In our school district the majority of students are English Language Learners, and building vocabulary is a very important part of the day.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure to work with a few teachers and students to help them use language in a simple, yet effective way.  The project allows students to use new vocabulary multiple times and also makes learning new vocabulary fun, as they get to use the Storyrobe, Photo Wall, and Doodle Buddy apps.


To prepare for this apptivity have the students create a story board that goes along with vocabulary words they are learning.  This story board should be detailed enough that the students can read what they wrote.  The teacher, in turn, should review what students have prepared, so that when they write in Photo Wall there are not any mistakes.  Having a story board also maximizes students’ time when they are using the iPods.


1. The students write an original story using “robust” vocabulary from the text that they are reading.  Note:  Robust vocabulary is defined as everyday words that we believe students should know but do not because of language issues or lack of reading ability.  For example, one of our Houghton Mifflin stories has the word “mast” in it, and the students did not know what the word meant.
2. This is done with the help of the teacher so that students get the meaning of the words they do not understand.
3. Students draw pictures that illustrate the meaning of their story.
4. Students break the story down into smaller parts (story board) to make it easier to read into Storyrobe.
5. Students write sentences that emphasize the vocabulary words.


Doodle Buddy

1. Students will take shots of their physical drawings with the camera tool on the iPod Touch or will use Doodle Buddy to draw and save the drawing.

Both of these actions will save the picture in the device’s photo library for later use.
2. After the students have the photos they need, they will then launch the app Photo Wall Lite.

Photo Wall Lite

3. In Photo Wall Lite they will choose the photos (drawings) and place them in a frame of their choosing. In the frame they will write over or beside the picture a sentence that emphasizes the vocabulary.
4. When students finish a frame they will use the screen shot capability for each frame (drawing) they make.

5. Next, the students will have all the screen shots they need in their photo library and they can use them in within the Storyrobe app.


6. In Storyrobe, the students simply place the screen shots in order and record the narration using an external or built-in microphone.
7. Teachers can then upload the student projects to iPhoto, where these files can be dragged to the desktop for additional posting or use.






This project takes about two hours if the students work hard. They need to begin with sentences and then move on to longer stories. This will also help teachers become familiar with the different apps that they will use.

Author:  Brian Herman, Escondido Union School District

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