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STORY SHARES
LITERACY STUDIO
PORTAL
demos, tutorials, & F.A.Q.s
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Demos, Tutorials, & F.A.Q.s
Quick walk-throughs with details and tips on how-to use different parts of the platform.
Demo Videos
The Filtered Library
The Filtered Library
The User Dashboard
The User Dashboard
F.A.Q.
Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know for the best storyshares user experience.
GENERAL
A: We're a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, dedicated to dreaming up a new shelf in the global library filled with diverse, compelling, and accessible books to engage & inspire the millions of underrepresented teens and adults and transform them into readers. You can learn more here!
A: Ah, our special sauce! Our library is a "crowdsourced" effort, meaning that we tap into the existing community of talented, passionate writers out there (of which there are so many!) to create our books. We provide the guidelines, support, and incentives they need to create our easy to read, hard to put down stories, and then we connect those stories with our large network of readers in need of them (at this time, our books are being read in classrooms across all 50 states and more than 180 countries around the world!)
A: Once a book has been submitted, our dedicated team of editors will review it in depth to make sure that it aligns with our unique standards for publication. This process typically takes about 6 weeks, after which time we'll notify the author if their work has been chosen for publication. During periods of extremely high submissions, this process may take longer (our annual contest season, for example.) Those stories that do meet our requirements then go through our internal revision process, where our team will refine the text, format, and design for publication. We also assess and label the text's readability during this phase.
A: Our next annual writing contest will be held at the end of 2021. We will be sharing more information as it nears, both on social media and in our newsletter. Be sure to subscribe below if you haven't already!
A: We offer a premium subscription to our literacy studio, which allows teachers to access our entire library of diverse, intriguing, and accessible stories, provides tools and resources to strengthen literacy skills (and track development) within the classroom, offers students an enhanced eReader with built-in reading assists, and more! You can find all of the details here.
A: Yes (yes, yes, yes!) Our current collection is home to books that appeal to late elementary school readers and up. These titles are created to engage any students who read below their grade level. You can easily search our shelves by interest (age) level by heading over to our Filtered Library. We are constantly expanding our available selections for each of these age levels, so be sure to check back regularly!
A: You can search for books by interest (age) and reading levels (as well as by genre, theme, and category) by heading to our Filtered Library (under "Read" in the main navigation on our home page.) Use the drop-downs on this page to hone in on your next "just right" book! For more details, check out the filtered library demo video above.
A: Not at this time, but we are currently working towards building out a collection of authentic Spanish books as well. Stay tuned for updates!
A: You sure can! We're always looking for fresh content pertaining to all things reading, writing, and literacy instruction. Reach out to Angela to pitch your ideas or submit your articles/tools for review!
A: Yes! We love to pilot our platform as much as we can, to make sure we are hearing from the readers, teachers, and writers who use it. That way, we can craft our tools and content in line with user needs. If you are interested in helping us pilot test, just send a quick note to Louise.
A: Absolutely! We encourage it! In fact, several of the award-winning and most-read titles in our library have been written by student authors, such as Escaping The Storm, Argentum, The Secret Goldfish, and Keeping Time!
A: We do! (Coming to the site soon). You can also check out what our partners and fellow innovators in the literacy field have to say here.
A: We're committed to getting our books and resources into the hands of those who can benefit from them. You can reach out to Louise anytime to discuss financing options to fit your needs.
A: We offer teacher and student demo logins to those looking to preview our literacy studio before subscribing. To receive your login, reach out to Louise.
A: Yes! The premium studio subscription comes with an onboarding session from our team. You can also reach out to Louise to learn about other Professional Development workshops on literacy available for your school.
FOR TEACHERS
A: From the teacher dashboard, you can dive directly into your classrooms, where you can make assignments, generate discussions, and monitor student progress. You can also access your bookshelves, browse carefully curated educator resources via the teacher portal, create your own stories and quizzes, and more. If you have ideas for additional features you'd like to see, please let us know at info@storyshares.org!
A: Visit your teacher dashboard, select "my classes" and then "add class." Name your class and click "create," and you will see that class on your dashboard.
A: Select the class you just created on your dashboard. Then, click the tab that says "manage class". From there, you can add a student individually (by selecting "add student" and inputting their site username). You can also upload a roster* with multiple students at once (*coming soon!)
A: Yes! You can easily add a co-teacher to your classroom dashboard. Additional teachers can be added via "my classes" on the teacher dashboard. Select "join class" on the right hand side, and then input the classroom code to join as a co-teacher.
A: A few quick steps:
  • Browse the library to find the book you wish to assign. Select "add to bookshelf" for any books that pique your interest.
  • Next, go to your dashboard, select "my classes," and then select the right class.
  • On the class dashboard, select the button that says "assign book."
  • Use the dropdown to select the book you want to assign, and then click "assign."
  • All students in the selected class will now see the assigned book on their "assigned books" dashboard tab!
A: Follow these steps to assign quizzes to your classes:

Part 1: assign the book
  • First, you must choose the book where you will be adding a quiz:
    • Browse the library pages to identify the books you want.
    • Select "add to bookshelf" for your choices (or for any books you may want to revisit later!)
  • Next, go to your dashboard, select "my classes," and then select the class you want.
  • There, select the button that says "assign book."
  • Use the dropdown to select the book you want to assign, and then click "assign."
  • All students in the selected class will now see the assigned book on their "assigned books" dashboard tab.

