Product Review of StoryWorld
StoryWorld offers 80-plus bilingual ebooks in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. To get learners signed up, educators add learners’ names individually through the dashboard and then share a link out so that learners can access the site. Learners select their name from a drop-down and then immediately begin working in the program.
Every word (or phrase) in the ebooks is clickable, so learners repeat confusing words or phrases in whatever two languages they’re working with. When they click on words, they hear native speakers read the story aloud, and there’s an option to switch between languages, even in the middle of a story. After completing an ebook, learners complete comprehension questions and activities that measure depth of knowledge, inferences, and opinions. Learners can also record their responses, which are later available in the teacher dashboard, giving educators additional data for assessment and the design of appropriate intervention strategies. StoryWorld encourages parents to read alongside their kids at home, whether or not they’re fluent in the language.
Each story includes six colorful worksheet activities (available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin) that reinforce core vocabulary with games and written practice. Flash cards with words and pictures can be used for vocabulary practice or a concentration game, and worksheets offer manipulative activities.
StoryWorld will work especially well for small-group instruction of English learners, and could be used either in person or in a remote setting. The interactive books and activities will keep learners engaged, and the quizzes at the end of each story reinforce vocabulary, reading, and listening skills. Leveled stories and word books allow for differentiation between readers, but the downside is that the stories cannot be assigned independently. In small groups, however, educators can get learners working on the books that’ll benefit them most and give learners help when they need it individually or as a group. Teachers will want to check in on the dashboard regularly to track both individual learners’ progress and whole-class progress and to complete evaluations of student work. StoryWorld’s dashboard is a real strength and can help educators identify particular words or books that learners are struggling with as well as skills that could use some further development. This could lead to some additional work in StoryWorld, or to lesson plans or activities outside of StoryWorld.
StoryWorld is a solid approach for helping English language learners developing vocabulary and comprehension skills. Stories are available at five different Lexile levels, and each offers consistent, self-paced learning with immediate feedback and useful audio assistance (with actual voices). It’s unique and useful that learners can switch between two languages to help them comprehend texts and assessments. On the teacher side of things, the easy-to-use dashboard tracks data on comprehension for vocabulary, listening, and reading. It goes beyond the surface-level tracking most other dashboards offer, showing educators which words were clicked for help by the learners, giving individualized information for lessons. Teachers can also see this data for a whole class. This is helpful for designing supplemental lessons. Like the dashboard, the quizzes also offers a nice step up from simple comprehension checks. Learners are asked to record themselves retelling the story and also to respond in writing to a prompt. Teachers then can evaluate this work. This pushes the learning beyond raw comprehension, allowing learners to demonstrate learning through different modes of expression.
There are some drawbacks, though, especially when StoryWorld is compared to broader reading programs. The library of stories is limited, and educators can’t assign books at specific Lexiles. Furthermore, while learners do get feedback, more contextual, specific feedback on incorrect answers would be nice. This is a reading program that tackles very specific readers and their needs, so in that sense, some of these drawbacks are likely a cost of the focus on other benefits that StoryWorld provides (like fully voiced audio by native speakers). With that in mind, this is a specialized reading program that’ll be just the thing certain educators need, while others may find it a little lacking as a comprehensive reading solution.
Overall User Consensus About the App
There are a variety of bilingual interactive stories. The assists — like clickable words with language translation — help learners gain independence. The design and interactivity is fairly basic.
Curriculum and Instruction
Stories offer five different Lexiles and scaffold student learning from basic comprehension and vocabulary development to synthesizing learning through speaking and writing. Some of the feedback could be better, though.
The dashboard allows educators to see detailed info on student activity. Texts feature real voices. There are articles available in the help center for learners, parents, and educators.