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Interactive Stories
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As a child, I absolutely loved reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books. In fact, as a reluctant reader, these were about the only books I was willing to read. I liked that I got to make choices in the book. I liked how there were different endings to the same book. Also, as a child, I wanted to write my own Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Unfortunately, I never wrote my own as a child. I just couldn't figure out how to do it.

Today technology has delivered some wonderful tools to help, including hypertext! With text and pages that can be linked together, creating interactive stories is much easier than trying to use pages in a book. Students love to write these stories. There's so much excitement in the room when I introduce the Interactive Stories because they are unlike anything students have written before.

I teach many concepts through the writing of these stories. These include the writing process, word choice, fluency, voice, and conventions. Through all of this, I find the motivation to write the most important component. Even students who are the most reluctant writers are excited to start their prewriting.

Resources to Download
Example Prewriting Organizer Chart PDF File ("School Day" by Tony Vincent)
Example Template for Word Processor
RTF File
("School Day" by Tony Vincent)

Scoring Guide
PDF File (Word Choice, Fluency, and Conventions)

Although I have done this lesson with fifth graders, I can see it being applied to students in grades three through eight. Below I have listed how I taught writing concepts with Interactive Stories. Yes, it does take a little knowledge of making web pages.

  1. Review the writing process for prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
  2. Share some completed Interactive Stories with the class. Perhaps even take students to the computer lab to experience the stories on their own. Or, download and install the Plucker* file and beam to student handhelds!
  3. Ask the class how they think the prewriting was completeted for the stories. Explain that they will be writing their own Interactive Stories!
  4. Make an overhead of the Example Prewriting Organizer Chart. Share the chart with the class. Perhaps make an overhead of the Prewriting Organizer Chart and write your own story with the class.
  5. Have students brainstorm what their story could be about. Copy the Prewriting Organizer Chart for each student. Students fill out the chart with their ideas. Note that the story will have a total of six different endings.
  6. Make an overhead of the Example Template for Word Processor. Compare this document to the Example Prewriting Organizer Chart. Notice the details, word choice, and fluency.
  7. Have students turn their prewriting into a draft using the Template for Word Processor. This template is an Rich Text Format file that can be opened by most word processors. This file can be installed onto a Palm handheld computer and used with Documents To Go (or copied and pasted into MemoPad). Students should write in paragraph form what they have written in corresponding boxes on their Organizer Chart.
  8. After completing the first draft, students should revise what they have composed on the Template for Word Processor. Focus on adding details, similes, descriptions, vivid verbs, etc.
  9. After revising, students will edit. They will look for any convention mistakes. They should also have others edit with them to catch as many errors as possible.
  10. Now that the writing is done, it's time to turn what's in the word processor into web pages. Download and copy the Web Pages Templates. You will need a folder for each student. Rename each folder to include the student's name.
  11. Demonstrate for students how to copy and paste each section from the Template for Word Processor into corresponding web pages. Use an HTML editor like Nvu. Highlight the text from the Template for Word Processor. Choose Edit > Copy. Switch to the HTML editor. Open the HTML file that corresponds to the section that was copied. Hightlight the page or choice name and paste over it with the copied text. Click here for a 5 minute screencast showing how to complete this step.
  12. Refer to the finished version of "School Day" by Tony Vincent for a completed story.
  13. Create a web page that can link to all of your stories. Be sure to link to "introduction.html" inside each student's Interactive Story folder.
  14. I used this Scoring Guide to grade my students stories.

* Plucker software allows you to view hyperlinked documents and websites on a handheld. GoKnow's FlingIt is based on Plucker, so the documents will open in either Palm application.

Read Tony's example story, "School Day" online. Or, click here to download the stories in Plucker format for handhelds.

Read stories online by Ms. Everts' fifth graders at Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska written in 2005. Or, click here to download the stories in Plucker format for handhelds.

Read stories online by Mr. Vincent's fifth graders at Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska written in 2004. Or, click here to download the stories in Plucker format for handhelds. Also, click here for stories from 2003 to read in Plucker.

Have stories to share? Email Tony!


Stacie Bender's computer repair class at Bellevue West High School in Nebraska wrote interactive stories. They used Google Docs to collaborative write these:

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