Search Stories and Story Writing

My students are going to be handing in an adventure short story project today that they have been working on for about two weeks. We began with a lot of brainstorming around characters, and setting, and plot development. We’ve worked on proofreading and editing and writing dialogue in the correct format (something that never seems to have been taught in other grades, it seems to me).

Today, after they go through a self-assessment rubric, I am going to take them one step further with their characters. We’re going to be using Google Search Stories as a way to bring their characters to life a bit.

Their task: create a Search Story from the view of your main character. What would they be searching for that will tell the basic framework of the story? This has as much to do with inference (which is a theme we are working on) as it does with narrowing down a story to some basic elements. Ideally, after watching one of the Search Stories, a viewer should have some sense of the story, even if they haven’t read it. And if they have read the story, the Search Story should complement that experience.

Is that asking too much of 11 year olds?

I don’t think so, although last year when we did a Search Story project, I could clearly delineate those students whose critical thinking skills were finely developed and those who have not yet taken that step forward. The “missing elements” of the Search Story — what you leave out — is the key.

Here’s my sample from a story that I have shared with my students. The story — called The Machine — is about a brother and sister who have inadvertently constructed a robot that is now on a rampage around town, and the two siblings have to stop it by finding missing engineering plans that will tell them how to turn the robot off. Both get hurt in the process. But they are successful.

And here are the Search Stories from last year. These are not centered on a story project. They just had to create a Search Story that told a tale about something.

Peace (in the search),

PS — I should note that I make a big deal out of the fact that this is a Google site, designed to get people to use Google for search, and that Google makes money out of every search query. I want to use the tool — it’s ease of use makes it manageable in one class period — but I also want my students to know what they are using. We all use my classroom YouTube account, by the way.

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