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.
Also, check out THE DANGERS OF “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE” GENRE FOR REAL & PAINFUL STORIES and A Marine’s Reaction to a Children’s Book Prompts an Apology From the Publisher.
Also see: THE DANGERS – & POSITIVE POSSIBILITIES – OF HISTORY SIMULATIONS
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.
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.
Here’s an interesting one using Vine. You can read more about it here.
Play The Oregon Trail (but, if you have students play it, be aware of its racist stereotypes and discuss them)
Someone built a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game out of Twitter accounts, and it’s surprisingly cool is from Quartz.
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:
Play this game to see what it’s like to be John Boehner is from Vox.
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.
Mission US Unveils New Immigration Game – Is It A Winner Or A Loser?
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.
“Payback” Is A “Choose Your Own Adventure” Tool To Help Students Envision College Costs
Sesame Street Book Builder is a simple “Choose Your Own Adventure” interactive accessible to ELLs.
“Be George Washington” In This New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Activity
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….
“TOTAL DARKNESS” IS THE NEWEST ONLINE GAME FROM THE SCIENCE MUSEUM IN LONDON
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.
“HARMONY SQUARE” IS AN ONLINE GAME DESIGNED TO TEACH TEENS ABOUT DISINFORMATION
This is pretty “niche,” but interesting: A choose your own adventure game where you play the role of someone trying to found a tech start-up business.
The Climate Game is designed by the Financial Times to challenge players to mitigate climate change.
“Enter The Story” Is A Cool Tool For Introducing Classic Books Via “Choose Your Own Adventure”
ArcaneLand could be a fun, though complicated, choose your own adventure game for ELLs.
Infinite Adversaries is another complicated choose your own adventure game.
The Spring Thing Festival of Interactive Fiction is probably only accessible to advanced ELLs. Be aware that I haven’t checked all the stories to see if they are classroom appropriate.
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.
Check out my post A Creative Concept For A TV Show & How To Implement It In The Classroom for another idea.
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.
How we created an interactive choose your own adventure book. https://t.co/KK3F83L854 by @CampbellMira #ipaded #edtech #bookcreator pic.twitter.com/MlHtBS3NMs
— Book Creator Team (@BookCreatorApp) January 1, 2018
Kevin Hodgson has a nice tutorial on how to use Google Slides to create Choose Your Own Adventure stories,
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.
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.
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.
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.
YouTube has made some changes to the tool that lets you create “Choose Your Own Adventure” videos. Richard Byrne has written two very good posts explaining what you can do instead.
New Tools for Interactive Fiction and Engaged Writing is from Edutopia.
Here are two Pinterest Boards on these types of stories.
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.
This Would Be Great For ELLs: Play – Or Create – A “Listening & Speaking” Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story
Google published a series of instructional videos about using Google Slides to create these kinds of stories online:
“ActiveLit” Lets Students Play & Create Choose Your Own Adventure Games In Virtual Classrooms
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.
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.
“INWORLD” LOOKS LIKE A TERRIFIC SITE FOR TEACHERS & STUDENTS TO CREATE CHATBOTS FOR LEARNING
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.
THESE INTERACTIVE VIDEOS COULD BE GREAT FOR ELLS
Hidden Door wants to turn fiction into immersive roleplaying experiences is from TechCrunch.
If you found post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to blog for free.
Wow–what timing. The Language Arts and Social studies teacher are planning a choose your own adventure story unit involving explorers. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
Twine is a Windows freeware program for writing “choose your own adventure program” stories. It reminds me of using sticky notes. It automatically links each choice together and lets you know if there are problems. You can also add graphics and there are excellent video tutorials as well.
I used Twine this year with my grade 4 students and it was the first time that kids that age actually produced a choose-your-own-adventure stories that made sense and wasn’t frustratingly difficult to write. Most kids downloaded the program at home and kept sending me their pther stories they were writing on their own time. Definitely worth checking out!
