Why storyboard in school?

Storyboarding in itself is a method of organizing ideas – ideas to visuals.  Storyboarding can produce anything from a rough draft (in most uses) to a finished product along the lines of a comic strip -a popular form of literature. It’s a versatile medium.

There is a lot of talk about using storyboarding in creating digital storytelling, including in sources put out by Penn State and the University of Houston. As a storyboard is used for planning shots in the film industry, with the option to get a sense of how close or wide the camera angle is as well as the series of scenes to be filmed. Thus, storyboards can be of particular use for students who are getting ready to record a video.

However, storyboarding does not have to solely involve high tech uses  to be useful in the classroom. Storyboarding supports the Common Core standards, particularly with elementary students. Elementary students are learning about sequencing of events and making sense of the order of events in a story as well as how to determine the main events and supporting details of a story.

For example, the CC ELA-Literacy.W.2.3 states that students should be able to write a  narrative using sequence of events. Storyboarding can be a tool for allowing students to plan the order in which they will put the events in the narrative together.

Penn State University Education. (2007). “Planning for Learning: Why Use a Storyboard.” Retrieved from http://ets.tlt.psu.edu/learningdesign/webdesign/plan/storyboard

University of Houston. (2014). “Education Uses of Digital Storytelling: How to – Create Storyboards.” Retrieved from: http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/page.cfm?id=23&cid=23&sublinkid=37

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Storyboards in their most basic form are a visual organizer of thoughts and a way to tell a story. Storyboarding is a term that is originally borrowed from the field of movie creation in which creators plan out the movie in the form of images frame by frame before filming. Storyboards consist of multiple frames in which the creator draws an image with perhaps a few short words supporting the image. They are intended to be primarily a visual medium. Since their film origins, they have been widely adopted by others outside the field.

Among these adopters are educators. Upon searching storyboards and education, a whole variety of results appear ranging from ways to use storyboards in the classroom to apps such as Storyboard That, an online paid resource also available as an iPad app that offer high-tech ways to put storyboarding into practice.

Storyboarding doesn’t always have to always be high-tech or expensive. Teachers and media specialists can print out a template to share with students as a graphic organizer. One website, Printable Paper, shares many storyboarding templates. Educators can choose between various designs depending on how many frames they would like students to complete and depending on if they want students to write supporting text.


OpenColleges. (2014) Using Storyboards in Education. http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/teacher-resources/using-storyboards-in-education/

Savetz Publishing Inc. (2014) Printable Paper: Storyboards. http://www.printablepaper.net/category/storyboard

Storyboard That. (2014) https://www.storyboardthat.com/



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Urie Bronfenbrenner and Inquiry-Based Education

As fascinating and relevant to education as Urie Bronfenbrenner ecological systems theory is, it is difficult to truly put it into practice in the classroom.  Bronfenbrenner was more of theorist of child development than a theorist of teaching styles.

Bronfenbrenner’s goal was to minimize inequality in the classroom. We must remember that Bronfenbrenner’s belief is that a variety of interconnected factors (the ecosystems) influence a child’s success or failure. The primary way in which one can put it into practice is through creating a supportive environment in which students can feel at ease to try new things and succeed.

To connect Bronfenbrenner to inquiry-based learning requires a bit of a stretch.

As we recall with Bronfenbrenner, he mentions a belief that students have a bit of control over their circumstances of learning within the microsystem of the classroom. Admittedly, there are other various other factors that affect learning, as Bronfenbrenner illustrates, but Bronfenbrenner’s definition of development says all.  Bronfenbrenner (1979) defines development as “the person’s evolving conception of the ecological environment, and his relation to it, as well as the person’s growing capacity to discover, sustain, or alter its properties.” (p. 9) This covers all levels of the ecological systems as Bronfenbrenner asserts that with development over time, a child becomes more aware of each layer and influences. The experiences, knowledge, and influences of each microsystem play off each other contribute to the development of the child. The child seems to play both an active (what he can change) and passive role (as what he cannot change such as in the exosystem and macrosystem) in this development.

