If students aren’t taught the language of sound and images, shouldn’t they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read and write?

George Lucas

We cannot ignore the fact that our students are surrounded by video texts. Teachers can play an important role in helping students develop their critical literacy using these texts. It is not necessary for students to be engaged in a complex production in order to learn how video language works. The exercises and projects described in this section of the website provide opportunities for students to use simple video productions and activities to support a range of literacy skills.

Videos combine moving images, language and sound to tell a story. This is true whether the video clip is:

  • a television commercial or public service announcement

  • an interview with a grandparent

  • the description of a simple process e.g. the life cycle of a butterfly

  • a scene from a favourite book

As students read, analyze, interpret and produce simple video texts they learn that:

  • videos, like all texts, are constructions that convey a message to a particular audience for a particular purpose​

  • the audience and purpose impacts the way the video is constructed e.g. a television commercial aimed at teens will often contain bright colours and fast moving images

  • readers play an active role in determining the meaning they take away from the text

In this section of the website, teachers will find classroom ideas and projects for using video with students.


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.

  • View commercials that have a clear narrative structure and are appropriate to the age and level of your students. In pairs or small groups have students talk about each of the commercials and try to discover the story 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.


The integrated projects that you will find in this section of the website were carried out by Québec teachers. We hope they will act as a springboard for your own ideas. Each of these projects can be adapted to the age and needs of your students.

You will notice, in each of the projects, the teacher has provided opportunities for students :

  • to view and respond to films

  • to explore the structure and features of various video texts in order to discover how they contribute to the interpretation of the text

  • to use their discoveries and new understanding to create their own projects using video

Junie B. Jones: From Book to Movie

Elementary students at St Patrick Elementary School in downtown Montreal produced their own video adaptation of one of their favourite books. Read about the production process and how it plays out in this Cycle two classroom .

Help Keep Our Park Safe

In this project, elementary Cycle three students to produced a Public Service Ad. The purpose of the ad was to persuade people in the school neighbourhood to help keep the community park clean and safe.

Digital Storytelling

Using a computer drawing program and PowerPoint, elementary Cycle one students learned how stories are crafted as they developed a narrative told through digital storytelling.


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