If you remember, I presented a software called Audacity in one of my previous articles. This software is a great way to create new stories using your own voice and your own music. Tools like Audacity or Voki allow teachers to evaluate their students’ skills using audio recordings. This is an excellent method to provide second language input to students. However, audio recordings are mostly helpful during oral evaluations and not during writing or reading evaluations.
In order to fix this problem, I decided to explore new tools available on Internet. I was looking for a website or a software in which you could create an interactive story without using music or sounds. I wanted something that was specifically designed to observe students’ writing and reading skills while allowing them to create their own story in the most simple way. I found one of the easiest story creater available online: Inklewriter.
Inklewriter is a free website that gives the opportunity to any person with a mouse and a keyboard to create interactive tools. It provides teachers and students with the essential tools to try out their writing skills. The website is incredibly easy to use and keeps track of the stories that are not completed. You must create an account to be able to save your stories and access them on another computer. It is exactly like the old ‘Create your own story’ books that were once popular, but without the mess of having to manage an enormous amount of paper to keep your story going. Once you are logged on the website, you simply need to give a title to the story and begin writing it. The interface is easy to use and the title page of the website includes a fantastic tutorial that explains all the tools available to create interesting tales using twists and surprises. Interactive stories offer a wide variety of subjects to use. The only limit to the amount of topics to use is the limit of students’ imagination!
OPINION AND ESL APPLICATION
The advantage of creating interactive stories is the unlimited amount of content available for students. Motivating students to read stories is a difficult task, because they all have different preferences. Some students will like to read stories of science fiction, while others might want to read about criminal stories. This problem is avoided when you allow students to write their own story. If a student wants to write about a dragon chasing a spaceship, the website will provide the essential tools. Instead of relying on a preset storyline, the students are free to add surprises and story twists in the text. Moreover, students are going to like reading their classmates’ stories because of the fact that interactive stories give them the option to choose what is going to happen next. Leigh Alexander said: »When done correctly, an interactive story can offer players the same sense of risk versus reward as any other type of game, where players are offered complex, meaningful decisions the results of which they can anticipate later, hoping they calculated in a desirable way. » Every time the students write a new line, they can add various choices to that line where you must click in order to advance in the story. An example of what students could do is creating a story about a character who has two different personalities. When the other students are reading the story, they must choose between the character’s good personality or the character’s bad personality. Depending on their choice, the end of the story can be completely different.
Nigel Lane tried the website with students. They spoke about the linear nature of many narratives and compared them to non linear tales. They drew comparisons to popular video games where the player gets to decide what happens next rather than following a preset storyline. This piqued the students’ interests enough to get them started planning, in pairs, their own interactive stories. This is an excellent strategy to use in ESL classrooms. Not only does it help students practice their writing skills, it also develops their organization and preparation skills. Before letting them write, the teacher can ask students to organize their ideas on a piece of paper. It combines the use of social interactions in the classroom and the development of a written story. Demetri Lales mentioned: »Inklewriter can also strengthen students’ organization skills since this type of storytelling requires writers to keep track of the different branches of their story. » Once they have shared their ideas and planned their story, students can go on the website and create their interactive tale. Overall, I recommend Inklewriter to every teacher who wants students’ to practice their writing skills while having fun creating weird stories with unexpected plot twists.