Part 2: create and assign the quiz
  • Select your class from the "my classes" page, and then select the "quizzes" button on the class dashboard.
  • To create a quiz, select "add quiz." Choose the book you're quizzing students on from the dropdown, and create a title for your quiz.
  • Once you hit "save," you will be prompted to add questions, and multiple choice response options. Click to indicate the correct response.
  • After you've added your questions and hit "save," you will see your quiz in the "quizzes" list for that class. Click "assign to class" so your students can see and take that quiz on their dashboard.
  • To review scores after students have taken a quiz, select "view results" there as well.
A: Did you assign the book to your class first? Remember, both the quiz and the book it's assessing must be assigned to the class in order for your students to take the quiz. You can test this out by selecting "unassign" on the quiz dashboard, following the steps above to assign a book, and then re-assigning the quiz immediately after.
A: To start a class discussion board, head over to your main teacher dashboard and click on My Classes, then select the class you'd like to create the discussion for. From there, you'll find "Discussions" as one of the blue tabs in your center screen. Click this, and then "add discussion." There you are!
A: From your teacher dashboard, you can select "my classes," and then select a class. From there, you will notice a tab called "assign books." Click that tab, and scroll down to see books you have already assigned.
A: This feature is currently being built, so stay tuned for how to do it once ready.
A: Our books have GLE, Lexile, and F&P levels, as well as interest levels (age).
A: We've got you covered! You can find the teacher dashboard tutorial in PDF form here, or watch a quick demo video here.
FOR WRITERS
A: Teens and young adults, ages 10 and older, who are struggling or striving readers. You're writing to create "just-right" books for these readers: books that are interesting and relevant to teens and young adults, but which use approachable language and formatting.

More specifically, you're writing for the eighth grader who wants to take part in her friends' discussion of Harry Potter, but it's too difficult for her to read. For the high-schooler who can't help his grandmother read her prescription bottle. For the 60% of U.S. high school graduates who are reading below the proficient level, and the many more around the world doing the same. For the students who want to practice, and want to improve their reading skills, but for whom the books they find interesting are too difficult, and the ones they can read are immature, boring, and even embarrassing. You're writing to create "just-right" books for their needs: books that are interesting to teens and young adults, but which are written with language and formatting that is simple to absorb and understand.
A: When you create a book, there will be a "guidelines" tab available for your review throughout the writing process. A PDF of these guidelines is also available here.
A: Absolutely! We'd love to offer our feedback on your thoughts and ideas and to provide direction for your writing. Reach out to Angela anytime!
A: Yes. We ask for shared rights to all work published on our site, meaning that both the author and our platform have rights to the stories.
A: The storyshares writer tool was designed with our specific audience of readers in mind. In addition to basic writing tools and a cover design builder, this tool allows you to preview your book as it will appear in our library. But most importantly of all, we've developed a "reading level analyzer" to help ensure that your story is being written at the reading level you intend.
A: To use the reading level analyzer, visit the writing page and begin creating your book. On the left hand side, you will see an option called "reading level." Click that, and then click the button that says "show analyzer." You will see a chart on your screen. As you input text to your book, the chart will respond by providing the reading level for each part.
A: Absolutely! If you'd prefer to write off-site, you can always send us your completed stories as docs or pdfs. Submit via email to Angela.
A: Absolutely. We've been told by many of our authors (who've gone on to write several books) that storyshares is where their writing journeys began. You'll be surprised what you're able to do if you set your mind to the task and your pen to the paper!
A: The short answer is: yes. We do not want to limit your story-telling by placing restrictions on language/content. However, there are a few things to consider: does your strong/explicit language serve a purpose, other than shock value (for example, adding emotional intensity to a particular scene, or making a character seem more relatable, etc.) And, when handling a difficult topic, does your story ultimately offer readers a healthy perspective overall? For example, we've received several stories in the past dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, some of which we have published in our library. Those that were not published tended to romanticize suicide as an option, while those that we published showed readers that getting help is key.

