Building the Plane While You Fly

This has been the most satisfying couple of weeks of my career.  Our 9th grade English teacher said – “I’d like the kids to come in and pick out a book to read.  Do you think they could each make a book trailer about their book?”  As it turns out – neither one of us had the first clue how to do this.  Since we are both either a.) brave or b.) out of our minds – we said “How hard could it be? Let’s do it!”

Kudos to Kathy, our intrepid AV/library clerk.  She immediately leaped into the fray to teach herself how to use ShowBiz – our movie-making software.  Once she was comfortable – she taught me.  I wrote up some directions for the first part of the project and gave them to the English teacher.  As time went on, we began to think that we MUST be out of our minds.

Here is how we are building that airplane…..

Day 1 – Choosing Books & Project Introduction

Before the kids chose books – we showed a book trailer page I put together.  We started with Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz. That one REALLY gets the kids interest.  Then we showed 2 versions of Afterlife by Gary Soto &  Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  We spent some time talking about the different “feel” we got about the books, depending on a trailer’s use of images, music and words.

The kids reaction?  They were excited – but many were scared.  “But…..we don’t know how to make a movie!” they said.  To which we replied “Don’t worry – neither do we.  We’ll figure it out together!”

Day 2-4 – Producing Book Trailers

Fast forward…..  The students have read their books, and done a little storyboarding in class. They have the step-by-step directions I’d  put together for the first part of the project.  We did a “test-run” with the honors class, watched them fall through the gaps, edited the steps before the next group arrived, tried it out with that class ….. and then went through it all again with the next part of the project.

Students used a “copyright-friendly” web page I created to find  images, sounds and video clips, and learned the preliminary steps for using ShowBiz.  Lots of resistance here.  I am afraid most of them went to Google images anyway, knowing that means their trailers can not be posted anywhere on the web.  Oh well….

The third day, we taught them more about ShowBiz and the fourth day was a work day.

After every period, I updated the instructions to make them better.

Next year, we might actually board a fully funcional airplane to take this ride.

How about the finished book trailers?  We’re not there.  Next week is “show time”.  I’ll let you know whether those planes fly!!

In spite of some ups and downs, Joy, Kathy and I would recommend the project to others.  It was interesting to see the kids have to THINK. Creating a video is motivating to kids in and of itself – but having to think about what images and sounds best expressed a feeling, a mood, a character – in addition to telling a story,  was very beneficial for their communication skills.  Not to mention having to choose just the right words to move the story along without giving away too much.

Anyway – here are the directions for creating a movie using Showbiz.  The directions could probably be modified for whatever program you want to use:  Creating a Movie With ShowBiz

Pages 1-3 deal with copyright and citation issues.

Pages 4-6 deal with the mechanics of ShowBiz.

I also shared this project with the rest of my teachers, in the hopes I could encourage someone else to give it a try.  I was able to rope in another teacher that way.  One step at a time…..a thousand miles begins with one step….and all the other cliches you can think of!  Creating Videos for Dummies.

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