Proximity & Beyond Enrichment: Shadow Chaser

Chelsea Penney
October 18, 2022

“Dark forces are at work in the kingdom of Arkendale. People are disappearing from the border towns where strange figures move through the hushed streets. Meanwhile, in Helmsgard, wild rumors are starting to spread. But it’s only when you peer from your window one cold winter’s night, that you find out just how close the shadow has crept.”

Students joined us for a read-aloud unlike any other! We traversed a mysterious fantasy land where we made decisions as a group to determine which path we took. Not only that, but we played a character with skills and health points. There were battles, and not every story ending was a happy one.

Free Enrichment Activities

Remote work-from-home teacher Sarah Childs led a free enrichment activity for virtual school students. This month, students joined a livestreamed, interactive reading of Shadow Chaser. Students acted as the hero and got to choose their own adventures throughout the story. Ms. Childs sent them polls with choices and followed the majority vote.

Ms. Childs begins, “We have four abilities: sixth sense, athleticism, endurance, and skill. We are going to vote on which one of these we want to raise by 1 point. [...] I’m going to stop the poll, so we can see what choice had the most votes. OK, I’m going to raise skill by 1.”

Students are encouraged to vote in the polls and keep a logbook as Ms. Childs reads the story. Majority rules as they make their way through the village making choices about how to proceed. Sometimes, students get to roll the dice to determine an outcome. 

Why should you read aloud to older students?

Ms. Childs says, “The choose-your-own adventure storytime is something I did in my 6th-8th grade ELAR class last year. I know that even older students enjoy being read to and benefit from it, and it occurred to me that I had not yet included any of it last year at that particular point in the year. I am a big fan of choose-your-own adventure books and this book has many aspects of gamification in it as well. Gamification is a powerful learning tool, so I aim to include it when I can.”

How did the adventure unfold?

When a strange visitor knocks on the door in the middle of the night, choices include answering the door, stalling for time, or running out the back door into the alley. Students excitedly vote to stall for time and hear what the mysterious man has to say. They continue their journey, making choices as a group until they meet their demise. 

Reaching a natural crossroads, the group votes again to back up and make another choice to continue the story. They meet new characters and make their way to the dark forest. The group was faced with a picture to decipher as they chose the left path or right path.

This session ended on a cliff hanger. 

Were the students engaged?

“I really enjoyed leading this experience with the students,” Ms. Childs said. “I think it was very well received, and the students were eager to participate. On the first run, they made a choice that ended the adventure prematurely (the character died). The kids wanted to keep playing, so we went back to the previous page and took the other path instead. The story continued, and the kids wanted to keep playing so much that we went a half an hour past the end time. With choose-your-own adventure books, it is very hard to predict when they will end. I actually marked the page we ended on with a bookmark. I would love to have the opportunity to do this again and pick up where we left off!”

Proximity & Beyond is an exclusive after school enrichment program for our virtual school clients. Our next Proximity & Beyond session features an author visit from Kim Norman. To participate, click here to learn more about Proximity Learning virtual schools.

Click here to learn about jobs for virtual teachers.

Chelsea Penney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing from University of Colorado Denver and her Masters of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M University Commerce. She loves living in Austin, TX and working on the frontline of the many marketing initiatives for Proximity Learning.

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