Minor Character Retellings

There are many digital tools that we would immediately go to in using in the classroom, such as book trailers and memes, but there are also a lot of tools out there that we can use in the classroom that are less known. In this post we are going to talk about one. Today we work with digital storytelling.

Digital storytelling is a video that one creates to retell a story, often the story is a recounting of something that happened within the narrator’s life. Digital storytelling videos consist of four things: visuals that form the story (pictures, doodles, mini video clips), background music that works with the theme, narration for the video, and subtitles of the narration. This all put together forms a video that tells a story that can either inform or inspire an audience.

This works great for a student who is needing to create a story about their own life, but how do we work digital storytelling into the literature classroom? By retelling the novel the students are reading! This original idea for this concept came from Chad Jones at the website Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. Jones created a digital story of the short story The Most Dangerous Game. In the video, Jones narrates a summary of the story while explaining things like theme and major characters. This video is a great example and you can find the link here.

But I want to take Jones’ idea one step further. It’s easy for students to just summarize a story and discuss the main characters and themes. So as a starting point this is a great assignment, but how do we make them REALLY get involved in the story? By making the students retell the story through the eyes of a minor character!

Everyone knows the stories of the major characters, but what about the ones in the background? Students can easily find the major characters online in a summary on Wikipedia or Sparknotes. But if they have to focus on a minor character, then the details will require actually reading the book.

For an example, I created a digital storytelling of the character Charles Musgrove from the book Persuasion by Jane Austen. Keep in mind that this video required A LOT of time and is very detailed because of the natural Jane Austen fan within me. Providing this as an example for you and potentially your students is encouraged, but also remember that students can easily and successfully create a video that isn’t as intense or “perfect”.

Click on the image to follow the link to the video.




For this video I used Windows Movie Maker and found my images through Google searches. The background music is from an album that I purchased and was used intentionally as a dupey song that follows the character Charles’ personality. The narration was done through a microphone that I plugged into my computer through my USB. The narration was clearly done by a male, while I am female. This was meant for authenticity, so I would encourage either telling students to just use their own voice if they chose a character that is an opposite gender, or even asking a friend or relative to help with the narration.

Their final product they could post onto YouTube. YouTube videos can be private, so even though mine is public, you could have your students do private videos if they don’t want others to see them. Presentation of the videos could work around whatever you prefer. If you want it to work into a major final project then do that, or set aside a few days for students to present their videos with the class.

There are a few goals we meet with an assignment like this. First of all it helps you the teacher monitor the reading progress of the student. If they successfully retell the story while also correctly portraying the character that they chose, then their readings are in-depth. The activity is also interactive and requires something other than writing a summary or taking a reading quiz. With the students being given the freedom to create the layout and story, they have the control and will become more invested and engaged in the activity and reading. What I like with this activity is that if you really let yourself get into it, creating the video is A LOT of fun and you become very proud of your final product. So I would recommend creating your own first and sharing it with the class. If you show your enthusiasm with the work you create, it will build enthusiasm within the students as well about creating their own videos.

So with that post number three is a wrap! As always, I hope I didn’t bore you to too many tears and that this was beneficial and helpful in helping you create new lesson plans for your classroom. And if anything, the video at least gave you a good laugh if you’ve read Persuasion and remember the less known hunting obsessed Charles Musgrove.



Title Image: https://aos.iacpublishinglabs.com/question/aq/1400px-788px/importance-literature-society_1a66a3cd21a90dd8.jpg?domain=cx.aos.ask.com

Persuasion The Onion Headline Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7d/fd/52/7dfd520595b36990e571762f05f81450.jpg


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