Video Camera By Popperipopp (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Over the next four weeks you will be working to create a digital story based on the theme of one of the novels you read in Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) this semester.

  • First, you will write a poem about the theme of the novel.

  • Then you will make a video using the poem you have created, along with pictures, and music, to express the theme of the story.

Before you begin:

Take a look at this video titled, To This Day by Shayne Koyzane to see how he used pictures, words and music to communicate a message. Koyzane's video is not about a specific novel, but his video does communicate a message about the effects of bullying on a person and the resilience that it takes for someone to overcome those negative experiences. The message in the Koyzane's poem is very powerful by itself, but the pictures and music help us, the viewer, relate to the message on a deeper, more emotional level.

For this project, you will create a video about the theme of one of the books you read during SSR. You may choose to use the theme of any book you have read for SSR this semester.

Here is a sample poem and video that I created about the theme of the short story, "Ambush," by Tim O'Brien:

Let's Get Started!

To successfully complete this project, you must start by identifying the theme, or central message, in a novel you have read this semester.
We have practiced identifying the theme in class. Click on the link below and watch the video for a review of how to find the theme in the novel you’ve read.

How to Find a Theme

After you finish watching the video, click on the link below to complete a reflection form. You may watch the video as many times as you’d like before completing the reflection form.

How to Find a Theme Video Reflection Form (Click, Complete, and Submit)

Your next step is to write a poem about the theme of the book you have chosen for this project.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Shayne Koyzane used Spoken Word for the poem in his video, and I wrote a free verse poem for my video.
  • Spoken Word and free verse poetry are similar in that they do not have a lot of the rules that are associated with other forms of poetry.
  • You can choose to use rhyme in some parts of the poem, or not use it at all.
  • You can also choose to repeat certain words or phrases to add emphasis to your poem, but you don't have to do this.
  • You can write your poem as a rap, if you'd like.
  • Most poems, including Spoken Word and free verse, DO have a rhythm or "beat" to them when they are read aloud. You should keep that in mind as you are writing your poem.

You will learn more about HOW to write your poem in a bit. Before we get to that part, watch some or all of the videos of spoken word poetry below to get a better sense of how Spoken Word sounds when it is performed. You will be recording your poem as the narration for your video, so you will be "performing" it as a recording.

Watch what Spoken Word looks like:

Take a look at the following videos to see what Spoken Word poetry looks like when it is performed. Notice how each poem tells a story. Watch the poems as many times as you would like. See if you can figure out the "story" in each of the poems.

Daniel Beaty performs "Knock Knock."

Diego "El nino" Mosquera Performs "i love you" on Brave New Voices

Jamaica performs, "1893" on Brave New Voices

Mike performs, "Thinking About You," on Brave New Voices

More inspiration:

Read some of these poems by teens: Samples of Written Poems by Teens?

Learn how to write your poem:

Ok, now you are going to learn more about how to write your poem. Follow the links to help you learn more about how to write Spoken Word poems.

Marsha Waldman Website

Wandering Thoughts Lane Blog


Tools to help you write your poem:

Need to find the perfect word? Check here!
Language Toolbox by iTools

Online Rhyming Dictionary by Write Express

Plan your video:

Once you have written your poem, you can start planning your video. You will need to create a storyboard to help you plan how your video will look and sound when it's finished. Click here to download and print a storyboard template from Jason Ohler's website.

After you plan how you would like your presentation to look, you should search for images and music that match the ideas you have for your presentation. Remember to record attribution information in the frame/event description section on your storyboard for all of the pictures and music you use.



Wikimedia Commons

Google Advanced Image Search (Scroll down on the page to "usage rights" and choose, "free to use or share", or "free to use, modify, or share.")



Now you are ready to begin putting your story together!

Garage Band and iMovie Tutorials.

Click on the links below for some great tutorials from University of Colorado writing instructor, Amy Goodloe, on using Garage Band and iMovie.

Uploading your video in Wikispaces:

To upload your video:
  • Click on your page in our wiki.
  • Click on the edit button to edit your page.
  • Then click on this link and follow the instructions to upload your finished video to your wikipage.


Please take a look at the rubric that I will use to evaluate your digital story. You may print out a copy of the rubric here. Refer to this evaluation rubric often while you are creating your digital story to make sure you are meeting all of the requirements and finish with a high quality product. You may work together to help each other as you create your projects; however, you must create a unique poem and video about the theme of a book that you have read.

Teachers: You may view or download a copy of the lesson plan for this project by clicking here.