Website review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2019

StoriumEdu

Collaborative writing game inspires purposeful storytelling

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
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Grades
3–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Communication & Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking

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Pros: It's accessible to a wide range of ages and classrooms thanks to the simple instructions and customization.

Cons: Setup will take time, and the turn-taking style of writing could present some management challenges.

Bottom Line: With some planning and customization, this unique card game can motivate thoughtful and sustained creative writing in your classroom.

Before your students get to writing, you'll need to do some thinking. Step one is to create a storyworld and select cards for the world's setting, beginning,  and ending as well as the successes and setbacks students will face. Step two is to create a scenario that broadly outlines the story arc students will follow. It might take an hour or more to set it all up, but there are lots of resources to help you get started. Take a spin through the setup videos and PDFs included on the developer's website. There's detailed guidance for setting things up, plus there are ideas for using StoriumEdu for ELA, social studies, project-based learning, social-emotional learning, and more. 

Perhaps most importantly, consider how you'll structure class time with StoriumEdu. The on-screen prompts during gameplay make it pretty easy for students to get started and know what to do next, but keeping students engaged while other students take turns may be tricky. Some students will inevitably write faster than others, so encourage your speedy players to take advantage of the "flashback" feature and write more about their character or the setting while they wait for their next turn. Consider having students take turns together or brainstorm in pairs to help move gameplay forward and keep students motivated and engaged.

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StoriumEdu is a web-based, collaborative writing platform that's part card game and part role-playing adventure. Developed in partnership with the National Writing Project, it's a school-focused version of a popular online collaborative writing game of the same name. In groups of up to four, students write a story together that follows a scenario created by their teacher. Each student picks a character (using built-in pictures and character names, or by creating their own), and students take turns writing brief scenes. On each turn, students draw and play cards that give them a basic framework for what to write, including the scene's goals, their character's motivations, and their character's strengths. While they wait for other students to write, students can write a “flashback” scene where they might further develop or explain their character's background, their relationships with other characters, or other elements of the story. Teachers can access the platform for free for a 30-day trial period, and subscriptions start at $10 per month (billed annually).

This platform hits a rare and fascinating sweet spot between free and constrained writing. The familiar card-based game mechanics help make writing approachable and offer just enough structure. Between the on-screen prompts and game cards, students see a clear purpose to their writing, freeing them from potential writer's block and usefully challenging them to develop their characters and push the story in interesting new directions. Students will be building core writing skills, working with their peers collaboratively, and also having fun imagining their character and seeing where their story goes. The addition of "flashbacks" is also a smart way to offer an outlet for students who might otherwise get frustrated by the turn-taking style of writing.

This isn't a one-size-fits-all experience, though, and that's a good thing. There are tons of ways for teachers to customize their students' experience, and a lot of guidance for how to set up and run the experience, from built-in cards to instructional videos and PDFs. Still, it would help to have more guidance about how to introduce this tool to students and how to integrate its use into the classroom. Examples of how other teachers have used the platform would be a welcome, helpful addition. 

The biggest concern with this tool is time, both for setup and gameplay. It may take an hour or more for teachers to customize their storyworld and scenario, and it may be challenging to structure class time, as some students write much more quickly than others. Teachers will need to consider how StoriumEdu aligns with their classroom's learning objectives and then craft the scenario and its instructions to match. Teachers might also indicate how -- and how much --  students should write. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students customize a character and take the lead on storytelling. The well-designed interface makes it easy to play and dive into the story.

Pedagogy

Clever game mechanics help make meaningfully focus and inspire writing. The cards and scenarios offer just the right amount of scaffolding. Collaboration is the cherry on top.

Support

Detailed videos and user guides help teachers get started and customize. During gameplay, helpful pop-ups tell students what to do and where to go next.


Common Sense reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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Featured review by
Samantha K. , Postsecondary student
Postsecondary student
Loyola University Maryland
Baltimore, United States
With Planning, A Great Creative Writing Tool
While this may take some time to set up and get used to, putting in the time will be worth the reward. StoriumEdu is a unique creative writing opportunity that takes all the fun of free writing and pairs it with a more structured game that teaches students to be creative and collaborate. I love how this app fortifies the students knowledge and skills in understanding the different aspects of storytelling, and ensuring that they are working on effective communication and collaboration in their stories. A ...
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