Storyline Online

Storyline Online is a site Esther Kotke of Hilo Union told me about. The premise is to take powerful picture books and create a video of professional actors reading these books. I listened to To Be a Drum read by James Earl Jones, but I noticed some other favorites like Thank You, Mr. Falker, Knots on a Counting Rope, and Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge.

While the actors do the reading, the video shows the illustrated pages and subtitles appear on the bottom so that students can follow along in their own books or read together from the screen.

In addition, there are activities and questions for each book. The site is out of funding, so they probably won't add any more books, but they have a nice little collection.

This is great for elementary, but since I'm teaching 9th graders this year, I just thought it's a novelty to pass on, but I chose the right book to compliment what I'm doing right now. To Be a Drum can still be used in my high school class because it's a nice companion piece to Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Sympathy," and it works as a hook to give them some background knowledge to start their research on slavery in America. One of the summer reading books was Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. While the group was preparing for their presentation, they asked me what the title was about, so I directed them to Dunbar's "Sympathy," which is the source of the title. This led them to a study of the poem and then back to the theme of Angelou's memoir. The next step could be To Be a Drum, and then a look at the treatment of Native Hawaiians  and the suppression of their cultural practices, as well as ways in which they kept the language and culture alive.

Thanks Esther for sharing this resource. If you find resources that would benefit other teachers, let me know. I'd love to hear from you. It just seems like it's harder to find resources for secondary teachers.


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