You come to the foot of a mountain and notice a cave. If you want to enter the cave, turn to page 56. If you want to continue up the mountain, turn to page 84.
I was in LOVE with Choose Your Own Adventure stories like this as a kid. In these books, the reader was confronted with several choices throughout the story, each leading to a different outcome.
(Whenever I got dragged along to garage sales with my mom, I was always digging through tables and boxes of books on the lookout for CYOA books!)
These types of stories are fun to read.
They’re also fun to create … AND it’s fun to read your classmates’ creations!
That’s right … these creations don’t have to be your typical stories. Making these activities where you choose your own path can be used in all sorts of classes and content areas …
Digital citizenship. Executive function. Multiple choice questions with custom feedback. The list goes on and on.
If there are choices to make, the choice story is a fun activity to display them.
Plus, there’s a STEM/computer science connection! These stories make heavy use of “if/then” logic (also known as “conditional logic”). This is a key component of computational thinking and computer science. Just by exposing students to this part of the activity teaches them a valuable part of computational thinking.
Smart decision making. Computational thinking. Creating to learn.
You’re making a good choice to use this activity!
Are they hard to make? Not really … especially if you have a good plan (see below).
Will they take some time? Yes. This probably isn’t something your students can knock out in 20 minutes (unless they’ve gotten lots of practice with them).
What would you use? You can use Google Forms, and many teachers do. But I prefer Google Slides (or PowerPoint if you’re a Microsoft school).
Here’s my main reason: design flexibility.
Students can design their slides with more precision in Google Slides. And when they’re done, it makes for a better experience for students reading each other’s work.
Here’s a step-by-step plan for creating a choice story. Feel free to share a link to this article with your students so they’ll know what to do! (You can even put the link in their Google Classroom assignment.)
If students jump right on a new slide deck to start, chances are they’ll get overwhelmed and stuck.
Planning first is EVERYTHING.
Write out a flowchart on a piece of paper — or, like I do in this post, a simple Google Drawing.
To create my flowchart …
Here’s an example:
I don’t have all the details on this workflow. That’s OK. You can get as detailed as you want on the slides. This is just to have a blueprint of how you’ll design the slides.
It’s finally time to create a slide deck! Create a brand new Google Slides or PowerPoint to get started.
First: Each of the numbered boxes is a slide. You’ll want to create them in the same order as they’re numbered in your workflow. Match the slide numbers in Google Slides/PowerPoint to the slide numbers on your workflow.
Second: Create all the content on your slides. (Leave some room at the bottom for some links/buttons so the reader can make his/her next choice.) That means text boxes, images, whatever you need to tell your story!
Third: Create your links/buttons so the reader can make choices. I did this by adding a shape (see below) and double-clicking it to add text.
Fourth: Link your slides together. Start with this: If you’re using buttons made out of shapes (like I did above), you’ll want to click on the shape (be sure you aren’t highlighting the text). It’ll look like this (below).
Then click the link button in the top toolbar. Instead of inserting a link to a webpage on the Internet, choose “Slides in this presentation”. Then, select the slide it should take you to.
Do this for all of the choices the reader gets to make. (These are the arrows in the workflow image above.)
Fifth: Create buttons on the slides with story endings that say “Click here to start over”. Click the button and create a link to the first slide.
You’re done! Below is what my finished product looked like. (Click here to see the file, and please don’t request access to it through the share button … just File – Make a copy!)
Here are two ideas:
Idea 1: Share the links through Google Classroom. The easiest way might be to have students post their links as a class comment on the assignment. Two ways to get the link to share with others:
Idea 2: Do a digital gallery walk. Students place their computers on their desks. They bring up their stories and click “Present”. They leave their computers on their desks and stand up. Then, they circulate around the room looking at each other’s devices. I describe how to do this in detail in this post: The Digital Gallery Walk: Collaboration on their feet
Tip 1: You can use a variety of structures to create your story just right! The structure I used above could be described as “pyramid with two choices per slide”. Other structures:
Tip 2: When you put your slides in present mode, when you click on anything other than your linked buttons, you’ll go to the next slide in the slide deck. This means: If a student accidentally clicks somewhere that’s not a button, he/she will not go to the next logical place.
Here’s how to avoid that:
This way, if someone accidentally clicks on the wrong spot, they’ll stay on that same slide until they click a button to move forward. (If this part confuses you, just skip it! Your choice story will still work without it.)
Enjoy this fun activity where students put their creativity on display AND practice making good decisions!
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