The following ideas can be used to help students acquire the literacy skills necessary to understand the way video texts work to convey meaning. This understanding is built up over time as students discuss, analyze and produce texts of increasing complexity. The activities can be adapted to use with students from primary through to the end of secondary.
These activities can be part of a larger project or they can stand alone as short lessons to help students develop particular understandings.
Create a Storyboard
Help students learn some of the codes and conventions of video texts by creating a storyboard for a simple television commercial. It is best to choose a commercial that uses a limited number of shots.
Students view the commercial several times.
In pairs, the students discuss a focus question such as, "What do you think the director’s storyboard looked like?"
Students create the storyboard for that commercial with quick, stick-figure drawings as the purpose of the activity is to develop an awareness of the variety of shots used and the way they were put together to communicate a particular message.
Plan an Infomercial/Commercial
Building on the previous activity, have students work as a team to brainstorm ideas for a new product of interest to children their age and create a short infomercial or commercial for the product.
Have students watch some commercials/infomercials and talk about the techniques that are used.
In pairs, students plan out the commercial and create a storyboard.
Pairs share their ideas, get feedback and make any necessary changes to their plan.
Students can act out their infomercial/commercial or talk about their idea to the class, explaining why they have chosen particular video techniques to communicate their message.
Produce an Infomercial/Commercial
Extend the above activity by having students work as a team on the actual production and editing of their commercials. The same process can be used to produce a variety of media genres. For example students can plan out the production of :
a newscast of school events and issues using the codes and conventions of this type of show, such as the anchorman, large desk, background visual etc.
a video showing a process such as the life cycle of a butterfly, or a simple procedure such as how to make a peanut butter sandwich
a talk show segment showing an interview with a famous person or literary character
a rap song related to classroom content- e.g. telling about a historical figure or event
Learn about Narrative Structure
Videos, regardless of the purpose or genre, e.g. television commercial, a documentary or a situation comedy, use narrative structures. The following activities will help students think about the story that is being told, its purpose, and the way it is being told.
Adapt a scene from a book. Students, as a group, write up a key scene from a book they are reading, create the storyboard, act it out and record it.