Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ways to Support Student Writers With & Without Technology

The following blog post is from an interview I had with Monica Burns, author, blogger, and podcaster of Class Tech Tips. To read the full interview, on Monica’s Blog, click here.

Supporting Student Writers

Michele has a brand new book that I can’t wait to share with you. It’s called New Realms for Writing: Inspire Student Expression with Digital Age Formats and discusses strategies you can try out right away with students. Michele is a literacy teacher at Rye Middle School in Rye, New York, and an adjunct professor at Manhattanville College. She was kind enough to take time to answer questions about her work and her new book. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find a few of my favorite activities for student writers, too!

What motivated you to write a book on this topic?

After just finishing Personalized Reading: Digital Strategies and Tools to Support All Learners(ISTE, 2018), I felt the need to address writing since reading and writing go hand in hand. As a middle school English teacher, reading and writing are intertwined. I wanted to share ways that writing could go beyond short responses and essays in the classroom to help meet 21st Century Skills while at the same time, bolster student writing. If we want students to be creative communicators, we need to expand the role, format, and audience for writing across the content areas.

How has technology changed the way students publish their writing?

Technology has altered the landscape of education, let alone the way students publish their writing. It allows teachers and students to broaden the audience and share their writing with a wider audience, not just between student and teacher. Technology also allows for diverse formats. Students can publish blogs, ebooks, and infographics, in addition to traditional formats like essays and research papers. Students have to write essays throughout secondary school and college, but for the most part, outside of school, we curate a variety of technology forms for learning and understanding.

You provide lots of student work examples in your book. Can you tell us a bit about how non-traditional products like infographics and podcasts have a place in the classroom?

Learn how to support student writers this school year using technology and with more traditional methods. Hear from author Michele Haiken and her new book.

Think about the ways you interact with information today. I might turn on the news when I wake up and then listen to a podcast on my way to work. Once I am in school, I am on a computer reading diverse texts and interacting between print, digital, and visual texts throughout the day. These texts include literature, nonfiction articles, visual texts like photographs, and infographics.

Our students are similar, and we should be having them reading and writing all these different texts to construct knowledge as well as become empowered learners. In my classroom, I want students to be critical consumers of information in all these different formats as well as creative thinkers in the way they present their learning and understanding. I am all for choices and giving students the ability to choose the best format that fits their message.

In the second chapter of the book, you discuss “multigenre” writing. Can you explain what this term means and what it looks like to include multigenre writing in a classroom?

In English class, writing is too compartmentalized. Teachers teach a unit in poetry, then narrative writing, and argumentative writing. We do not need to be so compartmentalized. When students write multigenre projects, they are choosing different genres to showcase a topic or idea.

For example, when my students are reading and writing about World War 2, we read memoirs, biographies, historical fiction, primary sources, photographs, artwork, and poetry about this time period. Students choose a topic within WW2 to research and investigate more. Some choose victims of the Holocaust, resistors, Japanese Internment, or soldiers and build a collection of five different writings in response to the primary sources they read to showcase their topic. A student might write a poem about being sent off to war, a letter to his family members about the horrors on the battlefield, and include visual drawings of the aftermath of a battle in Europe.

Rather than report what happened, I am asking students to step in the shoes of real people and build out their story to share the forgotten stories of the past. Multigenre writing breaks out of the confines of one genre or style of writing and utilizes many formats to communicate an idea.

In your book, you discuss analog techniques, not just digital. Why is it essential to find a balance between techy and not-so-techy experiences?

Learn how to support student writers this school year using technology and with more traditional methods. Hear from author Michele Haiken and her new book.

I think you said it best when you say “balance.” We need that balance to make sure our students can be successful in school and out. We do not live in a completely digital world, and it would be impractical to be completely digital. I still have my students keep a print reading journal for all the reading they do throughout the school year. Students can choose to write notes, create sketchnotes, and I have some students that type up their notes and paste them into their reading journal.

I love reading through their journals and seeing their thinking on paper. I am lucky to have Chromebooks in my classroom, but that is not the reality for every teacher, classroom, or student across the nation. Yes, there are benefits to both digital and analog, but this is also an issue of digital equity.

