Launching MakerSpace for the Humanities!

Polk Technology Specialist, Kay Teehan, exclaims: “I can’t believe how fast and easy it is to use StoryMaker! I research the archives right from the app, write my story, enter links, note sources, and presto—I’ve created a multimedia story complete with beautiful images, videos and reliable citations ready for publication for learners and teachers around the world as well as my own students.”

Last week we launched MakerSpace for the Humanities,

the first integrated solution for teacher and student work in humanities research, thinking, writing and citing. AwesomeStories Free Archive and AwesomeStories premium applications together deliver this opportunity to work and learn with creativity and rigor. We hope you are going to try it out!

Now teachers can put a lesson, a unit or their whole curriculum up online in story form– complete with primary sources!

Now students can write papers, articles, group projects or stories using StoryMaker!

Once teachers got their hands on the pilot version of our StoryMaker app, “MakerSpace for the Humanities” was born. It became clear that they could produce not stories to launch lessons and units, but digital curriculum. Students could create not only stories and articles but also term papers and group collaborative projects.

Given the Internet information cacophony, political, scientific, cultural history stories circulate unexamined. Today’s learners have the benefit of easy access to mass quantities of questionable information online. Students need guidance in how to find reliable information, how to identify primary sources, how to frame research questions, how to put together a cohesive analysis of a question, and how to build a story from a well-researched background, how to write it clearly, and how to cite information with respect and specificity. MakerSpace for the Humanities provides that guidance, support, resources and tools, drawing on the AwesomeStories Archive, on the AwesomeStoryMaker (ASM) app, and linking to over 100 world-renowned archives.

AwesomeStories is working with pilot schools to track the increases in student engagement, research, writing and critical thinking skills. Now that students can research and build their own stories, these gains are expected to rise. And now that teachers can take their curriculum, put it in story form and build out chapters with multimedia primary sources, some purchases of textbooks and even e-textbooks can be avoided. Teachers can then share with each other, their district or beyond.

Most educators agree that STEM students need STEM MakerSpaces—support and tools to explore their fields, to learn by making. Students at all levels in the humanities—language arts and social studies fields—need similar support and tools. Given the transformation of Internet research access and the transformation of education and work, students need access to reliable archives and scaffolding to learn research, writing, and citing practices. The focus on STEM is critical for young people and our economy. STEM MakerSpace projects have brought inquiry-based and experiential learning to students who are now able to see careers for themselves in the future, motivating them to learn what is needed to reach education levels, career skills and eventual success as contributing members of society.

Current Common Core and state assessments demand the same kind of critical thinking, ability to research to find information to generate ideas, questions and conclusions, to drive understanding forward across the humanities — in language arts, social studies, the arts plus sports, film, STEM concepts, and history.

MakerSpace for the Humanities takes research and critical thinking to the next level. Teachers and students can use the archive and the apps to scaffold research, writing and citing. Students can complete papers or write stories. Teachers can write a story to launch a lesson, mount a unit or an entire course in the multimedia, evidence-based story form. Membership costs only $59 a year for a teacher and up to 30 students or $17 for an individual teacher, student or lifelong learner.

AwesomeStories welcomes collaborations with districts, schools, teachers, homeschool parents and students of all ages. Sign Up online or email [email protected].


AwesomeStories Takes the NAEP Reading Drop Challenge

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 12.34.39 AM

Today, in answer to the continued lack of progress in student reading skills, AwesomeStories offers not only its Free Archive of 4,000 topical stories embedded with 100,000 primary sources, but also four online video tutorials by trial attorney and founder, Carole Bos. The tutorials are intended to transform reading into exploration:
Investigating a Story with Evidence,”
How to Find a Great Story,”
Be a Super Sleuth” and
Cite Right.”

Our goal is to work with teachers and students and to deliver tools and stories to prove that deep reading, investigating, researching can be more compelling than video games!

To make it yet easier to join AwesomeStories premium membership to access our apps that enable you to create and publish stories, papers and curriculum, we are announcing today:

Silver Individual membership now includes the AwesomeStoryMaker App and the fee is reduced to = $14/year.

