Course 3 – Final Project – Movie Trailers

The final project for this course was done early in the course. If I only knew then what I know now! We had a weekend course with Andrew Churches and Kim Cofino. As a big part of the weekend we worked in groups to develop a visual media project. David wanted to create a movie trailer with his students using iMovie. That sounded interesting and fun. My students had begun our author study on Jan Brett and they would soon be performing several of Jan’s stories as readers theater productions.

David and I spent time on Saturday and Sunday creating a movie trailer that told about our Coetail weekend at YIS. It can be viewed here. It was interesting when I showed this to my class, the first reaction of many was “This is going to be scary.” When I asked why and assured them it wasn’t. They replied, “Because of the music.”

We had about 2 weeks until the performances and so we had to move quickly. (I know that next year it will be a slower and more scaffolded process.) There are 22 students in my class and each student was in 2 plays. I had divided the students into 5 groups with each group responsible for creating the backdrop for one play. Now each of those groups had a second responsibility to follow the prescribed storyboard and create a movie trailer. Some of the groups were able to finish their backdrop more quickly and begin working on the storyboard and trailers.

We were not familiar with a storyboard except for one time with writing a story. Next year we will use storyboards more often.  I would like to make a storyboard that will be easier for the students to use.(There are several formats on iMovie but the students need exposure to various types of storyboards and more space to write.) The students were encouraged to set up the shots and take the videos. Some groups did a much better job of this than other groups.

I know that next year we will begin working with video taping much earlier. The students have had opportunities to use the camera, but not necessarily  videotaping. I have since started sending home our class mascots Brisky Bear or Bubblez the clown fish, a camera and notebook with  students each week and then other students on the weekend. Next year we will begin sending them home earlier in the year and practice more with the cameras.

We have done readers theater performances before and students evaluated themselves, but we will practice and look at how our faces and bodies convey messages more carefully. We will hopefully begin the storyboard and taping of the movie trailer a bit earlier in the process so that we are not completing it the day before the performances. This year was a learning experience for the students and for me. The parents who came to the performance got to see the trailers before the actual plays and they are posted on our classroom blog for students and parents to view. Although David and I created a rubric for the trailer/process, because of the short time we had this year and lack of preparation, I didn’t feel it fair to try to grade the students. I know they all enjoyed watching the performances and learned some new camera and collaboration skills. The parents also enjoyed the movie trailers. I have also learned a lot about what I want to do next year. The students were able to help with some of the editing although it was difficult to give all the groups the same help, time, and guidance.

Here are the movie trailers that my students made, with some help.

Here is the “unit plan” for the movie trailer – This is just part of the Jan Brett Unit.

Learning Targets –

  • DT4.2.01 I make creative products and presentations
  • RL4.2.05 I use my work time wisely
  • PC 3.2.01 I can collaborate productively with my classmates.

Essential questions –

  • What are the powerful elements of expressive drama?
  • How can we use the elements to improve our performances?
  • How can we use drama to help us express ourselves?

Essential Understandings –

  • Effective communication usually combines different elements such as confidence, creativity and cooperation
  • My facial and body movements add to the meaning of what I am reading and saying and/or dramatizing.

Content –

  • Jan Brett books – The Umbrella, The Mitten, The Hat, The Three Little Dassies, Town Mouse Country Mouse
  • iMovie

Skills –

  • Students will use their faces and bodies to dramatize the story.
  • Students will use a camera to take video clips of other classmates performing.
  • Students will use a storyboard to plan and create the movie trailer.

Resources –

  • Scripts for Jan Brett plays
  • Student created backdrops for the plays
  • Masks from Jan Brett’s website for the characters
  • Jan Brett website –
  • Video camera
  • iLife 11 movie trailers – The Adventure Movie allows for the most characters to be named

Final Assessment
Your task is to create a movie trailer for your readers’ theater performance that will make your fellow students and parents want to come to see your performance.


