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April 30, 2012 Experimenting With Storia By Brent Vasicek
Grades 3–5

    Have you noticed a new tab on the Scholastic Web site? It is labeled "Storia." Since I browse the site often, I was curious and checked it out. In short, Storia is a great application for parents to use with their children. It allows them to purchase books and then track their children’s reading progress. Of course, I thought there had to be a way to utilize this free app in my classroom, too. I brainstormed a bit and found a couple ways to incorporate this new feature.





    Classroom Uses for Storia

    Picture Books: We know that a picture book can be used at any level to introduce a concept. We have all tried to do those Gumby-like flexibility moves in order to read a page while simultaneously showing the picture to the class to save time and maintain interest. One solution is to buy an electronic version of the book and then display it on the interactive whiteboard. Everyone can see, and you can save those neck stretches for the gym. An additional bonus is that the electronic version is easier for a teacher to keep track of.



    Literature Circles: Literature circles or book clubs have great value in the classroom. Mary Blow discusses the ways she organizes middle school literature circles in her blog. I know when I have three or four novels being read at a time in the classroom, I simply cannot meet with each group every day. On a day that I can’t meet with a book club, I let the students become the teachers of their group. They display the electronic version of the book on the interactive whiteboard and read it as a group. While on Storia, the book club has three objectives: (1) asking good questions, (2) reading fluently, and (3) building vocabulary.

    Here is how I do it:

    • Each student takes a turn playing the role of the designated teacher by reading a page and then asking a teacher-like question, such as: "Can you summarize what this page is about?" "Who can make a deep connection to this page?" "Any predictions as to what will happen next in the story?" or "What inferences can be made?"
    • The designated teacher is in charge of all vocabulary words on a page. One cool feature of the electronic book is that a student can simply touch the word and a definition window pops up — complete with an audio pronunciation of the word. The designated teacher will stop anytime a student indicates he or she does not know a word. The designated teacher will ask for three predictions based on context clues. After the group makes their predictions, the students are allowed to use the definition window feature to discover the true definition.



    Storia Benefits

    Novelty: According to brain research, the brain likes novelty. Storia offers one more way to get students excited about reading.

    Works With Today’s Society: Some students have more electronic devices and video games than they do books in their home. In short, students would rather be plugged in. With this new app, they are allowed to be plugged in while learning.

    Convenience: One of the best features is convenience. When a child is on vacation or waiting in a dentist office, they don't have to take a bunch of books to read. Simply bringing the family iPad or laptop gives them access to the entire family library.

    I have only experimented with Storia for a week, and I am sure there are more ways to effectively use it in the classroom. What are some ways that you see this being a valuable classroom tool? Or, if you have already downloaded it, what are some ways you are currently using it?

    Read every day!

    2i2 is a trademark of Mr. Vasicek’s class. Visit his classroom Web site at


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