Language Arts Challenge
Comic Poetry Skit
Submission Due Date: March 26, 2021
Designed for Middle and High School Students
Table of Contents
Range of Activities
Create a comic skit that successfully communicates the basic rules that govern three different kinds of poetry.
- The three different kinds of poetry are up to the team (or teacher, if desired).
- The skit must communicate three defining characteristics of each poetic form.
- The comic skit can be about any topic of your choosing.
Comic skits are generally characterized by the following:
- Small Number of Characters: Since skits are generally very short, they don’t have too much time to develop character. Therefore, they usually feature only two or three characters.
- Exaggerated Features: For the same reason as above – very little time to develop and communicate character – the characters are often slightly exaggerated, which, in a comedy, can also service the humor.
- Plot Structure: Skits, like any story or scene, need to have a beginning, middle and end. A comic skit is no different. But here are some elements – just a starter list, really – to think about with this genre in particular:
- Surprise – If your audience knows the punch line or the action that comes next, it’s not so funny. If they can’t see from where the humor is going to come, …it’s a lot funnier. The element of surprise: create it.
- Observational Comedy – This is an entire comic genre that takes our universal, every day experiences and makes fun of them; twists them around. This works precisely because of the universality of the experience: we are laughing at something that we all know and experience. For example, brushing our teeth – it’s something we all do. Consider including in your story – or a scene – an action that is universally familiar. This can make for ripe comic content.
- Truth – To further reinforce the idea above, great comedy often comes out of an idea that is based on a simple truth – perhaps something we have known all of our lives but have never quite heard or seen expressed in …just that way.
- Timing – Play with timing. A small delay or beat…before the next action, can make you laugh. A look or expression…that the camera lingers on longer than the norm, can make you laugh. Look at all of your scenes in terms of timing and see if playing with timing can affect the comic impact.
- Setting: Most skits take place in a single setting or location. The team may choose any setting or location that they want with one exception: the classroom. The sketch cannot be ‘a class’ or set in any kind of formal educational setting.
- Format: A skit can take any form. It can be a newscast, a documentary, a sitcom, a game show, a mystery…there are numerous video formats that your skit can parody or embrace. It just needs to be …funny!
- The Comic Poetry Skit (this is the only Meridian Stories Deliverable)
- Poetic Format Choices (at teacher’s discretion)
- Draft Script (at teacher’s discretion)
Assumptions and Logistics
Time Frame – We recommend that this digital storytelling project takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.
Length – All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.
Slate – All digital storytelling projects must begin with a slate that provides:
- the title of the piece;
- the name of the school submitting;
- the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only in any and all media; and
- We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.
Submissions – Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in the Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).
Teacher Reviews – All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the digital storytelling project.
Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator – While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the digital storytelling project. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content. You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues.
Digital Rules/Literacy – We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Digital Storytelling Resources Center section of the site for guidance.
Location – Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the digital story you are trying to tell.
Collaboration – We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.
COVID-19 does not mean that students can’t collaborate. This unusual societal circumstance allows students to, paradoxically, focus on their collaborative skills even more through a clear delegation of responsibilities; and tight communication in order to insure that everyone is clear on the scripting and blocking of individual scenes that need to tell a cohesive story, even though the scenes may be shot in isolation. Digital storytelling projects in general move the essential communication about content and learning away from the educator and toward the students themselves. That is part of their educational strength. But in COVID-19, this quality is expanded. With the teacher more ‘unavailable’ than normal, the students must rely on their collaborative skills more than ever. It’s like playing a team sport with less input from the coach. They have to rise the occasion …and they will.
During Phase I, student teams will:
- Identify the three forms of poetry that will form the basis of the content in the skit. Additionally, identify which three defining characteristics for each of three poetic forms that you will communicate in your skit. Be sure to clearly and succinctly organize this content because this is the material around which you will brainstorm your comic skit.
- Teacher’s Option – Poetic Format Choices – Teachers may require that teams hand in their three poetic format choices, as well as their defining characteristics, for review and feedback.
- Study media-based comedy. We recommend that your team look to current media sources – from Netflix or Disney sitcoms to appropriate sketch comedy shows and YouTube – to get a deeper understanding of how this medium communicates comedy. When watching these videos or TV shows, what makes you laugh? Why does it make you laugh? Take notes as this may help to inform some ideas for your own skit.
- Comedy is often related to humor that is sexually, culturally or ethnically based. This Challenge will not accept any material that:
- Is sexual in any way;
- Denigrates or demeans any part of the population; or
- Is generally offensive or uses inappropriate language.
- Brainstorm your skit. While there are numerous brainstorming approaches (see Meridian’s Support Resources below), the questions below direct your team to begin with the content itself. It essentially asks you to consider this: what, in the content itself, is funny?
