Tag Archives: classroom

Student Made Book Trailers


Last night, I was chatting with some fellow Texas educators on the #txed Twitter chat, and I mentioned that my students were currently creating book trailers. There was some interest in how I had my students create them, so I figured the best way to disperse info was to do a blog post!

Prepping Students

I’m a firm believer that students need mentor examples when they’re working on any project. I keep examples of everything we do so that I have examples of what my students should do. Before we start the project, I show my students examples of storyboards former students have completed. As they’re looking at the storyboards, I play completed book trailers and show them how each planned “slide” became the trailer together. We also talk about what worked and what didn’t with each trailer — Was it too fast so we didn’t have time to read the words? Was the font written in a color and style that was easy to read? Was the picture good quality? Was there continuity of photos chosen to depict what a character “looks” like? This helps the students have an idea of what I expect and what the project is all about.

Prepping Computers

Before we start anything, I have everyone on a laptop and we create their [Name’s] Book Trailer Pics folder (where they save their pictures) and their Book Trailer Sites document (where they save website citations of pictures they use). Students complete their storyboards at different intervals throughout the days and class periods. Creating these necessary pieces saves time so that students can jump right in when they complete their storyboard.

Creating Storyboard

I found out the hard way that telling students they’re going to make a trailer and releasing them to the interwebz was a recipe for disaster. That’s why rule #1 with my students while working on their trailer is:

You don’t touch a computer until your storyboard is complete!

There’s a two-fold reason for this:

  1. When I have students create their trailer I’m assessing their comprehension and knowledge of the book that they read. I don’t want them to google a summary and use someone else’s thoughts. I want to hold students accountable for their reading.
  2. Having a storyboard gives them a plan. We’ve all been guilty of falling into a rabbit hole while on the internet. We search and click and click and click and search and click…and before we know it, it’s time for bed. When that happens for a student working on a project, they’re set up for failure.

My storyboard is super simple. My students and I create it together (I’m a firm believer in modeling!), but for lower level teachers or to save time, you could always create a master copy and provide copies for students.

(1) Fold paper “hot dog” then in half twice so that you have 8 boxes. (2) Trace creases and number boxes on front and back. (3) Measure 2 fingers and draw a different colored line on front and back. (4) Top section is for picture description. Bottom section is for summary text. (5) Final storyboard!

Completing Storyboard

In the “text” portion of the storyboard, students write exactly what we will read on the screen when we view their final project. I tell them that I want a summary of the book that includes the main events. Their last slide (#16) must be a question that prompts the viewer to wonder about the ending of the story. They can have other questions throughout the storyboard, but the last slide must be a question.

In the “pic” portion of the storyboard, students write a quick description of the picture they want to find for that slide. Some students would rather sketch a picture, which is awesome as well!

I recommend to my students that they complete the whooooole text part first, then go back to decide what picture they want. This helps them get into a groove and stay focused on the continuity of their summary. Some students don’t listen at first (I’m just the teacher, what do I know, right?), so if they get stuck while working I’ll give a gentle nudge that they try it my way…and it almost always works better for them.

Here are some examples of completed storyboards:

My class periods are about 45 minutes, and I planned in 3 class periods for storyboard work. After that, in my plan/timetable they should be on the computer. I tell them that if they’re not on the computer by this point, they run the risk of not having time to complete their trailer or put the fancy bells and whistles on. Their lack of work now can effect their work/grade later. Some will say, “Can I just get on the computer? I know what I want to do!” and the answer remains the same…you don’t touch a computer until your storyboard is complete!

Ready For Computer

Once a student is finished with their storyboard, I give it a quick check and clear them for the computer. I have a class set of copies of the Movie Maker Directions which I keep in sheet protectors. The student gets their laptop from the cart, gets a copy of the directions, and off they go! If they ever ask me a question, I respond with, “What do the directions say?” because everyyyy click they need to make is accounted for in the directions!

I uploaded the directions to SlideShare, so feel free to download and use for your projects if you also use Movie Maker!

Once students start on the computer, there’s very little that they need my help with. They have a partner read over their text and make sure there aren’t any typos, and I’ll read over it as well if they want me to.
I have had students in the past who wanted to take their own photos or draw pictures for their project. This is always awesome! I just tell them to take/draw&scan the pictures  and bring them in on a jump drive so they can use them!


So that’s pretty much that! As their last step, students add music in the background of the trailer, but I don’t have the instructions with me, so I will make that a separate post!
If you use this post and have any feedback, I would love to hear it! What do you do differently in your classes?