Review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015

After the Storm

Engaging ELA game makes you the editor of your local newspaper

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Well-structured activities feature lots of practice and opporutnities for skill development.

Cons: Could be more accessible to students with learning difficulties.

Bottom Line: An excellent way to target practice with most middle schoolers.

There are tons of resources 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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After the Storm is an ELA, point-and-click game where students take on the role of editor of the local newspaper following a devastating storm. It's part of the Read to Lead series along with Community in Crisis and Vital Signs. 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.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Well-rounded practice encourages skill development in language arts.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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

Common Sense Reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

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