Bronfenbrenner’s theory fits in with inquiry-based education as the core of inquiry is for the child to learn to think and develop as an individual. Bronfenbrenner’s theory supports the idea of using past and current knowledge and experiences to create new knowledge.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Urie Bronfenbrenner in the Classroom

Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystems educational theory affects how educators view children who are struggling in the classroom as well as demonstrate the environmental factors that affect a child’s development and learning. If we recall Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystems theory and apply that to a school: the microsystem would be students and objects with whom the student directly interacts in the classroom. Another microsystem within which the student exists is at home. The mesosystem incorporates the multiple microsystems and includes the interactions between those microsystems. Circumstances in each affect the other. The macrosystem includes the school policies and any cultural contexts and policies (e.g. Common Core) within which the student lives and of which he or she has no control. The other system that has effect on the child is chronosystem. This is the cumulative effect of the experiences of the child’s life.

With all of these variables that affect a child’s development and learning, what can an educator do to provide students with the most opportunities for success? First, an educator must be aware of the fact that there are all of these potential reasons for student success or challenges. Next the educator must create a safe, nurturing environment in which students can feel comfortable enough to take risks in learning and feel support when they struggle.


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A brief description of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Educational Theory

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a renowned psychologist and educational theorist, who is perhaps best known for being a co-founder of the Head Start program in the United States. His theories on education are closely related to psychology as the factors that affect childhood development and thus affect childhood education.

Bronfenbrenner’s theory is the Ecological Systems Theory, that there are many levels of influences on a child’s education and development. He posited that there are several ecosystems within which the child lives. Each ecosystem level has an influence on the child, his development, and his learning. The most basic and closest setting to the child is the microsystem. Bronfenbrenner (1979, 7) describes this as the child’s “immediate setting” and it could be a combination of the people and objects directly in the individual’s space. The individual has the power to create experiences in the microsystem.

One system above the microsystem is the mesosystem. The mesosystem is the combination of interactions from microsystems, which affect each other.

Outside of the mesosytem is the exosystem, a layer that might be an organization. Most importantly, the individual doesn’t have particular control of the influences in this layer.

Surrounding all of the systems is the macrosystem. This might include the greater society’s effects which don’t directly impact the person’s microsystem, but influence it.

The final interconnected system is the chronosystem, encompassing all of the person’s life experiences. Past experiences influence the present.

There are many visual representations of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. It’s helpful to view a few representations in order to better imagine the how the systems are connected and how Bronfenbrenner’s theory is applied. One useful representation is illustrated in Professor Pamela Schulze’s lecture notes on Bronfenbrenner.

It’s the combination of the influences of each of these systems that affects the child’s development and learning.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). Ecological models of human development. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/

Ceci, S.J. (2006). “Urie Bronfenbrenner Obituary.” American Psychologist. 6(2) pp.173-174. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/

Schulze, P. “Lecture Notes-Urie Bronfenbrenner.” <http://www3.uakron.edu/schulze/610/lec_bronf.htm&gt;

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Advocating for School Libraries

It is sad when you often hear of budget cuts and school library programs slashed. Why do schools cut these valuable programs? Is it because people see librarians and libraries as antiquated in a world of e-books and the Internet? Is it because people see librarians as expendable? Some people fail to see the important role that the certified school media specialist can play in student success.

How can librarians advocate for themselves and their libraries? Librarians must maintain an active presence in their schools. When we enter the field, we must not be content with staying in the library and managing the resource collection, but rather demonstrate our value to the school community. We can do this by emphasizing the connection between our resources and student success, and showing not just telling.

The best way that we can encourage library advocacy is by maintaining a strong presence in the greater school community both in person and online through social media. The first step to advocacy is in making people aware that we are here and keeping them inform on what we have to offer in resources, the most important of which is us, the certified teacher librarians. We must actively seek out collaboration with teachers and establish our presence on decision making committees in the school. We must teach information literacy skills such as how to research and evaluate sources to our students.

