Choose your own adventure stories, also known as secret path stories, are where the reader becomes the main protagonist in the adventure. The stories are often written from a second-person point of view and the reader is given options on where to take the story next. Children of the 80s and 90s like myself will probably recall reading such books when we were younger. More recently, teachers in Japan may be aware of the popular Atama-ii Choose Your Own Adventure graded reader series. These books are helpful in engaging lower level learners and reluctant readers, promoting critical thinking, fostering autonomous learning, and providing students with a fun and positive reading experience in English (Klingner & Vaughn, 1998).
Google Slides is a free online presentation programme offered alongside the full Google Suite. It lets users put together presentations online and is usable on all smart devices, tablets, laptops, and computers. For those used to using PowerPoint, it will look very familiar and navigating around the programme is also very intuitive. The only possible limitation for teachers is that you need a Gmail account to access Google Slides and get creating.
My Adventure Story
In the story I made for my class, students had to go on an adventure through the typical day of a student in our university department. The students had to choose the correct options to progress. However, if they made the wrong choice, they had to start again. In most scenarios, students had a fifty-fifty chance to choose the correct path when there were no clues accompanying the options. For example:
Question: You have some free time before class and need to do some homework. Where’s the best place to study?
Option one: The university library
Option two: The communal study area
This forced students to discuss what might be the possible advantages and disadvantages of each option. This was achieved because, early in the story, the students were tricked with a few “red herrings” where the seemingly obvious correct choice was, in fact, the wrong choice. For example:
Question: You are almost at the station but maybe you need to run. However, your bag is really heavy because of all your textbooks. What do you do?
Option one: Walk quickly
Option two: Run
Most students chose the option to run, when actually walking quickly was the correct choice. Running led them to trip over and hurt themselves, thus missing the train, missing class, and failing the semester. The students then had to start the story again. Student pairs and groups appeared to have fun competing with each other as they tried to successfully complete this adventure story, something that Dörnyei (2001) states can add to student motivation. From observing their engagement with this adventure story, this type of reading could have a positive effect on developing their English competencies.
How to Create an Adventure Story?
If you have a Gmail account, or have just set one up, you are ready. Below are the simple steps you need to create your own adventure story.
Step One: From your Gmail account, click on the Google Apps button in the top right of your web browser and select the Slides icon (you may need to scroll down to locate it).
Step Two: On the main page select Blank to start a new presentation from scratch. Alternatively, you can browse some of the templates. However, I found most weren’t suitable.
Step Three: Start creating your own adventure. The way I laid my slides out was to split each slide in half, with the lines of the story and accompanying question on the top half and the options on how to proceed on the bottom. Use shapes (Insert, Shapes) for the different options the students can take. Once you’ve inserted a shape, double click on it and start typing. These boxes will be the “buttons” that your students will click in order to proceed to the next part of the story. Note: make sure the shapes are large enough because, if the students miss the button and press the screen by mistake, it will knock the slides out of order in the story.
Step Four: Once you have your questions and options arranged the way you want, select one of the boxes and click the Insert link icon. Then, select the slide you wish the box to link to. For example, if the box is the correct answer, you might then link it to the next slide. If it is the incorrect answer, it might link back to the starting slide.
Step Five: Once your adventure story is finished, it is time to either share the link with your students or create a QR code for them to scan, which is how I presented my story. Go to File, then Publish to the web to get your link. I advise setting auto-advance slides to one minute (the maximum value) to give your students time to discuss each slide.
Note that you can convert your link into a QR code for free at https://qr-code-generator.com.
I observed that even the lower level and reluctant students found the collaborative nature of reading the story together rewarding and gave them a sense of achievement, something that Klingner and Vaughn (1998) also found with collaborative reading group tasks. Also, students gave some pretty glowing feedback to the activity. Comments like, “It was fun” and “I liked it” were pleasing to receive. The comment, “I don’t like reading, in Japanese also, but this was good” was probably the most positive.
Things to Consider
Although it is easy to create your own story via Google Slides, it can get a little complicated linking everything up. For example, my story contained 54 slides with 74 buttons that all needed to be linked. However, now that it has been created, trialed, edited, and used with students, it is a great resource that I can use year after year.
If you don’t have the time to create your own story, there are other ways in which Google Slides can be used. Here are a few simple ideas that also work well:
- True or false exercises
- A class orientation checklist
- Simple quizzes
- Concept checking
- Vocabulary matching (e.g., synonyms, suffixes or prefixes, picture match for young learners, etc.)
This simple-to-create reading exercise was engaging, motivating, and fun for the students. It was quite a different type of task than they were used to, which seemed to increase their interest, something which Lightbown & Spada (2015) also observed when introducing different tasks to students. As mentioned before, the collaborative aspect of the task led to lively discussions and the adventure story provided learners with a greater sense of agency in how the story unfolds, which could enhance students’ intrinsic “autonomous motivation” (Deci & Ryan, 2008, p.182). Finally, feedback from the students was very positive, so I highly recommend incorporating this technology into the classroom.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(3). 182-185. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012801
Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge University Press.
Klingner, J. K., & Vaughn, S. (1998). Using Collaborative Strategic Reading. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 30(6), 32–37.
Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (2015). How Languages are Learned. Oxford University Press.
QR-Code-Generator. (2020). QR-code-generator.com: Create your QR code for free [Web-based computer software]. Retrieved from https://www.qr-code-generator.com/