I really must blog more often

I have many many different things to say about being a Teacher Librarian, but squeezing the time into my day to compose the prose can be a mite difficult, to say the least! For want of some other organisational technique, why don’t I talk about two very different projects I have undertaken this year – the link between them being different sessions I attended at the joint CBCA-Tas and ASLA-Tas conference here in Hobart earlier this year.

Let’s start with a fabulous activity I tried with two Year 8 English classes.

Book Trailers

We had Dr Susan La Marca as a keynote speaker, and also as a speaker on the second day, talking about integrating technology to enhance learning and teaching. The activity which really caught my imagination was a way of making movie-trailer-style reviews of books – Book Trailers. Dr La Marca said that she had had this idea when she a new book being promoted on a publisher’s website, and so she had tried it with her students with great success.

I took this idea to some of the teachers who bring their classes to the library for Silent Reading during English lessons, and offered to set up and run the technology side of it. One of the Yr 8 teachers was interested, so we ran it with his two classes. I set up a wiki on the school library website, with different pages outlining the task, the tools, and the assessment criteria. The aims for this activity were to:

  • Provide a mulitmedia alternative to a written or oral book report
  • Encourage students to plan, draft and edit a project
  • Introduce students to issues of copyright on images and sound files available on the internet
  • Introduce students to alternative search engines such as flickrCC
  • Reinforce the referencing message
  • Emphasise the role of the library in providing information literacy skills as well as leisure reading materials

I created a sample book trailer to demonstrate what we were after, and led the students through the assessment checklist rating my example. When we were sure that the students had understood the task, we let the students get on with it.

Over the next two to three weeks, the students were really focussed and motivated – they worked hard on their projects, frequently previewing and editing their work; they asked lots of questions, and sought help to identify copyrighted and copyright-free images. Toward the end it was clear that some students needed more help with time-management; they hadn’t quite completed their book trailers, or hadn’t added sound, but that is one of those minor tweaks that will be used to improve the activity next time.

When the students had to hand in and share their work, it was great to see the effort that had gone into matching images to events/plots/characters, to see the connections that students had made between the ‘feel’ of a story and what kind of music/soundtrack could evoke that feel. I missed the sharing session of the second class, and afterwards a couple of the boys came to see me to say that they had really enjoyed the task, and that it was interesting to see what other boys had made for different books.

I have two of the students’ final book trailers, and will be collecting some more to share on the school intranet (once the boys have inserted a copyright notice on the last screen). I am thrilled with the students’ enthusiasm and engagement, and am very keen to run it again next year, with a few minor adjustments to achieve an even higher rate of completion.