How I Use It
With 5th graders, my students did a point-counterpoint argument between loyalists and rebels before the Revolutionary War. Students were grouped in pairs and had to take a position on a cause of the war, like the Stamp Act. By typing out their point-of-view in StoryBuilder, the students had to state their own position and also respond to their partner. We added in the suspense music and the movies that were created look like text wars between two opponents. This tool is lacking in editing tools, so I now ask my students to type their dialogue in Google Docs, then copy and paste into Story Builder. It is helpful that there is no log-in required to use the site, but students must save their URL or you not be able to view the StoryBuilder movie. To solve this, I created a simple Google Form with input fields for the group members names, topic, and URL. This made it easy for me to collect the URLs for viewing. I could also share the database of URLs as View Only with students so they could view each others' work.
Google StoryBuilder is deceptive because the interface is so simple. This is actually a powerful tool that I have used with great success. Beyond just creating conversations, students can do some collaborative writing where they edit each other's work and the editing process becomes part of the movie. This is fun when one student writes a straightforward declarative sentence, and the other edits it with adjectives and more details. In the example I wrote about in the How I Use It section, the students seemed to have a greater understanding about the seeds of the Revolutionary War from the British perspective. The difficulty in editing work in StoryBuilder is very frustrating for students (and me!), so I have them do their writing first in a Google Doc. I share a template for the conversation with a two column table so the students can practice what will be said by whom, and they will be sure not to exceed the limit of 10 dialogue lines total . The text can then be copied and pasted into StoryBuilder easily, and edited if necessary without retying the whole story. I would like it better if there were an option to create an account so that URLs could be stored within the app, but my work-around with having students submit URLs via a Google Form works quite well.