Friday, July 26, 2013

Hooking Your Kids with Book Trailers...Plus, a Surprise Tomorrow!

Books, books, books....I LOVE books! Every summer I get giddy thinking about which books I am going to use in my classroom for the following year. I sit for hours and thumb through catalogues or click through websites looking for books that go perfectly with the science or social studies concepts I have to teach or are perfect examples of the ELA standards that I need to teach my students. Sometimes to the point to where I have to take a thumb break.

I know that anytime I choose a book to read either aloud to my students or with them in a small group, I have a distinct purpose in mind. It could be that the text has clear examples of cause and effect, the author made the story come alive with figurative language, or it is a perfect narrative that would help my students understand a particular period in history. There are times that I choose a book just because I enjoy it and I want my students to see how you can read a book for pure enjoyment. But whatever the purpose, I always want my students to be as excited about reading it as I am. I mean, why would you ever want to read a book that you aren't interested in? Well, besides for a school assignment..... ;)

Which reminds of movies that I had to watch in school that I thought were B.O.R.I.N.G. before I started watching it. It took a little while for me to finally become engaged in the movie, and, by then, it was usually almost half over. You know the movies I am talking about...the ones that are based off books. You read the book and then watch the movie. I will be honest. Most of the time I thought the book was just OK (I wasn't too pumped about having to read it in the first place), and I was not looking forward to the movie, either. It isn't that the movie was awful. I did end up enjoying the majority of them. But something was missing for me before the movie even began that made me WANT to watch it....

I guess I am the kind of person who likes to know ahead of time what the book that I am going to be reading is about, as well as what the movie will be about. Yeah, you can read the book jacket or the movie synopsis. But reading those words, in my head, in my voice (or in how I think the character's voice would sound....which, by the way, the voices on the movie never matched the ones I imagined in my head), just never really seemed to get me very excited about reading it. Even if my teacher said it was the best thing since sliced bread, I just wasn't buying it. I don't think I was an overly pessimistic person, or a student who disliked books assigned in class. It's just that there were so many "other" books and movies I wanted to watch. You know the kind that isn't assigned in school.

The movie I wanted to watch had an awesome preview on TV for it. It had all the best clips from the actual movie without giving any big events away, and it had cool music that would give me goosebumps...perfect music accompaniment to the point to when I hear that music, I immediately think of the movie in which it was played. I could not wait for that movie to come out, but it would be several weeks. Boo! But I would be the first in line! (Wondering what movie I am talking about???? Well, this instance I am talking about Dirty Dancing.....oh yeah, I know most of you couldn't wait to watch it either. And most of you probably watched it over and over again when it finally came out on VHS to the point that you knew exactly how far to fast forward or rewind it to see the scene where Johnny says, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner"....or maybe you did what I did to all my cassette tapes and use a Sharpie to draw a little black mark at the point where the tape should be for your favorite song/scene to begin so you wouldn't have to rewind, play, stop, fast forward, play, stop, rewind because you have gone to far, etc.)

Think of how our students today feel with all that technology they have! Think of how visually stimulating their environments are compared to ours...and I am sure most of us and them are similar to me when it comes to reading books or watching movies... How can we pique our students' interest in the long chapter book we have chosen for them when they could watch the newest release or play the newest video game/app? We have to compete with ALL of this! No wonder sometimes when we pull out a novel that we just absolutely love, are excited beyond belief to finally get to read THIS book with our students....we are SO sure they will thank us for introducing them to this book! Only to have them look at us with glazed eyes thinking,

"Say what? You want us to read THAT book? THAT book that is just as thick as those dictionaries over there on the shelf? THAT book that has no (or hardly any that aren't black and white) pictures? THAT book that looks like the cover is about to fall off? THAT book that was written HOW long ago???????" Among other things floating around in that mind of theirs.....

Have No Fear!
Children are no different from us when it comes to deciding which movies to see. They watch TV, see a movie trailer (or see a movie trailer while waiting to watch another movie), and then instantly decide whether or not they would like to see it. How do they make this decision? On how well the movie trailer is created. Does music help make it exciting? Do the characters appear interesting? Is the story line about a topic they want to commit a couple of hours to???? Children usually pick out books mainly based on the cover (unless a friend told them about a great book they should read). Most often children get more excited to see a movie than read a book. A movie trailer stimulates so many senses. A book cover is one-dimensional compared to that movie trailer.

What if you brought that movie trailer to that book you are so passionate about? Wham! You get a book trailer! Students are able to watch the many facets of a book just like they can with a movie. Sounds to me like a more technologically advanced Reading Rainbow :)

You may already know about book trailers, but I am going to share the different ways I have used book trailers with my students in hopes of sparking a new idea or to encourage you to give them a try.

