narrative · plan · writer's notebook · writing workshop


This summer I heard Penny Kittle speak about using storyboards.  This week I’ve tried them out in classrooms.  They aren’t all that different from one of the ways I talk to kids about planning.  I encourage them to think in scenes & then sketch in their notebook a flow chart of sorts, using pictures and words, as a plan for how their story could go.

The story board is very similar, except it opens up so many more possibilities.  It removes the pressure of sequence and allows students to envision what scenes could be in their story.  Then they sketch them as they imagine them. 

For example, a second grader decided to write the story of when he was stuck in the attic.  He sketched being stuck in the attic.  Then he said, “I guess people would want to know why I was in the attic to begin with,” and he sketched a picture of a suitcase.  Next he sketched a picture of himself banging on the floor, while hearing people walk below him.  The last scene he sketched was that of his sister rescuing him.

He was then able to cut the scenes apart and arrange them in the order the story would be written.  Again, he imagined different possibilities for his story.  Once he decided, he taped the scenes into his writer’s notebook and began drafting.

Another student I conferred with had a typical “bed-to-bed” narrative.  There were many scenes which were meaningless.  We talked about each part of the story helping the reader to understand the “big idea” of the story — in her case it was having fun with cousins.  She was able to consider each part of the whole and replace those scenes that didn’t “fit” with others that led to her big idea.  Since they were just quick sketches, not pages of a draft, it wasn’t a “big deal” for her to cut some parts.

I’ve uploaded the storyboard document to Scribd.  You can find it here.  I’ve used it this week in grades 2 & 5.  I think for middle and high school, I would create one with just boxes.

3 thoughts on “Storyboards.

  1. I read about your introduction to story writing for young children, and I would like to introduce a style I have been working on for a number of years to generate what I call narrative reflections. It is a good method for kids, or anyone for that matter, to practice refining their stories down to their elemental simplicity, and getting to the real elements of life. Anyway, check out some of my stuff and see if you might want to experiement with this style of writing in your classrooms.


  2. Thanks for sharing! I wish I read this a week ago before we got so far into our current publishing cycle.

    I was wondering how you like Scribd. It looks like a neat tool. I was thinking of using it, but feel like there must be some type of downside that I am not seeing. If you don’t mind taking a moment to write back, how do you like it?


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