Put down the dioramas; file away that mimeographed book report assignment. Why not give students an assignment that not only hones their writing skills, but also provides plenty of opportunity for creativity and critical thinking, helps develop communication skills, and requires an understanding of social media? Try Storify, a free tool that allows users to tell stories using social media. Students can pull tweets, videos, pictures and more into a story on a subject of their choosing.
Here’s a quick video on how Storify works:
Ready to get started with Storify in the classroom? The possibilities are almost endless! Here are five sample assignments to get those curriculum ideas flowing. Scroll down or click on the links to see a sample Storify story for the assignment.
1. Current Events: Compile a story about a recent event or phenomenon.
Want to help students engage with the world around them? You might assign them to craft a story from a certain point of view (e.g., to create a story from a Republican senator’s perspective about the ongoing budget crisis) or ask students to pick out tweets, pictures, and videos that cover a variety of perspectives.
2. Literature Class: Create a multimedia “book report”
If students are reading a non-fiction book, they can comb the web for YouTube videos, links, pictures and more related to the subject matter. If students are reading a novel, they might choose to create a Storify story on the author’s biography or about the time period in which the novel is set.
3. History: “Reenact” a Historical Narrative
Teaching students about the Civil Rights movement, the French Revolution, or the War of 1812? Have students create a Storify narrative that focuses on one aspect of the lesson. For example, a one student might choose to create a story about art at the time of the French Revolution, using Flickr images and historical websites to flesh out a narrative of the neo-classical art movement.
Scroll down or click here to see a sample story about Rosa Parks.
4. Science: Put together photos, videos, and other information about a scientific concept.
Use Storify to chronicle a scientific phenomenon or discovery, or have students collect photos from a particular type of ecosystem.
Bonus: Add a public speaking component!
Encourage students to present their Storify stories to the class. If you have assigned students a current events story, students could even use their stories in the context of a debate – have two students create stories about opposing viewpoints, and use them to back up their respective arguments.
Here’s a run-through of the basic process of creating a story. Let’s say I want to include a relevant tweet in a story about Libyan rebels. I just select the Twitter icon and enter “Libya” into the search bar in the right column:
Then, once I find a tweet I want to use, I can just drag it into the right column, along with a bit of explanation if necessary. In this case, I dragged in a tweet by Glenn Greenwald about a recent New York Times article. I added a bit of background information above the tweet by clicking on the small “T” at the side of the right hand column to add text.
What next? Well, it might make sense to add a video from YouTube to give the story some visual appeal:
Here’s what the beginnings of my story look like:
Once you’ve added all your content, you can title the story and “publish” it, which will allow you to embed it and/or link to it from other places.