I´ve used Photo Story with my pupils and only by showing them how the program works for like 15-20 minutes they can manage to start using it themselves. So, it´s no long time for preparation needed. If you use a projector to the computer you can show the whole class at the same time. That´s good and it works!
So, what equipment do you need?
Not much, just some ordinary things like a computer, access to internet and a headset with microphone. If you want to create even more a scanner and a digital camera could be useful. You also need the program "Photo Story 3" before you can start. The program is free and you download it very quickly from: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx or just google the name "Photo Story 3" and you find it.
When you introduced the program to the pupils and they have learnt how it works you can use it in many ways. Whatever the pupils have regarded to do with Photo Story, I prefer that they start to do a plan on paper before their work on the computers begin. My experience is that the results getting better and more thoughtful, especially when the pupils working in pair or in a group. When they have their "paper plan" ready the work at the computers goes faster, which is preferable because many classrooms not have more than one or two computers at 20-25 pupils!
Examples for the pupils
Example 1: Presentations of themselves
By using the digital camera they can put together photos of themselves, their family, their house, their pets, their leisure activities and their friends. Then they combine these with text and speech and the presentation is ready. Or do a twist on the presentation and put the pupils together in pair and let them make a presentation of each other. Or do both and after watching the result they can discuss similarities and differences...
Maybe your school has a website and each class some own space. If that´s the case you can put the presentations here. God for new coming pupils and parents. Or show the presentations on a meeting for your pupils´parents. That is usually appreciated!
Example 2: Create a story
Let the pupils work together in groups, 3-4 in each group, and make a story from pictures. Decide the guidlines for the story; should it be a ghost story or perhaps a modern version of some well known story? The opportunities are unlimited! When all the groups have finished their job you can have a cosy storytelling time when you watch all the stories. Invite other classes as well to make it more solemn!
Example 3: Presentation of subject
The pupils can use Photo Story whenever they have a subject they will present. It could be about volcanoes, muchrooms, Vincent van Gogh, London or whatever. Get pictures and add text and speech and voilá; you have made a neat presentation that is much more fun for the other pupils to look and listen at!
But note the copyright and only use pictures and music that you are allowed to use! On these links you can find material you are free to use: www.multimedia.skolverket.se and www.fotofinnaren.se Elsewhere you must always ask the source about permission to use their pictures or music. Send an e-mail and ask - sometimes it´s ok!
This is just some examples and I think you can find out more examples how to use Photo Story with the pupils. What exercise you choose, your pupils need to use their English in writing, reading, listening and speaking. The exercises is also easy to adapt to the pupils´knowledge.
As a teacher you can also use Photo Story to make short presentations available to the pupils, like mini-lessons on the computer. It can for example be about body parts or prepositions (in English of course :)). Let the mini-lessons be available on the computer and the pupils can lok at it whenever they want or need to. Some pupils need to watch the same presentation several times and some just one time. It´s good to have the choice.
When the pupils are more and more convenient with the Photo Story they can use it more freely. Let them be creative and they will love it! Let them work in groups and they will communicate and develop their ideas and out will come amazing stuff that look very professional. Stories they can be proud of!