A key concept that’s important for students to learn is the importance of engaging with the text — not just being a passive reader.
There are obviously many effective instructional strategies to help them practice that lesson. One pretty explicit way is for them to have access to reading “choose your own adventure” stories where they are periodically given choices of what they want characters to do, and then participate in the construction of the story itself. The Goosebumps series of books is a well-known example of genre. In the world of English Language Learner teaching, these kinds of stories are also called “Action Mazes.”
There are many other examples of “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories on the Web that are accessible to English Language Learners, and “The Best…” list will links to them. My students have always enjoyed reading these online versions.
In addition, writing these kinds of stories has the potential of being a fun and educational group writing activity for English Language Learners and other students. There are several free online tools out there now (and I them in post), though I haven’t been able to find an ideal one for use in class. I’ll also be what — at point — is the best way that I’ve come-up with to create one, and I’m also very interested in hearing about better ideas. I’m planning on experimenting with creating them during my ESL class during summer school.
The list is divided into two sections. The first one links to accessible online Choose Your Adventure stories for students to read (some also include animation with the text). The second ways teachers can work with students to write their own.
How to — and How Not to — Teach Role Plays is from the Zinn Education Project.
Here are my picks for The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories:
STORIES TO READ:
Castaway is both entertaining and accessible to Early Intermediate English Language Learners. You are stuck on a deserted island and have to get off.
Over The Top is an exceptional online game from the Canadian War Museum that puts you in the role of a soldier in the trenches. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” game. It’s particularly accessible to English Language Learners because it provides audio support to the text.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a dragon, Choice of the Dragon is the game for you. You get to be one — as nice or as mean as you want!
A. Pintura: Art Detective lets you try to identify who was the artist of a painting.
Mission US is a brand new site that will be providing interactive games to help students learn about United States history. It’s funded by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment For The Humanities. Right now, it just has a couple of interactives online. It’s main one, For Crown Or Colony, is a very well designed “choose your own adventure” game (you have to register in order to play). The site also has a lot of supporting materials for teachers.
Broken Co-Worker is an interesting “Choose Your Own Adventure” game where players are in the role of a bullied worker. It appears to be classroom appropriate, but I did not explore all the alternatives available.
Spent is a “choose your own adventure” type game where you play the role of a very low-income person.
Quandary is a neat online game/choose your own adventure story that is can work well as a tool for English language development ) and/or as a way to deal with ethical questions (the site itself has lot of teaching ideas). You can play as a guest or register.
Breakaway is an online game where players are virtual members of a previously-all boys soccer team react to a girl joining it. The United Nations Population Fund helped create it. Here’s how it’s described:
Breakaway is a free online game intending to reduce violence against women across the globe. Players join a youth football (soccer) team and learn about being a team player on and off the field. They must build their relationships with their teammates between practices and matches, navigating the conflicts that arise when a girl finds a place on the team.
Depression Quest is an interactive text fiction game (or choose your own adventure) where the player plays the part of someone who is suffering from depression. I learned about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
Lifesaver is an online video game designed to help you learn CPR through the “choose your own adventure” game genre.
The refugee challenge: can you break into Fortress Europe? – interactive is from The Guardian. It’s done in the mode of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game.
Here are several simple ones from Scratch.
Rootbook has lots of stories.
Play The Oregon Trail (but, if you have students play it, be aware of its racist stereotypes and discuss them)
Here are two that have recently been created and, even though I suspect students won’t be enthralled by them, nevertheless provide models for teachers to show for student assignments:
How To Win An Oscar is from The Los Angeles Times.
Syrian Journey: Choose your own route is a new BBC interactive where online users simulate — in an obviously detached way — the decisions a Syrian refugee has to make. It uses the framework of old-style “choose your own adventure” simulations.
Decisions That Matter is a “choose your own adventure” interactive designed by college students to teach others about the dangers of sexual assault.
The New York Times has created a great learning “game” to help people understand the difficulties many face when they want to vote in the United States. Check out “The Voter Suppression Trail,” done in the style of the classic Oregon Trail game.
Sesame Street Book Builder is a simple “Choose Your Own Adventure” interactive accessible to ELLs.
Choose Your Own Adventure games often have to be careful balancing respecting the experiences of those who are being simulated and portraying it sensitively with a social conscious. The Waiting Game, produced by ProPublica, works hard at doing the latter in simulating the experience faced by those seeking asylum in the United States.
The New York Times has published Think Military Strikes Could Stop North Korea? Try It and See, which is probably the most frightening choose your own adventure “game” anyone will every “play.”
It’s all too real….
The New York Times just updated their Angry Uncle Chat Bot to practice at Chat Bot: How to Talk About Impeachment Without Ruining the Holidays. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” game that gives you expert feedback every time you choose a response.
WRITING “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE STORIES”:
After students have had an opportunity to try-out some of the stories in the first section, an obvious next step is to have them try writing their own.
Here are the options I know of right now that don’t necessarily put the work on a teacher to put it all together. However, they all have some drawbacks, including potential technical challenges to ELL’s:
The Writing.com site is one choice for having students write more complex Choose Your Own Adventure Stories. You can’t add graphics, and it’s a pretty cluttered site filled with ads, but it does seem pretty simple to use and it’s set-up to write these kinds of stories.
You can make your own stories by using the Quandary software program. Of course, it’s a bit problematic to download software to school computers, and I don’t think (but I may be wrong) you add graphics.
