How I Use It
In my second grade classroom, I use Storylineonline.net as a part of my computer center during literacy centers. On this website, there are several books to choose from that are then read aloud by a notable actor through a video format. As the actor reads, the story pages are presented to the students.
I have students work in pairs or groups of three. They sit around the computer using headphones to listen to the story while holding a clipboard and handout that I have provided. They may choose two stories to listen to and watch. Afterwards, they complete the activity sheet that I have created to practice skills aligned to the state curriculum. For example, this week completed a handout on story structure after listening to a story on storylineonline.net. They had to describe the characters, setting, problem, and solution in order to describe the key details in the story.
This website is great for all students but especially students who are second language learners, those who have special needs, and those who struggle with reading. The best part of this website is the ability to hear fluent reading and being able to see the story come alive. This website was created under the SAG foundation and all of the readers are notable actors who students have seen on television. This feature gets students excited and eager to listen to the read aloud.
The website has had some glitches with the videos provided. In fact, this week, the students clicked on several book links and were not able to access the stories. The message read "Error establishing a database connection". Since some of the links were working, students would click around until they found a story. We ended up compiling a list of the links that worked, which created more work. In the middle of the story reading, it would stop working, which also caused a lot of chaos.
I use this website as a modern version of a listening center or books on tape. My classroom is full of diverse learners and I am always looking for a way to excite my students about reading. I supplement the website using activities of my own that match the state's curriculum. This gives the students multiple chances to practice the skills that I have have taught during our whole group lessons. As educators, we know that if we want students to be better readers, they have to hear good reading and practice reading. By hearing fluent reading, students will increase their story comprehension and be able to replicate it in their own reading. This website is great for students in this respect.
I would recommend some additions to the website to make it stronger. At the bottom of the screen, there is an activity guide available for teachers. This is a PDF document with information about the reader and ideas for the classroom. If there were PDF documents that were directly linked to the stories that aligned to the Common Core curriculum, the website would have more balance. Without supportive resources, the students are almost in a passive state and the website only acts as a substitution to a live read aloud. The website would definitely be better if all of the links work. The developers of the website should go through and update the links on their website. Overall, I like the website for my classroom but wish there was more consistency and curriculum support.