Sunday 23 May 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure lives!

I was back home a few summers ago and went on a second hand book binge. (China has all sorts of restrictions on importing books, so it is not easy to find good books here...) I was teaching grade 2 at the time and went hunting for picture books. I came across some old Choose Your Own Adventure books and started trying to figure out how I could integrate them into my program. Even the easy ones were too tough for my kids to read themselves. I lent them to a friend teaching grade 4 and together, we came up with a series of lessons for some gifted kids in his class. They wrote their own stories in the same style. We decided that PowerPoint would lend itself very well to this. The stories came out great.

So when I moved up to grade 5, I wanted to expand on this. We have a unit about Conflict Resolution that was perfect. Throughout the unit, we talked to the students about how conflicts can occur and how our choices can cause a conflict to escalate or de-escalate.

We had them write a series of situations where conflicts were likely to occur--where there were differences of opinion, an imbalance of power or resources, some sort of misunderstanding etc...

Then, we put them together in groups based on similar conflicts.  They tried to amalgamate their ideas into one scenario.  Each group then constructed a concept map/flowchart/tree diagram to look at various choices for the protagonist and how each one would turn out.  These were developed into poster-sized storyboard.  (We used a variety of software tools for this.  Because they were working in groups, sometimes from home, the best tools tended to be cloud-based.  Most groups chose Webspiration to map out their stories.

In the next stage, they wrote scripts for each 'bubble' in their story.  By this time, our class was using Google Docs pretty regularly and it turned out to be very helpful.  Students could be on different machines and collaborate on the same script.

So, at this point, a group might have a story that begins as a short 30 second to 1 minute scene.  The moment of conflict arrives.  Then, the main character is presented with 2 or 3 choices.  Each choice leads to a continuation of the story.  Each of those might be a minute or two.  Then, in each of those, there may be a couple of choices that will lead to a conclusion to the story.  So, all together, there may be 10-12 scenes.

Groups rehearsed their scenes, then, usually with the help of a 'camera person' from another group, they filmed their stories.  We edited the clips down and plugged them into PowerPoint presentations.

So, in the PowerPoint, we click through the title, watch the first scene, then are presented with a couple of hyperlinks that lead to the next part of the story and so on to the various possible endings.

I think much of the success of this project lies in the fact that it allowed us to integrate language arts, drama, art and math.  The math part had to do with some of the logistics using the time scale with the clips and PowerPoint.

I will try to post links to a couple of these videos shortly.

Better late than never! Here is one of the videos.

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