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Using Shoebox Set Design for teaching and learning

When introducing Shoebox Set Design to learners, you will need to decide on an area of focus.

This could be:

  • An original narrative created using the story mountain planning pdf.
  • A passage from a text (English/literacy).
  • Historical event or research and recreation of a geographical location.
  • Current classroom topic or school play.

To try this out in class, you can either use an original narrative created by one of the students or you may decide to focus on a text that you’re currently working on. In the latter case, you could ask pupils to read or listen to a selected paragraph and then create the set for that passage as though they were to film it.

In order to offer support for pupils who are new to this concept it’s useful to discuss and plan before you begin. In groups:

  • Consider where and when the story takes place.
  • Is it inside or outside, during the day or at night?
  • How would this affect the colours and images in your scene?

Cameras and characters:

  • Where should characters be placed on set?
  • Where should the cameras and microphones go?
  • What sounds will the microphones need to pick up?

What does the camera see?

  • Check the positioning of cameras by using the viewfinders to ‘see what the camera sees’.
  • How does the scene change when we move the frame?
  • How can we use this to tell the story?

If you create any set designs or short films at home or with your pupils we’d love to see the results! Please add any photos of your creations to our Padlet wall.

How might you use Shoebox Set Design in class for literacy outcomes?

Please add to the comments below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

  • Why use film to improve literacy?
    Why use film to improve literacy?

    Watch this short video to discover how and why learning through film improves literacy.

  • Foley sound
    Foley sound

    This step is an introduction to Foley art, and has a video clip with Foley artist, John Fewell.

  • Stills from The Girl and the Fox that show different shot sizes.
    Developing writing through camera shots

    Linking camera shots and positions to still images in this activity, can provide a great writing stimulus in creating narrative.

  • Record and Playback
    Record and Playback

    An introduction to the technique of Record and Playback, a simple but very effective tool for curricular learning.

  • Two images each showing samples of a shoe box set design.
    Shoebox set design

    Making a shoe box set takes your pupils on a filmmaking journey that produces literacy outcomes, and is a great tool for assessment. PDF provided.

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