In this piece of interactive fiction, students take on the role of a new mayor in a small southwestern town. While there are many choices along the way, there is no morality lesson in the end. Any choice can be a good choice or a bad choice as long as it is made with evidence—and, perhaps, confidence.
Start the first few pages of the choose-your-own-adventure out loud as a class. Follow the thread where you take the pictures and loop around to the beginning to start again.
Encourage your students to keep track of the choices they make along the way in their notebooks. Model this note-taking with the first few pages that you read together. Students can use a modified Cornell Notes format for their note-taking to keep track of who you (and they) talk to along the way and decisions you (and they) made.
Once you get to the page with the foxlet eating insects (pictured, right, and faintly marked "009" in the top right corner), stop and tell your students to finish the adventure outside of class time. You can send the link to the page to your students.
Note-taking is key. Reiterate that what is important in this reading is what happens to the town, the foxlets, and the environment. Students should continue their reading and note-taking to prepare for the next part of the lesson.
Students can also jot down unfamiliar words they encounter, such as "dissipate," "parasols," "commotion," or "cordoning." They can later look these words up and write down a few definitions for better understanding.
Students should be prepared to come in and compare their different outcomes in the next class session.
If you decide not to assign the reading as homework, but instead spend class time reading the story, have students read the story individually. If you don't have enough devices for them all to do this, break the class into groups of no more than three.
While the "Start Over" button is available on every page, there is no "Back" button that students can use to change their minds about the most recent decision. Warn the students:
Time marches forward in this story. If you were a mayor, you couldn't change your mind about a decision. So make each choice carefully!
That is, there are no do-overs – a big lesson for students to learn, especially in this time and age!
Warning: Some students may turn the reading into a competition. They may test out all of the possibilities by starting over again and again. Remind students there are no right or wrong decisions – decisions are tough and there is no turning back – that's why there is NO back button! Tell the students to read carefully, and not worry about which is the “best” decision.
Note that students may skim the reading in order to jump to the choices. Encourage them to read the narrative and get involved in the story, imagining that they really are the Mayor of Dustville.
The outcomes of all the "Fast Forward Five Years" as well as a summary chart are linked in the file below.