Writing a Flashback and Flash-Forward Story Using Movies and Texts as Models
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Flashbacks and flash-forwards are common devices used in literature and films. Students are introduced to examples of these devices through the film The Sandlot and/or illustrated books that utilize the flashback device. Students are then asked to create a story that contains both flashback and flash-forward. In the story, they project themselves ten years into the future and describe their lives. Something from the "present" will trigger a memory which will lead them into flashback (a narrative about something that actually happened). After drafting their stories, students peer review each other's stories and then revise based on peer feedback.
Guidelines for Flash Back Flash-Forward Story: This handout includes complete instructions for the Flashback Flash-Forward assignment.
From Theory to Practice
In Reading in the Dark, John Golden notes that ""The watching and analyzing of movies seemed to greatly affect (students') ability to read and critique literature" (xiv)." Similarly, Michele Whipple states: ". . . [F]indings have shown film to be an accessible and engaging material which can bind children together and bring validation to their varied home and school literacy existence" (144). Using video as a text in the classroom, teachers can focus on comprehension, interpretation, evaluation, and appreciation of various literary devices. Combining the video with a writing assignment gives students the opportunity to apply new skills in their own writing.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
A copy of the movie The Sandlot
- Preview the movie and read the stories to find out what would work best in your classroom. [Note: The Sandlot contains a few examples of language that may be inappropriate for students.]
- Make one copy of the flashback/flash-forward handout for each student if you choose to show the movie after previewing it. If you choose not to, edit the handout to reflect the storyline of the books read in class, and then make copies. Make two copies of the flashback/flash-forward checklist for each student. One will be given to the student for peer review and another will be used by the teacher when evaluating the work.
- Sample student paper #1 and sample student paper #2 can be used as models for both writing and assessing the stories. You can copy these or put them on an overhead projector and, as a class, review them using the checklist. This process helps students understand how their papers will be graded as well as gives them examples of how others have approached the assignment.
- Review the article by Michele Whipple, "Let's Go to the Movies..." if you are using The Sandlot.
- Find examples and definitions of flashback and flash-forward, narrative, and characterization at the following Websites:
- Reserve the computer lab if needed.
- demonstrate the concept of flashback and flash-forward in a narrative writing piece.
- incorporate details, description, characterization, and transitions between flashback and flash-forward in their own writing.
Instruction & Activities
- Define flashback and flash-forward. Have students come up with examples of flashbacks and flash-forwards from books they have read and movies they have seen. If watching the video, explain why The Sandlot is considered a flashback story.
- Watch The Sandlot. (The video will take 2 1/2 class periods to show.) If using the books, begin reading aloud and showing illustrations.
- Finish up video/books. Pass out the information sheet and the checklist. Explain the activity and how it will be graded. This is a great opportunity to have students apply the checklist to the student sample papers. Begin working on the rough draft. Teachers may elect to have students use the Time Line Tool in a prewriting activity to plan out the plot of their stories.
- Peer editing. Have students use the checklist to review other students' papers.
- Begin working on final draft. Make sure students consult the information sheet to make sure the paper is structured correctly. This would also be a good time to walk around and take a look at some of the students' rough drafts to see that they have included transition into and out of their flashback, provided many details and description in their writing, and that they have some reflections in their final paragraph.
- Students complete their final draft using feedback from fellow students.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- The checklist used in the peer review process can measure how well the students understand the literary devices they are attempting to use.
- The teacher-completed checklist can be used as a guide during the revision process.