Monday, May 17, 2010


Earlier this school year, one of my students, Nabia, schooled her class, myself included, in the possibilities of an often overlooked program called Windows Movie-maker. It's another one of those programs that makes me think "I'm sure there's a much better form of this for Macs," but she showed us that it's still cool enough to play around with and make some great movies.

Anyway, I copied Nabia's idea and assigned it as an option for one of my classes, a class that is based on independent reading, to make trailers for one of the books they read that semester. This video here is a sample I made for a fun read called The Dart League King.

It represents about three hours of time, and could use another hour. The inter-titles could be written more succinctly and the timing is off, but still, I like it, and I'm excited to see what students come up with for their books if they choose this option.

In the back of my mind, I'm a little bothered by one problem or blind spot this trailer approach has--it's emphasis on selling the plot of a book rather than its style and voice. There is nothing "wrong" with reading primarily for plot, but as a teacher, I feel like it's partly my responsibility to interest people in caring less about "what happens" and more about enjoying the "how it's told" part. This is complicated, though, because it's a mystery to me, most of the time. I don't know where to start when explaining why I love The Savage Detectives, a long book where nothing happens, or the Laura Ingalls-Wilder book The Long Winter other than to say that when I read them out loud, it feels good. Maybe some kind of read-aloud contest between literary and popular fiction might allow a class to make some observations and a dialogue.

Speaking of The Long Winter, which we are shoveling through a chapter or two a night . . . Birk heard a weather report with a lot of rain in it this morning and said "Dad, it's The Long Thunderstorm, get it?" One of his rare non-Scooby Doo or Andy Griffith Show allusions.


Nabia Khan said...

It was an honor :)

Zan said...

Whoa. Sounds like a fun assignment.