Use this link to grab a copy of Michele’s new book, New Realms for Writing: Inspire Student Expression with Digital Age Formats

I love how you include poetry in New Realms for Writing. Is there a favorite tech-friendly poetry activity you like to use with students?

I love starting with found poems or blackout poems. I ask my students to choose a song that represents them and copy the song lyrics onto a Google Document. After reading through the song one or two times, students then have to pair the words down by blacking out words or phrases. You might even give students a set number of words that have to remain in their poems.

It is amazing because two students might have the same song, but when they read through and pair down the words to create a new blackout poem, the words or meanings are different based on what is emphasized or what was left out. If students struggle to find words, this activity provides them with the words; they just have to select what will be highlighted on the page.

What advice would you give a group of educators who want to hold a book club for your book?

Share your ideas and expertise within the book club. Take the ideas that I have shared and adapt and revise them to fit the best interests of your students. My hope is that the ideas I presented in the book are a catalyst for you to inspire your students to be innovative, creative, and collaborative.

 

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Argumentative Writing with Scaffolds

The Next Generation Learning Standards for Writing in the 8th grade identify five different types and purposes for writing. The first is argumentative writing.

8W1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

8W1a: Introduce a precise claim, acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from a counterclaim, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

8W1b: Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using credible sources while demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

8W1c:  Use precise language and content-specific vocabulary to argue a claim.

8Wd: Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

8W1e: Provide a concluding statement or section that explains the significance of the argument presented.

8W1f: Maintain a style and tone appropriate to the writing task.

 

After reading To Kill a Mockingbird I wanted to provide my students with an argumentative essay prompt rather than the traditional literary essay. I modeled the essay from the New York State regents.

First students had five minutes to free write about the topic: Is To Kill a Mockingbird relevant to teach in 2020?

Mockingbird Do Nows

Then, working with a partner, students had to brainstorm reasons for supporting the topic and negating the topic. The challenge was to balance both sides of argument with sound reasons.

Mockingbird Do Nows-2

After students shared their reasons with the whole class, students were given an article to read and annotate. Students were provided with an evidence file to catalogue the evidence from the articles provided. The prompt, articles, and scaffolds are provided below:

To help students through the writing process, I wrote alongside of them.

Mockingbird Do Nows-3

When it came to writing the counter claim paragraph, students were given a “How-To” to help them draft their third body paragraph. A “How-To” is a scaffolding strategy that provides students with clear directions and step by step instructions to support learning.

How to Write a Counter Claim

My students have lots of opinions about reading To Kill a Mockingbird. During our classroom discussions during writing conferences, students have raised solid points about the heinous language in the book, the narrator’s perspectives and the stories that were not told (i.e. Tom Robinson and Calpurnia). Every book has its strengths and limitations, the key is for our students to be able to articulate their claims clearly and presenting valid reasoning.

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How to improve writing fluency for students of all learning abilities?

The following blog post was written for Texthelp. To link to the original post, click here.

In my 8th grade classroom I have all different learners from students with 504s and IEPs, ENL learners, and a handful of high performing learners. This week my 8th grade students are working on writing an argumentative essay after  finishing  the book To Kill a Mockingbird. I often give my students choice on writing assessments but for this all grade read, students must write a five paragraph argumentative essay that answers: Is To Kill a Mockingbird relevant to read today or is it racist and outdated?

A daunting experience

As teachers, our job is to help improve the writing fluency for ALL students. For many of my students, staring at a blank page or screen can be daunting. If we are going to help our students “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence” (Next Generation Learning Standards WI),  providing scaffolding in different forms provides support for students to articulate their thinking. When teachers provide scaffolds in the forms of  graphic organizers, models and mentor texts, and sentence frames, essay writing becomes more attainable for the diverse learners in the classroom.

