Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Create a Character Confessional Using Storyboard That

This year I tried a lot of new things: using EngageNY modules, teaching Shakespeare to middle school students, and testing out the web tool Storyboard That. All three of these new experiments came together for me in a performance task for an end-of-the-year unit.

I wanted to expose my 8th grade students to Shakespeare before they reached high school. I decided that the play A Midsummer Night's Dream would be a good choice. It has an engaging plot, a lot of humor, and sets students up to successfully read Romeo and Juliet in 9th grade. Fortunately, EngageNY has a module that focuses on this play, so I didn't have to come up with daily lesson plans. As the unit came to a close, the students were supposed to complete one final performance task: a Character Confessional. Here is the explanation from the EngageNY unit overview:

In this third unit, and after studying the thematic concept of control throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream, students will write a narrative that will act as a “confessional,” where a character from the play explains his or her attempts to control or manipulate someone else in the play. 

A sample narrative Character Confessional can be found here. Since it was one of our final assignments of the year, I decided that the students didn't need to complete another long form piece of writing. Instead, I swapped out the narrative with a comic. A colleague reminded me of how easy it is to create comics using the website StoryboardThat, so students used this tool to create their performance tasks. The original narrative assignment had three parts, so I had students create three sets of six-cell comics for this assignment. The students still had to write in the first person, but they could include various characters and sets from the play. Here is an example of a finished product.

What makes Storyboard That such an excellent tool is the large library they have of characters, scenes, and objects. Students really seemed to enjoy this performance task and it really demonstrated their understanding of a complex theme in this complex and comical play.

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