- What are the unique characteristics of your poetic choices that might lend themselves to comic situations?
- Pick several examples of each genre of poetry and start reciting those examples to each other. Recite them quickly and slowly, dramatically and without emotion. Does anything comical emerge from this exercise?
- Consider how the three different forms of poetry might match up to three different character types.
- Poetry is essentially verbal. Comedy can be verbal and Do your poetic forms lend themselves to both forms of humor, or just the verbal?
- By the end of Phase I, you should have a creative approach in place for your skit.
- Comedy is often related to humor that is sexually, culturally or ethnically based. This Challenge will not accept any material that:
During Phase II, student teams will:
- Write and draft the script. This will take several drafts and discussions amongst the team. With each draft and discussion, be sure to read aloud your work. This will help your team to consider new ways to make it livelier and funnier.
- Teacher’s Option – Draft Script – Teachers may require that teams hand in a draft of their script for review and feedback.
- Rehearse the piece. Comic skits are a very challenging genre. Comic skits… about poetry are even more challenging! Rehearse. Play around with different readings and approaches. As a reminder, pay close to attention to timing – a lot of comedy is intricately tied to timing (as you will have discovered when you were researching comedy skits on TV and the Internet).
- Consider rehearsing in front of friends. Are they laughing and if so, when? Do they have any ideas to contribute? Finally, what can they tell you back about the three different poetic forms? If the answer is, ‘Not much,’ then you may need to re-consider your script: the delivery of the poetic information and the comic approach hold equal sway in this challenge.
- The rehearsal phase should lead to some re-writes. Now, finalize the script.
- As you are doing this, brainstorm ideas about post-production which will involve editing in additional sound and music to the scene. What does this scene ‘sound’ like to you and your team? How can the addition of sound make your script funnier?
- Pre-produce the shoot. This involves securing the location; dressing the location with set pieces and props as necessary; agreeing on the costumes and setting up the remaining logistics of the shoot.
During Phase III, student teams will:
- Shoot the video.
- Edit the video, adding stills and graphics as desired.
- Post-produce the video, adding music and sound effects as desired.
- Don’t underestimate the use of sound effects, in particular, to make a small comic moment into a significantly larger one.
Meridian Support: The Digital Storytelling Resource Center
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams.
1. Media Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three to four-minute videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
2. Meridian Resources – These are short documents that offer student teams a few key tips in the areas of creativity, production, game design and digital citizenry.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Media Innovators and Artists||Meridian Resources|
|Davis Robinson in Directing Comedy||Creative Brainstorming Techniques|
Presentation of Learning
Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.
The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These digital storytelling projects provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills. This can be achieved in a remote learning environment by inviting parents to a Zoom/Google/Skype screening of the student’s digital stories.
According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…
- Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
- Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
- Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason: Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.
It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories’ digital storytelling projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit Share Your Learning.
Evaluation Rubric – Comic Poetry Skit
|Three Poetic Forms||The three poetic forms are presented clearly and used creatively to propel the scene forward|
|Poetic Forms: Defining Characteristics||The defining characteristics of the three different poetic forms are presented clearly and fully|
|Comedy||The scene is premised on a humorous conceit, executed well and reveals a solid understanding of the comic genre|
|Character Creation/ Dialogue||The characters – and the words they speak – are compelling and perfectly suited to the skit|
|Visual Elements: Setting, Wardrobe and Props||The visual elements are thoughtfully curated and perfectly suited to the skit|
|Creative Premise||The creative premise successfully integrates the poetic content in a humorous and compelling way|
|Visualization||The visualization of the story is creative, engaging and reflects a thoughtful professionalism|
|Sound Design||Sound effects and music are used to create an engaging listening experience and enhance the humor|
|Editing||The video is edited cleanly and effectively, resulting in an engaging and funny digital storytelling experience|
21st CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (teachers only)
|Collaborative Thinking||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member.|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively.|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project.|
- What are three different forms of poetry and their defining characteristics?
- What is comedy, on the page and in production?
- What is involved in writing an original scene with your own characters, plot and dialogue?
- How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
- How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?
- The student will have a clear understanding of three different poetic forms and their defining characteristics.
- The student will have a visceral understanding of the key elements involved in creating comedy.
- The student will have a clear understanding of the key elements that go into making a short narrative through their work in the area of character development, plot development and script writing.
- The student will utilize key 21st century skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating poetic content into a comic narrative.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important 21st century skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.
The Comic Poetry Skit Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by the Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts
Text Types and Purposes
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
|Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one- on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.||Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.||Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.|
Knowledge of Language
|Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
|Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.||Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.|
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.