I'm that person who arrives early at the theater to catch the coming attractions. Sometimes I become so riveted by the movie trailers that I forgot what I paid to see in the first place!
It's this peculiarity of mine that's the inspiration behind what was today's highly-anticipated Book Trailer Film Festival with my 8th graders. After many weeks of researching, compiling, and creating, we had our very own premiere, where we viewed (and peer reviewed) the trailers.
Book trailers are gaining in popularity as an alternative to the stale and often overused book report. Last year, my son's language arts teacher--who was as weary of grading book reports as her students were writing them--opted to give book trailers a try with her 7th graders, even though she'd never done anything like it herself and had certainly never taught the process before. (I admire her bravery to "let go and let the digital natives" go exploring on their own!)
In short, the kids were thrilled. Ecstatic. Engaged. Excited. And their individual creativity was pleasantly surprising.
If creating is now the highest-ranking domain of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, then we as teachers need to allow more opportunities for doing just that. Furthermore, we should also take into consideration when devising formal assessments the authentic audience. For example, the book report's audience is an audience of one--the teacher. On the other hand, the book trailer's audience includes students within the classroom, within the school, and across the globe. (Thanks, YouTube!) More importantly, I believe, project-based formal assessments like this create enthusiasm in and ownership of learning--and isn't that what we as teachers most desire of our students?
Finally, book trailers are a simple yet effective way to merge 21st century learning and the Common Core reading standards for literature & informational text; writing standards; speaking & listening standards; and language standards.
So how do you get started?
(1) Establish a clear schedule with a step-by-step process for creating the trailer. Here's a useful image that does the scheduling for you.
(2) Determine which software you want to use. I'm blessed to have a computer lab of Macs, so we used iMovie. However, I also provided students a list of cloud-based video options, such as Narrable, UTellStory, and PresentMe. PowerPoint is always a low-tech option, too,
(3) Visit Book Trailers for Readers to show your students examples of what good trailers include.
(4) Have students create a storyboard. I used this example and this template from the Highland Virtual Learning Center's book trailer unit. I also discovered some cloud-based storyboard making apps on my own: Padlet, Lino, Storyboard Generator, & Storyboard That and encouraged students to try them.
(5) Explain Creative Commons and how to gather copyright-free images. Students were directed to use Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and this link to collect images. Students were permitted to use Google images, but only if they followed these explicit instructions.
(6) Direct students to cite images. We used BibMe to keep track of our images in separate Word documents that were copied and pasted at the end of the trailers.
(7) Explain the use of a soundtrack to establish mood, and direct students to use Creative Commons to find copyright-free music.
(8) Create a rubric and a peer review rubric. (Thanks, again, HVLC!)
(9) Create a YouTube account or a SchoolTube account to upload and share the students' trailers.
(10) Roll out the red carpet, pop the popcorn, and host your own Book Trailer Film Festival!
The Two Most Valuable Links I Used to Create This Unit:
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