ALEX Lesson Plan


Translating Short Stories into Original Short Films

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Brandy Vermillion
System: Madison City
School: Bob Jones High School
  General Lesson Information  
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.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
AED (6-12) Theatre: Level III
3. Create a video that tells a story or depicts an overall theme, including the effective use of modern technology.
  • Using various artistic camera shots, framing techniques, and digital photography to enhance a video
  • Using a storyboard to plan a scene and develop plot, character, and theme
  • AED (6-12) Theatre: Level IV
    1. Apply basic dramatic structure, including exposition, complication, crisis, climax, and resolution, in the script writing process.
    AED (6-12) Theatre: Level IV
    4. Create a multimedia production using advanced technologies.
    Example: using a slide show or video clip within a play
  • Developing a director's notebook
  • Planning a rehearsal schedule
  • Staging production with blocking, casting, and technical designs
  • TC2 (9-12) Computer Applications
    6. Utilize advanced features of multimedia software, including image, video, and audio editing.
    ELA2015 (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]
    ELA2015 (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]
    a. Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; create a smooth progression of experiences or events. [W.9-10.3a]
    b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. [W.9-10.3b]
    c. Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole. [W.9-10.3c]
    d. Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters. [W.9-10.3d]
    e. Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative. [W.9-10.3e]
    ELA2015 (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]
    ELA2015 (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.

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    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.


    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.