Here are some instructions from Microsoft on how to use PowerPoint to create “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. It’s not accessible to ELL’s, but teachers can use it as a guide.
Kevin Hodgson has created a brilliant website where he shows how he teaches students to write “choose your own adventure” stories (which he calls “Threaded Adventures”) and provides examples of stories they have written.
That’s nice, but the brilliant part is that he does so in a “choose your own adventure” form!
Here are several links that describe how you can use Google Forms to create a Choose Your Own Adventure story:
Google Forms As A Choose Your Own Adventure Tool is from Bionic Teaching.
Page Navigation In Google Forms is from Google.
Using Google forms for a “Choose your own adventure” style story is by David Wees.
You can download a simple outline students can use to plan a choose your own adventure story here.
PowerPoint – Choose Your Own Adventure provides helpful advice on developing “choose your own adventure” stories.
Google Slides: Choose Your Own Adventure is from Alice Keeler.
‘Choose your own’ adventure stories using Google Slides. is a nice “how-to” post and video from Ed Tech For Beginners.
— Book Creator Team (@BookCreatorApp) January 1, 2018
Popped lets you write a screenplay, story or choose your own adventure in a way that’s similar to texting. It’s a bit confusing to me, but I’ll still add it
How to Use Google Slides to Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories is from Richard Byrne.
How to Use Keynote to Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories is from Richard Byrne.
I, and I suspect many other teachers, really like having students read them, but can be intimidated by feeling that having students write them and/or create interactive videos is just too complicated for us to organize and for them to complete it successfully. Happily, I have recently found an excellent short video that shows clearly how easy it is to create one of these kinds of videos online. In addition, and, I think, more importantly, several times in the video they show a super-simple diagram that can be used by just about anybody to write one of these kinds of choose-your-own-adventure stories. The diagram is much clearer than others I’ve seen and used, and is remarkably effective and simple.
Be forewarned, the video itself shows countless unsuccessful attempts at humor, but it’s worth watching til the end:
I don’t think I recommend the Choose Your Own Adventure video discussed in blog post titled The zombie apocalypse and its role in the ELT classroom, but it does give some excellent ideas on how to use these kinds of videos with English Language Learners.
Flixmaster is a new online video-editing tool (it’s still not open to the public, but I got an invitation pretty quickly after signing-up for one) that lets you easily create interactive videos. It looks like a great way to make a “Choose Your Own Adventure” video that doesn’t necessarily have to be hosted on YouTube.
Lou Lahana has created a very nice tutorial for his students on how to create an online Choose Your Own Adventure game with Google Forms.
Rootbook is a site with lots of choose your own adventure stories you can read without registering or signing-in. In addition, if you register (which takes seconds), you’re also given the ability to create your own. And it seems to be pretty easy to do so — the only trick I found was that you have to make sure to upload a photo cover page first to your story or else it won’t let you continue.
Twine is an online software for creating Choose Your Own Adventure stories. It does seem a bit more complicated than other tools I’ve already mentioned.
Here’s a Webinar on using Google Slides to create these kinds of stories.
Magical Moments is a really interesting sort of “choose your own adventure” interactive where you experience a day of school through the eyes of a young student, including making various choices along the way. The audio is in Norwegian, but it has English subtitles.
Here are two interesting posts about “interactive fiction” (text-based “choose your adventure” stories): Interactive Fiction in the Classroom is from Edutopia; TEL: Constructive Gamification in the classroom is from DHSB Teaching.
Netstory is a new tool for creating and reading interactive fiction (choose-your-own-adventure stories). They bill it as super simple to use but, for the life of my, I couldn’t figure out how to write a story once I got into its editor. And they have no tutorial or explanation anywhere visible on its website. I’m tentatively going to be put it on this list and assume that someone will figure it out and explain it to me.
Fablement is a new free tool for writing, and reading, “choose-your-own-adventure” stories.
And, here, just for fun, is a new interactive that Stephen Colbert – yes, that Stephen Colbert – has created.
New Tools for Interactive Fiction and Engaged Writing is from Edutopia.
Netflix has begun creating online video “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. Unfortunately, they only work on a touch screen for now, not within the browser of a computer.
“Tell Me Your Secrets” – An interactive graphic novel is from The BBC.
Google published a series of instructional videos about using Google Slides to create these kinds of stories online:
American Revolution: Choose Your Own Adventure looks interesting.
Oxford Bookworms Adventures are free Choose Your Own Adventure stories designed for ELLs – you play them through Alexa.
Amazon’s Audible brings Choose Your Own Adventure stories to Alexa devices is from TechCrunch. If you had an Alexa at school, this could be a great tool for listening practice.
A unique way to create choose your own adventure games via Twitter was invented this week.
Brancher is an iPhone app that can be used to create “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories.
Here’s a Google Docs template for creating CYOA stories.
Choice stories in Google Slides: How to + ideas for class is from Ditch That Textbook.
Creating Interactive Stories With Twine is from TESOL.
Written Realms is a site where you can write and read text-based choose your own adventure games.
How to Hyperlink PowerPoint Slides for Choose-Your-Own Adventure Stories is from Richard Byrne.
VIDEO CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURES:
NOTE: Google is Removing Annotations from YouTube Videos is from Richard Byrne’s blog. This means “curtains” for many, though not all, “choose-your-own-adventure” videos I previously shared here.