We must also increase awareness where our school and greater community members are. This means maintaining an active presence on the Internet: through social media and on the school library’s webpage. This will demonstrate our relevance in the digital age and show parents and administrators what we do inside and outside the library to help student success.

We can advocate for ourselves and our librarians by demonstrating evidence of student success: statistics and examples of students who meet the standards through information literacy learned in the library. However, the best advocates for the school library are the community members whose lives have been positively impacted: teachers, staff, and students. Like Carolyn Foote once said in a School Library Journal article, if you already have a support network in place, it will be easier to demonstrate support when in need. If we demonstrate our value to the community, the community will be an additional advocate for us.

Foote, C. (2010, August). “Everyday Advocacy.” School Library Journal.

Here I’m attaching a podcast in which I’d advocate for school libraries. In an advocacy podcast for a real school, I might include a few testimonials from students or staff, if possible.

<a href=”http://aelafleur.podbean.com/mf/play/x7t7c/podcast_library_advocacy.mp3″>Listen to this episode</a>

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Adventures in Podcasting and Computer Struggles

It’s been a rough week for technology so far, in my world. On Sunday, my new (3 month old) PC stopped on a gray “screen of death” and was unresponsive for hours after an update. I was in the middle of editing and revising an assignment that was due that evening. I spent the day redoing the assignment and in a state of panic as my files were inaccessible. All I could think of was the worst case scenario of being without a computer for the rest of the semester. Two lessons learned: always have a backup and don’t update the computer on assignment due dates! Since then I’ve had issues with uploading multimedia for classes. This is frustrating for someone who considers herself generally tech savvy. I digress…

It was exciting to learn about podcasting in Educational Technologies class. When I received my first iPod in the mid 2000s, I discovered the world of podcasting. I quickly learned that there were podcasts to fit every interest, from history to foreign language podcasts. I have always been curious how to make one. I had always assumed that it required expensive equipment, but discovered that free Audacity software and a cheap headset with microphone seemed to do the trick,

Enter 611 class and a lesson in how to create a podcast. This was a big first for me. I downloaded Audacity and the MP3 encoder. I had never previously used the software, but had heard good reviews of it from the teachers with whom I worked in France, from podcasters, and from my professor. It was a challenge to coordinate the microphone headset and navigate Audacity beyond the basic recording functions. I will have to further explore the editing functions and other capabilities, as there are numerous functions within the software. Below is my first ever podcast. I am always open to any feedback, especially dealing with how to make a clearer recording. I also would like to further explore to create transcripts for audio podcasts, in order to make them accessible listeners with hearing impairments.

Podcasting can be a wonderful tool for educators and students. School media specialists and other classroom teachers can record copies of lessons that students can download if they are absent or need a review of the lesson. Educators can also record supplemental lectures  for students using podcasting. In my mock school library podcast, “Ms. L’s Book Corner”, I imagined a podcast that the librarian creates and posts on the school library website. She contributes to it along with having frequent guest speakers. In this weekly podcast, the school librarian and guest speakers such as teachers and students spotlight a book that they recommend to the student and staff body. Students can get ideas of books to read that trusted authorities within the school suggest. They are not only consumers of the podcast content but also co-creators.

Podcasting also holds a lot of promise for student creation possibilities. Students can create podcast episodes on topics for class or even video tutorial podcasts. When students have the opportunity to interact and create using technology, it engages them in learning. Research has also shown that when a person teaches a concept or topic to another person, they better understand it themselves. Podcasting is a wonderful avenue in which students can teach, learn, and become truly engaged with the material.

                        <font color=”#333333″ size=”-1″><a href=”http://aelafleur.podbean.com/mf/web/3xtk7x/podcast_les_mis.mp3″>Download this episode (right click and save)</a></font>


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