Saturday, April 16, 2011

Video Book Trailers

I like to use video book trailers from Scholastic's website (click on Exploring Books) to promote reading in the library. These book trailers are done professionally and are a great way to get students excited about reading. I thought students might enjoy making their own and created the lesson below.

Grade 3 students made video book trailers using Photostory 3. The lesson incorporates language arts, library, and technology skills. Here's an example:


The following video shows students working on their book trailer and choosing music from the program, Photostory: [youtube][/youtube]

In the first lesson students are asked to write down their three of their favorite books and I show them examples of video book trailers made by students and myself. I create groups of 3 placing students together who have read similar books and who are at the same reading level. We discuss working as a team and I go over the teamwork rubric.

In lesson 2, students  pick a book that they have all read in their group that they will use for their video book trailer. I check the books out under my name and collect them at the end of the 45 minutes lesson. Students fill out a worksheet. I show an example of my SpongeBob book trailer. I tell them book trailers are like movie trailers in that they focus on the tension or problem of the story.

When they are done with the worksheet they have to see me to collect their packet to write the script. If they don't finish the worksheet, I make them come at recess to complete it. Make sure they pick a book they have all read. They tend to forget that instruction. I type a list of groups by class, their choice of books, and assign a login person. This is important because if the student is sick the other group members need to be able to access the video. I keep the information for all six classes in a binder.

The students finish the worksheet at different times and when they do I give them their packet to write a script. When they have completed it they can begin creating their book trailer. I have a series of video lessons posted on the network that students can access and go through at their own pace. This helps scaffold the lesson and allows students to work independently so I don't have to teach each step to each group at different times. Below are the video lessons:

Lesson 1: Taking Photos


Lesson 2: Beginning with Photostory by inserting photos


Lesson 3: Adding text to photos


Lesson 4: Narrate pictures with headphones


Lesson 5: Adding motion to pictures


Lesson 6: Adding music



I need to find out how grade 3 teachers teach "endings" in language arts. Right now students use "read the book to find out what happens next." If they haven't learned anything about writing  endings then this is okay, but I should see what they are teaching in writer's workshop and integrate it into the book trailer.

Students want to choose Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes books. These books don't work well because they don't have clear story elements and are more difficult for students to make the language arts connections. Next year I'll tell them to only choose a story with a plot.

I was disappointed in the blurry photos. Students had problems with the webcams and focusing them. I tried using cameras but they didn't know how to download the photos. This was the most difficult part for students and took the most time. Nancy Gorneau, our grade 3-5 IT coordinator, suggested I try the document camera next year and have the pictures go into a shared folder where the students can access them. Maybe if I combine that with the camera?

They forget that they do not have to type the entire script on the text section. I should change the video to remind them to not do this.

This lesson took 7 lessons in total and lasted 4 months. I have talked to Nancy Gorneau and she is willing to coordinate IT with it to help shorten the length of time. This will allow me to work more on the language arts section with students and not drag out the unit.

I also think this lesson would be better if done in the second semester versus the first semester when students have progressed more in their writing skills. The lesson seemed a little too difficult for many of the students in the beginning of the year. I did this same lesson with one class of grade 5 students and it took 2 lessons. That's another reason I would like to do the lesson with Nancy Gorneau to see if she thinks it is too hard for grade 3. When I surveyed the students they said that they really liked doing the project, but maybe it is better for grade 4 or 5 (and I need someone to tell me to drop it with grade 3.)


  1. Barb, I love what you have shared here! The Spongebob trailer is so clever and engaging. I enjoyed checking out the Scholastic website link too- great site! I look forward to trying a slightly modified version of your video trailer idea with my middle school students next year as part of a literature circle unit; I'll be teaching drama, so I'm excited about the notion of having the students read various plays, then create a video trailer for their play. Perfect product, I think. By the middle school years, perhaps they may be ready to use Corel Video Studio instead of Photostory to give them even more flexibility as they create their final product. One additional note- I love the way you have made this blog post a visual feast!

  2. Nice Barb - really enjoyed the way students were empowered to reflect and share that reflection in a way that is "part of their world" - with technology. As we move forward, students may be able to see a "trailer" of all the books they want to read in the library instead of skimming a long summary or idea. Could turn into a quick hitting 60 to 90 video for all classics and heavily checked out books. Just look at the skills the kids are working on during this project. It more deeply reflects that all people will be doing as the world moves forward with interactive screens and hitting the magical "play" button. As the years click by, students will have multiple videos to pick from as well as ratings. Looks like it was a huge job and took a great deal of time, but was surely worth it. The kids are lucky to have an elementary librarian like you.

  3. I'm about to get my Year 7 reading classes to make their own book trailers. I set them the holiday task of looking at some and sending me the link to their favourites. Your insights into doing this, together with the clips and finished products, were great. I've had a go myself at making one using Photostory but as we are about to trial the use of iPads with these classes I thought I might see how we go using iMovie. Good luck with your next project.

  4. I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get set up? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I'm not very web savvy so I'm not 100% positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks