Monday, November 12, 2012

Inanimate Alice with 6th Graders



   At the VAASL 2012 Conference this past week I learned about this cool Australian Digital Novel Project, Inanimate Alice. Virginia Tech Librarian and presenter Heather Moorefield-Lang, introduced this website to a group of us in a session about AASL's 25 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. As soon as I saw a little clip I knew my students would be interested and I couldn't wait to share the project with them. It's a free site. 

    Inanimate Alice is a digital novel about a girl named Alice who travels around the world with her parents. She uses a hand-held device to communicate with a stick figure she created named Brad.  The digital novel uses sound, animation and text to tell the story. It also requires the reader to interact with the story using the mouse. According to the website (InanimateAlice.com):


 "Inanimate Alice is Transmedia - designed as a story that unfolds over time and on multiple platforms, the episodes are available on devices capable of running Flash Player. Alice connects technologies, languages, cultures, generations and curricula within a sweeping narrative accessible by all. As Alice's journey progresses, new storylines appear elsewhere providing more details and insights, enriching the tale through surprising developments."
    Today I taught this as a lesson in the library to five 6th grade Language Arts classes. The class levels ranged from honors to special ed.  There are currently 4 episodes of Inanimate Alice and in the first episode about China, (which takes only about 10 minutes total to read with students) Alice and her mom leave their base camp in Northern China to search for Alice's father who has been missing for two days after working in the oil fields. 

   The students really enjoyed this episode. In the first class, I just played the video on the overhead and clicked through it myself, making the students read the text. They were an honors class and seemed to enjoy the book. I had multiple students ask if we can watch the next episode. In the other classes, I read the text in a read-aloud style, which was helpful for the ELL and Special Ed students. Throughout the story and after the story I asked students questions, some of which I found in the Teacher Resource Guides on the website. At the end there was applause in some classes, and every group was asking really good questions (Do they have cell phones in China? What time period is this set in? Is this free? Is Brad a GPS system or like SIRI? Can we watch the next episode?). Students described it as awesome, exciting, and more interesting than a regular library book. The teachers thought it was pretty cool, too. 
     
   I would recommend sharing this with your students and teachers. 



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