Review by Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2016

Sutori

A slick way to share knowledge via interactive timelines and stories

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Interactive features will engage students with primary source media, and students can create and share original content.

Cons: The best pre-made content is only available for a fee, and the quality of community stories varies greatly.

Bottom Line: With a super simple design, interactive features, and an imaginative personal approach, it's an easy and flexible tool for all kinds of classrooms.

Teachers can use the pre-made stories, construct their own, or create assignments (like an exam review study guide or final assessment) that require students to build multimedia-rich stories. Teachers should definitely take time to search through both the developer's pre-made stories and the community stories to see what may be relevant for their specific classroom needs. For example, “A History of Immigration of the USA” highlights the experiences of immigrants; “Franz Ferdinand’s Assassination” gives students the opportunity to follow a journalist through a turbulent period. Teachers should encourage students to compare how different stories portray the same issue or events: how does one author's portrayal of events differ from another author's account of the same event? How is that important?

Sutori lends itself to solo, partner, or small-group assignments. However, if you're interested in having students build stories together, you'll need to opt in for a Premium account (which allows collaborative pairs) or an Unlimited account (which allows for group projects and class stories).

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Sutori (formerly HSTRY) was initially marketed as a tool for viewing and creating interactive timelines, but is now positioned as a tool to create interactive stories. The reality is that Sutori has much of the same functionality (and look) as its previous incarnation, but the shift toward stories is understandable since the tool can be used to present all sorts of information. The developer's pre-made stories still lean toward timelines, however, but the community contributions cover all subject areas. To get started, teachers can create classes and then send students codes to access shared timelines and to create their own. The timeline template walks users through the creation process, and the timelines are easy to edit and share. There are a number of features available, including text, images, videos, “Did You Know” call-out boxes, click-to-reveal text links, and multiple-choice quiz questions.

The site has both free and paid features. For free, teachers and students can create up to 200 stories and use community stories created by other teachers and students. For an annual fee, there is no limit to student projects and teachers can access developer-created stories that are organized into bundles by subject (like the American Revolution or American Civil War), each with multiple stories and lesson plans. Stories include lesson plans (with an overview and time estimate) and CCSS alignment specifics. Students can also collaborate in pairs on stories with premium access.

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Overall, this is an imaginative, flexible resource for teachers to encourage their students to explore historical events, consider the perspectives of the people who experienced them, and research and collect media to illustrate the story they hope to tell. The content on the site continues to grow both in terms of pre-made and community stories and teachers in all subject areas can find or make engaging interactive tools. 

There are ample options to embed media, and students will appreciate getting instant feedback on the quiz questions and exploring the videos, images, and pop-up text in their own stories and within those their classmates create. The developer-created stories are solid. Students can imagine what Thomas Jefferson must have felt as he wrote the Declaration of Independence or experience the excitement of Paul Revere's famous ride from the patriot's perspective. 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Interactive quizzes, embedded videos, and click-to-reveal text encourage active exploration. Students can easily build their own stories, taking a historical figure's perspective and choosing media to tell that person's story.

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

Embedded questions provide immediate feedback, and customizable timelines give students endless ways to present and tell stories. Developer-produced stories (available for a fee) include lesson plans aligned to CCSS.

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

Built-in help center, pop-up windows, and a site walkthrough are stellar, though it would be nice if students could more easily track their progress and favorites. Developers respond quickly to questions. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Jennifer Sitkin Classroom teacher

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