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Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2017

Gone Google Story Builder

Clever but bare-bones Google Doc storytelling tool has potential

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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3 images

Pros: So slick and simple that any student can get going with ease.

Cons: As basic as a tool can get, and there's no support for learners/teachers.

Bottom Line: A neat way to simulate conversations and dish out stories, but more a utility player for a classroom than a fully fleshed-out storytelling tool.

Come up with scenarios in which several characters might interact in a Google Doc. For a history class, encourage your students to simulate conversations that led to turning points in history, such as the writing of the Declaration of Independence or the plans for the D-day invasion during World War II. In an ELA class, encourage your students to choose characters from a novel or short story and see how they might interact in text like this. Encourage your students to think about what they're seeing on-screen. What do characters convey by what they type or don't type? What does it mean to have them delete another character's writing? How might this tool help students reveal major aspects of characters' personalities and motivations?

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Editor's note: The Gone Google Story Builder website is no longer accessible.

Gone Google Story Builder is a web-based tool that lets users create a video "story" that takes place within a Google Doc. Basically, students enter text and then watch it play back in a video sequence. To create a story, first create a few characters; these are the people who will be typing in your simulated Google Doc. Then, hit "Write Story" and start creating your story. You can switch characters and see their names appear on the cursors as if they're users editing a Google Doc in real time. You can also add music to add some emotion (such as suspense or silliness) to your video. Then, you can title your creation and share it with friends via a link. 

It's certainly a fun gag to see different characters interacting in text in real time and will get students thinking critically about sequencing dialogue. As with other web-based tools that let you simulate social media posts, Gone Google Story Builder is an amusing way to think about how characters in the present or the past might behave as collaborators in a Google Doc. It also helps students think about historical context and different modes of writing. That being said, this is definitely a one-trick pony. You and your students will quickly exhaust its few features, and you might find its usefulness in your classroom very limited. There aren't a ton of opportunities for customization. For example, there are no voice-over options, and you can't easily embed your creation in another app or on another website. In general, this is a neat trick, but you'll need to then look elsewhere for more engaging, flexible ways for your students to think imaginatively about tech tools. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students get a helpful initial walkthrough of how it works. Beyond that, engagement depends on how students like the tool's unique spin on storytelling.

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

While there's some cool potential for helping students take perspectives and tell stories, there's little direction here that would help inspire them to use this tool's limited features to provoke deep learning. 

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

The site's how-to text is helpful; it would be even better if there were more ways to customize your story or export it elsewhere. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews)
Featured review by
Carissa E. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Browne Academy
Alexandria, VA
More than just a story builder! Very versatile and fun for all!
I have seen my students using this site since trying and evaluating it, completely of their own free will, and on their own time. I've seen them select this resource to use as an added piece to enhance to other assignments. I especially like how versatile Google Story Builder is in that it allows for endless possibilities. It would be very easy for elementary students to use, and is still enjoyable and beneficial for middle and even high schoolers, too. Students can move down the page or Google Doc, if they want, or they can delete/backspace as they go to continue on; whichever is easier to meet their needs. It is a great resource for kids who struggle writing and expressing themselves, offering a unique outlet.
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