Introducing parents to Storia…and undercovering ways it can aid in comprehension

Guest Blogger
Mar 13, 2013
Victoria Jasztal, the fourth grade teacher and literacy advocate who’s been guest blogging all school year long, is back with another great post about Storia, our FREE, teacher-recommended ereading app! Thanks, Victoria. Readers, find out more about Storia here. And follow them on Twitter and Pinterest! More and more people (teachers in particular) are becoming aware of Storia’s incredible features by the day, yet numerous parents are still not aware of its benefits, especially when it comes to reading comprehension. How can teachers help? When parents come across Storia through a Web search or when their child mentions it, they may wonder how it differs from better-known alternatives like Kindle and iBooks. So I believe it is critical for you, the teacher, to explain the differences—that it was created to increase students’ comprehension and promote metacognition. What has been most helpful for my students so far has been the highlighter feature, though the dictionary feature is probably the most substantial difference between Storia and other ereader programs. Though downloading the dictionary is optional, it is a special tool that helps students as they read selections. Perhaps if a student does not know one word in a sentence, finding the word in the dictionary will help him or her to get through that sentence. Additionally, the sticky note tool is notable, as it promotes metacognition as I teach through Stephanie Harvey’s The Comprehension Toolkit. If your school is hosting a parent workshop night about reading, you should mention Storia and explain how downloading it is free and how there are a handful of free books appropriate for their child on there. Explain how books have to be downloaded for a price, though it is more convenient than running to the store to purchase a new book. Additionally, the books may have interactive features! Explain even further how they are able to monitor their child’s progress through numerous reports and they can see if their child is taking Storia seriously—how many pages are read in one sitting, for example. Let’s say a parent is extremely busy or working late and their child has been assigned silent reading for the evening—the report can hold the child accountable and show how long he or she was logged into a specific Storia book. If you can, model to your parents how you use Storia in your classroom and how they can support the program at home. Speak about the importance of analyzing authors’ word choice and thinking “beyond what is on the page”—Storia fully supports Common Core reading instruction. Inform your parents you want to know if they have begun using the program at home, and tell them they can come to you whenever they have questions. Lastly, I have a few book recommendations for you if you need to promote a few tremendous choices—with short descriptions of why. Of course, this is for grades 3–5 because I teach fourth-grade students. The most common way I use Storia is for my students to focus on the first chapter or prologue of a book, so this is what inspired me to choose these fantastic works of literature: After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick: I chose this book because it is written from the perspective of a fourth-grade boy named Jeffrey Alper who is a cancer survivor. He meets his best friend, Thaddeus, who happens to be a cancer survivor as well. He at first describes him as a “scrawny kid on crutches” who is bald with a huge, curving red scar across the side of his head and “muttering angrily to himself.” Thaddeus is sarcastic at first. I like this book quite a lot because it helps increase empathy for situations one may not understand directly. There is an underlying wittiness throughout the book that made me smile as well. It is a sensational story of triumph and growing up. A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin: I have been sharing this book with my students long before Storia. This story is narrated by a dog named Bone about his journeys as a stray. Not too often are stories narrated by dogs, so this is most certainly a unique read. The I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis: Lauren is a phenomenal author who draws her readers into the perspectives of various fictional characters who encountered some of the most major events over the course of the past hundred years—the sinking of the Titanic, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the day America stood still—September 11, 2001. Happy eReading!