Teaching the Dramatic Arc: Follow-Up Assignment #1

Hello digital storytellers! You all produced some amazing media at the Morocco-USA Youth Media Exchange Workshop. Now that you know the ingredients for a great story, we want you to share what you’ve learned with your classmates. You will be the storytelling instructors.

For your first assignment we want you to teach your classmates how to follow  THE DRAMATIC ARC in their stories. At the same time, you will be teaching them how to critique media and find common ingredients in stories from around the world.

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So let’s get started! Please work in teams and follow the steps below:

I. Class Preparation/Planning: 

  1. Make copies of The Dramatic Arc handout and signs for the warm up activity (see below).
  2. Choose 4- 5 short films to use as examples when teaching the dramatic arc. You can use some of the films you produced in the workshop. You can also choose from our examples below.

II. Class Session: 

  1. Warm Up Activity-Favorite Films (10 minutes): Place signs with the names of different movie genres around the room (drama, action, documentary, horror, comedy). Ask students to go stand next to their favorite type of movie. Ask students to briefly share their favorite movie and why they like the genre. Then ask the whole class to think about what all of those films have in common.
  2. Film Analysis- Example #1: Before you talk about the dramatic arc, start by showing one of the film examples. Ask students what they thought. Why did they like it? Was it a strong story? How was the story structured?
  3. The Dramatic Arc: Explain that strong stories follow  the dramatic arc. Pass out The Dramatic Arc Handout. Draw the dramatic arc on the board and fill in specific details from the movie for each section (hook, background, rising tension, climax, conclusion, resolution)
  4. Film Analysis- Example #2-#5: Show the other film examples and ask for reactions from the class. Then ask volunteers from the class to help identify how the stories followed the dramatic arc. Ask: What was the hook? What was the background?, etc. Draw a dramatic arc on the board for each film and fill in the details.
  5. *Remember to point out that storytellers/filmmakers can find creative ways to follow the dramatic arc. What kind of music and images did the filmmakers use to make the dramatic arc strong?  How did the filmmakers connect with the audience? And don’t forget to share your own experiences in storytelling!
  6. Share: Take some pictures during your class and share your experience in the Collaboration Centre. Please post 4-6 documentary shots (this means no posing for the camera!). You should include a mix of close up shots and wide shots. Write a brief paragraph describing your experience and what you learned. We can’t wait to hear about it!

*Stay tuned for your next follow-up assignment. Hint: Get your cameras ready!

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