For about a year and a half now I’ve been peering enviously over the wall at those incredibly inventive teachers who been teaching and enjoying the amazing Inanimate Alice, the interactive digital narrative which has been lighting up classrooms for a few years now. The blog posts, the wikis, the web pages I visited all glowed with the originality and depth of this new, modern and ground-breaking narrative form.
- I read everything I could find on Inanimate Alice on the web. I found Wikis, the ‘Alice’ website, Bill Boyd’s excellent blog post. Alice’s School report was particularly helpful for advice and tips. There are some great people out there who’ve been fighting Alice’s corner. Pull on their coat tails. Learn from them.
- I watched Episode One – China – over and over until I was happy with what I thought the students might get from it. I would normally read a text at least twice before teaching it so this was standard for me. I would recommend this as it focused my mind on the idea of reading a media narrative. What did I see and hear? What might my students think as they watched and listened and read?
- Before I began, on Monday of this week, I wanted to construct a list of questions which I wanted to answer as I progressed through the lessons. I was holding off on Learning Intentions as I wanted this to remain open to an extent. I’m hoping the students will adapt those LI s as we go.
- We discussed the title ‘Inanimate Alice’ as a class. What did ‘Inanimate’ mean? How could we break it down to work out the meaning? Are there many different meanings?
- We, as a class, read through a printed text of the story. I deliberately left the meaning open and asked the students, in groups, to ask as many questions as possible. The evidence is in the photos below. I think I made my first error here. They rushed into the task and came up with what were, at times, fairly bland, poorly thought out questions. ‘Why is she frightened?’ Why is it dark?’ With hindsight I would have taken more time to discuss the types of questions I was looking for. However, there were flashes of gold in there which we followed up in discussion in the next lesson.
- For homework I posed the question, ‘How do you read a text?’ They came back with excellent responses about how we construct meaning traditionally through words in a story and those words develop as we get more sophisticated in our reading and our experiences. I believed that these thoughts would act as an effective entry point to discussion of the digital narrative.
- Today, we watched the digital narrative and were blown away. Students couldn’t believe at first that they were reading the same story. We discussed the differences in reading both versions of the text and, on Monday, we’ll continue with that. What impressed them most was the ability to move on when they chose and look back and forward at bits they wanted to see again. Yes, like a traditional story but even then they were seeing the visuals in a different way.