On 10/3 The Power of Scriptwriting

Our guest host on October 3, 2013 at 8PM EST is Peter Gutierrez (@Peter_Gutierrez), author of the forthcoming book from Teachers College Press, The Power of Scriptwriting!–Teaching Essential Writing Skills Through Podcasts, Graphic Novels, Movies, and More:

On October 3, I’d like to encourage, support, and challenge, educators interested in tying traditional curriculum to the multiple literacies involved in media creation. Hence the topic—“The Power of Scriptwriting.” Indeed, it’s easy for us to notice the rich connections that can be made between reading, writing, and performing scripts when curriculum makes nods to stage plays, whether that means Readers’ Theatre, Shakespeare, or anything in between.

Yet often the script form itself, not to mention the realm of possibilities it presents in terms of visual, aural, and outside-of-school literacies, is sadly neglected: Readers’ Theatre is approached with the idea of improving fluency while canon playwrights are read for their ideas, as if they are interchangeable with novelists. By teaching scripts as an isolated and specialized “format” rather than an enduring and unique vehicle for meaning-making just as poetry is, we miss out on opportunities to build on 1) a host of contemporary media and platforms such as video, digital storytelling, and podcasts that are now easily accessible to students; and 2) the potential of scriptwriting to make the act of writing more authentic even in the most customary modes (descriptive, narrative, practical, etc.).

For this #literacies chat, I welcome participants to share the ways that they currently work with scripts—reading classic radio dramas, writing mini-comics, and so on—and how these ways enrich print literacy by “cross-pollinating” it with a range of other literacies. I also invite discussion of the challenges involved in introducing scriptwriting to the classroom, many of them a direct result of the very benefit just identified: they spring from the “problems” we encounter when expanding our definition of texts that are “worthy” of a place in curriculum.

Questions to consider:

  1. What do scripts have in common across media, and what do they have in common with other types of text that are more conventionally part of K-12?
  2. How can scriptwriting leverage students’ “non-academic” literacies and prior knowledge of media and/or pop culture to help them deepen their engagement with composition (broadly defined)?
  3. How can the process of writing scripts enhance media literacy “from the inside out”—by demonstrating both conceptually and practically how virtually all narrative or informational media messages begin with scripts?

Suggested Preliminary/Further Reading:


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