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Student-centered learning lets kids get right to work and take control. It also lets the teacher connect and help with students one on one.
That student-centered learning is at the heart of Sutori, a tool that lets students and teachers create scrolling, timeline-style multimedia webpages they call “stories”. It also includes a searchable database of teacher-created and student-created stories.
With Sutori, teachers can assign a pre-created story to students for studying and working. They can also assign students to work on their own stories by themselves or with a partner.
The reason I really like this tool:
- the scrolling top-to-bottom style of learning is engaging and easy
- it features lots of options for adding items to a story
- it’s easy to share a student-created or pre-created story with Google Classroom (or another learning management system)
- it’s web-based, which means that students can access Sutori stories from any web-enabled device (tablet, smartphone, laptop, Chromebook, etc.)
In this post, you’ll see how to use Sutori and 10+ ways you can use it in the classroom.
Setting Sutori up
Head over to Sutori.com and create an account. It’s easy to create an account with just a few clicks using a Google account or Edmodo account.
Once you’ve created a teacher account, create a class. (It’s under the “Teach” tab.) This will make it easier for your students to turn stories in and see stories you assign to them.
Name your class. Then have students sign up for a Sutori account. Again, using Google or Edmodo is easiest, but they can create a username and password. (But seriously, if you can use Google or Edmodo do it … because nobody needs more usernames and passwords to remember!)
Once students are in, they can add your class with the class code. Hopefully, this whole process will take 10 minutes or less and you won’t have to do it again for the rest of the school year.
Now that you and your students are signed up, it’s time to dig in to creating and sharing stories.
Sharing a Sutori story with your class
Check out all of the pre-created stories under the “Explore” tab. (Student accounts don’t have an “Explore” tab.)
Note: Sutori calls these timeline-style, top-to-bottom webpages “stories,” so they don’t have to necessarily be about storytelling. Most are start-to-finish digital lessons.
To assign a pre-created story to your Sutori class, you can click the “add to my classes” button and choose a class. (You may need to make a copy of the story first and then assign your copy of it to your students.)
Note: Free Sutori accounts can’t assign the premium, Sutori-created stories to students with the “add to my classes” button. However, there’s a workaround … if you want your students to see those stories, you can copy the link to those premium stories and provide the link to students through Google Classroom or another learning management system. Free accounts just can’t assign these stories with the “add to my classes” button.
The Sutori team has created plenty of high-quality stories. Sutori used to be called HSTRY.co and had a social-studies focus, so there are lots of social studies content on the site. Most content areas are covered with good lessons, too.
If you create your own story to share with your students, even better! Open it and click “add to my classes” and choose a class. Students can now find it in their class in Sutori.
Creating Sutori stories
Finding great content to share with your class is awesome. But the creation side of Sutori is what really has me excited about this tool. Students can create some really impressive mash-ups of the awesome content out on the web.
To create a story, click the “Teach” button and choose “Create a story” under the “My stories” header. (Note: The “Teach” button is called the “Learn” button for students. Pretty clever, huh?)
Once there, you have plenty of options for content to add to your story:
- Text lets you add a text block. There’s a rich-text editor, so you can add bold, italics, underline, bullet points, a numbered list and links. You can also highlight text in a text box and create notes (like comments in Google Docs) with text or a picture.
- Image lets you upload an image or insert one from a URL from the web.
- Video lets you add a YouTube video. (Paid accounts can upload their own mp4 videos.)
- Audio lets you add an mp3 audio file. You can record your own or find some on the web.
- PRO TIP: If you want to record your own mp3 audio file quickly with the microphone in your computer, try recordmp3online.com. Record audio and then use the “Download” button in the media player. It literally takes seconds.
- Drag and drop lets you add matching questions — questions and answers, terms and definitions, etc. — that can be dragged to match.
- Forum lets you ask a question where students can type a comment to answer. It’s kind of like comments in Google Apps/G Suite or a commenting on a status update on Facebook.
- Did you know? adds a green box that highlights a fun, interesting fact.
