Storyboarding: Vocabulary Practice and Review

When it comes to studying vocabulary, the greatest challenge is likely retaining the words. Will students remember today’s words tomorrow, let alone a few weeks from now? We know the importance of practicing vocabulary in a meaningful context. Could we also agree that appropriate visual and auditory stimuli increase retention? It’s not just a matter of practicing the words in a meaningful way, but also engaging as much of the student as possible – the sense of hearing, the sense of sight, emotions, etc.

Consider small group practice formatted in a way so that student production results in storyboards, which could be shared with the whole class. The process of making a storyboard over the course of several days or even a few weeks prompts practice and review. The process of viewing other group’s storyboards reinforces students’ understanding of target words.

STEP 1 – Assign students to small groups. Consider how many words per chapter there are. For example, in Vocabulary Power 2, there are 10 words per chapter. Four small groups would allow you to assign three key words per group, with some overlap. (I’ll model the process with the first three words from Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Vocabulary Power 2 for a total of nine key words.)

STEP 2 – At the first storyboard session, student must work in their small groups to compose a short beginning to a story, making use of their three key words. Prompt their writing by listing genres and plot ideas. Suggestions:

  • COMEDY: Three friends trying to start a business together
  • ROMANTIC COMEDY: A married couple that argues a lot
  • DRAMA: Two neighboring families that haven’t gotten along for generations
  • SCI-FI: Aliens live among us, in our schools, at work, and in our neighborhoods

If possible, have the groups use PowerPoint presentations to create their storyboards. Slides should include text and clip art. If computer access is limited, they can cut and paste magazine photos on blank sheets of paper. Papers can be stored in folders or binders.

MODEL A: Chapter 1, group 1 = analyze, assist, construct. (I couldn’t resist choosing sci-fi!) Click HERE to view.

STEP 3 – When the next chapter in your textbook is finished, the second storyboarding session should be held. Small groups will continue developing their story with three new assigned words.

MODEL B: Chapter 2, group 1 = available, concentrate, consultant. (See Step 4 to view Models B & C.)

STEP 4 – You will decide how many chapters to include in the students’ storyboards. Vocabulary Power 2 offers review quizzes after every three chapters, making it logical to base storyboards on three sets of words. Each group of students would then create a story based on a total of 9 assigned words (three from each chapter).

MODEL C: Chapter 3, group 1 = accurate, classic, critic. Click HERE to view Models B and C.

At the final storyboard session, music should be added. (Microsoft clip art offers audio files. Students can also find free music loops online. They’re also welcome to use songs from their own collections.  For example, if students are making their storyboards on paper, groups can decide to play a song from a CD.)

STEP 5 – Presentation Day. Have all groups present their storyboards to the class. The stories can be read by one member or different members of a given group. If you don’t have the option of sharing PowerPoint presentations in class, the files could be shared online, and adding voice narration would be dependent on whether students have access to the appropriate technology.

MODEL D: The complete storyboard. Click HERE to view.

Note: This is just one possible format. You can modify the format to suit your curriculum, your schedule, and the media available.

Got a good vocabulary project? Please share it!


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