#DigiWriMo Interactive Fiction 1: Making a Playable Story

Story Map The Bike

I’ve been doing my best to bring elements of Digital Writing Month into my sixth grade classroom. We worked on Sound Stories and with images earlier in the month, and now, during this theme of “transmedia,” I have my students working on Interactive Fiction pieces. Interactive fiction is a designed story/game in which the reader is given choices to follow, and every choice branches off into another aspect of the story.

I’ve done these before with Twine, but the freeware didn’t always play nicely with our computers, although the new beta Twine 2.0 as online experience might be worth another look, and hosting the final products has become problematic now that Google Drive has changed the way public folders are set up. Here is a map for a Twine 2 story I did the other day for Digiwrimo:

Twine map

So, with my push this year around digital portfolios within Google Apps for Education, I am teaching my students how to use hyperlinks within a Google Slides project to create Interactive Fiction.

Using Google Slides for this style of writing is not perfect, but it works, and along with creating a non-traditional writing experience, it gives me a chance to teach them more about design and hyperlinks within presentation formats for the purpose of storytelling.

My students are writing historical interactive fiction, as I am connecting our project with work on early civilizations being done in our Social Studies class. Students are writing in second person narrative point of view, of an early human, surviving (or not) in the Ancient World, using sensory details and descriptive writing.

Yes, my students love this Interactive Fiction writing project, although most have never read the Make Your Own Ending stories (I have a class set that we read and talk about) and they are so deeply enmeshed in the writing experience right now. And yes, it is a very complicated writing endeavor. You have to plan for multiple story-lines in a single story experience, and let the reader “play the story,” as I have been saying each day.

Here are a few of their “story maps” — which I require to be done before they even touch a computer.

Interactive fiction maps

I’ll be sharing a bit over the next few days …. including a screenshot tutorial on how you might do similar stories in Google Slides. If you want a taste of what I am talking about, this is an Interactive Fiction piece that I wrote last year as a mentor text for my students (designed more as a mystery story, not historical fiction, which is what we are doing this year).

Come, play my story.

Peace (in the interactive),
Kevin

#DigiWrimo Connections: From This to That to This to That

This is the kind of thing that I hope for in a community/network/gathering such as Digital Writing Month: Connections. We’re exploring ways that technology connects our writing and pushes it further into different directions. But in the end, it is not the technology; it is the people making the writing happen that is heart of Digital Writing Month.

Here’s how this all played out:

First, Simon wrote a post for Digital Writing Month and Angela wrote a comment.

Simon: http://www.digitalwritingmonth.com/2015/11/17/resounding-silence/

Angela: http://www.digitalwritingmonth.com/2015/11/17/resounding-silence/#comment-14629 

Then, Tanya read the post and comment, and was struck by Angela’s ideas. Tanya then goes and records an audio response to Angela’s comment, using Soundcloud. She wants to give voice to the conversation.

Angela hears Tanya, and responds with her own audio track. The theme begins to center around voice and introversion and social media spaces.

I listen to both of their responses now, and I am struck by the message and the power of their voices. I decide to listen to them again as I write a poem, using phrases from their audio tracks as inspiration for my writing. I record on Soundcloud.

Ron listens in, and takes my track and adds a layer of music to it.  He adds silence and pauses. He composes with the voice. He shares out, too.

Now, we hope that Terry might take Ron’s track and move the audio into digital storytelling form with Terry’s private Z33ga experiment.

And so it goes …. We talk across the wires ….

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo: Spelunking into the Story

Yesterday,  I shared out a transmedia piece that I created. I don’t know how many people tried it out. I do know that there plenty of places where the technology might have fallen apart. First and foremost, some of the sites and tricks I used worked only on computers, not mobile. That limitation is a big deal.

I am also trying to make visible my ideas around this term: transmedia. I am no expert. I am exploring, though, and so in the aim of showing what I was thinking and planning for my story, I figured it would be helpful to pull back the covers a bit.

Here, then, is overview of the entire project. I’ve used Thinglink to annotate my story map with links to the pieces. So feel free to bounce around. Unlike yesterday, when you were traveling blind among the caves of my imagination (which was the idea behind the construction), here I am providing you with a flashlight.

I’ve love to know how you experience it. The final link is an interactive wall, for you to leave me thoughts and comments and complaints.

Thanks for being explorers in this cave I built. Now, go spelunking into the story!

Peace (in the narrative path),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Transmedia Story Adventure: Begin

This is an experimental story for Digital Writing Month, designed to take you across various media. There will be two branches. You choose which story to follow. The way forward will not always be obvious, but it won’t be all that tricky, either. One hint: click on media (images, videos, etc.) and look for ways forward through links and other associative elements of digital space. NOTE: This works best on computer, not mobile. Sorry. That’s the nature of technology. Are you ready for a story adventure? – Kevin

Begin …

Leaf in motion

Collaborative Song Recording: Peace Garden

Peace Garden musical collaboration

I love the element of collaboration that digital writing spaces bring to the forefront. Soundtrap is yet another, and one I have used before, but essentially, it is a Garageband-like loop music site that allows for collaborative recording and mixing of songs.

Cool.

Last week, after the horrible attacks in Paris, I was searching for some way to connect with my many friends in the Digital Writing Month community. Something that would bring us together and signal the need for peace in the world. Something reflective and collaborative. It would be a small gesture, perhaps, but change begins with small gestures. So, I went into my guitar case (it’s my unofficial filing cabinet of lyrics) and pulled out an old song called Peace Garden.

