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This lesson provided by:
Author: Brandy Vermillion
System:Madison City
School:Bob Jones High School
Lesson Plan ID: 13483

Translating Short Stories into Original Short Films


After reviewing the elements of the short story, students develop a script and storyboard from a published or original story. Students then film and edit a video of the story to present during a class film festival.

Content Standard(s):
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I1. Identify basic elements of theatrical training, including vocalization, kinesthetics, and emotional and intellectual processing.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I2. Describe the acting process, including memorizing, determining, and enacting character objectives and motives; listening; and maintaining concentration.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I3. Identify basic components of staging a production, including set design, blocking, costumes, lighting, and sound.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I4. Explain emotional responses to the whole as well as to the parts of a dramatic performance.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I5. Use appropriate theatre vocabulary, including blocking, character, scene, empathy, aesthetics, and enunciation, to describe theatrical experiences.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I6. Explain artistic choices made collaboratively by a group.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I7. Explain legal and ethical ramifications of using another's work in a production, including copyright and intellectual property rights issues.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I10. Use theatre skills to communicate ideas from other curriculum areas.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I11. Identify job requirements for a variety of theatre and theatre-related careers.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level I12. Identify various uses of technology, including the Internet, in theatrical design.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II1. Demonstrate use of the body and voice as creative instruments.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II2. Analyze scripts, including dialogue, action, and expository information, to explain and justify character motivation.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II3. Utilize the components of playwriting to create short scenes.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II4. Create scripts that reflect specific periods, events, or cultures.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II6. Determine criteria necessary to review a theatrical production.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II7. Analyze selected texts to determine how they incorporate figurative language and imagery.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II8. Use various self-evaluation processes, including journaling, rubrics, and aesthetic responses, to evaluate personal choices and performances.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level II11. Apply theatre skills to reflect concepts presented in other curriculum areas.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III1. Create characters, situations, and events based on personal experience, literature, historic events, or research to introduce tension and suspense in a theatrical production.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III2. Demonstrate an understanding of characterization and scene work through a group performance.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III3. Create a video that tells a story or depicts an overall theme, including the effective use of modern technology.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III5. Describe the impact various components of technical theatre have on a dramatic production, including lighting, sound, scenery, props, costumes, makeup, and hairstyling.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III6. Describe theatrical experiences using theatre vocabulary, including genre, style, acting values, themes, and designs.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III7. Critique theatre productions to determine the effectiveness of verbal and nonverbal interpretation, director's intent, audience response, and technical elements.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III8. Describe the impact of audience behavior on cast performances and the impact of cast performances on audience behavior.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level III12. Compare the fundamental elements used to communicate in dance, music, theatre, dramatic media, and visual arts.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level IV1. Apply basic dramatic structure, including exposition, complication, crisis, climax, and resolution, in the script writing process.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level IV2. Direct formal and informal productions by interpreting dramatic texts and organizing and conducting rehearsals.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level IV3. Demonstrate rehearsal techniques, including pacing, polishing, and vocal and physical encoding, with technical proficiency.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level IV4. Create a multimedia production using advanced technologies.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level IV7. Identify requirements and responsibilities of a dramaturge.
AED(6-12) Theatre: Level IV9. Analyze a dramatic work to determine its effectiveness regarding intent, structure, and quality.
TC2(9-12) Computer Applications4. Utilize advanced features of word processing software, including outlining, tracking changes, hyperlinking, and mail merging.
TC2(9-12) Computer Applications6. Utilize advanced features of multimedia software, including image, video, and audio editing.
ELA2013(10) 1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.9-10.1]
ELA2013(10) 2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text. [RL.9-10.2]
ELA2013(10) 3. Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme. [RL.9-10.3]
ELA2013(10) 4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone). [RL.9-10.4]
ELA2013(10) 11. Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text. [RI.9-10.2]
ELA2013(10) 17. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning. [RI.9-10.8]
ELA2013(10) 21. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. [W.9-10.1]
ELA2013(10) 22. Write informative or explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. [W.9-10.2]
ELA2013(10) 23. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. [W.9-10.3]
ELA2013(10) 24. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 21-23 above.) [W.9-10.4]
ELA2013(10) 25. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of the first three standards in the Language strand in Grades K-10.) [W.9-10.5]
Local/National Standards:  
Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will demonstrate knowledge of the parts of a short story by mapping a published or original short story. Students will develop and translate the story into storyboards and scripts and film the story. Students will critique and edit the film.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will perform in a student-written and -directed film. Students will work cooperatively with others.

