What Is an Interactive Story?
Like the others I've written about, this project gave older students (from high school Creative Writing this time) a chance to write short stories for younger students (3rd graders in this case). It's interactive, because after each short piece of the story we include a feedback survey. The younger students fill out the survey to give the authors input on what happens next.
I originally started working on these projects as a way to motivate writers and to encourage younger students to read for pleasure. I was able to be in the classes at both grade levels this time and it really seemed to accomplish that goal. We had high engagement at the high school, since they knew the younger students would be reading their work. And the younger students loved seeing what the high schoolers had written. All teachers involved were very pleased with the project.
How Did We Do It This Time?
In this case, students wrote their introductory "chapter" in a Google Doc. The teacher required three parts:
First came the introduction to the story. We encouraged students to introduce a character or two, establish a setting and lead up to a problem.
Next, students added a link to a Google Form that asked some questions of the readers. We required students to ask at least two multiple choice questions and one open ended question. See below for more information about gathering feedback.
Finally, we required an author bio that included the students' interests and goals. In our case, most of the stories were written by two students working together.
You can see the sample document we showed the class here. Check out the sample story (written by a student, with a few edits) and the sample survey to see how those might look.
The survey and link to the survey were the only steps of the project that required the students to learn some tech skills. I walked them through the process in class, but this document shows all the steps. The final part of it includes a link to a video tutorial.
- We were pressed for time at the end of our semester, so we only did two sections of the story that asked for reader feedback, then a third part that wrapped the stories up. It took us just about two weeks of class time to complete that. In the future we hope to keep the project going longer, with at least two more chapters.
- I shared the stories with the younger students by creating a Google Site that linked to each story document. Whenever I share stories like this, I make a copy of the student document, edit it if necessary, then post the shareable link to the document on the Google Site.
- The authors should be encouraged to use some of the reader input, but they certainly don't have to incorporate it all. The open ended questions especially can bring in too many ideas. Ultimately the decision is up to the author on how the story proceeds.
- For the second chapter, we had students write an author note in place of the "About the Author" section. The note thanked the readers for their input, then explained just a little about how they used that input to write their story. Again, most of these documents, including the story, link to the survey and the authors' note, were only a page long.
- If you want more information about gathering feedback, see this summary I made for a similar comic project. You can read more about that in this post from a couple years ago.