Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Engaging teenagers with book trailers: course report

Book trailers are an excellent means of engaging teenagers in reading and writing. Gordana Nesterovic recently attended a course about them and has shared her report:

I recently attended this CPD session which was organized by Scottish Book Trust as a follow up to the ReadIT course on digital storytelling. ReadIT was a pilot scheme aimed at developing teachers’ skills through the inclusion of ICT tools and digital storytelling techniques in classroom practice. Students and teachers from Denmark, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Scotland took part.

The first part of the CPD session was a video-link presentation by Shirley Brice Heath (linguistic anthropologist and Professor of both English and Dramatic Literature) who talked about young people’s reading habits, preferences and how they choose to interact with texts. I thought it exemplified an interesting approach in trying to encourage teenagers to read and write by "finding them where they are most comfortable" – in social media websites. In creating book trailers, students are applying knowledge gained outside the school back into academic achievement. Creating a book trailer is a form of translation, shifting something from a page in the book into a different medium and timescale. It shows multi-literacies at work: music, visual effects, movement, animation and character portrayal. This method makes the students think of what the book is about, rather than what the book says. Shirley Brice Heath also mentioned ideal outcomes of trailer production: pupils identify with the "good company" of other authors and artists, and take on roles other than that of “pupil” by becoming imaginative, creative and artistic, and by acting as critics and definers of their own work.

The second part of the session was a presentation by two Scottish teachers who took part in this course. They talked about their experiences in implementing these ideas and their feedback was very positive. The children enjoyed the project and the project brought out the best in them. It worked really well with reluctant readers and children who generally came across as being very shy. It developed their analytical, artistic and technical skills. I thought the example of a school that did it as cross-curricular project was very good, it got the Art, Computing and English departments working together which showed the possibility of using this tool in teaching other subjects, not just English. I do not work as a teacher or in a school library, but I can see how this example would be interesting for student teachers and would shed an inspirational light on teaching practices.

Here is an excellent example of a book trailer, as mentioned at the IBBY UK/NCRCL MA Conference Beyond the Book a few weeks ago. It's for A monster calls by Patrick Ness:

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