Visual Mapping: Laying out the Script

Visual Mapping: Laying out the Script

Visual Mapping: Laying Out the Script

Subject: English

Grade level: 9-12

Rationale or Purpose: Students visually map out the order of the episodes or roles

they want to use in their Living Newspaper script and begin transcribing the first draft.


 Primary sources containing the episodes or roles to be used in the Living Newspaper script. These should have been decided on previously (you can use the “Group Consensus” lesson, Resource Guide p. 105, for this, or make it a homework assignment)

 butcher paper

 markers

 scissors

 note cards


English I – English III: 110.42-110.44

  • (2B) develop drafts alone and collaboratively
  • (7F) identify main ideas and their supporting details
  • (11E) analyze the development of plot in narrative text
  • (13C) use text organizers to locate and categorize information
  • (14A) focus attention on the speaker's message
  • (16F) make relevant contributions in conversations and discussions

English IV: 110.45

  • (2B) develop drafts alone and collaboratively
  • (8E) analyze text structures such as time frame, cause/effect, etc. for how they influence the audience understanding
  • (14E) organize and record new information in systematic ways (e.g. charts)
  • (16F) make relevant contributions in conversations and discussions


Step 1: Set up the room by covering the floor or a large table with butcher paper. (Or have separate sheets of butcher paper for groups working on different scripts.) Have markers, scissors, note cards easy to access. If the class is working in groups on different scripts, have students break up into their groups.

Step 2: Ask students to find the quote or paragraph in their primary sources that inspired each of the chosen episodes or roles they selected for their Living Newspaper script.

Step 3: Have students cut out these quotes or paragraphs from the original context (i.e. students cut two lines out of a larger article). For items that can’t be physically cut out (i.e. roles students want to develop and include), have them write the name and a brief description of this item on a note card.

Step 4: Instruct students that they will work in silence to create a “visual map” (outline) on the butcher paper. Students should decide where in the course of the script each role or episode should be (i.e. should the script begin with the monologue by the United Nations official or a refugee in Rwanda? What makes the most sense as far as introducing information to the audience, making a statement about the information being presented, and impacting your audience emotionally?)

  • This might be a good time to remind them of their first English Unit lesson about the structural difference between realism and epic drama.
  • Remind students that their thesis statement should guide their creation of the visual map: the way episodes/evidence is pieced together affects the clarity of the thesis statement. (See the Extension activity for the “Creating Arguments” lesson for reference.)

Step 4: Ask for a volunteer to put one episode or role down first, then ask students to begin placing their episodes near or around this episode based on their connections. Ask students to work one or two at a time, taking each other’s placements into consideration.

  • This works well (though it is challenging) as a silent activity, but students could also discuss among themselves while they are placing episodes.
  • If students are working on multiple scripts, this activity can be done in groups.
  • You may want to play soft music during this activity to aid nonverbal communication.

Step 5: Once episodes are all placed, students each have a chance to make one adjustment to the visual map, to draw something with the markers (could be a line to connect episodes, a stage direction, a picture of a role, etc.), or to cut an episode into halves or thirds and distribute it throughout the map.

Step 6: Once the visual map is done (this could look very literal and chronological or very abstract, depending on the group), ask students to discuss whether they are satisfied with the order. Ask if/how the order supports the thesis statement chosen earlier for the performance.

  • If a map seems strictly chronological, ask if anything is out of place and have students collectively re-order episodes.
  • If a map is more abstractly put together, ask if students see chronological connections. Have them draw lines/arrows between episodes with the markers.

At the end of this activity, you should have a visual map or maps with a beginning, middle, and end of the script and a clear through-line.

Step 7: Once the maps are done, put students into pairs, then split the script into as many pieces as pairs there are. Ask students to record, now in chronological order, their section of the script (i.e. what will happen in this section? Which episodes does it contain? Where does it fall in greater structure of the script?). Or if multiple maps were created in small groups (for multiple scripts), have each small group work together to record the order of the script. This should be a direct transcription of the episodes/evidence in the visual map, but without “characters” assigned to speak certain lines (See Extension below.)

  • If working with one script, collect the separate sections in the order in which the students originally mapped them, or have students do this on their own. This will be the current barebones draft of the Living Newspaper script.

Closure: Students can post the visual map on the wall to return to in subsequent lessons. Ask students to consider ways they still want to build on their script (i.e. assigning lines to certain characters, expanding certain roles, the inclusion of creative writing) and tell them you will be doing some of these things in future lessons.

Student Product: Visual map(s); transcribed basic script

Assessment/Evaluation: Students might be evaluated based on their active participation in the decision-making process of mapping out and deciding on the order of the script. This could also be a self-evaluation.

Extension: While students will end up at the end of this lesson with a rough skeleton of the script, the lines they include will probably have no character attached. In other words, a line would merely read, “7 million illegal immigrants resided in the United States in January 2000,” rather than “NARRATOR: 7 million illegal immigrants resided in the United States in January 2000” or “GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL: 7 million illegal immigrants resided in the United States in January 2000.”

  • You could extend this lesson by asking that students draw from the roles they have printed on note cards by giving them lines to speak (i.e. adding “GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL” to the statistic above). Ask students to consider how a line changes depending on who says it.
  • Students could also create new roles for lines that seem not to have an obvious speaker. This character assignment is something that might be developed further in some of the performance-based lessons in the following unit and/or in some of the creative writing exercises that follow.

From p. 107 of the Living Newspapers Across the Disciplines Resource Guide by the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin,

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