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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Five Tools That Help Students Plan Stories

As a student the importance of planning a story before writing it was driven into my head. Then when I became a teacher, I drove that same message home to my students. Here are five free tools that students can use to plan and outline their stories.

Yesterday, Amazon released Storybuilder. Storybuilder is a free service for planning screen plays and other stories. In the testing that I did of it, it was easy to use and could be a great tool for high school and college students. On Storybuilder you can write your stories in a series of virtual sticky notes. Your corkboard can be arranged in columns for each act and scene in your story. If you would like to try some tools that elementary and middle school students can use, take a look the following four options.

Story Map is a free interactive story planning tool from Read Write Think. Story Maps provides four templates for outlining stories. To use the templates students title their stories then choose one of four templates to outline their stories. The four template choices are conflict, setting, character, and resolution. Students can print their completed templates.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image has a nice resource for creating storyboards. The ACMI Storyboard Generator provides templates with video directions for creating a storyboard from scratch. Alternatively, students can build a storyboard without using a template at all. Students needing a little inspiration for a story can consult some of the examples showcased under the "themes" tab and view the showcased videos.

Storyboard That is a nice tool for planning and creating stories online. Storyboard That provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style. To help you create your story Storyboard That provides dozens of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard's frames. Each element that you drag into your storyboard's frames can be re-sized, rotated, and re-positioned.

Cube Creators provide templates designed to break the writing process into six distinct parts. There are templates for writing biographies, mysteries, short stories, and a blank template that you can customize. Students enter the required information into the online template. When the template is completed, it can be printed with lines for cutting and folding to create an actual cube.

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