You remember these.

The Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you’re chased by a tiger.  You can escape it by leaping into the ocean 50 feet below (go to page 48) or face the tiger with your homemade slingshot (go to page 128).

Tomorrow, after weeks of research writing, my expository writing students are going to take a break and write their own Choose Your Own Adventure story.

I swiped the idea from Sean O’Neil’s webinar from last year’s QuestBoise Unconference (can’t wait to “attend” this year’s!)  Sean demonstrated how students could write their own choose your own adventure stories using links in word documents or slideshows.

Then I thought, couldn’t this easily be done in Google forms as well?  And that’s just what I did today.  To provide a sample product for my students, I created a Choose Your Own Adventure story based on Hamlet.

Since I love the play and am very familiar with it, I jumped right in and started writing.  However, I think I’ll encourage students to start with a storyboard/flowchart tomorrow, especially if they are writing a story from scratch.  I’ll also give them the option for using a story they already know (as I did with Hamlet).  Providing the “alternate routes” that don’t happen in Hamlet challenged my creativity similar to if I had written a story from scratch.

Normally I focus on essay writing in class, but there are benefits to this activity.  One, when students do write narratives, I often find that they get lost in describing the mundane and don’t confront their characters with conflicts.  An activity such as this prompts students to throw conflicts and decisions in front of their characters.  I’m also considering using this activity next year as a possible quest when I teach Beowulf and The Hero’s Journey.

Other standards can also be addressed in this activity.  Storyboarding/flow-charting can be taught as a method of pre-writing, and students can peer review each other’s stories.  Students can also be required to include specific literary elements, such as allusions, metaphors, and alliteration.

And knowing that students will be writing these stories for other students to read?  The stakes just went up about a million percent.  (Yep, just showing off my awesome hyperbole skills).

Can’t wait to get started tomorrow!