A graphic organizer  breaks down a task into small parts to support student thinking. Completing a graphic organizer helps students write in smaller bursts by following a template. A high performing learner might not need this type of support or guidance but particularly for my ENL and struggling writers who might not have the words or academic language just yet, providing these graphic organizers and sentence stems can help students develop the writing muscles and vocabulary necessary for academic writing.  Each graphic organizer is specific to the writing task. For example, the argumentative essay graphic organizer below helps students map out their thoughts, organize their evidence, and distinguish claims from counterclaims.

An image of an argumentative essay graphic organizer

I am always developing writing activities and support for the diverse students in my classroom, but you may prefer a digital approach. WriQ is Texthelp’s newest digital tool to focus on writing that my students and I are currently using. High performing learners are more independent and are looking for immediate feedback on word choice, accuracy, grammar and writing mechanics; WriQ provides these in its personalized feedback. Similarly, for students who need guided support to increase writing skills, WriQ and graphic organizers work in tandem. Sitting down for writing conferences is now a student driven process due to the feedback that students learn about the writing process and their writing products with WriQ.

A lifelong skill

Writing is a lifelong skill, and the more students write, the better they develop as writers and communicators. This requires that students write daily and have opportunities to revise their writing. With revision opportunities, students are able to reexamine their writing with a critical eye based on the feedback from both the teacher and WriQ and grow as writers. Revision is an important part of the writing process and can be utilized in ways that empower student writers.

The Next Generation Learning Standards identify lifelong practices of writers “strengthen writing by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach” and this is something that we must make time for in our classrooms. The more students have the opportunity to write, revise and craft their words in ways that articulate complex ideas, critical thinking and problem solving, the better they will become at producing clear and coherent writing.

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Reflections of Project Based Learning

This past fall I embarked on a project based learning opportunity with my media literacy elective class for 7th and 8th graders. It has always been a project based course, but this semester I gave my students an authentic challenge and ten weeks to fulfill the requirements.

Authentic Challenge – How can we develop an award winning movie short to highlight a problem in our world and create a film festival to showcase these movie shorts?

As my students were working on their own videos, I created a video to document the process using Adobe Spark.

Whereas, I wanted my students to make a movie that was 5 minutes in length, that was very difficult for many of the students. Most of the movies were around 3 minutes in length and all follow a documentary style format. Despite examining PSAs and short feature films, all felt the documentary format was the best to communicate their message and meet the objectives of the project.

Last week, my students presented their films to the entire 8th grade during a film festival  assembly.  This was the scariest and most stressful part of the process – most students confided – but it allowed for an authentic audience.

I compiled all the students’ films on YouTube and created a playlist with all their films.

At the end of the process, I asked students to complete a reflection that asked questions about the process and their final product. Students were honestly candid on the reflections. Many told me that it was too much work for an elective class and they learned how challenging it is to produce and edit a short film.

MSK PBL Reflection on Google Forms

Among my own reflections, I observed many students losing steam producing a video over ten weeks of creation and editing. As many times as we viewed the films and offered suggestions for edits, students did not always following through with the edits. The students stamina for the project wavered depending on the day. Next semester I am thinking of breaking up the semester into two projects, one non-fiction and one, a fictional film.

I shared the student videos with Rushton Hurley, author and founder of Next Vista for Learning, an educational nonprofit dedicated to saving the world from ignorance, one creative video at a time. I met Ruston at an Google Summit in Connecticut back in October of 2019 and then we ran into each other again at this past month at FETC. I spoke with him about how to  get students to see revision as an opportunity rather than a tedious task. How do we move students from one and done to seeing revision as an on-going process to better work.

Rushton shared this video with me along with a blog post he wrote regarding the same dilemma. The video portrays “the lesson that we get better as we get and effectively act on constructive critique.”


The great thing about teaching a semester long class is that I have the opportunity to reflect, revise, and re-do. Next week I get to launch the project with a new group of students and this time I will approach revision and editing in a new way to support my student’s stamina and attention to detail.

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Teaching Vocabulary in Context

In the picture book The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter, a boy named Selig collects interesting words, and I want students to become as excited about discovering new words as Selig becomes.

