Annie and the Shipwreck

story by Alys Jackson , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning Intention: 

I can convert a written story into an audio drama so that careful audio choices suits audience and purpose. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can identify the audience, purpose and form of a text.   
  • I can convert the text into a different form through a careful selection of audio features.  
  • I can use a range of software to publish an exciting audio drama version of the story. 

Essential knowledge: 

  • More information about combining text and audio features to communicate information can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention. 

Before reading the story, ensure that students are familiar with the form of an audio drama. Explain that an audio drama contains features of both audiobooks and radio plays. The conventions of an audio drama are:  

  • The text of the story is written as a narrative rather than a playscript. This convention is similar to an audiobook.  
  • There is often only one person reading the text and they need to use a distinct voice for different characters. This is another similarity with audiobooks.  
  • A range of sound effects and non-diegetic sounds are used. This is more similar to a radio play.   

 A range of age appropriate audio dramas can be found on the ABC Kids Listen Story Time page.  

As a class, read the story. If you have a digital subscription you may wish students to read along to the audio recording. After reading, identify its audience (school age children), purpose (to entertain, and also to inform about a real-life shipwreck) and form (narrative, based on a historical event). You may also wish to discuss genre. The text is both historical fiction and action.  

Explain to students that they are going to change the form of the story to an audio drama by including some of the conventions: 

  • Choose a range of sound effects to highlight key events in the plot and to heighten tension.  
  • Choose (or compose) a few pieces of non-diegetic music to enhance mood.  
  • Read the text (or an extract) aloud with appropriate tone, pitch and pace. Use a range of voices to distinguish between the characters.  

To simplify the task, if you have a digital subscription students can play sound effects and non-diegetic music over the top of the existing audio recording.  

First, students should re-read the story and highlight sections that would be enhanced through audio features. This would include sound effects during action driven events (the sound of waves crashing as the ship was “rolling and heaving”; the sound of people whispering as Annie is surrounded by “snippets of conversation”) and non-diegetic sounds during scenes of heightened emotion (when Annie was floating in the ocean with Harry on her stomach, when the sun appeared after the shipwreck). 

Students should also create a list of characters (Annie, Harry, James Noonan, Mrs Dixon etc.) and rehearse the delivery of their lines of dialogue.  

Once students have identified the audio features they will use, they should record their audio drama. Remind students that they need to source audio from creative commons websites to ensure they are following copyright rules. (See the website 8 Free Sound Libraries for Schools for suggested sites.) 

After rehearsing, students record and publish their version of the radio play. Suggested publishing tools include Audacity or Adobe Audition.