muse: n. a source of inspiration

Adobe Voice

Crossposted from Behrman House’s Tech Tuesday email. Check out their great resources!

Kids love to tell stories. And teachers love an app that lets kids effortlessly choose photos or graphics, record their own stories and easily create an accompanying video.

Adobe Voice is free and surprisingly robust. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t get in your way – it’s simple and intuitive to use, doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary confusing features, and saves files in a format that you can easily share. Users can choose from a large variety of slide layouts, themes and music to enhance their stories. You can use the images that are in your personal camera roll, or you can search among Adobe Voice’s copyright-free image library (called “icons” in the app). There’s a nice selection of background music, too, or you can use music that’s already on your iPad.

Users need to use an Adobe ID (or sign in with Facebook credentials) to create Adobe Voice stories. You can sign up for an Adobe ID right in the app or do it via the adobe  website. Then, simply download Adobe Voice for your apple device. (Sorry – there’s no Android version right now.)

In Your Classroom

  • Have students bring in Jewish holiday family heirlooms and take photos of them holding them. Then, record the students talking about their object and how it’s important to their family.
  • Invite your students to retell a Bible story. Ask them to create between three and four drawing that depict important parts of that story. Then, use Adobe Voice to record students’ voices retelling the story to you, and add images of their drawing to accompany their telling.
  • Use Adobe Voice to create a tutorial for students struggling to learn how to pronounce prayers. Record yourself reciting the words to a prayer, and add imagery that relates to the meaning of the prayer.

March 4, 2015 Posted by | Behrman House Technology Tuesday, iPads, Mobile devices and apps, Storytelling | , , , | Leave a comment

How to tell a story

Spend an hour and watch this webinar:

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Storytelling | , | Leave a comment

Seriously? It’s only been two days?

I can’t believe I’m already packed to check out of the hotel tomorrow morning as we prepare to take the night train to Vienna tomorrow night. Today we spent a great deal of time at the hotel discussing how actual teachers use the Centropa website, and learning with incredible scholars, one of whom was Dr. Michael Berenbaum, who designed the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. After lunch we headed out for a fascinating tour of Jewish Krakow, and did so by reading significant passages from a Centropa interview. It’s one thing to stand in the square where Jews were rounded up for deportation, and quite another to do so while reading the words of one who was there.

It was a fabulous technique and one that I’d like to use when traveling with students.

After the tour we spent some time at the Krakow JCC and then headed out to do another walking tour of Krakow. We were supposed to do this tour yesterday but missed it because we were getting the fascinating tour of the highway from Katowice to Krakow because our plane couldn’t lane in Krakow because a construction crane was blocking the runway. Yes, that brought the entire airport to a standstill. Sorry. I digress.

Anyway, dinner was on our own. I dined with my new friends Margaret from Seattle (with whom I traveled from JFK, so we feel like we’ve known each other for years already), my roommate Uli from Austria, and Ursula from Berlin. Of course I ate pierogies – what else would you eat in Poland?


Bohaterow Getta Square

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Lifelong learning, Storytelling | | Leave a comment

120 International Teachers in One Place!

It feels like I left Chicago about a hundred years ago…

Here I am in Poland, with (right now) around 65 teachers from all over the world. My roommate, Uli, is from Austria; I had breakfast with a German teacher and his friend from Israel who brings him his fix of Israeli Turkish coffee… We’ll be joined later on in the week by teachers from Vienna when we interview there. Amazing!

We’re learning how to use the Centropa website with its riches of life stories, photos and films. Whether you’re teaching history, language arts, or digital storytelling, there is something that you will find useful for your classroom. And don’t forget the recipes!

Last week I was at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia. One of the things that everyone was talking about was QR codes. One of the things I’m thinking about is to create QR codes linking to films on the Centropa website and making interactive timelines. Hmmmm. Got to figure out how to work that into next year’s curriculum!

Later today – a walking tour of Jewish Krakow!

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Lifelong learning, Storytelling, Technology | | Leave a comment

We are all storytellers

When my children were young, they always asked for stories. Tell us a story, mom.

Can’t I read one? After all, their bedrooms were filled with books… And I was dying to share The Borrowers and Betsy, Tacy and Tib with my children.

No, we want you to tell us one!