The backstory to this particular song is that I wrote it in the aftermath of a terrible event in our small city, where one high school student stabbed another high school student on the streets of our city after an argument. The victim died. It was horrible and shocking, and when the high school where both attacker and victim were students created a Peace Garden to remember their classmate and to promote peaceful resolution to conflict, a small musical group I was in (The Millenium Bugs) was invited to attend and perform a song or two. I wrote Peace Garden for that event.

This past week, I pulled it out again, dusting it off, and recorded a version in Soundtrap and then, I put out the call to others to join me in adding layers to the song. And they did. They did. I had Ron, and Alan, and Bryan, and Sarah, and Maha, and a few others popped in, too. Some left sounds. Some just listened and tweaked the mix. Some are still adding to it.

I’m happy for the collaboration, and satisfied that this kind of activity brings my own world, at least, a little closer on the theme of peace. May we all plant flowers in the ground and join together in making the world a better place today, tomorrow, forever.

Peace (in the garden and beyond),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Sound Stories: What They (Students) Made

Sound Stories under constructionThis is my wrap-up post for series I have been doing about teaching my sixth graders how to create Sound Stories — writing and recording stories in Garageband with sound effects. Today, I want to share out some of the students’ work. (Note: I wrote more about this project at Middleweb.) This is connected to the exploration of audio in Digital Writing Month. Sound Stories under construction

Take a listen to just a few of the stories:

 

Peace (in the voice),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Sound Stories: A Garageband Tutorial

(I have been exploring sound with my students as part of Digital Writing Month. I also wrote a more expansive piece about these sound stories for my Middleweb monthly column this week.)

I was asked by a few visitors to my blog this week to create a tutorial for making “sound stories” with Garageband. I thought I might do a screencast, but then thought that screenshots with annotations might be better. (Note: You can do “Sound Stories” with other recording software, such as the free open-source Audacity. But you will need to find sounds to import for use. I have used Freesound before, and liked it. Garageband is helpful for students because it has more than 175 sound effects built into the system.)

Here is what I created to help you make a Sound Story (if it helps, click on the image to go to the actual image. A few seem to be getting clipped short by my blog):

SoundStory Tutorial1

SoundStory Tutorial2

SoundStory Tutorial3

SoundStory Tutorial4

SoundStory Tutorial5

I hope you make some cool sounds.

Peace (in the share)
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Sound Stories: The Ones We Made (Together)

Yesterday, I shared out a “mentor text” of a sound story that I created as I was introducing my sixth graders into the idea of composing and recording a story constructed with voice and sound effects. Today, I want to share the next step in the lesson plan: short class collaborative stories.

Here, I asked each of my sixth grade classes to work as a whole to help me write a short story that used a few animal sound effects. We used Voice Typing in Google Docs to build the story together, sentence by sentence, and then we recorded in Garageband, with students helping by using the Interactive Board to build out the sound file as I narrated it. (Ideally, I should have asked a student to come up and narrate, instead of me, but I was trying to keep the lesson moving along.)

The intent was to make visible the construction of a sound story, by doing it together. I was reminded of work done by a NWP friend, Glen Briere, who constructed entire radio programs with his class as collaborative writing experiences. I’m filing this smaller sound story project away in my mind for later consideration of how to use Glen’s idea for whole class writing experiences.

Each “story” is only a few sentences long, and the shared sound effects means there is a common thread. Notice how the stories all came to a point where all the animal sounds play together. My students enjoy cacophony. (And for me, it allowed me to show them how to layer multiple sound tracks to play at once.)

Most of my students are nearing up completion with their projects, and I will be sharing out their voices later this week.

Peace (in the sounds),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo Sound Stories: The One I Made

Sound Laboratory 2

(flickr photo by Attila Hajdu http://flickr.com/photos/attilahajdu/5321511238 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license)

I’ve been moving “Sound Stories” into my writing classroom the past two weeks, teaching students how to write a story that incorporates sound effects/audio as part of storytelling, and then diving into Garageband to “compose” a piece with sounds embedded into the narration.

I am writing a longer piece about the teaching of “sound stories” in the classroom (an idea borrowed heavily from play with DS106, by the way) for Middleweb, but I want to share out bits as part of Digital Writing Month‘s exploration into audio.

This is the story I created to share with students as a mentor text of sorts. Tomorrow, I will share out some collaborative sound stories that we built together as classes, and then later this week, I will share out a collection of sound stories by students.

Peace (in the sounds of the world),
Kevin

#DigiWriMo: Thread Your Voice Through This Comic

UsingVoicethread

We’re taking a project from last week’s theme of “visual” in Digital Writing Month and moving it into this week’s theme of “audio” by inviting you to collaborate in a Voicethread project.

Here’s what we have done: We asked Mahmoud Shaltout if we could use his graphic story of Writer’s Block for an audio project. He graciously said “yes” and so we now have the panels of his story in a Voicethread project. This now opens up the comic to all of us, to comment or read through his narration, or add another layer to his work.

He has even transcribed his comic into text format, if that helps you.

You can either access to the Voicethread project here, with this link, or through the embedded version down below. You will need a free Voicethread account to add voice, or text, or drawings, or video. (Voicethread has many options for interaction.) Just click on the PLUS sign at the bottom of each page, choose the kind of comment you want to make, and get started.

Come join us. Add your voice. Let’s get collaborative with Mahmoud’s comic. You are invited.

Peace (beyond the frames),
Kevin