Storyboards with Digital Science Picture Books

I have found that pre-writing is a key to quality of work from my sixth graders. They have to have time and a means to brainstorm and organize their thoughts before they rush into the actual writing. And when you add technology to the mix, this is even more important — otherwise, they get so deep into the technology, they forget to pay attention to the story.

This week, as my students work on the start of a Digital Picture Book on Cell Mitosis, they are hard at work with two pre-writing strategies.

First, they have to map out the storyline from beginning, middle and end. This plot design (in the form of a concept map tool) is something we work with a lot during the year, so it is now natural for them to “see” the whole story as it might unfold. I say “might” because I remind them that stories may change as they start the actual writing and better ideas come along or if they get a burst of new inspiration. The draft is not super-glue for the idea, just velco (hmmmm, not sure if that metaphor works, but I will keep it there for now).

Next, they work on storyboards for their books, showing the sequence of events with both visual and written descriptions. This is not a time for all of the details that will go into the books, but it is a time for seeing the possibilities. I like storyboarding because it allows me to have a good conversation with my students in a way that allows us to follow the story development visually.

Here is one of the storyboards — they will explain the phases of mitosis in much greater scientific detail in the final book:

I can’t wait to see this one as a final book.

Peace (in the digital world),

  1. Great idea. We are in the process of doing stop motion and there are two groups that somehow got through all the checks and balances with incorrect science. Although we story boarded, it was not as intentional as I would have liked.

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