Common Sense Review
Updated November 2015

After the Storm

Engaging ELA game makes you the editor of your local newspaper
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • Work through different episodes following a destructive storm.
  • Complete your editor's to-do list.
  • Talk to employees and people around town to collect facts.
  • Work through various aspects of running a newspaper.
  • Edit articles and choose appropriate evidence.
Well-structured activities feature lots of practice and opporutnities for skill development.
This pricey tool isn't designed with diverse learning needs in mind.
Bottom Line
An excellent way to target practice with most middle schoolers.
Caryn Swark
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

The game-based approach will draw students into informational writing and evidence analysis.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Well-rounded practice encourages skill development in language arts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

In spite of the helpful to-do list, it can be hard to figure out how to start.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

There are tons of activities on the website to go with the game, and that's a good place to look first. Teachers can check the objectives of each episode, then teach the concept before assigning the episode (it works best to allow a class to complete an entire episode in one sitting). Because of the nature of the topic, there are also some great extension activities teachers could conduct, encouraging students to think about an emergency plan for their own community, check to see if such a plan exists, and create their own for themselves, their schools, or their families. 

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What's It Like?

In After the Storm, users take on the role of editor of the local newspaper following a devastating storm. It's your job to manage the paper, and that means talking to reporters, assigning stories, combing social media for reliable stories, talking to locals, and finally writing and editing stories for the paper. Along the way, you'll have to take notes on important details to include in your final story, decide which stories are reliable, and determine which information has no place in your paper.

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Is It Good For Learning?

After the Storm does several things really well. There are tons of things for kids to do, whether you're writing an article, updating your résumé, or deciding which social media tweets best serve a blog post. Students will also feel engaged with the interactive game style -- there's just enough agency and choice in the activities that it really does feel like a game and not a conversation you happen to be reading. And the nature of the game makes it very difficult to skim through, forcing deeper engagement with the process.

The game includes activities that address a variety of skills, from proofreading to résumé creation to digital presentations, and it handles them all effectively, if not with a lot of depth. To make sure students really engage with these big ideas and hone these skills, teachers will need to offer good context and find ways to make the game fit in with other classroom activities. Luckily, the site that accompanies the website has a lot of good suggestions. Take a look at the game and then at the site: This is a neat simulation to help kids get engaged with several key ELA skills.

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See how teachers are using After the Storm