A very easy way to test students’ comprehension and level of mastery of different grammatical elements is to have them write either a small text, a small story, or any other form of written products. Writing stories and creating small books in class can be a great form of evaluation for students, and is also an activity that they will find fun. However, these projects can be quite long to complete, and some students that have less of an artistic side can be quite easily bored by such activities. However, Story Jumper is a website that helps students create stories by providing templates, pictures and all kinds of templates.
Using Story Jumper is rather simple. First of all, you can register for free to the website. You can also register for a free teacher account, which will allow you to supervise your group as well as to supervise and give feedback to the students’ stories. Creating stories is also surprisingly simple. The editing tool’s interface is really simple, and the commands are easy to operate. You work and build your book page by page. You can add props from the website’s own props bank or add your own images. The site’s props bank allows you to choose from dozens of small images, such as chickens, boats, pirate hats, and many others, and to create the characters that will animate your story from many different faces, heads, and bodies. The images can be moved around and turned, and you can make them bigger or smaller. You can also add a background to the page. Finally, you can add text to your page. The text editor, while not having too many functions, resemble Microsoft Word’s.
It is very easy to go back to revise your work. Saving is also quite simple, and can be done at all times. An interactive tutorial for Story Jumper can be found here. After having finished writing your story, you have a few choices. You can keep the story to yourself or share it with a few friends (free), you can have a paper copy printed (from 12.95$), you can have a hardcover copy printed (from 24.95$), or you can have access to unlimited online downloads of your book to print it at home (1.95$). More information about prices can be found on this page. Trying the website, I created a small 4 pages book in order to test the editing features. It took me no more than 15 minutes to create this example of a book that could be done in class. Reading the books online is also very fun, since the pages are animated and turn like a real book’s.
A function of Story Jumper that is very useful for class is it’s confidentiality. Parents must create an account for the younger students to be able to work at home on Story Jumper. They are also, with the teacher, the only ones who can access the students’ stories and share them. This is particularly important for younger groups, since their informations and stories are protected.
Story Jumper has some interesting applications in an ESL classroom. Even though you cannot use it in a lot of different ways (you can only create stories with it), the story creating tool can be used for many different purposes. You can have students write a small book on a particular subject (related to the theme of the unit seen in class, for example). You could also have older students create a book on a particular aspect seen in class (for example, a small book showing comparatives and superlatives) and later have them present their book and teach younger students (as Douglas Walker, educator, proposed on his blog. Another idea is to have the students create a small book during the first class and present it in front of the class to learn more about their classmates. Some teachers also proposed using the story creating tool to create small books for the students (such as a book explaining a more difficult part of a grammar lesson) (More ideas like this one can be found on this wiki page. Finally, Story Creator can be used as a tool to make writing projects more interesting. For example, you could have your students write a small children story in English in class, and after they have completed it, have them create a book on Story Jumper. You could even, with the parents’ approval, order copies of the books to either give back to the students or keep in your class for future students (Luckily, Story Jumper offers a 10% discount to teachers who order more than 15 books at a time). This tool is liked by educators, and has even been rated ‘’Very Good’’ by the Graphite website.
I would personally use Story Jumper in class. I think that it is a great tool that can make story writing more interactive and more fun for the students. However, I would not use it myself to make stories for the class since it can be very time consuming to create stories, and I would prefer to use slide presentations to do so. Still, I would recommend it, since the image banks are really diverse and full of fun images students can play with, and because of its teacher account which allows you to follow your students’ progress. One last point I like about Story Jumper is that even if it is free to create your online books, you can also have them printed for a very good price.