Gold Classroom membership fee for teacher + up to 30 students is reduced to $39 for a full year. Additional students may be added at $1 per student.

Click here to sign up for premium membership!


New Member-Created AwesomeStory: Thaddeus Kosciuszko: Hero of the American Revolution

Thaddeus Kosciuszko
Engraving of Thaddeus Kosciuszko by H.B. Hall

AwesomeStory Member Kay Teehan wrote a new story: Thaddeus Kosciuszko: Hero of the American Revolution, read about it here!

We are constantly rolling out new stories here at AS and Kay’s latest is a gem: a look into the life of Polish-born and eventual American Revolutionary War patriot Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Koscuiszko came to America brimming with enthusiasm to beat the Brits and quickly gained the trust of Franklin, Jefferson and Washington. Kosciuszko helped American troupes evade the British army many times and many ways before going on to lead military action in France and his native Poland. His character is as compelling an element of his story as was his military prowess; Kosciuszko vehemently opposed the decimation of the American Indian as well as the enslavement of Africans, while additionally advocating for equal rights for women. His will decreed for the release of his and Jefferson’s slaves and allotted money toward their education.
Kay Teehan is already a prolific contributor at Awesome Stories, please read more of her stories in our database. Her enthusiasm and volume of contribution is no surprise considering her years of teaching at many levels focusing on utilizing technology and online resources to maximize engagement with academic studies…she’s written three books on the subject!

Now you can write your own AwesomeStories!


Join as a member or as a free trial member and use AwesomeStoryMaker to create your own!

New Member-Created AwesomeStory: The Boy Who Became the Dalai Lama

child Dalai Lama
the Dalai Lama as a child

Item! Pope Francis isn’t the only Holiness worth knowing about. Who are we talking about? Tenzin Gyatso aka the Dalai Lama. That’s right, Awesome Teacher Leader and site author extraordinaire Kay Teehan delivers another useful piece of research.

Awesome stories comprises thousands of stories authored by found Carole Bos and we are increasingly expanding with contributions through user/member/leader-generated content. Check out how to become a Maker through our story building program.

Fun fact about the Dalai Lama: it is believed that the Dalai Lama is the same soul, reincarnated over and over again through living beings. The current holder of the position was envisioned by a monk who saw the house where the future Lama lived. The recently deceased Lama’s head repeatedly pointed in the direction (north west) where earthly body of the new Lama could be found, no matter how many times the monks tried to reposition the head to face forward. Find out more of his Holiness’s amazing story here.

Kay Teehan is already a prolific contributor at Awesome Stories, please read more of her stories in our database. Her enthusiasm and volume of contribution is no surprise considering her years of teaching at many levels focusing on utilizing technology and online resources to maximize engagement with academic studies…she’s written three books on the subject!

Now you can write your own AwesomeStories!

Join as a member or as a free trial member and use AwesomeStoryMaker to create your own!

New Member-Created Story: The How and Why of the Mask Worn in Boardwalk Empire

Jack Huston Boardwalk Empire
character of Richard Harrow wearing Anna Coleman Ladd type mask

New member story published on! Awesome Teacher Leader Jacquie Sewell takes us in to a little known facet of WWI, and a detail that was used as part of a major story line in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Many of us are fans of the opulent and thrilling HBO series Boardwalk Empire inspired by real life Atlantic City bootlegger and gangster Nucky Johnson. The noble and tragic character of Richard Harrow is based on one of these American heroes who after suffering mutilation to his face struggled to assimilate with life back home using the aide of a prosthetic mask such as Anna Coleman Ladd fashioned.

Awesome Stories has a tremendous library of primary source based content ready to be used in the classroom. One source of this volume of content is our team of Awesome Teacher Leaders as well as other site members. Elementary school librarian Jacquie Sewell brings us a fascinating story taking us back to a poignant and moving aspect of World War I, sculptress Anna Coleman Ladd’s commitment to creating lifelike masks for soldiers of WWI whose faces were disfigured during combat. Plastic surgery was not yet an option at this time.

Awesome Teacher Leaders and Members are contributing new stories every week, tune in for fresh stories and AS updates here!


