Friday, October 26, 2012

Making Book Trailers

Image created on the iPad using Snapseed,
PS Express, and Keynote.
Last year I tried my hand at having my class make book trailers.  They did a decent job given that I wasn't quite sure how to jump into this new medium.  Well, this year we've learned from the past and I'm proud to say that the fifth graders are creating book trailers that are better than ever! 

One of the issues that we had last year is that we didn't have any student created examples to look at.  While the professional ones are nice to get a feel for the genre it helps to have examples that are within the students' reach.  This also gave us the opportunity to examine them and notice which elements we thought worked well and which elements needed improvement.  Once we spent some time immersing ourselves in the genre we began planning.  I ask students to consider what things they would explicitly and implicitly share with their audience, how they would build the mood and tone of the trailers, and what types of images they would use to accomplish this.

We also addressed copyright issues.  As fifth graders, they are ready to think about intellectual property and what that means.  Students were asked to create all of their own images or they could use stock images that I found through Photopin and give credit to the artist.  (I pulled appropriate images to share with them through Dropbox and organized them by the search term I used so that I could locate the links to give credit later.)

Before students started I did a quick tour of some of the apps they might use to create or edit images.  These included Drawing Pad, Snapseed, PS Express, Scribblify, Magnetic Letters, and Keynote.  We spent several days just creating images for the trailers before students even began with iMovie.  Once students had several images I did a quick tour of iMovie, showing them some basics on how to get started.  Over the next few days I or a student periodically introduced small things like how to lengthen or change transitions and how to add sound effects.  This workshop model enabled students to experiment as they worked and internalize how to use iMovie to achieve the desired effect.  I also gave students a checklist to use as they worked to help them reflect on the images, music, and overall feel of their book trailer.  To see our final products please visit our 302 Book Trailers Vimeo Channel!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back to the Beginning

Even though it’s October it still feels very much like the beginning of the year.  One of  the first thoughts that many teachers have about their students is “they look so little!”  It’s true.  Those tall confident students that left us have gone on to be “little” to next year’s teacher and we have our own new crop of “little” people to educate.  This becomes even more pronounced in a technology classroom.  Everything takes longer, typing, starting, opening, finding, searching.  Whatever it is they need time to figure it out.  Patience is key.  So what can we do?
  • Remember to go slow: after all many of our students are experiencing some of these technology tools for the first time.  Even if they have devices at home they probably don’t use them for much more than playing games or surfing the internet.
  • Find your specialists: there will be some students who do know how to do things or pick them up very quickly.  Start sending kids their way to address minor issues and questions.  Have them teach a quick lesson to the class on some basics.
  • Create lots of visuals: Anchor charts for technology are just as important as they are in every other subject.  These visual reminders help students to know what to do and to start developing a sense of independence.
  • Be realistic:  Things will take more time.  They just will.  You have to go slow to go fast later.  It’s okay.
  • Build from the ground up:  When I have students learning a new app I use it a few times in either the same subject or across subjects within a week.  Their first “project” or experience is filled with play and experimentation.  As we gather examples from the class I start to show student work and we tease out elements or things the class has done that we like and want to emulate.