Review by Andrea Zellner, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2013

Storify

Storytelling with Web content teaches critical curation

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Teachers say (3 Reviews)
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Grades
8-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: It's an engaging way to turn Web artifacts into a story; potential as a 21st-century teaching tool.

Cons: Because content is public and social, quality varies greatly; some content may be inappropriate for younger users.

Bottom Line: Storify isn't designed for kids, but it has great potential as a way to help teach them how to be critical, to find and create meaning in the world.

Storify is a great way to introduce the idea of Web content curation. English teachers will quickly see the potential for lessons on narrative composition. Also, similar to providing evidence in an essay, students will have to think about which content best supports the story they're telling; you can use Storify to support the learning of this essential skill. Social studies teachers might ask students to create a coherent overview of current events. With the fast and furious flow of information through social media, you can ask students to evaluate their sources to help drive home the importance of this 21st-century skill. Storify can also be a quick way to create a reflective portfolio, giving students a chance to publish their work digitally.

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Storify is a social curation tool that allows you to organize content from multiple websites (with a nod toward social networks) from across the Internet. Once you create an account, you can easily search for content anywhere on the Web, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Flickr, as well as the Storify posts of other users.

Once you’ve identified content you’d like to use, the easy drag-and-drop interface allows you to organize each piece of content into a scrolling vertical template. You can add text above (or below) each piece of content in order to give context, so you can "make the Web tell a story," as Storify says. The site (or Chrome extension) is intended only for users 13 and older, so it's most applicable for high school teachers. Accounts can be set up with an email address, but also by linking with a Facebook or Twitter account.

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Learning to be critical of media in a world overflowing with information is an important part of digital literacy for kids. While Storify isn't designed for classroom use, using it could be a way to help teach these skills. With so much information available, particularly across social streams, Storify can provide students and teachers with a platform to easily curate pertinent information in one place. The featured stories are also a source for consuming curated content from around the Web -- a potential time-saver especially for the most up-to-the-minute current events.

Because content comes from everywhere on the Web, teachers should be aware that students may stumble across inappropriate content. On the other hand, content filters may block so much that the site loses its learning effectiveness. Storify's terms of service do allow for institutional accounts, which could make it an ideal way for teachers, schools, and districts to share news with students, parents, and community members. Overall, Storify has great potential but would be more useful if privacy and safety controls could work in a way to help scaffold students' learning and discovery.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Kids engage with real-world social media content and topics, either by consuming or creating a Storify. The design includes a drag-and-drop interface, which makes creation easy and interesting.

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

Storify asks users to make critical decisions about which content to include, giving kids an opportunity to think deeply about the content. The ability to publish finished stories for comment provides both a social and active experience.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

The interface is very intuitive, and there are lots of help tutorials. The featured users and stories provide high-quality examples for kids to follow. The help forum has an active community for assistance.


Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Mallory M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cobble Hill School of American Studies
Brooklyn, NY
4
Engaging storytelling tool!

The tool is user-friendly and kids figure out how to use it rather quickly. The drag and drop feature allows students to experiment with creative ways of sequencing and structuring material; students can easily revise their work by rearranging the content and/or going into particular sections they want to flesh out in greater detail. </p><p>
Cellphones are not allowed in the classroom at my school. Since students do not have access to cameras, sites like this which allow students to select and use visual media creatively are extremely useful. Many students were most intrigued by the option to search for GIFs and they used these extensively in their stories. Music is a central fixture of my students' lives, so the option to search and include songs from SoundCloud encouraged them to experiment with music purposefully by considering themes, in addition to how the music created a certain mood and tone. The process of searching and selecting images enabled students to brainstorm, develop and refine key themes in their stories and generate writing off of these images without hitting as many frustration blocks (e.g. lack of ideas).

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