I was delighted today to discover that I have been featured as today’s iTeacher on the Inanimate Alice Facebook page
(oh yeah…cool factor = one million!)
My use of Inanimate Alice as a text in the English classroom was part of a wider unit for junior high school on ‘Narrative’ where multimodality was also being introduced as a concept.
Last year I showed Episode 1 of Alice to my tutorial groups of pre-service English teachers. The quality of the text blew their mind. I chose to show it on a large screen and some students took turns at coming up to control the interactive parts of the story. At the end they spoke to the class about how they felt about the added layer of participation in the text – they enjoyed it, though some confessed they had mixed feelings about the text at first as my explanation had resounded with childhood memories of choose-your-own-adventure style books, a genre they had come to look upon as formulaic and contrived. All found Alice to be anything but.
Viewing the story as a class was a powerful way to communicate the potential of opening the English classroom to texts that shake up our notions of genre and text type (rather than rote teaching students how to classify forms and features). It also refocussed our attention on the powerful role of storytelling in life and left everyone feeling inspired to seek out ‘better texts’ and ‘more cutting-edge material’ for their future English lessons.
This year I’ll be showing Alice again, but in smaller groups this time for a more intimate experience. I’d love to hear from any teachers who have seen any of the Episodes – have you had a chance to use them in class at all? What potential does a text like this hold, do you think?