Lesson Plans to Use Interactive Fiction in the Classroom
Over the past 30 years, children have fallen in love with the Choose Your Own Adventure formatwhich gives them control over how a story plays out. This genre is particularly strong with boys who are often times reluctant readers and writers. Many teachers have found great success incorporating interactive fiction activities in the classroom to motivate even the unwilling student.
As funds for education grow tighter every year, this page will concentrate on cheap or even FREE lesson plans to use in the classroom. Let's get these kids literate!
Writing interactive fiction doesn't need to be a long or involved process but it does require a certain amount of planning on how the story should be structured. This is done, of course, through concept mapping-- a great pre-writing activity in its own right. There are numerous products out there [list] but one of the more common software products used in education is from Inspiration. This product, like all of them, allows students to visually plan out various plotlines before committing a story to paper.
Lesson Plan Ideas:
Concept Mapping Lesson: To kickstart an interactive fiction lesson, it's always a good idea to model for the student how story planning works. Since many of the original books can be acquired for less than a $1 or checked out from the local library, it would be a great activity to have students read a few plotlines and then see a visual representation of how the narrative is laid out. There are numerous concept maps available to view for many original Choose Your Own Adventure titles. Here are a few:
Possible topics to discuss in the classroom are: how some plotlines loop back on themselves, how some plotlines terminate at the same ending point, the ratio of good endings to bad endings, and others.
Use of Technology in Writing: There is a big push in education for our students to incorporate more technology into their assignments. Thankfully, technology goes hand in hand with writing interactive stories in the classroom.
Instead of having students compose their work on paper or use Microsoft Word, have them develop the story using PowerPoint as shown in this example [pdf]. Even more exciting, introduce students to web 2.0 applications through the use of Google Docs [slideshow] to collaboratively write their Choose Your Own Adventure story.
Students can also go online to numerous websites to contribute to interactives already in progress. This alleviates the need for students to come up with their own broad idea and do extensive pre-planning. They can just jump right into a partially developed plotline and add their own extension of it.
Other online resources for free interactive fiction lesson plans
- eMints.org: this is a professional development resource from the University of Missouri that provides prebuilt curriculum to use in the classroom. Of note to this article are a number of lesson plans that involve reading, writing and grammar topics utilizing CYOA resources
- Columbia Education Center has provided the outline of a lesson using notecards to develop interactive fiction story lines in the classroom
- Eric Howey has developed a week-long ( 5 x 50 min. long classes) lesson plan [pdf] for grades 4 to adult that revolves around students authoring an interactive story using Microsoft Word and its built-in hyperlinking feature.
While not all lesson plans on the internet are free, there are a number of them that are extremely low cost.
Leann Brown has developed an eight page CYOA style lesson concerning Experimental Design for only $1.50 for grades 3 to 8. [link] What makes this interesting is that it appears to be more of a Science lesson than a Language Arts lesson. Here's her description:
"This is an 8 page choose your own adventure style lesson plan packet with an 8 page scoring guide attached. It focuses on following instructions, setting up an experiment properly (without bias), identifying the components and analyzing data IN AN AMUSING FORMAT!"
For additional low-cost curriculum, check out Lesson Planet.[link] This site features FOUR HUNDRED interactive fiction themed lesson plans. While this is a pay site, they do give you a FREE 10 day trial to view any of the available content.