Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Characterization in Your Writing with Storyboard That

One of our electives is Creative Writing and it is amazing to see each student's unique writing voice. The teacher is phenomenal but she wanted to add some technology to the students' writing. As a math teacher twirled into an instructional coach, writing is not my one of my top skills! But this teacher makes the coaching easy and tech is one of my top skills! She is the best at developing students' writing skills and fostering their untapped passion for narratives and stories. 

In this class, students learn about setting, characterization, and different types of conflict and plot through narratives and stories. To help them with creating character driven stories, they first had to learn about characterization. This was what she wanted my help with and I found the perfect EdTech for it! STORYBOARD THAT! This is an online storyboard creator students can use to create amazing visuals and for digital storytelling. For this characterization lesson, we used Storyboard That as a comic strip type activity.

I showed them examples of direct and indirect characterization. The project was to create an illustrated guide of either the classroom, our school, or their family. Characterization had to be used through telling about the character's personality, physical traits, or flaws. They also needed to include indirect characterization by using speech bubbles, actions, reactions from other characters, and appearance.

Storyboard That gives SOOOO many options to customize the strip with scenes and characters. Students are able to do a strip of three scenes on the free version. As you can see below, the free version had more than enough options to keep them creating and engaged! 

They would have worked on these forever if we had let them! Students worked hard to illustrate and really tell the story of the characters through the details in their strips. This also gave us so many opportunities to  conference with students to be sure their characterization skills were solid while they were working.

Once all the illustrated guides were ready, they screen grabbed their strip and put it on a shared Google slide deck. You can download these, but we found they looked better with with a screen grab. They had fun looking through everyone's guides! We also printed them out and hung them because they just turned out so great!

Students also write about pirates and jungles and do a detective unit, zombie unit, and fractured fairy tales. Can't you just hear the buzz in the classroom? This is not your quiet, librarian shushing you writing classroom! It is writing filled with technology that makes it come alive. Check out the narrative prep with the Personal Narrative in Your Head we did using a green screen on our heads. You may also enjoy the podcast students created that is a collection of short mystery stories including sound effects. You can listen to Ms. Grant's Middle School Mysteries here.

Most students, at the end of the class, when asked if they knew they could write will say no! Some are outstanding and they didn't even know they could write. This class has sparked a love for writing!


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