Website review by Jamie Knowles, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2020

Storillo

Cooperative tool provides accountability to group writing projects

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Grades
5–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, English-Language Learning, Communication & Collaboration, Creativity

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Pros: Enables unpredictable and imaginative group writing projects.

Cons: Dependent on pre-work; may present challenges for heterogeneous skill levels.

Bottom Line: Storillo is engaging and provides useful structure for students, but teachers may prefer something more broadly applicable like Google Docs.

According to Storillo's website, the tool is perfect for group essays, language practice, lab reports, presentation scripts, creative writing, and business plans. This makes sense, as the tool provides clear student accountability for any writing project where multiple students must contribute.

Because this tool is primarily focused on the writing process, it's likely something you would use at the end of a larger project. It doesn't include steps or a structure for pre-work, like research, discussion, or synthesizing of ideas. Those steps would likely need to happen before students begin their Storillo project. However, because of the peer review and feedback functions, the tool can and should be used to have students revise and edit their thinking and writing.

One exception to this might be a creative writing "flow" project, where, with minimal prep, students co-create a story or scene. The unpredictability would likely increase student engagement. And because of what it requires cognitively, students would have a chance to develop their imagination and written expression. You could also have students focus in on a specific narrative strategy for their contributions: sensory details, a detailed setting, indirect characterization, dialogue, etc.

One final consideration is that Storillo would likely be best used in groups where students have similar writing and language proficiencies. In those situations, students will be most able to realize the learning benefits of seeing and collaborating with someone else's writing, and avoid the frustration of feeling incapable or of not being able to control the end result.

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Storillo is a group writing tool that allows multiple students to simultaneously contribute to a single piece of writing. It's primarily a process tool that allows the teacher to determine how each person will contribute to the writing. 

Teachers can assign two types of group writing projects: "flow" or "sections". A "flow" project allows students to contribute to the writing at whatever place in the text they wish: before, after, or in the middle of someone else's contributions. The teacher can determine how the flow will be sequenced. Students can be required to contribute in rounds -- either in the same order each round ("Round-Robin") or in a randomized order ("Random"). Or, students can be allowed to go whenever they're ready ("Free-for-All"). The teacher can set limits for how many times a student can contribute total and for how many times in a row a student can contribute. While waiting for their turn to contribute, students can read and respond to -- but not edit -- others' contributions and jot down ideas for when it's their turn.

The other type of project, "sections," doesn't allow students to contribute wherever they like. Instead, students are assigned particular sections of the writing piece to complete. Examples of writing sections might include the introduction or first body paragraph (essay) or step two (lab report) or the climax (creative writing). The teacher can create the sections beforehand and assign them, or allow students to create them themselves. Teachers can also allow or not allow students to drop or reassign a section or to reorder the sections. Like in the "flow" projects, students can review and respond to each other's work in real-time.

In addition to determining how students will contribute to the writing piece, teachers can also define the maximum word limit for each contribution (25-200). Teachers must also provide a description of the project that includes the writing prompt and directions. Teachers can also specify a language (English, Spanish, or French), title, learning objectives, standards, and other details. When assigning the project to each group, the teacher must specify a due date.

As students work on the project, as well as after they submit it, the teacher can provide direct feedback on the writing and review analytics for the project as a whole. The analytics show how frequently each student contributed and the average size of their contribution.

Storillo is a great tool for ensuring student accountability in group writing projects. It also has some nice learning benefits in that students have to figure out how to fit their ideas with and build on the ideas of others. They're also able to observe, at least partially, other students' writing process. Lastly, they're able to get real-time feedback on their writing from both their teacher and peers.

One potential challenge with Storillo, and one of the trickiest parts of group work in general, is supporting different skill levels while also maintaining a feeling of fairness and accountability. Because Storillo provides such clear and transparent accountability around each student's written contributions, it also presents the potential for students to feel bad about their language or writing ability or, conversely, to feel frustrated that they don't have complete ownership over the end result. For this reason, it's likely a good idea to use this tool in groups where students have similar writing and language proficiency. Or, if that isn't possible, prepare students beforehand by surfacing and problem-solving: we all have strengths and weaknesses, writing can be difficult, and it can be frustrating to not have control over something we're participating in.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Ultimately, the level of engagement will depend on what kinds of projects the teacher creates and assigns, but the framework is there: collaboration with others, real-time feedback, and unpredictability.

Pedagogy

The tool provides needed structure and accountability for group work and some opportunities for developing writing proficiency. Ultimately, though, the learning value depends on the pre-work that students do before using the tool.

Support

Storillo gives teachers and students a few helpful how-to videos. Teachers would also benefit from case studies and concrete examples of how the tool can push student thinking and writing in specific subject areas and types of projects.


Common Sense reviewer
Jamie Knowles Education Consultant

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