CYOA Day 7: Final shots and getting my Tech geek on

Pretty much all of my groups needed the first half of yesterday to finish up their picture taking list.  As people trailed back into the classroom because they had finished up taking pictures, I put them to work typing up the written freewrites they had done earlier so that the text was in electronic form.  As they came in, I used my universal media card reader to copy their pictures off of their cameras onto my computer so I had a copy of everything.  The goal by the end of yesterday was to have all the text and pictures finished so that we could then start assembling them over the course of the next couple of days.  It didn’t work out that way for everybody (some people used cell phones and forgot the cable; one student who had the camera for the group was missing) but we did good enough.

Last evening and through today, then, was the first time that I went ahead and did any dedicated work towards this project.  I mean, yes, it is work organizing and guiding the process, but I’ve just been kicking back letting them sweat it out.  As we transition to the assembling of text and photos, though, I’m stepping up on the behind-the-scenes technical support.  One of the problems with todays cameras are that they are very good–each picture taken is on average 2 MB in size–and all those megabytes add up over the course of a document.  What I did when I went home was to use Irfanview–a free photo editor that is very powerful–to reduce the size of each photo.  The default number of pixels across for each picture was something like 3,200 pixels; I reduced each photo to 640 pixels across.  There is also an aspect of digital photography called DPI (dots per inch).  For photo-quality shots you want that number high, like in the 300s, but for display on a computer screen the maximum value necessary is 72 dpi; anything else is just extra space.

Here are before and after shots of the resize screen.  To the left, the width is highlighted and the DPI is at the bottom of the screen on the left side. Note that for the resize, all I had to do was press a button on the right hand side of the screen.

And looking below, you will see what it looked like when done; making the changes takes about 5 seconds per screen.

Doing this for probably 75 pictures did take a bit of time, but I got into a keystroke groove and after awhile it just sailed by.

Yes, this stage is a little technical, but I personally think it was worth the time investment to make everything else flow well.  I was handed a bunch of photos that were 242 MB in size and by the time I was done, everything had boiled down to just 8 MB.  That reduced size makes file sharing and authoring much smoother, not to mention it makes my finished project much more manageable.

Today I needed to give my German III/IV class their vocab test because next week is the last week I have with them and nobody wanted that hanging over our heads then. Next week is for reading our stories, sharing memories and eating Spaghettieis (don’t worry; I’ll post pictures).  This week we got the technical stuff out of the way and then are getting back to what we really want to do.

Tomorrow: putting everything together


9 responses to “CYOA Day 7: Final shots and getting my Tech geek on

  1. Nathan…you absolutely inspired me. I don’t have time to have a full-throttle choose-a-thon right now but I did offer the project as one of the options for my senior project. :o)

    What I did do is create my own version of a choose-your-own. Waaaaay too much fun and I just did a “simplified” version so that I could tie it in to an embedded reading.

    Then, of course, I got carried away!!!!! So twixt the blog ( and my school page (via the blog) you can see my strange but exciting results. ( I did get a little crazy with the sound effects in the power point lol)

    Hoping to do the whole big deal next year with the seniors!!
    Thank you!!
    with love,


  2. Wow. That is a seriously amazing PPT you came up with Laurie. How long did that take? I was just thinking that because the hyperlinks are easy to do on a PPT, this could be something to do occasionally thorughout the year, especially as a way of incorporating a number of student generated stories. Major Hat tip.


  3. Thanks Nathan….once I got in the groove it went quickly. It was a good investment of time though, so I wanted to make sure that I would get enough use out of it!! I was able to use it with all my levels (2,3,4,5) because I could use whatever structures I wanted as we discussed it.

    I was able to increase the time used in class by changing up how we chose which direction. Sometimes someone just called out something so passionately I went with it, but usually I engaged in some conversation about why….what would be the result…and in some cases it was almost like the tournament you wrote about..where the class took sides and dueled it out. :o)

    I saved a copy PP in a school shared file and now the students can access it (but not change it lol). Next week I’ll have them work in pairs with it. One will narrate and the other will make the choices and say why….remember…they have only seen half of it so there is a curiosity factor now. :o)

    I gave them a grid which will become an illustrated storyboard (we are surfining the same creativity channel!!!) of a story. I’ll put the board on the site tomorrow. It has the outline parts of the story written and spaces where the choices will go. Each section then has a space for the illustration. (I do allow them to choose illustration or translation or a mix). In the spaces they can use the choices from the PP or their own creative choices….whatever works for them….and yep…you guessed it…those become readings for their classmates.

    So glad Michele has this blog…..the whole thing would have never occurred to me without your project!!! Mil gracias!!

    with love,


  4. I like your wrinkle where you make them give the rationale for choosing a particular path to go down. That would be a nice low-stakes argument to pick that would create a good reason to elicit discussion; I’d never made the connection with the tournament of awesomeness discussions before you mentioned it. I like. I like.

    I also really like the idea for the illustrated storyboard; this is a nice organizer and way to use the reading to spark creation rather than just consume a story. I sometimes struggle with using a reading as an impetus to take it the next step in the creation process. However, with the current Facebook and YouTube generation it has become the new social norm to provide such commentary and extend the discussion. Note to self: do more embedded readings next year, as this provides a natural launching pad for doing this process

    I’m looking forward to seeing some examples of that on your site. Thanks again for developing these thoughts into something far more usable than what I could do with them on my own.


  5. I uploaded the StoryBoard …you will find it just under the story and the PowerPoint here:

    This morning I had the students start this after they had gone through the PowerPoint again in pairs… far…so good!! I’ll know better after Thursday’s quiz. :o)

    with love,


  6. OK, just for my own comprehension, let me go through and recap each stage of the “reading” process for your CYOA story.

    On the first go through you do this as a class, focusing on structures appropriate to each class that have been embedded in the design process, but also creating a natural discussion phase as your class debates which paths to follow along the story.

    On the second pass, students then work in pairs in a lab with a copy of the story to basically repeat what you did in class, but with one narrating and the other providing rationale behind the choices. This isn’t a full out repetition because there are still plenty of avenues that remain unexplored.

    The storyboard, then, works to provide structure for your students to give the reading a third pass, this time focusing on the details of the story through translation, illustration, or expanding it by creating new avenues. New expansions then become compelling reading for other class members and an opportunity for the authors to shine.

    Great process thinking; I usually do a decent job with stage one, but never thought to milk it further as you have lined up here. I’ll have to try this out myself. Thanks again for the great ideas!


    • That’s it!!! I’ve been working the past two years on how to get as many reps as possible out of each reading. It’s starting to pay off. 🙂 That is when I see the biggest gains….

      with love,


  7. You two are just hyperactively awesomely amazing!

    It’s 4 in the morning after I got back from Russia at 11:00 pm, and maybe I’ll eventually post a link to our “letters home,” but right now I’m dealing with that jet lag issue…we had a great trip, but there was a certain amount of excitement toward the end that is keeping my adrenaline coursing.

    I am going to have to read it all when my brain is working! I can’t wait to see Laurie after she comes home from Cancun to take another trip to NTPRS and grill her on this topic.


  8. Welcome home!!!

    with love,


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