“An avid word-hoarder, Selig delights in discovering new terms, recording them on paper scraps, and stowing them in pockets…”

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The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter

I am often asked how I teach vocabulary.  Do I give students weekly word lists or front load challenging vocabulary from readings? Do I have students use any vocabulary building apps or games online?

Research shows that proficient readers use different strategies to help define words they do not know and determine whether the definition is pertinent to understanding the text. As word detectives, students use context clues, SPROOTs (Suffixes, Prefixes, and Roots), Connotation, and even outside connections to help them determine the meaning of words within a text. Additionally, teaching students how to use the dictionary and thesaurus, and showing them the range of information it provides is crucial to vocabulary development. 

Rather than teaching students to be word collectors and word wizards with vocabulary lists, I believe that reading is what helps develop vocabulary. Vocabulary instruction needs to go beyond basic definitions and students must be able to apply the words in context.

What that looks like in my classroom depends on the reading and writing unit that students are working on. When studying the Japanese Internment there are key vocabulary words needs need to know to understand the complexities of this time in our history. I use active learning stations help to build background knowledge and word knowledge.

When designing vocabulary “lessons,” keep in mind the following:

  1. Avoid presenting a long list of vocabulary words to be learned before students are able to read the text.
  2. Choose only those words that are important to the meaning and/or will be likely to actually enter your students’ vocabulary.
  3. Consider a way of involving students in identifying their own vocabulary words.
  4. Try to give your students experiences in figuring out words in context, rather than simply memorizing them.
  5. If possible, devise a way for students to locate and define their own words, rather than relying on your choices and definitions.
  6. Consider alternatives to students’ learning definitions of words individually. Think about creating collaborative learning experiences, if possible.
  7. Find a way to evaluate what your students have learned without relying on a traditional vocabulary test (multiple choice or fill in the blank).

Considering ENLs, ELLs, and students with IEPs, word banks are helpful to front load important academic vocabulary. Students can use any of the Quizlet activities (Learn, Flashcards, Live) to learn new vocabulary words.  Go beyond the traditional word wall posting definitions by creating walls displaying Wordart.com or sketch noting vocabulary words. 

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Looking for more ideas, check out these additional resources:

 

 

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Reading Tools to Support ALL Learners at #FETC20

This past week was FETC – The Future of Education Technology Conference in Miami, Florida.  FETC® is the leading independent K-12 conference focusing on education technology. This year’s key note speaker included author, Daniel Pink discussing “Leadership, Innovation, and the Surprising Truth of Human Motivation.” Miami Superintendent of Schools, Alberto M. Carvalho, opened up the conference and was the most inspiring at the conference telling attendees, “From the impossible to the inevitable, there is only belief, skill and will.”

There were more than 600 sessions for attendees addressing the latest ed tech and practical strategies to implement educational technology,  transform learning in and out of the classroom, and showcase the noteworthy ed tech tools . Plus, the Expo Hall provided additional content opportunities with Learning Sandboxes and a PitchFest— and that’s on top of the 400+ vendors with the latest ed tech solutions available. 

My presentation on Wednesday addressed Personalized Reading and shared digital tools and teaching strategies to support all the learners in our classroom. My slide deck from the presentation is below.

I also attended Monica Burns‘ session Reboot Reading Instruction with 10 Must-Try Tools. If you don’t already follow Monica on Twitter or Instagram, I recommend you add her to your PLN. In her session Monica shared some new tools that are worth checking out. Here are three that were new to me:

 

In my book, Personalized Reading,  I state, instructional needs for all readers include consistent reading practice, scaffolding, and opportunities to listen to, independently read, and analyze text. The no tech, low tech, and high technology tools I spoke about in my workshop offer supports and scaffolding for all types of readers.

Teachers can empower readers to use various technologies that will help them achieve
their personalized reading goals. Give students the opportunity to leverage
technology so they can be in control of their own learning is what Universal Design Learning is all about. Educators no longer need to be on top of students, coercing them to learn how to read. The idea of empowerment—giving students the technology, Fix It strategies, and choices that put them in control of the situation. You can empower ELLs, struggling readers and even reluctant readers to work on their weaknesses and hone in on their strengths, as well as to believe they can become more proficient readers.