Here’s the link for Twine: http://gimcrackd.com/etc/src/
Wow Larry! I didn’t know you (and other teachers/sites) had already done so much work in this area – I should have known you’d already be onto this, shouldn’t I?
Still, World Adventure Kids! probably differs from most of these applications in terms of leveling considerations, narrative quality, illustration quality, and global issues/values curriculum – so I guess it’s still worth going ahead with…
Here is a choose your own adventure story done with videos on YouTube. A great project for a group of students.
Warning: Content is related to gang violence.
Thank you so much for these fantastic ideas. I am sure my students will love making their own adventure together on the Smartboard.
Thanks for these links. I love using stories like these in my teaching (7-11 year olds).
At the end of last year my class of 11 year olds worked in groups to write collaborative choose your own adventure stories. Used hyperlinking to create each page as a slide within a presentation. Really motivating.
Found an interactive game online. May not be appropriate for younger kids and it is a marketing ploy for Range Rover but still thought it was interesting. Good that it also has subtitles
Middle school students at our school use Google Sites to create “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. Of course you have to be a Google school to use this, but it works quite well.
If you can share links to any of the ones they created, I’d love to them.
Fantastic list of resources Larry – thank you very much. One small point – I’m pretty sure the Caves of Mull game was written by kids at Perth Academy in Scotland rather than Australia. Might be worth checking out.
Holy moly! What awesome list. I made a little unit on creating CYOA games using Google Forms http://bit.ly/M6rX5J and I’ll definitely be linking to this page for kids to reference. Many thanks!
Your tutorials are great. I’ll be adding your page to the post. Do you have links to the games your students have created?
Thanks for the compliment Larry! Your blog is *inspiring*
As far as the CYOA games go, this mini unit is for Sept. so nothing yet 🙁 But I’d LOVE for you to check out some student work from past lessons:
Wow, that’s a pretty comprehensive list. However, you left out the *original* chose your own adventures, which are rather conveniently known (and if I may sheepishly point out, copyrighted) as “Choose Your Own Adventure”. 😉
Those can be found at http://www.cyoa.com
I have been working over the past year to adapt that original series into ESL/EFL graded readers, which are being released right now from McGraw-Hill Education. There will soon be a website devoted to them at http://www.mhe-cyoa.com, but the site will not up until next month, I believe.
Great! I’ll be looking forward to seeing the website when it goes live… If you have a chance, it would be great if you left another comment when it was online…
For anyone interested in the Choose Your Own Adventure books who may be in London this November, an interactive documentary show about the books & readers is coming to London Southbank for five nights, 6th-10th Nov 2012. Full details at http://bit.ly/PAnDuV
Wow thats a really huge collection of links there. Thanks for taking time and aggregating them.
I’ve seen a couple of the sites you’ve posted here, but the idea of video choose your own adventures is quite foreign to me. Looks like I won’t be sleeping tonight, again. Any, thanks for collecting those sites, and kudos!
A bit late to the post / comments, I realize, but I’ll add (and, Larry, ask if you can add as well) my CYOA-based series to the list. I wrote interactive versions of the three primary ancient epics, Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid, called the Follow Your Fates series (published by Bolchazy-Carducci Press). Here’s the website: http://followyourfates.weebly.com, and I’d be happy to answer any questions. Thanks.
I don’t know if this CYOA-style game will make it, but the writer’s very good. The first installment is apparently Lovecraftian.
On http://www.rootbook.com are also some good coya stories!
for example http://www.rootbook.com/The-Little-Bear-gamebook-5393
http://www.rootbook.com is really cool. should be more visible in your list
Amazing list! The biggest CYOA resource on a single page I’ve ever seen.
Would love it if you’d add us to your list! We’re Ultimate Ending Books – a new series of bigger, badder, and beefier Choose Your Own Adventure inspired stories that just launched with seven titles:
Thanks so much!
Wow, that is one comprehensive list! If you’d care to add one more entry, here’s my CYOA game playable on Facebook Messenger:
That was an amazing list! It was nice to look at.