Teacher Consultant

Dave Boardman

Messalonskee High School
Oakland, Maine

Maine Writing Project

Writing the Voiceover Script


Students begin writing in a wide variety of methods, and I encourage listing, self-designed graphic organizers, free-writing and other approaches as students begin writing. Often, digital story narratives in my classroom are based on a relatively open prompt, or they are written as a means of project presentation for my students. Their writing comes from the idea that they are communicating to a general audience and must find a balance between the conveyance of engaging ideas with the need to retain their own voice and independent style.


I encourage students to grip their listeners with an opening that hints at the big ideas to come; one of the challenges writers often face is recognizing the need to break from the staid English comp essay of old and realize that with digital media, they may well be writing for an audience that may never actually see the text, but may only hear the words. Once students realize that the audience has the option of tuning out, engaging words, flowing, easily spoken text, and clarity become more often the focus of the students' attention.


Often, students do not admit the need to revise their texts until they hear the words read aloud. As a writing coach, when I work with students I read their words to them, or encourage them to read aloud to a partner. With pencil in hand, they mark the repetitive sounds, the flat words, or the areas where meaning might be unclear, hidden, or ambiguous. We spend draft after draft on meaning, and when photos and music are brought into the mix, students look again for clarity, or often decide on yet another writing change as new ideas enter with the addition of media components.


Revision and editing are nearly synonymous for my students; both happen in a digital storytelling project with a mix of oral readings and reflection as multimedia components are added. Often, students continue their revisions until the moment their voice is recorded, sometimes making last-second word changes as they realize that their own voice has an awkwardness as a word is read, or that the sound fails to flow. Sometimes the final revision comes even after the writer thinks the work is complete, when timing is refined between words, images, and music.


As with editing, proofing a multimedia text takes place in a different manner than the traditional English essay (the close-read). Students proofread aloud with their own voice, looking for the spots where they stumble on a final read-through, or pore through their written work as their photos stream past onscreen; frequently, the final changes come as a result of a misaligned photo or a last-minute realization that a movement of a specific piece of text would offer greater clarity or the chance for a higher level of participant/audience engagement.