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Building MultiModal Text Sets & Building 21st Century Skills

The following post was a piece written for the January 2020 ISTE Literacy Journal. To read the complete journal with additional articles focusing on multimodal literacy, click here.

We live in a world where information is presented in multimodalities: visual, print, audio, digital. Yet, in schools, most teachers are still dependent on print text. Maybe there is some visual and digital texts. Audio is slowly entering the field of education with the array of informative podcasts and audiobooks to listen to great reads. If we are truly going to help students build 21st century skills according to the ISTE Standards for Students and Next Generation Literacy Standards than we need to provide more multimodal text sets for student learning and understanding. This is more than universal design learning, it is about helping students access information in all its forms, become critical thinkers of these texts, as well as creative communicators. 

When you enter my 8th grade English classroom in Rye, New York you will find students reading paperback books as well as some listening to the same text on Learning Ally or reading it on a Kindle or Chromebook. My students interact with all different types of texts depending on the unit they are studying. For example, when students are reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a classic text taught in most middle or high schools today, I supplement their historical, political, and socio economic understanding of the text by building text sets to expand world knowledge. 

According to Achievethecore.org, “A text set is a collection of related texts organized around a unit topic, theme, concept, or idea. The set is focused on an anchor text,­ a rich, complex, grade ­level text. The anchor text is the focus of a close reading with instructional supports. What is important is that the texts in the set are connected meaningfully to each other to deepen student understanding of the anchor text.” Text sets should go beyond print and digital texts. Photographs, audio text, and video can also be integrated into text sets. It is important to note text sets evolve and should be revised and updated regularly. 

The text set I have built around To Kill a Mockingbird includes an audio of FDR’s 1933 inaugural speech referenced in Chapter One of Harper Lee’s book.  Students view Dorothea Lange’s photographs from the Great Depression. Using material from Facing History, I partner with my social studies teacher to include primary and secondary sources about Jim Crow Laws and the Scottsboro Trial which influenced Lee’s writing.  When we get to the trial scene in the book, students complete an Edpuzzle and view a video of Richard Peck playing Atticus in the 1962 film adaptation. As students are watching Atticus’ closing argument they track his use of ethos, pathos, and logos. I have graphic novel versions of the text for us to dive deep into craft and structure specific chapters and use Actively Learn, a digital reading platform, for jigsaw activities when we read poetry that connects to the text and characterization.  To build in some computational thinking, this winter my students will be creating a cardboard city of Maycomb and will code Finch Robots to travel through Maycomb representing the Scout, Jem, and Dill’s journey throughout the novel. 

I am excited to add robotics and extend students’ literacy learning in my classroom. Although some parents have expressed their concerns of not focusing solely on literature in my English Language Arts class,  layering classical texts with multimodal text sets provides all the students in my classroom ways to access the text, understand the text, and engage in critical conversations about the text. 

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Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker as a Touchstone Text

Happy New Year and 2020!

With all of the buzz this holiday season due to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding episode in the nine-episode Skywalker saga, I want to start the new year off with a post offering teaching ideas and lessons for this epic story.

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Image from ign.com

Now, if you didn’t see the movie, note there are some spoilers throughout this post.

Let’s talk theme first. This is a story about family, good versus evil, finding your inner strength, and friendships. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, co-writer of Episode IX Chris Terrio states, “When Luke says, “A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect” in Episode IX, that’s Luke speaking. That’s his own character. He’s making fun of himself. He’s saying to Rey, “Please don’t make the same mistake that I did.” That’s another theme of the film. How do we learn from our ancestors? How do we learn from our parents? How do we learn from the previous generation? How do we learn from all the good things that they did but not repeat their mistakes? In that moment, it truly is a character moment because we quite deliberately set up the same situation of tossing a saber, but this time, Luke is there to save Rey from making a bad choice” (2019).

Each episode tackles its own themes about coming of age, courage, and a grand theme about family.