Criteria Oscar Nominee Hollywood Star Celebrity Amateur
Use of storyboard Every shot was planned before the shoot. The wording matches the shots. Most of the shots are planned before the shoot. Most of the wording in the trailer matches with the shots. Some of the shots are planned before the shoot. Some of the wording in trailer matches with the shots. Did not plan the shots before the shoot. The wording does not match with the shots.
Appropriate video clips The clips are the appropriate length. Most of the clips are the appropriate length. Some of the clips are the appropriate length. The clip lengths are random.
Creativity Your trailer has consistently creative points to interest your audience. Your trailer has many creative points that helps to interest your audience. Your trailer has some creative points that helps to interest your audience. Your trailer rarely has creative points that helps to interest your audience.
You and your team discussed decisions and consistently worked together You and your team worked well together most of the time. You and your team worked well together sometimes. You and your team had many disagreements and difficulty working together.

9 thoughts on “Course 3 – Final Project – Movie Trailers

  1. Wow, great work with the kids Jean! The trailers look great, pretty amazing you pulled those off in 2 weeks and also performed their Reader’s Theater. It is certainly a lot to fit in.

    Yes, I think there are a lot of things that I/we have learned from this first go around. Hopefully next year I would like to have different Reader’s Theater groups make different types of trailers, to mix things up. Maybe also giving them different technology options to sell their trailer, whether it be Comiclife, a powerpoint, voicethread, imovie, or imove trailers. This of course depends on how much of these technological tools the kids have been exposed to before the start of the unit, so if I go that route I need to mindful to try and introduce a new tool each month.

    Thanks again for your input/collaboration that weekend, am just now wrapping up my classes trailers and they are looking great!

    • Thanks David,
      It helps that I have a co-teacher who was working with the students on the Reader’s theater while I was able to work on the trailers. I would have liked to try some of the other trailers, but wasn’t sure with only being able to have 1-2 main characters. I’ll look forward to seeing your trailers when they are done.

  2. Hi Jean,

    I think these movie trailers are great! I am sure your students were motivated and inspired!
    Like, David, I cannot believe you did this in 2 weeks with 22 young children-even with an assistant!
    I love the Jan Brett connection and her website is fantastic with resources and classroom ideas- thank you!
    I can see that the iMovie 11 is limited to the Adventure theme for the most characters.Maybe it will improve in future.
    I think your rubric is very good, giving helpful feedback to your students. Did the students have a chance to write some of the rubric or have input as to what were good features of a movie trailer?
    What did you use for video taping…camera or iPhone?
    I like your reflection very much pointing out the importance of scaffolding, time, pre-requisite skills for story boarding and video-taping. It is helpful to know these things for when I hope to take on this great project idea in the future!Thank you for sharing! I loved your students’ videos!
    Amazing and well done! Were do I buy the tickets??

  3. Well, Jean. You did it! And better than I could have ever imagined! Why did I ever doubt you? I think you are amazing and very brave! I’m so sorry to have given you so much grief when you first told me your idea. My initial reaction was, “iMovie, in second grade, are you nuts?” You have made me eat my words. I LOVED the trailers. I’m so glad you proved me wrong!

    • Grace,
      I know you were trying to help me be realistic but sometimes we have to shoot for the stars! Glad that it worked out well and I know where I need to start next year.

  4. Thank you for sharing your students’ works. The trailers look really good!! I can see the students’ excitement through their works. Not only the tool but also the feedback they received from their parents motivate them. Sharing the students’ works and their learning are so valuable for the school community.

    • Hiromi,
      Thank you for your encouraging words. The students really did enjoy themselves and I’ve learned a lot about making movies.

  5. Great work Jean! I’m sure it is activities like this that the students will remember whilst growing up! On a side note, have you considered using comics as a way to introduce storyboards? You could photocopy a page and have the students try filming them attempting to capture the angles etc.

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