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This past Friday was supposed to be much different than it turned out. Teachers in the province of Ontario had planned to hold a one day political protest against the government and Bill 115. That was until the Labour Relations Board ruled that it would be considered an illegal strike. So at 6am the Thames Valley District School Board made a decision that all schools would be open to receive students. The result was not many students showed up, at least at my school. About 50% of the students were not in attendance which left the office scrambling to make safe arrival calls and teachers trying to put together instructional activities they didn't think they would need based on the union's decision late Wednesday.
With our new iPads configured and ready to be used our intermediate teachers came to me with an idea to help keep the students engaged during a day where less than half of their students arrived at school. Their plan was to use the iPads and iMovie to create book trailers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with iMovie it comes with a number of movie trailer templates complete with credits and sound tracks that are really easy to use. My only fear with the idea was that if we didn't provide a solid instructional plan that included planning, creating a storyboard, writing and editing we would miss a great opportunity to provide the students with a real-world application. These are the steps that professional movie creators use. Without providing these it could have turned into just "playing" on the iPads, a precedent I didn't want to set. So during the first nutritional break the three of us came up with a plan and resources. Below is a brief outline of the project, including resources that we used with our intermediate students.
- Introduction to the project - explanation of a book trailer, show examples from the internet
- Book selection - a book they have read, that is in our library (reminder on how to search the library collection)
- Introduce iMovie trailer templates (only show trailers that we have story boards for. Thanks to Sean Junkins @sjunkins on Twitter for a link to site that has storyboards for the iMovie trailers that you can download. They can be found by clicking here.)
- Explain the planning, creating a storyboard and editing process - emphasis is on creating a storyboard before being issued an iPad
- Writing - students group themselves according to book interest and decide which iMovie trailer template they want to use
- Feedback - when groups complete their storyboards they get feedback for one of the teachers and edit if necessary
- iMovie creation - when groups are ready they are issued iPads and are ready to work on their movie
None of the students had any experience using iMovie and only a few had experience with iPads so I was very interested to see how the afternoon would go. I should also note that I used an iPevo document camera to demonstrate the iMovie trailers. It wasn't the greatest in terms of image quality but it was certainly better than just telling the students.
As the students got their storyboard templates I could sense that they were excited and engaged. For the most part all the groups got right to work planning, writing and creating their storyboards. I knew they were engaged when the second nutritional break was about to start and all the groups were still writing - that was 90 minutes from the time we introduced the project. As the intermediate teachers and myself moved around the library helping groups we all noted how engaged the students were in the writing. An excellent start. A few groups needed more support than others but by the time our last instructional block of the day started they were ready to put their plans into action and begin taking pictures and videos to create their trailers.
As they created their iMovie trailers I really wasn't that surprised that we didn't get many questions about the software. Even though none of the students had used it before they seemed to pick it up with ease. I watched students create short video clips and edit them to fit into the templates. As the day came to a close none of the groups had finished but many were close needing only about another 60 minutes. From start to finish we had spent about 180 minutes of instructional time on the book trailer project, keeping the students engaged on a day that could have turned into a lost day. It turned out to be a great introduction to our new iPads and it demonstrated to the students that there is a lot of work that goes into creating a short 1 minute movie.
I'll be sure to post the final products over the next couple of days as the students finish. We would love your feedback on their book trailers. We'd also love to hear about your experiences with iPads at your school or how you have used iMovie.