Star Wars is based on Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth or Hero’s Journey.

herosjourney2

Image from AttackoftheBooks.com

Throughout the entire saga viewers follow Luke, Anakin, Rey, and even Kylo Ren along their own Hero’s Journey described by Joseph Campbell. As Jedi’s Luke Skywalker and Rey have similar journeys, Anakin and his grandson, Kylo Ren follow their own journeys into – and for Kylo Ren, out of the dark side.

Check out this lesson plan from Prestwick House on Star Wars and the Hero’s Journey.

Particularly in Episode IX, there is a major scene between Kylo/Ben Solo and his father’s memory, Han Solo. In Hollywood Reporter article, Terrio states, “Atonement with the father is a very Joseph Campbell idea. In a way, the great family sin of Kylo Ren was parricide — he killed his father. He committed any of number of sins throughout the galaxy; he’s not an angel. He’s done many truly horrible things, but on a level of the family saga, as in any Greek myth, it was the killing of a parent that is the central sin that needs to be atoned for.”

 

Following the idea of mythology and Star Wars, in the Hollywood Reporter article, “Why ‘Star Ways: The Rise of Skywalker’ is Dividing Fans, author Richard Newby states, “The Rise of Skywalker relies on the idea that people can create their own myths, regardless of the circumstances they were born into. Rey’s arc is echoed through Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren, a former stormtrooper, drug smuggler and heir to the dark side. Each of these three characters seemed destined for villainy, but The Rise of Skywalker instead acknowledges the fact that, yes, everyone has a past, but not everyone is destined to be who they are because of bloodlines or past mistakes. Rey’s parents chose to be nobody, and she chooses to be somebody, rectifying the failures of two lineages, Palpatine and Skywalker, and choosing who she is, adopting the namesake that means something to her — not because she was chosen for it, but because she chose it. She is the story she tells to herself, rather than the story others have told about her.” Thus, this story helps our students learn that they are in charge of the story of themselves, no matter who their parents are or the situations they are born into. This element of the story provides hope and encouragement for viewers.

 

Back in 2016, the New York Times Learn Network  provided readers with different lesson plan ideas connecting to history, science, and English Language Arts. Additional lessons bring Star Wars literacy across the content areas with math, economics, and even art and design.

The Literary Analysis of Star Wars is another aspect to examine. Obi-Wan says to Luke Skywalker during Return of the Jedi (1983), “What I told you was true, from a certain point of view,” “A certain point of view?” Luke replies incredulously. Obi-Wan responds in turn, “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

Point of view is key throughout the Star Wars movies. You might have students write their own short story or monologue from another character’s point of view. In fact, Penguin Random House published a collection of short stories written by contemporary young adult authors titled Star Wars): From a Certain Point of View by Renee Ahdieh, Meg Cabot, Pierce Brown, Nnedi Okorafor, Sabaa Tahir. This collections offers 40 stories celebrating 40 years of Star Wars.

So, what is your favorite Star Wars quote? And how do you use Star Wars in your classroom? Let’s start a dialogue in the new year.

 

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The Power of Storyboards

Story is everywhere, it’s all around us.

I recently participated in an ISTE Digital Storytelling Webinar focusing on The Power Behind Story & Storyboard to Inspire Imagery and Creativity. Presenter and educator, Julie Jaeger states, “storytelling is meaning making, not just media making. Storytelling is a process, deliberate, intentional and purposeful.” When creating digital stories, both words and media reveal the story through details rather than being directly stated. Craftsmanship is key.

The storyboard itself is a powerful tool in the classroom for meaning making. A storyboard is a road map and guiding influence for story making. I use storyboarding for comprehension and creativity in my 8th grade English class. Whether it is a storyboard used for a 5 Frame Story, which I describe in Personalized Reading (ISTE, 2018), or sketching and stretching the setting in a creative writing piece, storyboarding requires planning, evaluation, analysis and creative thinking.

