Attending to the details in a story helps a reader to visualize the setting, characters and plot. If you have students that struggle with this process, try the Director’s Clapboard Visualization strategy.
- Obtain a Director’s Clapboard (they are available at all different price points) or make one out of cardboard.
- Show it to students and explain how a writer and a director have to clearly describe what they want their set and costume designers and actors to do before they begin.
- Teach students the following chant “Close your eyes and visualize.” Explain that you will say that phrase and then clap the board, which means they are to close their eyes and picture an image as your read aloud some text.
- Read the following sentence aloud – “The firefighter went down the hall.”
- Direct students to open their eyes. Ask the following questions and allow for discussion.
- Did you picture a man or a woman?
- Was the firefighter wearing a uniform?
- Where was the hall that you pictured? School? A home? An office building?
- Did you imagine smoke or flames?
- Explain that the original sentence didn’t have any of these details, so it could have been a female firefighter in her pajamas walking from her bedroom to her kitchen. It is the details that make the story difference.
- Continue by reading each of the following aloud, allowing discussion in between.
- Emerging from a cloud of menacing gray smoke, the firefighter quickly scanned right, then left, searching for animals she could carry out of the building.
- “Goal!” shouted the fans as the small but powerful forward kicked the ball past the goalie and into the net.
- Lee pulled on the thick, scratchy long underwear and a heavy beaver coat before heading out to hook up the horse and buggy.
- He awoke to the click-clack of a typewriter, the aroma of coffee and the gentle “ahem” of someone standing at his door.
If desired, you can tie this lesson into a writing activity, asking students to find a sentence in their own writing that could benefit from some extra detail. Provide them with the Director’s Clapboard worksheet and ask them to revise it.