It is also important to note that if we like your story but feel that parts of it should be scaled down, we will reach out to you about making some alterations.
A: Any style of writing is acceptable (and encouraged!) so long as it falls within our guidelines, and is both interesting and approachable for struggling readers.
A: We are a small team, and response times may vary, however, we strive to read all submissions within six weeks of their submission. We will notify you by email if your story is selected for publication.
A: Our next annual writing contest will be held at the end of 2021. We will be sharing more information as it nears, both on social media and in our newsletter. Be sure to subscribe below if you haven't already!
A: You can find the terms and conditions here!
ON READABILITY & LITERACY INSTRUCTION
A: There are many reasons why someone might be considered a struggling reader. For our purposes, a struggling reader is a reader who is behind their age or grade level in reading for any number of reasons. For example, an adolescent might have challenges reading because he/she has a specific learning disability, such as dyslexia, which affects the ability to decode words. Organizational challenges, memory or attention challenges, processing disorders, a developmental disability, and autism are some other possible reasons for reading difficulties. The term also applies to English Language Learners who are still acquiring language, vocabulary, and new reading skills. In addition, many students in low income or impoverished environments are beginning readers.
A: The key to high-interest is writing about age-appropriate, relatable content. This applies to characters and plot. Since our readers are teens and young adults, characters featured should be teens and young adults as well. Plotlines should focus on events/milestones/day-to-day challenges and other experiences that are relatable to teens/adults. The look and feel of text is also important. Graphics, if used, should be mature and compelling.
A: There are many different ways to categorize vocabulary. For example...
Tier 1: Basic and General Vocabulary (basic, everyday words, ie- old, happy, run, baby)
Tier 2: Descriptive Vocabulary (commonly used in mature language settings, across various contexts & topics, key for everyday comprehension. ie- explain, mature, compare).
Tier 3: Precision Vocabulary (low-frequency, mostly domain-specific. ie- pulmonologist)

Sight words: Sight words (also known as high-frequency words) are basic words that are encountered often in early reading. These words may be challenging to sound out, because spelling is not straightforward or does not follow typical decoding patterns. Therefore, these words often must be recognized or learned by sight. Ex: "the" "where" "two" "laugh"

Dolch's word lists and Fry's word lists are both ways of categorizing sight words.The Dolch Word Lists is older, and includes the 220 most common words. They are broken down by grade level, ranging from pre-primer list to 3rd grade list. Fry's Lists are more current and comprehensive than Dolch lists. They include 1,000 words, broken into 10 lists of words, based on frequency of use and difficulty.
A: There are many ways to measure RL. Below are details on certain categories:

Grade Level Equivalent:
  • Reading levels are benchmarked by grade levels - ranging from pre-primer (pre-k) through 8th grade.
DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment):
  • Levels A1 - 80 (numerical except for earliest levels)
  • DRA is administered multiple times a year in elementary grades, paired with a running record, to assess student ability to read new text at an independent level.
  • The DRA and running record assess for a range of skills: oral reading (accuracy), fluency (speed/expression), and retelling/comprehension.
Lexile:
  • Lexile levels range from 200L to 1700L+
  • They measure a book's difficulty as well as student reading ability.
  • A reader's lexile level may be measured by Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) assessment
  • Lexile is calculated with an equation based mostly on word frequency and sentence strength.
Guided Reading Level: (GRL)
  • Books are labeled from A - Z. Multiple letters correlate with each grade level.
  • Level is usually determined by a benchmark book assessment, based on readers' ability to read, retell, and answer questions about text.
Fountas and Pinnell:
  • Guided Reading Levels A - Z+
  • Type of guided reading level measurement (which also includes guided reading level strategies).
  • Highlights specific behaviors and understandings so that teachers can easily notice, teach for and support learners at each level from A to Z+.
Reading A-Z:
  • Online program that provides printable books by level + benchmark books
  • Guided Reading Levels aa - Z
  • also utilizes GRL, though with slightly different A-Z classifications
Cohmetrix:
  • Assesses text based on 5 characteristics of text: Narrativity, Syntactic Simplicity, Word Concreteness, Referential Cohesion, and Deep Cohesion. The five text easability scores are based on a wide range of linguistic features calculated by Coh-Metrix.
  • The calculated level also correlates with a grade level.
A: Decoding skills are skills used to make sense of printed words:

  • Recognizing the basic sounds and sound blends (phonemes) that make up a word
  • Recognizing / analyzing a printed word to connect it to the spoken word it represents
A: Readers struggle to comprehend text for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, a reader can decode words effortlessly and fluently, but still be a "beginning reader" because they struggle to comprehend the text. Comprehension can be impeded by vocabulary, sentence structure, fluency, as well as lack of reading skills and strategies. Readers with more severe disabilities may struggle with the comprehension of abstract concepts. Students who are English Language Learners may struggle with comprehension because of vocabulary or lack of context/background knowledge. Some readers may struggle with comprehension because of lack of practice applying skills/strategies to understand text. A reader with autism may struggle with text comprehension because of hyperlexia, which means that they can skillfully decode words, but struggle to comprehend the meaning of what is read.
A: Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. Fluency is important for reading, as it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

  • Fluent readers can recognize words and comprehend meaning at same time
  • Readers who are not fluent must focus attention/energy on decoding words and can't simultaneously build text comprehension.
  • Fluency doesn't ensure comprehension, but comprehension is difficult without fluency.
  • Fluency's 4 main components are: rate, accuracy, phrasing, and expression.
A: Independent reading refers to the task of reading alone. It is the level at which readers can apply skills and absorb knowledge entirely on their own.
A: Guided reading is usually done in a class or small-group context, where teachers actively support students' reading comprehension throughout a text or story. Students are taught to use strategies such as visualizing, predicting, connecting, inferring, questioning, retelling and summarizing. They may also work on word-reading skills (decoding), vocabulary support, or fluency.