Professional storyboards a useful models and mentors for students to see how film creators utilize storyboarding for brainstorming and outlining story ideas. Julie Jaeger describes how she has students write down the feelings the frame should evoke in the viewer. Depending on the purpose of the storyboard, the details under each frame can be descriptions of types of shots, actions, and sound. The objective is to create a final product with purpose and intention for the audience.

Whereas I have students retell a short story, chapter, or sonnet in only five frames, here is a two frame storyboard activity from The Jacob Burns Film Center:

You are going to tell a visual story using two photographs.

Discuss each scene and what kind of shots you would choose to show it.

  • Two best friends telling each other a secret.
  • Looking for my favorite book in the classroom bookshelf.
  • Two kids reaching for the same favorite marker color.
  • My pencil tip breaking.

Now it is your turn to create two shots of your own to tell the story! 

  1. Choose one story prompt you would like to illustrate.
  2. Think about what shot type you would like to use to introduce the idea.
  3. Draw that shot type in the first frame.
  4. Think about what shot type you would like to use to give your audience more information about the idea.
  5. Draw that shot type in the second frame.

Once you’ve completed your Two Frame Storyboard, it’s time to turn it into photographs. In small groups, position your actors to match your storyboard. The cameraperson can move closer or further away to try to match the shot type chosen in the storyboard.

Setting Storyboard

Setting Storyboard to help students sketch and stretch creative writing.

Storyboard That is a digital platform with free storyboard templates and online storyboard creator. For a fee, teachers can create classroom accounts and sync lessons and projects with Google Classroom. As the website states:

Storyboard That’s award-winning, browser based Storyboard Creator is the perfect tool to create storyboards, graphic organizers, comics, and powerful visual assets for use in an education, business, or personal setting. The application includes many layouts, and hundreds of characters, scenes, and search items. Once a storyboard is created, the user can present via PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote, or they can email the storyboard, post to social media, or embed on a blog. Storyboards are stored in the users’ account for access anywhere, from any device, no download needed. Storyboard That helps anyone be creative and add a visual component to any and every idea.

Other online storyboard platforms include Boords and Canva.

From book trailers to creative story telling and movie making, storyboards help students understand story concepts and frameworks. The objective is for students gain a critical perspective in looking at images and develop an awareness of craft and structure.

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Dystopian Quest 2019

Imagine a world where information is used as a form of control. Where books and knowledge are guarded by the powerful few. Science, technology, and language are utilized for propaganda, social control, and brainwashing. 

Call to Adventure

Welcome to our Dystopian Quest where it is the mission of my eighth grade students uncover the disinformation, brainwashing, and indoctrination of the people living in the utopian/dystopian worlds they read about in young adult fiction. Students are called upon to find the heroes who are already on a path to uncover the deception and fabrication of their world and community. 

Instead of reading and completing traditional quizzes and tests about the dystopian books students are reading, they are immersed in an adventure based quest throughout their reading unit, completing different missions to uncover new thinking about their reading. Students earn game points or “XP” (Experience Points) with each mission that they later can utilize for different powers and privileges in the classroom. 

If we are going to energize our students, we need to embrace technology with teaching methods that inspire and encourage our students to be motivated to learn, collaborate, and face obstacles in a positive way. Approaching learning as a quest or a mission can inspire adventure, collaboration, and results in a better learning experience and learning environment. Gamification and game based learning captures (and retains) learners’ attention, challenges students, engages and entertains them, and teaches them.

Below is the hyperdoc that maps out the three week dystopian quest for my students. Students choose the dystopian books they want to read. YA choices include The Giver by Lois Lowry, Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and Scythe series, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard, and The Reader by Traci Chee.

Classcraft Dystopian Quest

 

As students are reading, they have different missions to complete that have them unpack the dystopias and draw connections between the fictional worlds and our reality today. For the final mission students write a thematic essay utilizing text based evidence. There are sidequests for students to complete for additional points and privileges. This hyperdoc and quest has taken on many different forms and this year I have it paired down to cover the elements of dystopia that will help scaffold students’ comprehension and close reading. Topics include characterization, propaganda, text connections, and hero’s journey.

Want to know more about this quest and reading unit, contact me and I am happy to share more.

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