I find that starting the school year with a short story unit that focuses on the elements of fiction is the best starting point to give my students the building blocks they need to be successful in my English classes. In the first lesson, I explain types of plot and how a plot diagram is structured – check out this freebie to use with your students!
While the rest of the unit is full of short stories, I enjoy using video storytelling in this first lesson to help ease my students into the process of analyzing texts, and provide different mediums for students to engage with. After explaining the different parts of the plot diagram, I play a video that tells a story and instruct students to watch and record each part of the plot in a blank diagram.
Here are five video storytelling options to use when teaching the plot diagram.
Pixar Short films are great to use when teaching plot structure because they are only a few minutes long but tell an entire story. Students should also be able to clearly identify the different parts of the plot diagram in these classroom-friendly films.
Some of my favorites to use in my class are:
Tropfest is the biggest short film festival in the world, and a search for this on Youtube will yield plenty of options for the classroom on a variety of topics.
Three videos I would recommend for teaching plot structure:
Mr. Bean episodes are a lot of fun to watch because they rely on a lot of slapstick comedy that will have your students chuckling. Because the title character rarely speaks, students can focus on the action, making it easier to figure out each part of the plot diagram as it relates to the events happening.
Music videos can be a fun way to practice identifying plot structure and students will love that they get to listen to songs in class.
The key is finding music videos that tell a clear story. Here are some classroom-friendly options:
Every year before Halloween, The Simpsons puts out an episode called, “Treehouse of Horror,” which depicts two or three short stories within their usual half hour timeframe. These work great for plot retelling because they contain a full story, but are under ten minutes each so you can play one or more depending on how much time you have. They are also spooky and weird, which is usually a huge engagement factor for students.
Because these are Halloween episodes they do contain some gory scenes that may be triggering for some students. Three of my recommendations for classroom appropriate episodes are:
What are some videos that you love using to teach the plot diagram? Comment below or join the discussion on Instagram!