-- Real world actions for
students after completion of the lesson
(One 50-minute class period)
||Tell students that most movies contain many different
elements that all work together to help the audience understand the
movies story. These elements include the images, the dialogue
and the music and sound effects. Write these elements on the board.
Tell students you are going to play them a clip from a movie, and
that they should think about how all of these different elements are
used to help tell the story. Tell them to look and listen for specifically
- Images: How gestures and facial expressions help the audience
understand what is happening.
- Music/Sound: What type of mood the music seems to set when it
starts and stops.
- Words: What types of things people say and whether what they
say helps further the story.
|| Play a clip from WILLIE WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY,
starting as Charlie passes some parked cars and sees a coin in the
gutter (this scene starts roughly 31 minutes into the movie and lasts
roughly 3 minutes). Stop the clip on the close-up of the front of
the golden ticket.
|| Ask students to talk about the elements listed on the
board, as well as the items they were asked to look and listen for.
Ask them for specific examples of each element and how they thought
it furthered the story. Here some examples you might use:
- Images: You might touch on items such as Charlies many
emotional facial expressions and the shopkeepers hand gesture
asking for payment.
- Music/Sound: The use of music when Charlie sees the coin and
again when he learns that there is still one golden ticket remaining.
- Words: The moment when Charlie overhears the crowd saying that
there is, after all, a golden ticket yet to be found.
|| Tell students that although filmmakers use all these
different elements to tell stories, in this lesson they will focus
specifically on how filmmakers use pictures to tell stories. Ask them
where they think the word movie comes from. Tell them
it is short for moving picture.
|| Tell students that they are going to watch a scene
from a silent movie (you may want to tell students that a silent movie
is a movie without sound). Tell students that as they watch, they
should think about what is happening and how they are able to understand
the story even though there is no sound. Tell students to watch for
facial expressions, gestures, props, the setting, and other visual
clues that will help them to understand and interpret the story.
|| Play the clip from Charles Chaplins THE GOLD
RUSH starting when the Tramp (Chaplin) walks in to town with a shovel
and offers to clear snow from the doorways for a fee. (This scene
starts roughly 45 minutes into the movie. The clip lasts roughly 1.5
minutes.) Note: Some later versions of this movie have voice-over
added in, if this is the case, mute the sound as students watch the
clip. Stop the clip after the Tramp tosses away the shovel and exits
|| Ask students what they think was happening.
- What season is it?
- Why was the Tramp shoveling snow?
- Did he want something in exchange for clearing the snow?
- Did the Tramp get what he set out to get?
- Was the man in the house angry or happy?
- Was the scene funny or serious?
- Are the two men friends?
- Who is the stronger of the two men? The smarter?
- How were the students able to follow the story?
|| As students answer these questions, write their responses
on the board. Play the clip again. This time, ask students to write
down some key visual clues (such as facial expressions,
gestures, descriptions of the setting, and so on) that helped them
understand what was happening.
|| Go down the list of student responses to the questions.
You may need to replay the clip and freeze frames. For each response,
ask students what the visual clues were that helped them
reach each conclusion. For example, if students said they felt the
man in the house was angry, they might say that his facial expression
helped them reach that conclusion, the snow and clothing of the characters
helped communicate what season it was, etc. You might play through
the clip and pause on items as you discuss them.
|| Leave the list of the visual clues on the board and
tell students to keep this list in mind throughout the lesson, as
it is a good checklist of cues to think about when telling a story
| Learning Activities:
| Activity One:
(One 50-minute class period)
|| Tell students that now that they have
identified visual clues used by filmmakers to help the
audience interpret a movie, youd like to discuss another communicative
tool filmmakers use. Write the terms close-up shot and
wide shot on the board.
|| Tell students that it isnt just
what filmmakers show, but how they show it, that affects a movies
meaning. Explain that a close-up sounds just like what it is, that
the filmmaker shows something close up. Tell students that in a wide
shot, the filmmaker shows things from further away. Ask students to
think about what information these shots might best convey.
||To help students understand this concept,
show them an example of a scene from WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE
FACTORY that uses both types of shots. As you show the clip, turn
off the sound so students pay attention to the visuals. Play the clip
from WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY starting on the shot of
the double doors as Wonka emerges from the factory to greet the crowd
(This scene starts about 43.5 minutes into the movie and lasts roughly
2.5 minutes). Stop the clip when Wonka reaches the gate and says,
|| Ask students what type they think each
shot is. If they are unclear, explain to them again that a close-up
shows something close up, or at a very close distance, as if the viewer
were very near to the subject of the film. A wide shot shows things
from a distance, as if the audience is standing further away from
the things or people in the shot.
|| Show students the clip from WILLIE WONKA
again. Ask them to raise their left hand every time they see a close-up
shot, their right hand every time they see a wide shot.
|| After it is clear that the students understand
the concept of close-ups and long shots, show the clip again. This
time, tell them to describe the types of things the director chooses
to show in close-up shots versus in wide shots.
|| Underneath the terms close-up shot
and wide shot that youve written on the board, ask
students to volunteer examples of each that they saw in the clip.
