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Storyboarding: Pre-Writing Activity

April 3, 2011 21st Century Skills, Digital Storytelling 16 Comments

The more we podcast and have our students create video clips or other digital storytelling projects, the more we need to teach storyboarding as part of the process. Being able to pre-visualize how your story will unfold is becoming a vital skill to have for storytellers.

Storyboards are defined as:

Graphic organizers such as a series of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence, including website interactivity.

In the book by Roger Essley “Visual Tools for Differentiating Reading & Writing Instruction: Strategies to Help Students Make Abstract Ideas Concrete and Accessible”, he says

Storyboarding, or picture writing, is the origin of all written languages, used by ancient cultures before text evolved and as a natural bridge to text. The Chinese language was built using pictographs. Egyptians used storyboards, or hieroglyphics, first etched in stone and later written on papyrus, to organize a complex society and to rule the ancient world.

Pre-Writing is defined as

Pre-writing is the first stage of the writing process, typically followed by drafting, revision, editing and publishing. Elements of prewriting may include planning, research, outlining, diagramming, storyboarding or clustering.

I have experimented with several storyboarding tools, from the paper and pencil method to iPad apps. Students and I are both finding the creation of the storyboard extremely helpful as we are collaborating on creating podcasts and movies.

I created a Word Doc, that is easily edited with the title of the storytelling project and printed out to be distributed to students. (Download the Word Doc Template)

Storyboarding Template Created in Word

We have also asked students to directly use their writing journals to storyboard their ideas for a script. Students use their storyboard to write their script in sequence and to supervise and help as we edit the movie together.

Individual Storyboarding in Journal

Storyboarding in Journal

One of my favorite places to create a storyboard together with the students in on the SmartBoard. We use the Notebook software to draw the different scenes that will need to be filmed and which actors will be participating in each scene.

Collaborative Storyboarding on SmartBoard

The following storyboard  was also created with the SmartBoard Notebook. This time we used screenshots to illustrate the images we were imagining for the green screen background replacement.

Collaborative Storyboarding with Screenshots

We printed the storyboard out for all students to have and to use as they were going to write their parts of the script. It helped them understand their individual role in the collaborative whole of the story. Once we finished recording the script (which often happened to be film completely out of sequence) , I made it a point to involve students in the editing process.

As the storyboard area of iMovie was displayed on the projector, students were using their paper storyboard printout to help me drag and drop individual video clips in the correct order , add sounds,  transitions and text. The storyboard made it possible to pull all the individually written scripts and out-of-order filmed video clips into a coherent sequence.

I am just starting to experiment with storyboard apps on my iPad. I am sure similar apps exist for the Android market or other tablet computers.

Storyboards Premium allows you to create a background scene, insert actors and text.

StoryPages HD allows you to draw your own board and add text in a different pane. You can move different pages in order on the page grid and email the final board as a pdf file.

How about inviting the Art teacher at your school to teach a lesson on storyboarding techniques to your students?

For more examples of storyboarding, take a look at the following article and posts:

  • R.Alfonso’s blog EETT & Making Movies
  • What Are Storyboards?
    Storyboarding, or picture writing, is the origin of all written languages. Storyboards are widely used because we know pictures combined with text offer a rich synthesis of information that can entertain and inform. The pictures in picture writing can be simple cartoons, photographs, or sophisticated technical diagrams. This technique can be an invaluable tool when differentiating reading and writing instruction….
  • Differentiated Instruction: Developing a Storyboarding Classroom
    Tips on how to use visual tools, such as storyboarding, to differentiate instruction in a reading program….

Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. Wonderful post! It would be interesting to see if you could incorporate writing an extend piece of text based on the story board and final video project. And while students are writing the extended text observe the hopefully improved text outcome. The students having gone through an extensive pre-writing process should find it easier to write a block of text.

  2. Shamblesguru says:

    Great Post … thx

    Have linked on Shambles Digital Storeytelling area
    http://www.shambles.net/pages/staff/dstorytell/

    Chris

  3. [...] Storyboarding: Pre-Writing Activity is also from Langwitches. [...]

  4. Lynsay says:

    Great Post! I am doing storyboarding in my Art class and this was very informative, thanks!

  5. Rodd Lucier says:

    In today’s media powered world, I’m surprised more teachers don’t explore the concept of storyboarding. In helping students understand the range of ‘shots’ and the media elements than help to make for a more engaging story, I often share cartoon strips with students. Following up with cartoon creation, either hand rendered, or through tools like Bitstrips or Comic Life, is often a next step.

    If we want students to create their own media pieces, and to critique the work of peers and professionals, the least we can do is provide them with ways to envision the end product.

  6. Lisa Neale says:

    Great post. Often we are looking for ways to blend the learning and be more intentional in terms of collaboration that is not always immediately on screen. This posts shows the how of blending process, delivery and using a variety of tools works.

  7. Cindy Froiland says:

    Well, I’m having my 8th grade computer students create a movie maker commercial right now to be placed on their city wiki websites. We only have one camera so it’s gotten very tedius but we did do storyboard prior to this which helped a lot so at least when they do get their turns with the camera, they are ready due to their prethinking with the storyboads.

  8. Awesome, Silvia!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Emma Cutmore says:

    Thanks Sylvia, your post has inspired me to use the idea of storyboarding to assist my own son in his writing. I’ll let you know how it goes. He has great ideas and the storyboard should give him a good framework on which to organise them. Text based frameworks have been of limited use, perhaps as he is a visual learner, this idea will be the inspiration he needs???? Thanks again for the idea!

  10. Jordan B says:

    Thanks for sharing. We have been storyboarding with our 5th grade students and have found that they are more motivated and write quality scripts when using storyboards. I look forward to trying some of your techniques.

  11. [...] The more we podcast and have our students create video clips or other digital storytelling projects, the more we need to teach storyboarding as part of the process. Being able to pre-visualize how your story will unfold is becoming a vital skill to have for storytellers. http://langwitches.org/blog/2011/04/03/storyboarding-pre-writing-activity/ [...]

  12. Mathew says:

    Great post. I still prefer paper and pencil myself. However, on the computer I like the program “Directors Boards” which is free and lets you use photos for storyboards. There’s no mobile version that I know of for the software.

  13. [...] here for a useful blog posting from the Langwitches Blog with resources and tips for using storyboarding in stop-motion animations ICT across the [...]

  14. Cara says:

    I will have to try storyboarding. I tend to still use note cards and post-it notes when I am trying to organize my train of thought. I’ve also found some great pocket chart organizers at several teaching supply stores.

  15. […] Creating storyboards helps children visualise how their story might unfold. This is a vital skill for storytellers. Once you ‘enter’ into the world of your story, your imagination and sensory perception are called into play. Your right brain loosens up a little. Storyboarding is a great planning tool, especially if the physical act of writing is difficult. Langwitches Blog has a great post about storyboarding and the writing process […]

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