Saturday, April 28, 2012

Literacy - Developing children's writing on iPad

Plot Device by Red Giant  

If you really want to inspire young writers to write fiction then what better way than to use short films or animations (see below for more ideas for use on iPads).
Check out Seth Worley's film Plot Device, available on Vimeo and YouTube. This short film (9 mins.) is action-packed and full of drama unfolding in just one location - many strange and entertaining things happen.  Its gripping to watch, no time to be bored and yet the plot is so simple....

"A young filmmaker obtains a mysterious device that unleashes the full force of cinema on his front lawn......."

I also really like it because there are many different genres and opportunities to explore within this film, with familiar scenes you are bound to recognise, some of them taken straight from Blockbuster movies ranging from:
Romance & still more romance - including unattainable and attainable, to fast Action (without actual violence). Then theres the Gangster scene complete with appropriate dialect, moving into the Zombie, 'Shaun of the Dead' scene and finishing with classic Sci-Fi, complete with UFO and meteorite showers.

In class you may choose to watch the entire 9 minutes, or just some of it to give your students ideas of how to progress their storyboard and writing activity. 
To begin with try switching off the video and just listen to the soundtrack of the film, can they identify the genre or mood of the different plots? How would they describe the background music and sound effects at specific times, how does it make them feel? Does it contribute to the success of the story? Ask them to do some note-taking and then for your first activity you could try and compose a track for different moods/ genres in the Garageband App.

I would definitely use the start of the film as a 'story starter' activity - ask your class to predict what they think might happen when the young lad hits the button on the device and come up with your own ideas/ plots for developing the story.  Then maybe get different groups to focus on just one idea.

You could also use the Pie Corbett Story Mountain process to assist students in writing their plot:
Opening, Build-up, Problem, Resolution, Ending
The setting is easy, everything happens at home and directly outside on the street in front of your home (this could quite easily become the school or classroom). Think about the characters for a plot, the dynamics between yourself and the characters and the resolution and ending.

To throw a different slant on things and also ensure that new ideas are introduced, how about making it a 'Plot Device' with time travel potential, rather like a Stargate portal or a Tardis, transporting you through time to a different period, such as the Viking, Roman, Medieval, Tudor, 1666, Victorian ages or WW2.

Although Ive been unable to download this video directly to my iPad (incompatible format), I can view it via YouTube and share over Airplay (need AppleTV). The iCabMobile App also directly provides the share via Airplay option within a menu.

If using iPads this would be a great activity to develop using the following Apps:
Aim: To create a short fictional story based around the 'Plot Device'.
Storyboard - Popplet or similar (free App) for ideas generation
Safari and Camera tool - copy online character images or take real photographs
PuppetPals (free App) - Create your story using the characters, objects you've collected.
Morfo (free App) - Up to 30 secs of recording time, make your fictional character come to life.
GreenScreen (free App) - video yourself at different stages in the story with a green screen background.
Gargageband (£2.99) - use the loops and sound effects to create your own appropriate background track for your project.
iMovie (£6.99) - Pull the project together and export for use on a blog or website.
Pages or Keynote (£6.99) - For further project planning and outline.

Click here to find out more about using short films for use in Literacy

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