There are many students who seem disengaged at school. It has been said that young people are not reading and won’t write anymore than they absolutely must.
Outside school, however, it is a different story. Studies have shown young people are reading and writing incessantly, updating their MySpace/Facebook pages, keeping blogs and WebPages
In other words they are reading and writing but in different modes and media to the more traditional print literacies of the 20th century. Indeed the definition of literacy is evolving all the time. Literacy can no longer just encompass print-only works. In the 21st century literacy must include digital, hypertext, images and the plethora of communication media that make up the complex systems that bound in today’s world.
The complexity of messages in today’s world means that our students have to not only know how to “read” them but also know enough about them to be critical viewers, with the power to analyse and understand the obvious and more obscure meanings of the messages around them
Students are bringing multi-literacy skills to the classroom and teachers tap into their interests and skills and then enhance their students’ understanding of these various diverse texts. This will enable them to become skilled at critically viewing any of the diverse texts that is presented to them so that they can confidently use all the media around them to learn, clarify and communicate information rather than by passive users who can be coerced, confused and persuaded by the unscrupulous.

Some statistics: (in 2008)
· 73% or ¾ students on the internet watch or download videos
· ½ of the young internet users say they watch YouTube
· Many young people post videos to blogs and even more forward on a link in an email
· They are socializing, researching, playing games, getting news via technologies.
In schools we need to look at innovative ways to capture the interest and commitment of students to the understanding the deep-thinking and as the learning world because more and more immersive these initiatives are an important step.

Book Trailers

Whilst looking at the some publishers websites I saw a few different book trailers. They were interesting but there was nothing there that I believed our students weren’t capable of creating some just as good.
When I went looking specifically for book trailers I found many more. They were varied in their levels of skill, approaches to the books they were publicizing and the reasons for their creation.
In the US they seemed to be encouraging all sorts of people to create trailers, the authors for their own books, readers of all levels and professional “film” people.
The trailers were shown by libraries, used by publishers and in schools. There are competitions run by publishers and others for the “best” books trailers
Book trailers offer an alternative way to respond to some reading/a book We need to offer students ways to respond that are creative but encourage critical thinking and analysis.
Students can use

  • still or moving images
  • special effects,
  • recorded soundtrack,
  • voiceovers and/or music, print text and
  • cutting/editing techniques
to share their interpretations and critiques of what they have read.
Technology is not the goal. It is a means for students to explore a variety of literacies and ways of communicating their response to their reading. Visual, aural, indeed, many learning styles and modes can be used. It can help reluctant readers and writers by offering them a chance to use methods that interest them and that make use of other strengths that they may have.

The Process
  • Choose a book
  • Read the book
  • Analyze the book - what was good, unique, interesting, etc. - brainstorm/list/mindmap
  • Write a first draft - impressions, the feeling, important points
  • Create a storyboard (see storyboard page))
  • Plan effects (transitions, sound, colouring, etc.)
  • Review the plan - with teachers, other students...
  • Create the trailer
Show students some different examples of book trailers. Let them see and hear then critique them.

The Product
There can be an amazing array of approaches, as many and varied as the students creating them.
The product can be used to entice other readers by playing the trailers on electronic screens in the library or around the school.
The trailers can be put up onto blogs, webpages, etc and shared with others beyond the classroom/school. This allows the students to produce something for an audience, not just the teacher as a class assignment, never to be revisited.

Our students used Audacity (to put together the sound) and Ulead VideoStudio to create the video.
They used Creative Commons sites to find licensed images and sounds/music.
Digital video and stills cameras could be borrowed, from the library, by the students, to take the shots they needed.
Searches for the CC licensed resources were easy using the following sites:
Some music students at the school were happy to help create music and sound for the students creating the trailers.
CC Sound sites included:

Some Points to Note

  • Have a hook for the audience: (i) get people interested/excited about the book (2) grab their attention with the first frame
  • Don't have too much text
  • Set the moods and convey the "feeling" of the book
  • Length is important. Not too long or too short but enough to give a quick "taste" of the book
  • Be mysterious
  • Look at he concept behind the story nd don't focus on the details of the book (the minutiae)
  • Music and sound is essential


This is really the easy part using the rubric
Below are examples the first batch student work. These boys were my "guinea pigs". We learn't what worked best and they helped me develop the advice above. NB: Since these boys produced this work last year some year 8 English teachers decided to have this as an assessment task in term 1 when the year level studied crime fiction. We had some great successes and a lot of very positive feedback for the students in these classes.

The General

Nemesis Book 1: Into the shadows