How I Use It
After signing up, I created a class on Hstry. This gave me a class code that I could share to my students to allow them to sign up. Once they had done this, I had them look at a sample timeline that successfully incorporated text, facts, links, images, audio and even quizzes.
For the first assignment I gave them, i had students create a timeline for our unit on Adaptation (focusing on key adaptations of hominid species). This provided plenty of opportunities to organize key information that we had studied. By asking them to include aspects like WHY certain changes were important or HOW it made a difference in the survival of the species, it made students analyse information and reflect on it. In this first assignment, I had students work independently.
In subsequent assignments, i have allowed students to work in pairs (but required that they clearly indicate who did which parts for assessment purposes). We have used it for novels, history, portfolios etc. It can be as rigorous as a traditional essay (but don't think I want the essay replaced) but it allows students with weakness in writing to demonstrate learning in an alternative format that can showcase their skills.
On the surface, Hstry is designed to give students a chance to create timelines to demonstrate understanding of key historical content. It is indeed useful for this, but it is also useful as a medium for demonstrating understanding of novels, of the way events (real or fictional) relate to each other, and the sometimes difficult concept of cause and effect.
Not all students have seen the creative potential of Hstry, but for those who have, it has been a really fun and innovative way to demonstrate knowledge and to learn to represent ideas in creative ways. Those students who harnessed the creative potential of the site have inspired others to go beyond straightforward representations of information to try and be more analytical and creative.