In an Action Maze students are put in a difficult situation and they need to decide what to do next. Often they’ll be given a few options to choose from.
As a result of their choice, the students are then faced with the next situation in the story and with other sets of options to choose from. Working through this branching tree is like negotiating a maze, hence the name Action Maze.
As you are walking along the road late one night you hear a woman screaming down a dark alleyway. What do you do?
- ignore it and walk away quickly
- take out your phone and call the police
- run down the alleyway to check out what’s happening
The students can discuss the situation and come up with a course of action. If, for example, they choose 2 and call the police on their phone they might be presented with the following situation:
You try to call the police but your battery is dead! The screaming has now stopped.
- run to a house nearby where there’s a light on and get help
- forget it and go home – after all, the screaming has stopped
- go and look down the alleyway
And depending on what they choose they’ll have a new set of options to choose from next time.
Using Action Mazes
This is a great tool for presenting ethical dilemmas and their outcomes as well as for language study in general. The results of an inappropriate choice of word in a foreign language or culturally inappropriate action can be dramatic and memorable.
Action mazes are often part of CALL as their structure easily lends itself to be turned into a series of linked HTML pages. However even if you don’t have access to a CALL lab or don’t know how to write HTML pages you can still create an effective, albeit low-tech, action maze for your class by simply using a series of flashcards.
One of the more effective programs for creating mazes is Quandary which is part of the Hot Potatoes suite of freeware. Once the maze has been created you will need to upload it to the internet for your students to use or, alternatively, you can keep it as a local copy.