And I did. I invented Princess Lori and Princess Allie and they went on adventures all over the world. The girls still talk about them.

We are all storytellers. We tell stories. We like stories.

Like many – dare I say all – good teachers, I tell my students stories. When I teach about WWII and the Holocaust, I relate my parents’ stories of surviving in war-ravaged Europe. I tell them how my parents were enamored with Jesse Owens, the African American man whose hand Hitler wouldn’t shake. I tell them about how, in seventh grade, I was assigned to do a research paper on a famous Black American. I didn’t know whom to choose. My father convinced me to write about Jesse Owens who lived on the South side of Chicago at the time. In those pre-Google (very pre-Google, I might add), my father grabbed a phone book, looked up the former Olympian’s telephone number and called him. And Jesse Owens invited my father and me to come to his home and I interviewed him. And heard his stories.

See – this caught your attention, didn’t it?

When Facebook came out, I was intrigued, as I am by all new technology, but I didn’t quite understand why Facebook would be appealing. I registered for an account as soon as it was available for non-college students and jumped in. Of course, at that time there weren’t a lot of people, ahem, my age with whom to be friends, so I stalked looked at my daughter’s photos and her friends’ photos and the snippets of their lives they were sharing. Today, I don’t go a day without a Facebook fix. It’s on my phone and my computer, and often, it’s the last thing I look at before going to bed. And, often, people share stories. The narrative style is different; it consists of status updates, wall posts and digital photos, but it’s storytelling nonetheless.

Even in Twitter, you can tell a story in 140 characters. In fact there are those who specialize in storytelling via Twitter.

And then there are those who tell stories using different media altogether: quilters, sculptors, photographers. I have deep respect, admiration and not a little envy of those who can use art to tell a story. For an astounding example of an interdisciplinary project that combines art, history and interviews, see Barbara Rosenblit’s adDRESSING Women’s Lives. I was fortunate enough to hear Barbara talk about this project at last summer’s Jewish Women’s Archive Institute for Educators. It doesn’t need to be this involved, though.

We need to encourage our students to tell stories more often. Not the why I didn’t do my homework and why I was walking down the hall without a pass stories, although they can be fairly inventive. But to take their lives, the things they’re learning, the ideas to which they’re exposed, and to weave stories.

I suggest we’re not telling enough stories, and we’re not encouraging our students to tell stories often enough. Here’s what we need to do:

1. encourage children to document the process. Are we creating a project in the classroom? Baking challah? Painting tallitot? Take digital photos, record the audio of what’s going on (do you have an iPhone? You have some amazing classroom tools there), shoot some video. Have the kids write blog posts about the process of what they did, record a podcast or create a Voicethread about it.

2. find someone to share their stories with your students. Do you know any old people? People who just came to this country? People who traveled to an interesting place? Went on a mitzvah travel experience? Went on birthright? Interview them. The JWA has some great oral history tools on their website. Bring them in. It’s not a waste of class time.

3. use digital tools to connect with other storytellers. Skype with an author or someone studying in another country (see this post for our experience Skyping with my daughter Allie last year when she was studying in Israel). Check out Youtube for great stories. When I was teaching my students about the lunch counter sit-ins, I found a lovely 6-minute piece that told the story better than I could.

4. find some professional storytellers. There are storytellers in our communities. If you really can’t find an actual storyteller, find something online to play for your students. I’m a huge fan of NPR’s This American Life. You can subscribe to the podcast free via Apple’s iTunes. If you have an iPhone, spring to download the app (it’s a whopping $2.99) and you can stream any episode dating back to 1995 when the show launched. It’s totally worth the 2.99 and then it justifies having an iPhone and bringing it out in class. Like you need to justify the iPhone, but, well, y’know.

5. Incorporate storytelling as a culminating activity. Record a 3-minute podcast each week. Pick a child at the beginning of the week to be the narrator. It’s his or her job to keep track of what you do and record the podcast at the end of the week. Have your kids journal, asking them to review what they’ve learned, using prompts like How do you feel about… Is there a time that you… Incorporate skit-making, story-writing, teaching to younger kids and listening to younger kids.

I never got to read Betsy, Tacy and Tib to my kids. I don’t think they’ve ever read the books. But I did tell them all about why I loved the series so much. And, in the end, that’s what matters.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Storytelling | , , | Leave a comment


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