- Multiple choice lets you add a question that students click to answer. You can provide a comment to display when they answer the question correctly. (Note: This will not collect scores for student answers. It’s for quick self-assessment.)
- Heading lets you break content up into sections as you scroll down the page.
Banner image: You can change the image at the top of your story. Either use an existing photo or create one using Google Drawings. (See the “image” bullet point above for links to do that.)
Collaborate in real time: With a free account, your students can connect with one partner per story and collaborate on their work together. Paid accounts let you share with more students or create whole-class collaborative stories.
Note: When two or more students collaborate on a story, you’ll see a note that someone is editing an item while they’re working on it. To make that item visible to others in the story, just click away from it on the screen. You may need to refresh your page to see changes occasionally.
Creating stories: The creation of Sutori stories is best suited to a computer or Chromebook with a keyboard and a mouse. However, any device can view and interact with stories, including tablets (iPad, etc.) and smartphones.
Sutori “create a story” tutorial: Click here to see Sutori’s great tutorial (with videos and screenshots!) on how to create stories.
Ideas for using Sutori in class
Any students from upper elementary grades to high school and beyond can create awesome Sutori stories.
With coaching, lower elementary grades could create their own stories … but they could definitely look at class stories.
Sutori for littles: Create a story for students to see. Fill it with images, videos and audio files. Provide a link for them in your preferred way (i.e. link in Google Classroom/learning management system, using Google Tone, one of these 10 options, whatever works best). Let them scroll through and interact with the content, either by themselves or with your guidance!
Here are some ideas for using Sutori in class:
- Class discussions: Provide some information with text, images, videos, etc. Then ask a few questions with the forum tool and let students discuss.
- Timelines: Sutori is set up like a timeline. If you’re studying anything across history, you can create amazing multimedia timelines.
- Student self-assessment: Provide some content for students to learn, but include multiple choice and matching questions along the way. Sure, you can’t grade them and put them in the gradebook. But giving students some self-assessment puts responsibility for checking their learning in their own hands.
- Progression: Timelines are time/date-based. Sutori stories are great for showing the order in which something happens, with the first item at the top and the last item at the bottom. Images (screenshots, photos taken with a mobile device or webcam) can show steps visually.
- Interactive poster projects: Mash up information, images, videos and more. Throw out the posterboard and glue sticks. Let students create with a Sutori story instead.
- Storyboarding/storytelling: Sutori is well suited to storytelling. (So much that they call creations in Sutori “stories.”) Start with the first details at the top of a Sutori story. Progress through and end the story at the bottom. Multimedia lets you add a new dynamic to stories.
- Current events: Pull in links to news articles, opinion pieces and blog posts. Add news photos. Then add a forum to let students digitally discuss what they’ve read and seen. The best discussions in the forums can lead to in-class, face to face discussions. Here’s a student-created story about the Dakota Access Pipeline
- Class routines: This works great for younger students who need some guidance in getting their day started. Here’s a teacher example of a morning routine Sutori story.
- Note taking: Students can take notes with Sutori — or transform their notes into interactive notes with images, videos, audio and more. It works great for teacher note-taking, too! Here’s one educator’s notes from a conference.
- Travel documentation: Going on a field trip? Have a student traveling to a cool destination? Pull photos, text, videos, links and more into a Sutori story to show the class. Here’s a Sutori user that traveled to Brussels and shared her experiences.
BONUS: Sutori created a guide called “Ideas for Using Sutori” with lots more ideas for using it in different types of classes. There are links to lots of example Sutori stories for you to check out.
Premium, paid accounts
There are two levels of paid accounts. If you try Sutori out and find yourself using it a lot — or see a paid feature you really want to have — it might be worth the investment. Everything I described above uses a free account.
(Note: I receive no compensation from Sutori. Just think it’s a tool worth checking out.)
- Premium: YouTube videos, save stories to PDF, collaborate in pairs ($49/year)
- Unlimited: Own videos, save stories to PDF, collaborative group projects/class stories ($99/year)
[reminder]How could you see yourself using Sutori? If you’ve used it, how did it go and what did you do?[/reminder]
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