This is a fantastic idea developed by Michele Whaley and Laurie Clarcq (here is the link to Michele’s original post about the activity). It is a different way of illustrating a story, and I like it because it sets up students really well for speaking and writing assessments. It is also a great way to think critically about the story and consider the differences between main ideas/plot points and details. Students can do this activity on their own after they’ve practiced it a few times (this works as a listening comprehension activity, since you can see how much they understood), or you can work on it as a class (which is great for the discussion that it produces).

Begin by deciding what the most basic plot points are in the story. Most of the stories that we tell in my class are based around a similar event that repeats itself three times in three different situations. Therefore, these plot points are usually ‘goes to X’, ‘goes to Y’, ‘goes to Z’. Students illustrate these three plot points in the top row of a piece of paper that they’ve divided into a grid or this form that I created (in French and Spanish).

In rows below each major plot point, students illustrate any additional details about that plot point. Often, the pictures in each row will be similar because, as I said, our stories are repetitive.

In the example of the story ‘Buscando un animal doméstico‘, the rows might look like this:

  1. Goes to place X, Y, Z
  2. Sees animal X, Y, Z
  3. Animal X, Y, Z, and main character look at each other
  4. Character wants and walks toward animal X, Y, Z
  5. Action of animal/reaction of person

As I said, this is nice for a speaking or writing assessment because it is easy to see how deep students are able to go with their explanation of what happened in the story. They could be stuck at the top level (and not know any of the target terms for the story), able to add in sporadic details from different moments in the story, or able to recount the story exactly as it happened in great detail. It is quite easy to determine the student’s level of proficiency using this prop.

Click on image to download embedded storyboard form
Click on image to download embedded storyboard form

5 replies on “Embedded Storyboard

  1. Thanks for the shout out…the only tweak that I’ve come up with (which I was doing in class today) is that I try to have the three major structures represented in the top three boxes. That way, I tell the kids, if they can reproduce at least those three major events, they are meeting my goals for the lesson.

    So as an example, today we had a story where I (as a young girl) went out looking for fathers.

    Top column: MJ didn’t have a father/She drove to CA and OR in a VW bus./She collected fathers.

    Now, underneath those columns, we can have that MW was sad, that she found a short dad in CA, a too-tall dad in OR, and a tall dad in Alaska. She came home with all the dads, and the Alaska dad invited everyone to live in one house.

    All the details about the rain or snow or sunshine in the various places were underneath the top column. We can add in emotions or whatever else we need. It’s really pretty cool! But if all kids can do is tell the top column, I’m actually happy.

    It takes some engineering to make sure that you get those three up there, but then it makes it easy to figure out whether the core pieces of the story are clear in reading, writing, speaking, or listening.

    Glad you liked it! We felt like we were geniuses for a while at least.

  2. I may have used your template exactly backwards from your description. I filled in the first column as the base embedded reading and added details horizontally. It worked out that the last detail in the first column led directly to box 1 in column 2. If that makes sense? I made a French version if anyone wants it.

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