The pandemic has brought to the forefront mental health of students and teachers. Social Emotional Learning. Research shows that creativity can be beneficial for mental health and can help build critical skills such as empathy and introspection. As Kathryn Fishman-Weaver writes in an article in Edutopia (2019), “Creating art is a practice in both communication and empathy that affects the storyteller (in this case, the student artist) and the person viewing the story (peers, teachers, and counselors).” Creative communication and expression elevates learning experiences and can drive social emotional learning (SEL). As the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning CASEL notes, SEL – “involves managing emotions and achieving personal and collective goals, showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining supportive relationships, and making responsible and caring decisions – is an integral part of education and human development.
SEL is more than a buzz word, it is vital to students emotional, social, and academic success in and out of school. Here is is a lesson I do with my students to promote creativity, project based learning, and social emotional health.
Comic Creation & Script Writing Illustrating a Community Problem
Objective – Students will be able to understand the elements of storyboarding and map out an issue in the community using storyboard and digital comic creation tools to inform and persuade others. Students create digital comics or storyboards to highlight a problem in their community and encourage positive social activism among students.
Description – This lesson encourages and guides students towards social activism. By asking students to brainstorm the problems in their communities they are embarking on an authentic challenge and project based learning opportunity while using social emotional skills of communication, decision making, and social awareness. Students have a voice in the topics they care about. Students are taking charge of their own learning.
The storyboard is a powerful tool in the classroom for meaning making. A storyboard is a road map and guiding influence for story making. Michele uses storyboarding for comprehension and creativity in her 8th grade English classes but this activity can be adapted for any content area. In this activity, students create a storyboard that highlights a problem in the community using comic creation tools like Powtoons, StoryboardThat, Bitmoji and BookCreator.
ISTE Standards for Students
3. Knowledge Constructors – Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
4. Innovative Designer – Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
6. Creative Communicator – Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
- Short Documentary Films and PSAs
- Storyboard Template
Hook: Post the following question for students to brainstorm and respond to: “What are the issues in your community that need to be brought to the forefront and exposed to seek change?”
Mini-Lesson: Storyboarding helps filmmakers to outline a story visually before going to production. Just like writers outline and use graphic organizers to map out the direction of their writing, before a film or even commercial begins production, the visual elements of the film are mapped out using a Storyboard. Studiobinder defines a storyboard as, “A visual representation of a film sequence and breaks down the action into individual panels. It is a series of ordered drawings, with camera direction, dialogue, or other pertinent details. It sketches out how a video will unfold, shot by shot.” Film producers might use a professional artist to help create the visual layout on a storyboard. Many storyboards are works of art themselves. The teacher should showcase examples of famous storyboards. This article from StudioBinder provides many).
Today we are going to create our own storyboards to highlight a problem in our community you wish to change. Think about how you can effectively showcase this problem in a way that draws attention to this matter. As a director, you have several elements to consider when preparing your storyboards. You first need to evaluate your topic and break it down into shots. Then, as you plan each shot panel, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is central to this frame?
- What needs to be communicated in the frame?
- What type of shot (close-up, wide-shot, establishing shot, and so on) do you need?
- What is the shot’s angle (where the camera is shooting from)? Is it a high angle? A low angle?
Let’s get started. You might use the storyboard templates I have provided or feel free to sketch out your ideas in your notebook.
Active Engagement : At this point, Students begin sketching an outline how they would present their topic and issue to others using a storyboard template (to be provided). As students are working on their storyboards they can also “research and gather information from multiple sources as they deepen their search for finding answers to their questions about the real world problem committed to.” (Laur & Ackers, 2017)
Allow students a choice to begin the storyboard by hand before moving to an online platform. This might take more than one class period. Allow students the necessary time to complete their storyboards and share with their peers for feedback and revision opportunities. If students are uncomfortable drawing by hand, using comic creation platforms like Powtoons, Storyboardthat, or Bitmojis and Bookcreator, students can create their own original stories in comic book form.
Variations & Differentiation – Teachers can provide sentence frames or word banks to help students with the dialogue and writing. Utilizing digital storyboard platforms like Powtoons or Storyboard that provide students with templates and stock images depending on the needed adaptations.
For an added challenge, students can follow up their storyboard by filming their ideas. Students can create a Public Service Announcement or Mini Documentary using iMovie or Adobe Spark to showcase this problem.
Culturally Responsive Teaching Connection: As this activity hinges on students choosing a social issue in their community and world, a cultural connection is built in through the current issues from homelessness, endangered species, racism, and pollution. The topics are generated from the student and driven by student inquiry. Students take ownership of the issue and their project as well.