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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Story Time
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • CLOSE TO HOME - Overboard

  • The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information

  • Drugs: The Facts, The Risks, The Reality

    Computer Resources:
    You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

    -- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
    -- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
    -- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
    -- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

    For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.


    Time Allotment:
    Teachers may make this an ongoing project and have students visit each issue of Overboard as it launches, each Friday, from March 27, 1998 to June 19, 1998. When all 13 issues have launched, teachers can either have students look at the story as a whole, or have them consider each issue individually. Overboard will remain online at least until June, 2001.

  • Ask students what a soap opera is. Elicit from them that a soap opera (called such because radio serials, particularly those aimed at women, were typically used to sell soap) is an ongoing story (or serial) where a consistent cast of characters find themselves in dramatic, and sometimes highly improbable, situations. Ask them to name several soap operas, e.g., GENERAL HOSPITAL, DAWSON'S CREEK, KNOTS LANDING, ALL MY CHILDREN. Discuss the differences between the examples given. Have students further clarify what makes a serial a soap opera, and distinguish between different types of shows in the genre. This discussion should generate words like characters, setting, cliffhangers, and other dramatic elements and devices. These words should be listed on the board.

    Tell students they are going to visit Overboard on wNetStation. (Depending upon the particulars of your classroom setting, you may choose to have students visit Overboard as a homework assignment -- at home or in a library -- or have students review the story in groups at workstations in the classroom.) Using the Story Studies sheet found in Organizers for Students, have students identify story elements and formulaic dramatic devices in Overboard.

  • Discuss students' responses to the Story Studies questions. What kinds of inferences about the characters can you make from the story? From the illustrations? From the "Getting to Know Me" feature? What kind of inferences can you make from looking at the characters' journal pages? What can you discover about each character from looking at their rooms? Engage the class in a discussion about what implications the author, artist, and producer were trying to suggest by the way they wrote, illustrated, and presented the story.

  • Each Friday, from March 27, 1998 - June 19, 1998, a new issue of Overboard will appear. The entire soap will remain online at least until June, 2001.

    The characters will be interacting with each other, and each will be grappling with issues pertaining to drug or alcohol use and abuse. As the weeks progress, have students keep their own journals that record their impressions, feelings, and analyses of the events, themes, and characterizations presented in the series. As they maintain their Overboard journals, they should focus on storytelling devices, and issues surrounding alcohol and substance abuse.

    As they delve into the Overboard story, have students look for ways the authors convey some, if not all, of the following story elements:
    • Cause and Effect
    • Transitions
    • Imagery
    • Characterization
    • Tone
    • Mood
    • Setting
    • Foreshadowing
    • Point of View
    • Motivation
    • Fact and Opinion
    • Author's Purpose
    • Fantasy
    • "Cliff-hanger"
    The journals should reflect students' own thinking about how they interpret the characters' motives, situations, and responses. Suggest that students divide their journals into sections for each issue and record their impressions and predictions, and their own experiences and feelings, as the story unfolds.

    The journals should also have sections that correspond to various drugs. For example, each journal will have sections on Alcohol, Marijuana, Amphetamines, Heroin, Tobacco, and so on. As they read and explore the goings-on in Billings Harbor, the students will also be investigating the nature and effects of various addictive substances. Through information gathered from reading Overboard, and from online research, students will learn more about the biological, psychological, social, and ethical consequences of substance use and abuse. Their journals should reflect the way(s) in which these drugs affect the characters, events, and outcomes in Overboard.

    Students can begin their online investigations at The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information ( and Drugs: The Facts, The Risks, The Reality (

    The questions, reflections, analyses, and criticisms that journal writing generates can be shared with others via HearSay, Overboard's online discussion forum. Students should be encouraged to post questions and comments, and to respond to existing posts as well. The forum deals with character and plot specifics, as well as issues pertaining to alcohol and drugs.

  • As a culminating activity, students will devise their own serials and present them in an illustrated form.

    Divide class into small collaborative groups of three to five students. Have each group write the outline of a short story and then illustrate their narrative. Alternatively, teachers may choose to have students interpret a story they've read that deals with drug- and alcohol-related themes. The story should in some way illustrate the impact of substance abuse.

    Students can check out Overboard's Back Page Comix ( section to see how several professional cartoonists have interpreted stories, based on real events, that have been submitted by kids age 11-15. The book UNDERSTANDING COMICS by Scott McCloud (Kitchen Sink Press, 1994) is an excellent introduction, overview, and treatise on the power of the comics genre and a fascinating look at the elements involved in composing a dramatic strip. It is highly recommended.

  • Students can present their completed comic strips to the rest of the class.


    Working in Groups:
    If you have access to only one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Before the class period, print out the issues of Overboard that you'll use in the class. Divide the class into small groups and have groups take turns viewing an issue online. While one group is viewing Overboard, have the other groups work with the paper copies. Lead the group working at the computer through the feature, or have students in the group take turns.

    Working as a Class:
    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can view the feature together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen. Go to the Overboard feature and look at the characters and read through the story. Have the class respond to the story and discuss the characters as you go along.

    Using a Computer Lab:
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing a Web-based project like this one. When students are viewing an issue, it may be helpful to put them in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students