the text-to-speech feature Storybook Weaver has some 50 theme songs which will play when the story is opened. There are also some 100 different sounds that can be linked to various pages or items on a page (e.g., ghost howling, dog barking, glass breaking, snoring, etc.).

Storybook Weaver Deluxe Classic is packed with thousands of story-starting images to stimulate your students’ creativity. Students can write in English or Spanish for hours of creative possibilities. And the text-to-speech feature lets your students hear the story read aloud.

I highly recommend this program. If you were to have only one program on your computer, Storybook Weaver is THE ONE that you should have. It never becomes boring, it never 'wears out,' the children never exhaust the program. And it does engage the children at all skill levels; it engages the slow writer, it engages the creative writer; and it engages the teacher--I love it also--it's a cool program to use.

RESOURCES

There is a School Edition available for $24.95 (plus $4.95 s&h) from Nothing But Software (www.nothingbutsoftware.com enter "Storybook Weaver" into their search engine). The School Edition includes a Teacher's User Guide! The Guide is designed to help you introduce Storybook Weaver Deluxe to your students and to provide numerous Classroom Ideas and Resources. The activities are practical and offer a wealth of extension ideas. It seems that the School Edition provides a 6-user license, which may be useful for computer labs or classrooms with multiple computers.

Storybook Weaver is also available at Nothing But Software for $12.95 but there is no teacher guide and seems to have no multi-user license.

System Requirements:

PC Platform: 95/98/Me Media: CD-ROM CPU : 486Mhz or better RAM: 4MB (8MB recommended) Video: Super VGA (640x480x256 color) CD-ROM: 2X or better Sound: Windows compliant sound device Mouse : Compatible

Macintosh Platform: Media: CD-ROM; CPU: 68030 or better, 7.1 up to 8.6; RAM: 8MB; Video: Super VGA (640x480x256 color); CD-ROM: 2X or better

Download a Demo Version
If you'd like to test drive the program, it's available for download at:
http://www.kidsdomain.com/
down/pc/sbookweaverp1.html

It appears that there are many options that are not included in the demo. The full version includes sound effects, music, spell check, and a thesaurus. The print and save options are unavailable in the demo, and very unfortunately, the text-to-speech option is also unplugged.

Online Review

Review by David Furr, Ph.D.
This software is really amazing. Story Book Weaver is a program that lets you pick from a variety of backgrounds, people, animals, shelters, music, and sound effects to create either a multimedia "book" or a regular paper book. My son, a first grader, drove me crazy with this program. He wanted to write books every day, and it was truly impressive what he could produce.

First you are presented with a selection of background skies, then background grounds. You then add people and things to put your story together. You can enlarge or shrink the "things" to fit where and how you like them. Then you type in the words that tell the story. If you like, you can add music and sound effects. You can write your story first and add the backgrounds later, but it's a little hard to do it this way unless you are very familiar with the software.

My son wrote four "books" in four days, and then loved reading them. What a great way to get kids to read, with the added bonus of writing. Many teachers I know use this in their elementary classes almost daily. They all say that the hardest part about getting kids to write is coming up with the ideas to write about. This program does it for you. Their only problem... the students fight over using it!


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