After compiling two lists based on student responses, ask students
why they think the director chose to use wide or close-up shots when
he did. Record student responses. Some possible answers might be:
- In wider shots, the audience can see action (someone walking
around a house, running down a street, etc.) and the general layout
of the setting (where things are, how far apart or close things
are to one another, etc.). Wide shots can also show what two or
more characters are doing at the same time.
- Close-up shots help an audience understand what the characters
are feeling, and make the audience pay attention to just one character
or item for a moment.
| Part Two:
(One 50-minute class period)
Tell students that filmmakers often plan out the pictures as carefully
as they plan out what the actors are going to say or who is going
to play each role in the film. Ask students if they can think how
filmmakers might create a plan of the pictures to help make their
||Explain that filmmakers create storyboards to help them
plan a visual story.
|| Show students examples of storyboards at the Web site
listed below. Ask them how these storyboards could be helpful to a
|| Ask the students what is happening in the storyboards
on the Web site. As they are looking at the storyboards, ask them
to refer back to the list of visual cues they created in the Introductory
Activity, and to think about the two types of shots (close-up and
wide) that theyve just learned about. Can they see examples
of the visual cues in the storyboards? What are they? Can they see
examples of close-up and wide shots in the storyboards? Ask them to
|| Ask students to storyboard the following scene in five
to seven shots: Bill walks into the classroom. He sits down at his
desk. On his desk, he sees that someone has left him a valentine.
Embarrassed, he looks around the room to see who has given the valentine
to him, but no one is looking at him.
|| As students create the storyboard, tell them to use
both wide and close-up of shots and to include some of the visual
cues they listed earlier in the lesson.
|| Break students into pairs and have students share their
storyboards with one another and give one another feedback on whether
there are enough visual clues to understand the scene. Creators should
revise if others think the story is not clear through their storyboard.
Then, have students explain why they chose the type of shots they
did (i.e., close-up or wide shots) and how that was dictated by the
|| Display the storyboards on a wall in your classroom.
Allow students to view one anothers work. Bring the class back
together as a group and ask them to comment on what was similar about
the storyboards and what was different.
| Activity Two:
(One 50-minute class period)
Send students to the Web site below, where they will complete
a storyboarding exercise in which they will write a story based
on randomly organized storyboard images. Each group will come up
with a different story based on these images. Ask students to print
out their finished story. Each group will then present their storyboards
to the class and read the captions they had created for the images.
||Follow up by asking students how the order of the images
affected each story. Ask students how they think the different shots
could have different meanings depending on what is seen in the previous
||Hang the storyboard printouts around the room so students
can review them.
| Culminating Activity/Assessment:
(Two 50-minute class periods)
||Review with students what they’ve learned so far in
this lesson: types of visual cues filmmakers use to tell a story;
two different types of shots (close-up and wide) and how they’re used;
and how the order of shots can affect a story’s meaning. Write these
elements on the board.
||Break students into groups of two to four. Ask students
to pick a page or two from a book they are currently reading that
they would be interested in storyboarding.
||Have students plan and create a storyboard using the
||When students are finished, have them recreate their
storyboards in PowerPoint, or import the storyboards theyve
already drawn into PowerPoint. Minimal text might be added to the
presentations to help where story elements are unclear from the images
only. Tell students that even in silent films, title cards were used
sparingly to help fill in some blanks.
|| Have a slideshow film festival in which students present
their work to the class. Invite another class over to view the storyboard
|| Follow the slide show with a question and answer period
in which the filmmakers field questions and comments from the audience.
Encourage students to talk about their choices, and what they hoped
to achieve with their drawings.
||You might finish by posting the presentations on the
Web for others to experience or show them to other classrooms.
- Take the class to a movie and ask them to write a film review
in which they mention visual cues and the type of shots the director
- Ask a film student or film professor to come in and discuss
the work theyve done on film productions. Have the visitor
give students feedback on their storyboards and movies from the