Teaching Guide

Thank you for participating in the Pens to Lens Screenwriting Competition. This competition is open to all students in East Central Illinois, and we encourage you to share this opportunity with your colleagues.

Pens to Lens is more than just a writing competition. After the screenplay submission deadline, the submissions will be reviewed by writing judges, designers, and filmmakers. The writing judges will choose awards, the designers will make movie posters based on chosen screenplays, and the filmmakers will choose screenplays to produce into actual short films. The awards, final produced films, and poster art will be presented at the annual screening and awards Gala in August.

Teaching Materials

If you are interested in having your class participate, we are making the following materials available to you for building a curriculum or ensuring eligibility for your students.

Download the full packet as a printable pdf:
Teacher and Parent Guide

Or view the the guidelines for submission only:
Submission Guidelines

Curriculum Guide

Curriculum Guide: A concise curriculum guide for teaching screenwriting.

Elementary Student Exercises

  • Worksheet A: This is a simple guide that will help you start thinking about how to write a screenplay.
  • Exercise 1: This first recommended exercise guides students through analyzing a short film.
  • Exercise 2: This second recommended exercise guides students through thinking visually about a film they have seen.
  • Exercise 3: This third recommended exercise guides students through planning out their short story idea through drawings.
  • Sample Submission: This is a modification of a piece of the script for the Disney/Pixar film “Toy Story”. It explains what CUFS expects from K-5 student scripts. Pens to Lens has simplified the format requirements for K-5 submissions, but if K-5 students would like to follow Hollywood-standard formatting, they can find those rules in Worksheet B, and read an excerpt from the original “Toy Story” script here.

Middle/High Student Worksheets

  • Worksheet A: This is a simple guide that will help you start thinking about how to write a screenplay.
  • Worksheet B: This guide explains the strict rules of script formatting, and will ensure that your submission is eligible to be chosen by filmmakers.
  • Worksheet C: This first recommended exercise guides you through analyzing a short film and how the screenwriter might have intended it.
  • Worksheet D: This second recommended exercise gives you the opportunity to write an excerpt of properly formatted script.
  • Worksheet E: This third recommended exercise explains the option of writing an adaptation of previously written work.
  • Sample Script: This is an excerpt from the Oscar-winning “Toy Story” film, widely used in teaching screenwriting.

Teaching considerations

Please be advised that student submissions will be judged based on their grade level, and while strict adherence to script format is imperative for high school students, and important for junior high students, K-5 students will be evaluated generously. Consult the materials provided on this website aimed at your students’ age level to understand age-specific expectations, and email info@PensToLens.com with questions.