My Journey Home Armando Pena Andrew Lam Faith Adiele
Your Journey HomeFor TeachersAbout the film
For Teachers
Media Literacy Workshop
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Understanding how a television is produced will help students to understand how the persuasiveness of a story and how the story elements create emotions to make viewers feel a certain way about the content.

What is a Story?
A story is an account or recital of an event or a series of events, either true or fictitious. A prose or verse narrative intended to interest or amuse the hearer or reader; a tale. The plot of a dramatic work. A news article or broadcast.

As a scriptwriter, your goal is to tell a story that will be seen not read. So, you have to tell it in a way that makes the reader "see" it. And you want them to feel like they're seeing a video, not a slide show.

  • Stories are a basic human convention.
  • They are a means of transmitting the lessons of life.
  • They are a means of coming to grips with emotional events.
  • They are a form of entertainment.
Basic story elements include:
  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Theme

Stories come out of an oral tradition. Storytelling is somewhat of a lost art. The rich tradition is still found in family settings and in some community festivals. Stories are a great way to carry on family traditions. Several geographic locations where you can still find storytelling traditions are in the Appalachian Mountain regions of the South and in the Midwest.

We see examples of compelling stories in the media of public broadcasting. Many good stories are told on public radio, as in Prairie Home Companion, and on public television, as in My Journey Home. The stories told by the characters in My Journey Home tell about their struggles to understand having their lives influenced by two different cultures: the culture they know now and the culture from which their families come.

Watch a segment of My Journey Home and describe the characters and the settings you find in it.

Definition of a Storyboard
A storyboard is a panel or series of panels of rough sketches outlining the scene sequence and major changes of action or plot in a production to be shot on film or video.

Like an outline for a paper, flowcharts and storyboards save time and improve the quality of the final product. They allow you to map out the details of the student-produced spots.

Storyboards are a critical step in planning your eventual shoot. Developing a storyboard is a great art and Language Arts activity. Developing the storyboard allows for a visual interpretation bridge between the script and the video.

A good way to think about a storyboard is to have students review comic strips. Comics are an excellent teaching tool to illustrate what a storyboard is. The Sunday comics section is the best source.

Storyboards — Your Map
Developing a storyboard for your student-produced video essay will allow you:

  • To explore the elements of storytelling;
  • To explore the interplay of graphics and pictures in a story; and
  • To explore sequencing in a story.
You will need:

  • Construction paper or poster board or sheets of paper.
  • Colored pencils, felt-tip pens or crayons.
  • Tape or glue stick.
  1. Read students a story or have them select a story they like and read it aloud to the group.
  2. Divide the students into groups.
  3. Working in groups, have students select and draw the most "visual" images from the story on their work sheets.
  4. Once each group has completed their work, have them number the pages and lay them out in a sequential "essay."
  5. Have students determine if the pages adequately describe in visuals the story they just heard.
  6. Compare different pages that contain similar activity. How are the texts and pictures different or the same?
  7. Look for patterns in the story. Do certain things happen when a particular character appears? Look for patterns in the illustrations separate from the words.
  8. Remove a page or two from the sequence and talk about what happens to the story. Can you still understand it?
  9. Take a particular page and see what questions it makes the students think of.
  10. Cover the page numbers and mix them all up. Now try to put them back together in order as a group.
Activity adapted from YouthLearns' Teaching Multimedia Skills: Telling Stories in Words and Pictures by permission from the Educational Development Center, activities/multimedia/video.cfm. TheYouthLearn Initiative offers youth development professionals and educators comprehensive services and resources for using technology to create exciting learning environments.YouthLearn is a project of the Education Development Center,

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Lesson Plans My Journey Home and Media Literacy Media Literacy Workshop Video Preproduction Checklist America, My Home Essay Contest Media Literacy Glossary For Teachers