Pope Francis Primer

Obama Francis Vatican
President Obama meet Pope Francis in the Vatican, 2014.

Pope Francis, born Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina is considered a very modern and progressive pope, as well as a more humble and approachable pope than those of the past. Francis is a pope of firsts, first Jesuit pope, first from the Americas and first from South America. Pope Francis has made fighting poverty one of his chief causes.

While maintaining traditional Catholic stances opposing contraception, abortion and homosexuality Francis’s greatest principal is that of Jesus’s teachings of mercy. Therefore, though he condemns certain practices as immoral he does not condemn the practitioners themselves, believing all beings to be deserving of love and compassion. Francis has also championed open dialogue with and acceptance of other faiths including Judaism, Islam,Protestantism, Atheism and has worked to mend the over 1000 year rift with Orthodox Christianity.

In an unusual precedent of diplomacy US President Barack Obama enlisted Pope Francis to aide in reopening relations with Cuba which he successfully shepherded to completion. Only two years into his papacy Pope Francis continues to surprise including his acknowledgement of and concern regarding climate change. His historic visit to the United States in September 2015 is sure to include new revelations on not just his stances but his whole manner and approach to interacting with all beings, not only Catholics.

As “Jurassic World” rocks the box office, AwesomeStories shows how it can spark learning!

$115 million in the first weekend, says Variety!

Jurassic World image

How many students can it engage in learning, wondering, thinking about the science, history, the future?

This is a great story to explore with your kids or young friends this summer, it starts like this:

“What do you do when you want to boost visitor attendance to your dinosaur-dominated, Jurassic World theme park? Use DNA, from four different dinosaurs, and “in the Hammond lab” create something entirely new and fearsome.  Then … give the new creature a name which signifies its awesome power: Indominus rex. At least … that’s how the story theme works in the 2015 film “Jurassic World.”  So … let’s travel back in time, to the age of the dinosaurs, and meet the four interesting creatures whose DNA led to this new and ferocious predator:  RugopsCarnotaurusGiganotosaurus; and Majungasaurus.”

Check out our AwesomeStories June Newsletter for clues and read the newest chapter “Jurassic World and Indominus-Rex” in our “Jurassic Park” multichapter story for lots of science, critical thinking, STEM and history exploration.

We are offering special summer and all year access to AwesomeStories GOLD, our premium story archive with apps including the amazing new “AwesomeStoryBuilder”. You and your students or you and all your kids can research using our archive and more, build stories and publish them on our website.

AwesomeStories Special 2015 Family Offer ($59/yr for the entire family)

AwesomeStories Special 2015 Teacher Offer ($89/yr for you and all your students)

Enjoy the Summer!

The AwesomeStories Team


U.S. Deadliest Train Wrecks

Train Derailment near Nashville in 1918
Train Derailment near Nashville in 1918


This week a deadly derailment occurred, in Philadelphia, as a speeding train jumped the tracks while making a very tight turn.

It brings to mind another deadly Philadelphia derailment, about a mile from the most-recent disaster, which occurred on Labor Day in 1943.

It also prompts a question:  What is America’s deadliest train wreck? It happened during World War I, near Nashville. Within about three days, however, the story was essentially “out of the news.”

Why did the press move-on, so quickly, to cover other things? You will be surprised, and saddened, by the most-likely answer.

This Week: van Gogh’s “Lover’s Lane” Sells for $66.3 Million

Van Gogh $66 m painting


Vincent van Gogh felt he was a failure in his lifetime, borrowing money for food and paints from his brother Theo.  If only Vincent could know that his painting of the Alyscamps cemetery in France sold May 5, 2015 for $66.3 million!

Read our StoryBrief about his trip to the cemetery with Paul Gaugin and how one artist influenced the other to paint beyond what was immediately seen.

And our multi-chapter Vincent van Gogh Story provides yet more insight into the life of this artist who changed how we all see things.

For tips on how to leverage natural student interest in van Gogh’s art and life, take a look at longtime adjunct professor Sandie Linn’s StoryBrief “Teaching with AwesomeStories Vincent van Gogh Story to Deepen Reading, Reflection and Writing for ESL Students”.