For teachers looking to spice up a lesson plan, look no further than Storify, a new up-and-comer

Storify-educationWith new innovations coming out of the woodwork, students now have new tools to further their education.

With sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and even Vine, teachers and students are able to come together on common ground and mold the ever-growing world of social media to a more educational setting.

Why not provide students with an assignment that allows them to be creative while still touching base on the importance of writing and comprehension? Not sure what website to use? Here’s a suggestion: Why not use Storify?

Launched to the public in 2011, this toddler site lives to help users make sense of the fascinating and sometimes odd content they come across. Students can pull tweets, videos, pictures and more into their story.

At a time when schools are facing tight budgets, Storify has the added benefit of being free. Didn’t quite catch that? Well, you read right, this new tool is completely free to users–no trial periods or promotions.

If you still aren’t sure you want to use this new tool in your classroom, read on to learn more about how Storify could turn things around for you.

(Next page: Four creative ways to use Storify in the classroom)

1.  Creativity

Even if you don’t grade creativity high on class assignments or projects, this tool can help your students grow and find new ways to present their stance on a topic. With Storify students can pull tweets from news organizations or many other sources that allow them to depict their views on the assigned topic.

Let’s say you’re a high school teacher and you want to make a memorable and fun lesson plan for graduating seniors. You already know most, if not all, students checked out weeks before. So how do you get their attention?

Surprise quiz! No? Okay.

How about assigning each student a topic on what their most memorable moment was this year?

Take for example this story on “What counts as ‘alien’?” This might be an assignment from a college professor, but that’s not to say a high school teacher couldn’t adapt this to his or her classroom setting.

Being creative isn’t just about making things look “pretty,” but rather students finding their own way to interpret a concept. Encouraging students to be more creative helps them with being open to other ideas that might just help them to build and reconstruct their own conceptual knowledge.

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2.  Generating well-rounded stories

Because Storify is based on the premise of users creating actual stories, teachers can use this tool to help students learn how to create a well thought out topic. This assignment would allow the student to grow comprehension skills which would effectively help in future assignments.

Ideally students would have to outline their assignment and pinpoint specific sections they feel would strengthen their argument or point of view. This tool requires students to acquire a new skill in gathering information from social media.

At a time when everyone reports the latest news on Twitter, through Storify students would be able to grasp the concept of the story and redeliver it to students in a way that everyone can fully understand the assignment.

Take for instance the World Cup. For one solid month every four years it seems everyone is a soccer fan or for others, fútbol fans. Students could take this event and produce a quick piece on the background of the country in the event or even create more of a timeline.

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3.  Historical or current event

Sometimes getting students interested in current events or even learning about historical events can be difficult. I may not be a teacher, but I know what it’s like from the student perspective. Sometimes it can be boring, but the only way to combat this issue is simply by making the events come to life.

How about giving students an assignment on picking a topic and presenting one side of the story? Or maybe even having them cover all sides of the story? Either way students will be able to learn about the issue at hand.

For instance, just who was Che Guevara and what role did he play during the Cuban Revolution?

With Storify students would be able to include tweets, videos, and gifs. By using these mediums students wouldn’t consider the process of learning about the figure to be daunting because they would be able to see from the conversations that others are having how important that figure was.

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4.  Interpret classical writing

At some point during high school, a teacher will give an assignment that will have students interpreting a classical work of art. Enter Pride and Prejudice. This classic story written by Jane Austen has seen many adaptations and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be slowing down.

For a lesson, teachers could assign students to use Storify and create a bio story on the author and include what they believe inspired the author to write the novel. Another option could be to create an essay in Storify format.

Not sure what a Storify essay would be? Check out this example by @katiecunliffe.

By using this tool in the classroom students would be able to utilize their knowledge of the platform and create an engaging presentation that allows them to be comfortable with the setting. Students would be more excited about creating this type of essay rather than the traditional essay.

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Gaby Arancibia is an editorial intern at eSchool News.