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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Elementary Book Trailer Project

In honor of the Oscars, here is the first of two excerpts from From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Host Your Own Student Film Festival by William L. Bass, Christian Goodrich and Kim Lindskog. The project below is for a video book trailer.

Video trailer for student film festival - Credit: William Bass

Video book trailers are short, less than two-minute videos that introduce a basic storyline, utilizing images, sound and voice, designed for a particular audience. The purpose of the video book trailer is for students to not only demonstrate their understanding of the selected book, but also to convince others to read this book. Many teachers find that this project fits naturally into their unit of persuasive writing. Book trailers are great summative assessment pieces for students who have completed a whole-class, interactive, read-aloud book; a small group book-club book; or an independently selected book.

The timeline below outlines an abbreviated version of a possible sequence and explanation for an elementary book trailer video project in a communication arts classroom, using Photo Story, a free software package from Microsoft. Each scheduled day consists of a 60-minute block of time.

Day 1: Immersion

This is the time when the teacher will first introduce the book trailer idea. This is a great time for the teacher to show possible book trailer/movie trailer examples so that students can begin investigating essential questions for the unit. Some questions to pose to students could be the following:

  • What are digital book trailers?
  • What is the purpose of a book trailer?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What message am I trying to send them?

Day 2: Immersion Continues

The teacher continues to immerse the students in book or movie trailers. Students will continue to explore key components of good book trailers. Some possible questions to investigate could be the following:

  • What do book/movie trailers have in common?
  • What makes a book trailer good?
  • How do images help tell about the story?
  • How does adding music help tell the story?

Day 3: Planning and Storyboarding

Based on student discussions, essential questions and curriculum standards, the teacher will create a scoring guide to help the students create a book trailer video. Day three is a great time to pass this out to students for project guidance. Students will constantly refer to this scoring guide throughout the book trailer process and use it for peer reviews later in the project. Referring to the scoring guide, students will begin storyboarding possible images for each slide of their video. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about where they can find images that are free to use. In this process they will make the following decisions:

  • How many slides will I need to create for my show?
  • What will my captions say?
  • What kinds of images do I want on each of my slides that enhances my message?
  • What kind of music am I looking for to help set the tone of my trailer?

Day 4: Storyboarding Revision and Polishing

Now that students have laid some groundwork, they will need to consider and make decisions based on answers to these questions:

  • Where will I collect my images?
  • What kind of equipment will I need to capture my images? (e.g., digital camera, scanner, Internet, other)
  • What kinds of props will I need for my digital pictures (pics)?
  • What locations will be needed when taking my digital pics?

During day 3 and day 4, the teacher will meet with each group or individual student for guidance or approval on storyboard ideas.

Day 5 - Day 7: Collection

Over these three days, students will collect the necessary images and music for their trailer, referring to the scoring guide as needed. The teacher may need to teach these possible mini lessons:

  • How to use a digital camera and save pictures into their student media folders
  • How to scan in hand-drawn pictures and save them into their media folders
  • How to find copyright-free images and music from the Internet and save files to their student media folders
  • How to cite images and music from the Internet

Day 8 - Day 10: Creation

Students will create their book trailers by importing all of their images and music into Photo Story. The teacher may need to teach these possible mini lessons:

  • How to import pictures into Photo Story
  • How to add music
  • How to add transitions
  • How to add a title and citation page
  • How to save the Photo Story project to their student project folders
  • How to export the Photo Story project to a movie file

Day 11: Peer Review

In a small group, with a partner or as a class show, students will use the Book Trailer scoring guide to peer review each other's book trailers and give feedback to classmates.

Day 12 - Day 13: Final Touches

Students will make any last-minute changes necessary (based on peer feedback) and finalize their book trailers. All projects will be exported into a movie file and saved into their student folders.

Day 14: Celebration

Students will exhibit their book trailer videos to classmates or to other classes and celebrate their hard work.

This timeline is just an example of the steps one teacher takes when she incorporates video book trailers into her class' work. Depending on the scope of the project, all of these elements can be altered as needed to meet curriculum goals and outcomes.

Comments (2)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Jeanette Stickel's picture
Jeanette Stickel
I'm a speech therapist in public schools

What a creative project! I can see how this would capture the interest of students while working on curriculum goals.

hannonse's picture

This is a great idea for a project. It would really be great if older students made these for lower grade books, like for students in k-5 schools as a way of encouraging them to read.

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