Hyper-Text, Fiction and Reader-Writer Interaction

Statement and Sense of the Project.

One of the things that really fascinates me is examining the choices that readers make when they read a text. How do we read? What choices do we make when we read? This gets into the post-modern idea of authorship. Does a reader, through the choices they make, through the interpretations they make, come to own, "author" the texts they read? What are the choices that we make when we read a text?

What happens, then, when, using hyper-media, a writer makes those choices explicit? That is what the hyper-fiction project explores. In this project, students, in groups, create a piece of "hyper-fiction", a piece of fiction (or a poem) where students break down the linear structure of the narrative by linking out from the story. The story can have a central plot, where the links are descriptive add-ins, extra dialogue, pictures, etc... or the story can move away from a linear format, giving the reader many choices to branch away from a "plot" and instead move into a web of events, dialogues, characters.

The Required Products

I used two worksheets this year, one describing the sense of the theory behind the project, "Talking about Reading and Writing" (link to be added) and one worksheet that was an outline of the project itself (link also to be added). Otherwise, you need as many computers as you have groups. For this project, I allowed kids to do everything from work alone to work in groups up to five. Some of the best were five-person group projects, others were solo, so I don't have one ideal yet. That's probably o.k.

There was no one way that students worked on the project either. Some groups mapped out a story idea, split up the work and then just went off in their seperate directions. Other groups wrote collaboratively, others did a combination of both. In an ideal world, I would like the work to lean toward getting kids to do some individual writing and bringing it back to the group.

Soon to be links

Identifying the Work

For this project, I had to teach the students HTML as they did the project. I used a tutorial that I wrote for the basics of HTML and supplimented it with Kevin Werbach's Bare Bones Guide (and allow me to plug that page as a great guide. Thanks Kevin!) This project is a good HTML starter project, but I think it will also work once the students know HTML. This timeline is a little generous because it assumes a learning curve with HTML, but I think that two weeks is a good amount of time for this project.

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