With a mission of encouraging students to develop a life-long passion for reading, two teachers at Quest Charter Academy teamed up to find a fun, interactive activity to continue developing the reading skills of their students, even while away from school.
Each week, fifth-grade teachers Mrs. Deanne Dunham and Mrs. Jacquelyn Martin read excerpts from different books from Choose Your Own Adventure Series. The popular series features written gamebooks, where each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character's actions and the plot's outcome. Students have the opportunity to get involved in creating the story and are encouraged to fill in the next steps for the main character.
“I was looking for a fun way to keep in touch with my students,” said Dunham. “Also, I wanted to expose them to this interactive kind of reading.”
One of the classes began by reading “Trapped in a Fairy Tale,” and added their narrative into the story, regarding how the main character entered the castle in the story. The students selected between two choices, the character could either enter the castle by walking across the drawbridge and into the front gate, or by sneaking around back and finding a secret entrance.
Students submit their votes weekly, and recently, they chose to sneak around the back of the castle and find a hidden entrance. The story then continues following the students’ choices and building additional narrative surrounding the path they selected. This leads the scholars to make another selection at the end of each passage.
“I like this because it’s fun, short, and a great way to connect with each other,” said Nadine Dufrane, fourth- and fifth-grade dean of intervention services. “The students have enjoyed this because it is just a chance to be a kid and be read to for fun, no objective tied to it but enjoyment.”
The teachers, both now on their second book, post readings from the series and poll their students about what will come next through Google Classroom. The books are selected by popular vote and students log in to the virtual classroom to listen to their teachers read passages each week. After each section, the students are polled again to decide what choice they will make as a class.
Mrs. Dunham’s class recently finished their first book, “Minecraft Zombie Adventure,” and has since moved on to “Dragon vs. Unicorn” and is leading the dragon through the story.
“The students really enjoy this,” Dunham shared. “For this book we all got to create dragon names and they created great ones.” Students let their creativity shine, creating the following dragon names to use in the story: Gunmar the Black, the Destroyer of Realms, the Destructor of Planets, Sornicorn the Magical Fighter of Rap Music, the Best Friend of Shyla, Dylan the Slayer of Evil, and the King of Men.
Students from both classes look forward to the weekly installments of the stories and eagerly log in to Google Classroom to follow along with their teacher doing the virtual reading.
“My students shared with me that they really enjoy these types of books and they look forward to hearing the next part of the story and making the next vote,” said Martin. “Sometimes voting for the next part of the book is the only way that I connect and hear back from certain students. This activity definitely gets the most participation compared to my other posts on Google Classroom.”
Quest, along with many schools during the pandemic, was quick to adapt their teaching style to fit in this online space. Dufrane shared that their teachers took a “crash course” in technology and are excited to incorporate more options to utilize technology in their classrooms now and in the future.
Students can participate and enjoy these virtual lessons due to the creativity and diligence of Quest’s teachers. Mrs. Dunham has been with Quest for nine years and Mrs. Martin has been with the school for five years.