Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How To Design "Choose Your Own Adventure" Stories in 4th Grade (part 1)

It occurred to me about about a month ago that crafting "Choose Your Own Adventure" books has too many learning opportunities to ignore. I was thinking about forests. More specifically, how could I teach all the cool things about forests without having to do whole-class teaching.
But instead of reading, we could write it...

There's a lot of forests in the Czech Republic, and I think our grade-level team has done a really nice job of taking advantage of the many opportunities available to us. There's a great forest in the back of the school that we can take walks through. We've visited an animal sanctuary outside of town. And we planted some trees:

But as I searched for and gathered my resources for the unit, I kept coming back to the idea that most interesting and most natural way to disseminate knowledge would be to have the kids develop their own stories where choices are the backbone. That's important for this unit in particular because it's a unit that's based on cause and effect.
This jerk of a brood parasite knows what I'm talking about.

We have three essential questions for this unit:
  • What are the elements of a forest?
  • What happens when an element in a forest system is changed / modified (taken out, reduced, introduced)?
  • How can we live in ways that help sustain healthy forests?
The last two questions in particular are questions that don't always lend themselves naturally to whole class teaching, research projects, forest walks, or planting trees. The last two questions scream, "Cause and effect," and,  "For every action there is a reaction," and possibly sing, "You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run."
Except instead of cards and guns, its forests and biodiversity

So I set out to design a "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of projects. Here is a quick guideline that I gave the kids:

Guidelines For Your “Choose Your Own Adventure” Story

A) Create a character. To create your character, use the Character Questionnaire in Google Drive.

B) Write a story with different paths. To create your paths, use the following format:
-       Each decision should have two paths. One path will be a "Dead End" where the story ends. The other path will be a better choice, and the story will continue. 
      C) There should be at least four decisions your character makes.

D) After a dead end decision, your page will have two parts:
-                   The Story part tells what happens in the story.

-                   The Facts part tells what happened in real life.

I decided we'd use Google Docs to write the stories, and Google Forms to put the stories in the "Choose Your Own Adventure" format. More on those particulars in the next post.

Because we've never done anything like this before, I expected a rather large learning curve.
I decided to divide this unit into three parts:

1) A whole-class introductory story making project.

2) A partner project where the whole class draws upon the same resources but creates their own individual story.

3) A partner project where each pair chooses from one of five scenarios to create their own story.

1) The Whole-Class Introductory Story Making Project
To introduce how to do everything we used a text that I used as a read-aloud for this unit:

There are many poor decisions made by the main protagonist, Harriet. In fact the whole point of this picture book is that loving nature and understanding nature are two different things. Loving nature exclusively can get you in a lot of trouble. Spoiler Alert: It eventually kills Harriet in the book.
I stripped much of the story down, and read selected pages that could result in our character choosing between a poor and a good decision. As I read the pages it was up to the children to rewrite the voice from 3rd person to 2nd person. The outline ended up looking a little bit like this:

And since I used Kidspiration to make that, if you like the outline better, here is the storyboard converted into an outline:
So that's the setup. In my next post I'll get into the nitty-gritty of how the students used Google Docs, Google Forms, and the other resources I mentioned to make their first stories. In later posts I'll share what the partner projects were that came after There's A Hair In My Dirt

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...