The Need to Teach Scriptwriting in English Class

With the burst of social media into our everyday lives and the ubiquitousness of smartphones, we see the burgeoning possibilities of videos everywhere. Going beyond just movies and television shows, with the advent of Youtube, we now have videos about every topic one can imagine under the sun at the tips of our fingertips.

Needless to say, with our increasingly short attention spans, we would rather watch an instructional video about a household cleaning tip or how to install an app than read a page of instructional text. Videos are quicker and aid us in accessing and processing the information we want faster. Not only that, but the versatility of videos allows us to use them for varying purposes, be it for creating instructional materials, discussing reviews of products, or creating entertainment materials.

Considering this, it would not be an overstatement to say that the use of video clips is soon going to far surpass the use of instructional text even in education. The evolving nature of e-learning content to m-learning content is a testament to this fact.

In such a scenario, it is not only important but also essential to introduce at least the basics of scriptwriting to students as part of their language classes. While we teachers focus on advancing students’ skills of expressing themselves through writing out their arguments and ideas, we do not want to short-change them by not exposing them to other evolving media.

Although scriptwriting is still considered a specialized skill that is relegated to an elective course in most high schools, one cannot deny that we use videos and clips in our own classes to bring to life a novel we’ve discussed in class. I’ve also had students submit video assignments when they were assigned a group creative project. When the use of videos is so pervasive in our more traditional language classes, exploring this medium further can only help our students improve their video-making skills.

Not only that, but we would be introducing students to a new, more creative form of expressing themselves, thus breaking the monotony of only writing assignments. Let me add a disclaimer that I am not advocating for only video assignments, but one in a semester could definitely enliven our classes tremendously. Likewise, this could be the beginning of a career path for some of our students as scriptwriting is currently a very lucrative career, with the demand for it only likely to increase in the future.

Therefore, while the more technical aspects of scriptwriting and the distinguishing aspects of screenwriting do belong in a more specialized class, we English teachers ought to consider breaking down the basics of writing for a production or a video for our students. Students would definitely benefit from the differences in the language that ought to be used for an instructional video as opposed to narrative video. The introduction of the concept of a storyboard, likewise, would give them a glimpse into the world of screenwriting at large.

What your thoughts on this topic? As an English teacher, is this something you would consider introducing to your students? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Teaching Writing for STEM

Writing in STEM(Photo by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash)

Writing is undoubtedly one of the most crucial skills every student must have today. Mastering effective writing not only helps us do well in academics but also articulate, argue, and present our thoughts and ideas clearly. As most students know, a large part of their courses, including Social Sciences and even hardcore Science classes, require them to write effectively. In exams and mid-term papers, students are required to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge by summarizing, analyzing, and or discussing various aspects of the subject matter they studied that semester. This kind of writing, usually taught in English classes, emphasizes the 5-paragraph essay structure with an effective hook in the introductory paragraph, a strong thesis statement, 3 body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph that summarizes the main points of the essay.

To this day, the essential writing skills that students learn are based on this foundational model of writing. Additional tips and tricks to customize content for different types of essays are taught to expand on this model of writing. Once students have mastered the 5-paragraph essay model, they are taught to tweak it to suit the needs of an informative, descriptive, or argumentative essay. Most of the writing skills taught in school adhere to this structure and focus on developing students’ descriptive and creative writing skills that teach them how to organize their ideas and arguments so that the essay works as a coherent piece of argument or information.

While this model is quite useful for many kinds of writing requirements, exposing students primarily to this model limits their understanding of the kinds of practical writing skills they would need in the future. With the ever-increasing spread of technology into every aspect of our lives, effective writing skills for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields are in high demand today. As one can guess, the kinds of documents usually created in these fields are more objective in nature and demand a more crisp, impersonal and precis form of writing.

STEM fields require students to create reports, procedural manuals, research papers, theses documents, etc. that either record observed data, explain how-to procedures, or detail complex scientific concepts. Therefore, while the approach to planning any kind of writing might be the same (who are the audience, how best to structure the content/argument), there are some fundamental differences between scientific writing and writing in an English or Social Sciences class. The earlier students are exposed to these differences, the stronger would be their mastery of differences in language required for the two.

This can be achieved by changing our attitudes about the onus of teaching writing skills. This should no longer be limited to only the English teacher. Different kinds of scientific text examples and writing assignments should be introduced and discussed in class so that students recognize the difference in tone and language as well as understand the rationale behind them. A thorough understanding of scientific writing can only come from exposure to different kinds of texts and a teacher’s timely intervention to encourage these essential skills for STEM fields.

Planning for Self-Evaluations

With the year almost coming to an end, I decided to take stock of my progress on all my projects so far. While I made good progress with some crucial home projects and achieving important milestones as a family (and even being on target with my reading challenge this year! Woot woot!), I have sadly neglected this blog.

This realization has come as a rude awakening, more so because throughout the year, I had this sense that I was contributing to this blog. Sure, I checked off posting on the blog periodically, sharing content that I found interesting or significant. However, until this stock-taking, I seem to have missed the crucial qualitative evaluation of the content I had posted so far.

Planning(Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)

There’s an important lesson here. A lesson about planning. Sure, I set reminders for myself to regularly post on the blog. However, I should also have set time aside every 3-4 months for stock-taking instead of leaving it all for the end-of-year self-evaluation.

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Halloween Activities for ESL Students

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(Image Credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

It’s my favorite time of the year again! Halloween is just around the corner! With spooky decorations and carved pumpkins showing up in my neighborhood, I’m thrilled to bits to get the Halloween spirit going at home and with my students as well.

And I’ve found the perfect set of activities created specifically for ESL students from diverse backgrounds. These activities not only help learners with their vocab and pronunciation skills, but also teach them the cultural significance of Halloween and all about the spooky fun that it brings.

Take a look at the 9 Unique ESL Activities for Halloween by Fluentu.

Some Essential Practices Rural Teachers Should Keep in Mind

While most teaching techniques and principles can be applied to all teaching environments, teachers in rural or remote areas face specific challenges.

However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in their classrooms. Below are tips teachers and schools in rural America can implement to overcome barriers and create greater opportunities for their students…

Via 5 Ways Teachers in Rural America Can Make a Difference — Teach.com

Why we should demand a better education system for our young ones

Arming a child with knowledge early in his or her life will position him or her for continued success. Not only does a great educational foundation provide the skills for a child to reach his or her greatest potential, but it also cultivates a better future society. Our children first learn the most from their parents, and we need to lead by example to help the next generation. Parents know how significant their job is, but they can only do so much. When deciding on a school for their children to attend, parents must devote serious attention to the quality of teachers and administrators at the institutions they consider for their children. Parents have a right to demand that schools create environments where students can thrive academically. Students will not, unfortunately, thrive academically in schools that don’t have effective teachers and administrators. Here are some phenomena to consider as you attempt to prepare your child for academic success.

via Why Demanding Better Education is Paramount for Our Children — Revolutionary Paideia