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Developing writing skills in the context of making a documentary

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Duration: 4:24

Mt Biggs School teacher, Renee Strawbridge and her students explain how they used storyboards to develop documentaries. Students learned the structure of an information report while making a documentary.

Renee Strawbridge:
Once we had the film techniques kind of sorted we needed to start focusing on the actual writing skills aspect. The first way that we did it was we looked at exemplars again of storyboarding and how to plan a film. We broke the documentary down as if it were an Information Report. So in an Information Report you'd have an introduction, three main points, and a conclusion.

So because the students use a shared Google Drive I had a model where I'd actually done my own example of what it should look like and they could choose to use my template or not.

So at first we made a table and then we put an introduction, point one, point two, point three, and then conclusion. And in those points we did what we were going to do so like in the introduction we would type down what we were doing in the introduction and then vice versa all the way down. And then after that we wrote a script and then we wrote in order who we were going to interview. And then after that we shot it pretty much.

I could read their Google Docs and I popped into them every day and had conversations with each group, every day to help them think about their main idea. What is it that you want your audience to get out of this? What is it that you want them to think, or know, or feel, and how are you going to do that? So those are the kinds of discussions that I was having with them during the storyboarding process.

And so we took that feedback and then we put it into the script and, if it was helpful, into the script and then it just went on from there.

In addition to the storyboarding aspect, they also had to do a lot of other writing because if they wanted to interview people then they had to write an interview script and plan out what they were going to ask the people they were interviewing. Some of them were doing a re-enactment or role play type situation. So they had to write a script for the actors, who was going to say what and who was going to ...what costumes people were going to wear and all of these kinds of things so they had to they had to plan that out.

Some of them had to write emails to the people that they wanted to come to interview explain who they were what they were doing and what they needed from them. Some of the kids actually interviewed people that they didn't know which was an experience or if they were going to talk on the phone I said to them well can you write down your little script of what you're going say on the phone, so that you don't get nervous and you remember to tell the person who you are and why you're ringing them and that kind of thing. I also integrated the teaching of informative writing into my reading program.

We’ve been learning topic sentences, how to find a topic sentence and a main point. And then it doesn't necessarily always have to be the first sentence all the time and you've got to always have at least three main points.

And we read topic sentences and had to identify the topic in the main point, and then we looked at what the role of a topic sentence is in a paragraph, and the concluding sentence in a paragraph. They’re still very linked to the documentary as well. Because when you're focusing on your main points, somehow your audience needs to know that you've moved on from this point, to now you're talking about this point. So there was a lot of teaching that went on integrated in my reading program. We'd read informative texts and analyse those during our reading program.

I thought that we could get the kids to analyse their text that's in their documentary and reflect back on their structure, their introduction, their three main points, and their conclusion and even just circle, highlight, just draw on it to show how have we actually got our introduction, our main points, and our conclusion? How is that featured in the actual script?

I would have got better at planning... that would have been the main thing and then like how to write it out.

Tags: Primary, Writing, Digital stories, English