Approximate Duration of the Lesson: Greater than 120 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

Copies of storyboard templates can be found at (if storyboard software is unavailable)

Technology Resources Needed:

Computers with Internet access, Inspiration software (optional), digital camcorder(s), digital videotapes, video editing software such as (iMovie and Pinnacle (tutorial links included in Background/Preparation), microphone, storyboard software (optional)


Select several short stories read by the class or original student stories suitable for adapting to film. Students will need an overview of filming techniques and digital video editing. Help can be found at these sites:
Atomic Learning, Video Story Telling Guide - information about the video grammar, shots, and rules to film properly;
Atomic Learning, iMovie 2< - video tutorial series
Pinnacle Studio - a guide to using Pinnacle Studio.

1.)Lead students in a discussion of the parts of a short story (exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement). Discuss with the students the application of these terms to a story the class has read recently. Assign the mapping of the story using Inspiration software or a graphic organizer. If students will be filming their original stories, instruct them to choose a short story they have written prior to this assignment and map it as well. Instruct students to make note of examples of figurative language, favorite lines, and the most important quips or dialogue from the story.
(Inspiration Software, Inc.)
Product information, free trial and demonstration

2.)Guide the students to the short film samples at the attached site. Have students apply the elements of the short story they have reviewed to the short films they watch. Teacher may wish to do one as a group depending on the academic level of the class.
(Apple Computer Language Arts Gallery)
This is an elementary example using drawings and voice over of a children’s story.

3.)Lead a discussion on how a short story can translate into film. (By this time, most students have seen a story they've read translated into film.) Explain that a successful film depends on careful storyboarding. Direct the students to the storyboard site (see Materials). Emphasize how a good storyboard increases efficiency and overall quality of the final film project.
(Creating a Storyboard for Video Production)
A detailed site for video production directed at the pre-service teacher who may wish to create an instructional video

4.)Using the published or original stories mapped previously, assign students the completion of a storyboard and script for a short film lasting three to five minutes. If available, the students can use storyboard software. If not, students can use copies of the storyboard template provided (see Materials). They also will need a list of necessary props, suggested film locations, and cast assignments for students from the class.

5.)Allow appropriate time for the filming of their stories depending on class size, available equipment, and individual or group work assignments. Remind students to rely on their storyboards and scripts. Encourage students to use a variety of camera angles and to use a microphone if speaking on camera.
(Atomic Learning)
This site informs students about the video grammar, shots, and rules they need to know to film properly. Students should watch the video examples provided.

6.)As individuals or groups finish, help them import their video footage into the computer with video editing software.

7.)Direct students as they edit their video footage and ensure the film maintains all of the essential parts of the story. Encourage students to enhance the story with voice over, music, transitions, titles, still shots, slow motion, special effects, etc. Instruct students to include a title page and credits page.
(Atomic Learning)
This site page provides help when using iMovie.

8.)Schedule class time for students to host their own short film festival and gently critique each film. As each film is shown, have students map the elements of fiction as they apply to the film.

9.)Exceptional short films can be entered into a variety of contests, published on the web, or shown on school video announcements. Help students export the video back on to a digital tape, a DVD, or transfer it to VHS.

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Assessment Strategies:

Create a rubric or checklist which evaluates the following: development of the elements of short story-- exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement; writing of dialogue; use of sound and visuals; effective editing; peer evaluation, teamwork and organization; completion of effective storyboard and script; and completion of story maps.


View some of the short films at Pixar (Tin Toy is a favorite) and encourage students in developing formal critiques.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
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