Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling

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For the purposes of this post, I’m defining collaborative storytelling as a process where one person begins telling a story, and then various others continue and complete it.

This can be a great in-class exercise just doing it on an overhead or whiteboard, and it can be a lot of fun doing it online, too.

A simple way to do it online is, while students are doing another project on their computers in the computer lab, just keep one computer open where student can take turns writing portions of the story. You can see various tools my students have used to do just that, along with a couple of stories they wrote including illustrations. One of the stories ends with me getting eaten by a tiger :)

There are quite a few online tools that a designed to make this kind of collaborative storytelling much easier to do. However, most of them allow anybody to make additions and offer few controls for inappropriate content.

There are, though, three that let you (or will let you in the near future) create private groups that only let people you choose participate in the story creation.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling:

There’s no question that Protagonize will be the best site for teachers — in the near future. The site has been around for awhile (and I’ve posted about the site in the past), and has not had any restrictions on who can add to a story. They are just adding groups now, and they say that shortly after the New Year they will become operational. (It’s now operational, and you can read about it at “Protagonize” Unveils Its Long-Awaited Feature (By Me, At Least) For Private Group Storytelling).

Folding Story is a new site, which does not have private groups now. They, too, say that they will be implementing this feature in 2011.

Right now, the only site that says it lets you create your own groups is Storytimed. But they also won’t let you do it until you contribute to at least four of their open stories, and I just haven’t had time to do that yet.

So, for right now, I’d say the best bet is to do it the way I’ve been doing it for years with students taking turns on the same computer. In a few weeks, though, it looks like we’ll all have other options.

(For another great way to use collaborative storytelling, see A Good & Simple Collaborative Storytelling Lesson)

I just learned about another neat low-tech way from Marisa Constantinides. Here’s the tweet she shared:

Collaborative story writing (or other genre) where Students begin writing and every 2 mins paper changes hands until you get back your own

Thumbscribes lets you create private groups to collaboratively create a story. That private option makes it stand-out from many other similar sites.

Chain Stories is from Nesrin Eren’s blog.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the nearly 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

9 Comments

  1. Larry – thanks so much for sharing this. I’m teaching HS creative writing next semester and plan to try this using the groups feature.

  2. Larry, I think Storybird is a good place to write stories in a collaborative way. Teachers can get a class account, and the book can be kept private or made public. http://storybird.com/teachers/ It’s a wonderful space for visual learners too, as it has all that lovely art work.

  3. As a committed Protagonizer (Protagonist) I can now tell you that they have added groups – and it’s great fun! If you’re a normal member you can make 2 groups. If you’ve got a Pro account, like me, you can make 10 (that’s 25 $CAD a year at the mo). If you’ve got a Plus account you can make 20 (that’s 50 $CAD at the mo).

    But yeah, they’re great. I’ve made three already, just because I wanted to test it out. And it’s a fantastic site in so many other ways … I can’t begin to say what it’s done for my writing as an individual.

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  6. Hi Larry,

    I created Storytimed a few years ago and to be honest haven’t done much with developing it or promoting it since then. Recently I have had a group of people writing stories on the site and it’s been fantastic to see. A few months back I looked at my site again and realised that I had imposed a limit of people needing to contribute to stories before they could create their own – I had forgotten that I had done that and I was kicking myself! I have removed that limited and anyone can create a story straight away now.

    Thanks for the mention in your article and I hope that this comment clarifies that you can create stories straight away and it would be awesome to see more people using it and enjoying it.

    Many Thanks!
    Alasdair

  7. Hello!
    There’s a new site for collaborative storytelling with branches available at http://cost.li/
    It’s under development, but fully usable. There are not so many stories yet, so please try it out and contribute!

    There is (currently) no support for groups, but who knows, maybe it will come if enough users ask for it. The site’s privacy policy is very encouraging as well!

    Since cost.li is totally free (despite the name(!), which is an abbreviation), you might as well check it out.

    Thanks!
    Mattias

  8. Hey Larry,

    I’ve just released a new realtime collaborative storytelling platform, called Fabular.us (http://fabular.us)

    That’s a place where you create rooms and invite people to collaborate for your story. Each “match” may take about 12 minutes to finish, depending on the number of players.

    Hope you like it.

  9. Hi there,

    We just released a very simple stripped back collaborative story game for the iPhone called The Fold (http://thefoldgame.com). Stories are restricted to four players and a maximum of four lines, making them short and sweet. You can connect through facebook and keep your stories private between the friends you invite to participate. Would love to hear your thoughts on any features that would really improve this for educational use. We are considering an edu version.

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