I had heard about how you could write a Choose Your Own Adventure story using a Google form, but I had not been brave enough to give it a try until this year. The idea got placed back in front of me at one of our media specialist professional learning meetings by Tanya Hudson. Then, I went into Google forms and gave it a try. I made a very short, basic fiction story. I won’t go into detail in this post about how the story is made, but it is all about adding multiple page breaks in a form and then directing answers to go to those pages based on the response of the reader.
Then, at our school level professional learning day in January, I did a session on using Google forms. I shared some very basic uses of forms and also included this advanced idea. Our 4th grade teachers were very interested in how this might be used by their students. After some brainstorming, we decided on writing historical fiction choose your own adventure using some of the 4th grade standards. In the library, I have several nonfiction choose your own adventure stories from Capstone Press, so these became mentor texts for the project.
The teachers gave me a small group of students from each of their classrooms. The reason we started with a small group was so that I could work with them in a smaller setting to explore the possibilities of creating this kind of story. Then, these students could pair with other students in the class to show them the steps to making the stories. The students worked with me during 5 hour-long sessions.
In session 1, we read some excerpts from the informational Capstone Press books. Then, I walked them through the story I made and how it was created. They ended this session by “messing around” in Google forms to practice some of the things I modeled.
In session 2, students looked at the standards and chose their topics to begin researching. They chose from:
- Describe colonial life in America as experienced by various people, including large landowners, farmers, artisans, women, indentured servants, slaves, and Native Americans.
- Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit), Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee), and Southeast (Seminole).
- Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish, French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.
- Trace the events that shaped the revolutionary movement in America, including the French and Indian War, British Imperial Policy that led to the 1765 Stamp Act, the slogan “no taxation without representation,” the activities of the Sons of Liberty, and the Boston Tea Party.
- Describe the major events of the American Revolution and explain the factors leading to American victory and British defeat; include the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Saratoga, and Yorktown.
- Describe key individuals in the American Revolution with emphasis on King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, and John Adams.
In all of the other sessions, students mixed research from books, websites, ebooks, and the research tool in Google Docs with actually creating their form. Students supported one another as they figured out things, but students also conferenced with me on their stories. About mid-way through their sessions, I had students go ahead and submit the link to their form to me. I used a Google form to gather all of their links. Then, I could easily check-in on students without disturbing their writing.
As I look back at what we’ve done so far, it has been a very messy process with lots of different kinds of learning going on simultaneously. If I had it to do again, I think it would be easier to start with a fiction story than weaving in history. Just making the structure of the Google form and getting it to work took a lot of time and students were also trying to research facts. When they moved to research, their skills at creating their forms were getting a little rusty. I think if students started with fiction where they could just make everything up, they could spend more time being creative and actually getting the form to work. We learned a lot about the process, and I definitely think that these students will be able to show others the steps it would take to create their own.
All of their stories are still works in progress, but you can try them out here:
Feel free to leave feedback on any of the stories as a comment and I’ll pass it along to the students to celebrate and improve their stories.