Sometimes I show my students a book trailer before we read that book for the exact same reason a producer creates a movie trailer and a fisherman uses bait: to get 'em hooked to reel 'em in! It's amazing what a little music can do! And there are actually a lot of book trailers already made so you don't have to create them yourself! I will include a list of websites at the end of this post. I have had so many students begging to start reading a book because the trailer was WAY cool!

A book trailer doesn't have to be reserved for a pre-reading activity. Sometimes I don't show my students a book preview before we read the book. Instead I have my students create a book trailer either by themselves or in a small group to show their understanding of the book's events and characters (among other things). If you choose to have your students do this, they will need to have had experience making book trailers and also be proficient in using a search engine on the Internet. Students will also need to have access to technology and proficient in using the program chosen to create the book trailer. I had my students use Photo Story because it was free and pretty easy to use (in my opinion), but there are other many programs out there you could have them use.  Book Trailers for Readers and Story Quest Children's Books have informative pages on  how to create a book trailer AND they include sources for photos you can use.

If you are like me, you want an exemplar to show students before giving them an authentic performance task so they can have a visual of what is expected.
Problem: If all they have seen are book trailers created by authors or publishing companies, they may feel like theirs will not be up to par.
SolutionBook Trailers for Kids has several book trailers made BY kids! Exemplar problem solved! Whew!

Now let's move onto the next question: What will you assess by having students create a book trailer? The great news is that it's totally up to you. Are there specific skills you are working on (i.e. theme or a character's internal struggles)? Be sure to include specific requirements in your rubric (which is HOW you will assess your students' book trailers) that students must include in their trailer. Please remember, though, you will have to create book trailers WITH your students first so they are familiar with the process BEFORE you assess them using a book trailer.

Teaching Tool
I had the pleasure of observing a teacher who used book trailers to help teach mood to her students. She had 2 different book trailers about the same book. The ONLY difference between the two book trailers were the music both trailers used. After students watched the first book trailer, they wrote on a chart what they thought the mood of the book would be. Then students watched the second book trailer and did the same activity afterwards. Guess what? The two charts had very different moods listed. One chart had very happy and cheerful moods listed, while the other chart had sad and dreary. Why did this happen? It was all about the music that was chosen. The teacher was then able to further discuss with her students different ways an author can bring a certain mood into the story and how mood affects the story line and characters. Book trailers can help make some of the more difficult ELA standards concrete for students to grasp easier.

Sounds good, but how do book trailers fit with the Common Core, you ask? Well, remember how the Common Core integrates reading, viewing, listening, speaking, and writing, AND wants students to apply learned skills/content in a real world setting using technology when appropriate? Book Trailers for Reading has a visual on how book trailers can help you meet this lofty goal.

Want to check some out? Here is a direct link to a book trailer created for Robert Peck's classic A Day No Pigs Would Die.

Now as promised, here are a few Helpful Websites you can use to learn more about book trailers.
Book Trailers for Readers
Book Trailers for All
Slime Kids
Book Trailers- Movies for Literacy!
SchoolTube (once at this site you can search by book title)
Youtube (once at this site you can search by book title)

So, what do ya think? Going to give them a try? Do you already use book trailers? If so, what do you think about them? We want to hear from you!

As always, thanks for reading and until next time!

Oh, I can't believe I ALMOST forgot! (Just kidding, I didn't really almost forget.) There could be a special little something that could be taking place tomorrow at a blog call All Things Upper Elementary that could help make your life a smidge easier for going back to school.....that's all I'm giving away right now ;)

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  1. I like your tips. And thank you for the links. These are very nice and helpful.

    Content Writing Services

    1. You are welcome! I personally love reading blog posts that have links at the end so I can quickly bookmark them for future reference, so I always try to include them in my posts.

  2. As a librarian I love book trailers! Mr. Schu at (Watch. Connect. Read.) has one of the best blogs I've found for book trailers. He'll keep you posted about the latest and greatest in the world of book trailers. Sara B.

    1. Thanks so much for the link! I am going to bookmark it now! I always love it when my students love a project just as much as I do, and this certainly holds true for book trailers.

  3. I love this post! Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Thanks so much and you are very welcome! If you ever have your students create any book trailers, please share!

  4. Wow! I LOVE this post! You think book trailers would be obvious to have in classrooms to engage students, but I never would have thought of this! I also adore the idea of students creating book trailers! I know the next year's students would love to see familiar faces, talking about a book they've read in class. Great, great, great ideas! Cant' wait to use it!

    Grooving Through Fourth Grade

    1. I am so happy that you are excited about using book trailers! I totally agree that having your students create book trailers to show the next year's class is a great idea! I hope you will come back and let us know how it goes and maybe even share some of the trailers :)

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