I wanted my students to:
1) Study U.S. regions, as per our state standards
2) Use research and writing skills
3) Use technology to demonstrate understanding and build a toolkit for future projects
4) Apply creative thinking skills and logical thinking skills
I showed my students the goals and an example of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure slideshow I made about Canada, and then we discussed what we thought a good project would include. They came up with ideas about how many choice slides to offer, that they needed to highlight a variety of things about each region, that the writing needed to be interesting with correct conventions, and that we needed Goldilocks details - some specifics, but not too lengthy. We added the criteria that the information should be accurate, and stories should stay within their select regions.
Students worked in pairs, trios, or individuals, according to their preferences, and they also chose the region to focus on for the project. Some had background knowledge about specific places, and others were researching everything. The slides started with a choice about which state or city to visit, and each choice led to another choice, or a dead end, with regional highlights as part of the virtual tour:
Our current IB-PYP unit of inquiry is How We Organize Ourselves, so the activity supported both the understanding of spatial organization of U.S. regions, in addition to sequence organization possibilities in their stories. I also liked that in setting up choices for a virtual tour of the regions, students would essentially be writing if/then statements, just as coding requires.
The links led to different Google Slides, which the students arranged so that the tour/story would make sense. Of course, being 5th graders, some of the story options ended rather unfortunately:
Others ended more optimistically:
This was an easily accessible, open-ended activity for all students that invited collaboration, problem-solving, and research. Students were highly motivated as they created their stories, and now they have a project tool to select for future assignments. Several groups voluntarily went back to add more to their stories after we presented them, just for fun.
Although Google Slides isn't the most unusual technology tool, the choose-your-own-adventure component made it more engaging for students who write reluctantly, as well as students who are confident writers and researchers. This was a great activity for the beginning of the school year, showing where students are in time management, proofreading, and presentation organization, in addition to the stated project objectives. I loved seeing the creativity through their writing voices, tour stop options/dead ends, and selected details.
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.