Storyboarding For Narrative Writing

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SWBAT create storyboards in order to focus on key events in their narrative.

Big Idea

Your story in pictures. Turning words into pictures to improve writing.

Reading Time

10 minutes

Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time.  This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.

Storyboard Instruction

5 minutes

I have students storyboard so they can focus on pacing, description, and organization in their writing. These are all skills the Common Core calls for in narrative writing. Visual representing their stories helps students focus on these areas.

By this time in the drafting process, students should have a draft of a narrative. We discuss that it is a rough draft. It will be revised many times during the process and today is the first step in that process. I really try and get students to think about the narratives in as many ways as possible and visually is one of the first steps to do that. My students tend to be very visual. They respond well to pictures at times rather then text so seeing a storyboard can help them to see what details are not necessary to include and what details are important. 

As a class, we review the first part of the handout on storyboarding.

This handout discusses the ways to complete a storyboard and what a storyboard is. Once students understand the concept behind a storyboard, I model with my own writing so they can see the expectations for doing so. We discuss the importance of certain colors and what moments to focus on.

  • Why would I choose certain colors?
  • What moments am I focusing on? How does that help develop the narrative?

Storyboard Practice

18 minutes

Students then work on their own to create a rough draft of their own storyboard. They turn their narrative into a visual representation. Each box represents a different moment from the narrative, with focus on color and detail. As students are working these are some questions I use as I am meeting with students:

  • Why did you choose those moments?
  • What details are important to include in the picture?
  • What colors can you choose to get certain feelings or emotions across?

These questions help students think about their pictures which in turn help them think about the narratives. They can think about how to focus, what details are important, and what the big idea may be.

I encourage students to create a rough and final draft but depending on time that may not always work out. As much as students may only want to work on one draft of their storyboard they do see the benefits of doing so since we have discussed since the beginning of the year the importance of drafting. The rough draft should only two a few minutes. It's really a way to get students to quickly turn their narrative in picture form. The final draft is where the magic happens. Students are able to focus on emotions and details. They begin to think objectively about their writing so they can make figure out ways to improve their writing.

I do show some storyboard examples as needed. This video discusses some of the story examples: Storyboard Examples Explanation.

Application to Narrative Writing

10 minutes

Narrative writing benefits from organization and effective details. The storyboard helps start that conversation but it is not the end. Students need the practice to apply those ideas into their actual writing as they begin working on a new draft.

We use the following questions to frame our discussion. The conversation begins in their notebook where they answer the following questions:

  • 1. How has or can the storyboard help in your writing?
  • 2. Can you reorder your events?
  • 3. What did you learn about your experience based on using colors to help your representation?
  • 4. What new information, ideas, and thoughts can you use in your writing?

As students are answering these questions., I walk around and review the students storyboards with them and also review the answers to these questions. We discuss the importance of logical organization, pacing, and details. Once students write clear and logical answers, they have a focus on how to revise their narratives to create a new draft. These new drafts are can be reordered (some students cut out their storyboards and move moments around). Some drafts are revised to include more details or less details. Other narratives are revised with an eye on pacing: slow moments down and speed others up.

When students are struggling thinking about pacing, organization, and details we can look back at narratives we have read earlier in the unit. By doing so, they can see how others have organized and pace their writing. We can also look at our peers work. There are always a few students willing to share their own work. When students can see the work of others, they can gain greater insight into their own work.