A. Purpose: Students will be able to brainstorm as a group and write a complete screenplay.
B. Activity: Before beginning, students should be oriented with the final product they are expected to produce: a school-appropriate 5-minute short film based in the developing West.
The teacher should gather students around to generate story ideas. Students may already have ideas, or they can be generated by performing separate brainstorming for characters, place, time, and plot. The teacher should make sure discussion is limited to reasonable Western settings (for example, a large factory would be a poor setting in the developing West). After a short brainstorming session (limited to 20 minutes or so), students should be grouped by interest in groups of approximately 8 (this number can be easily adjusted depending on the size of the class, though it is important that each team has enough persons to fill all character roles and that there are no more than 3 total groups).
Screenwriting is writing in the format of a screenplay, which includes all the elements of a typical story, but is arranged so that each part of a film team can easily find what they need. The teacher should use Beal's Screenplay Format Sample or a sample of their own to describe the elements of a screenplay.
In addition to the key components of a screenplay, the teacher should make students familiar with commonly used abbreviations.
Note: Students are not expected to complete their screenplay by the end of the day, though they should have a clear idea of the whole story in their heads if not on paper.