Click Here to try "A Life of Surprises"
Several years ago, science teacher Ken Wasemann proposed to me that interactive hyperlinked powerpoints in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure books could be used for instruction. A couple years later, the students in my class were creating them to demonstrate mastery of pioneer culture, simple machines, and mathematics. The kids love the creativity of this project style, as well as creating scenarios to challenge their friends.
The Concept:
Write and illustrate an interactive problem solving story using hyperlinks in Powerpoint (or comparable presentation software)

The Applications:
Creative Writing - Plot, Sequencing, Character Development, Dialogue, Voice
Math - Real World Problem Solving, Geometric Transformations, Equivalent Fractions
Demonstrate Scientific Concepts - Virtual Experiments, Revolution of the Planets, Water Cycle
Social Studies Concepts - Election Process, Teeth Care/Dentist, People in my Neighborhood
*Students can complete a whole story or documentary on their own or each student make one slide to combine into a class “video.”

The Hows:
Prerequisite skills: Decent spelling ability (clipart art searches must be spelled correctly), Familiarity with the basics of Powerpoint (text boxes, clip art, transitions)

  • The Storyboard - Prewriting for these stories is best in a mind map format. Kidspiration, thinking map software, Microsoft Publisher, or even PowerPoint will allow you to create a plan for the divergent plot lines. Low tech, a poster board with post-it notes representing each slide can be very helpful. Once your storyboard is complete, add a number to each of the circles to correspond to the PowerPoint slide number. This will make it easier to know where the hyperlinks will need to go later on.

  • When creating the slides, create buttons that hyperlink to the next part/branch of the story. When using the problem solving/critical thinking scenarios, create two or mores buttons that serve as multiple choice answers.

(Help your more advanced/older students create valid “choices” by using this basic structure:
With choice style problems
1 that could be right, but isn’t
1 that is obviously wrong
2 that are right, but one is the more specific
(and therefore) correct answer that fits under the other’s umbrella
With math problems
1 correct answer
up to 3 that use the inverse operation or varied order of operations)

Have students save their work often. At least once every ten minutes.

  • Slide Show Settings - To make sure that viewers progress through the slides properly, students need to turn off the ability to advance the slides by clicking the mouse, keyboard, or arrows. To do that, go to the Animations tab > Advance Slide > unclick “On Mouse Click.”

  • Music, Voice-overs, and Sound Effects - Once the slides have been created, sounds effects can be inserted or narration can be recorded using either a built-in or external microphone to record voice-overs or narration.

  • Test all of the paths.... twice. And then have the students share their finished creations with the class.