Tag Archives: video

YA Book Trailers

If you’re reading this post, please know that I’ve moved the How to Teach a Novel blog to a new site. There you’ll find even more recent posts! Please change your bookmarks.

Teens@Arapahoe Libraries District has posted a nice collection of YA (young adult) book trailers. I’ve posted on trailers before, describing how they can get students excited about new book titles in the same way that movie trailers get us psyched about new films.

Some of my faves featured there? The Book Thief by by Markus Zusak, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy by Barry Lyga, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and The Batboy by Mike Lupica.

Check out the trailers, read the books, bring them into the classroom!

If you need some additional ideas for how to use book trailers, check out my suggestions in the latter half of this post from my Teach with Picture Books blog.

If you’re seeking a terrific book extension project for students, have them create their own trailers. Whether live action or still image, putting pictures to words requires a number of critical thinking skills. Need a platform for that? Check out the Fifty Digital Storytelling Tools listed at CogDogRoo.

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Lights! Cameras! Notes!

I’ve earned a reputation among my students. I never let them watch a video without good purpose, and I often require that notes be taken in some form.

Winn Dixie 

So here’s a pretty generic note-taking sheet that I’ve used in the past with Because of Winn Dixie. Email me if you’d prefer it in Word format; for some reason that didn’t translate well to the Scribd site.

You might also be interested in the Movie Worksheets web site, although at this point in time the resources there are sparse. If you’ve created any movie study sheets, feel free to add them.

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60 Second Recap

If you haven’t checked out 60 Second Recap, you’re in for a treat. 60 Second Recap is a collection of video clips covering the plots, characters, symbolism, and more of favorite classic literature for teens. But it’s not a dry, overly-academic examination. It’s a lively conversation hosted by a real-life, somewhat zany hostess named Jenny (you can find her on Twitter).

The site’s overview gives you a sense of the tongue-in-cheek humor that’s behind this great site:

“Eat your lima beans,” Mom used to say.

And now that you’re out on your own, honestly, are lima beans a staple of your culinary repertoire?

There, in a lima bean, lies the problem confronting the great works of literature. We’re all forced to read them in school so we can get good grades so we can go to a good college so we can get a good job so we can forget all about that literature they used to force us to read so we could get good grades.

The 60second Recap™ aims to break this cycle of canonical irrelevance. We want to help teens (yes, teens of all ages!) engage with literature. We want to help them see it not as some chore to be endured, but as — dare we say it? — the gift of a lifetime. How? Through the language of our time — the language of video. Video that’s focused, engaging, informative … and short enough to hold just about anyone’s attention.

Smirk if you must. Consider this yet another mile-marker on civilization’s road to perdition. But here’s the fact: You won’t get non-readers to read by forcing them to read more. You’ll get them to read by opening their eyes to the marvels awaiting them between the covers of that homework assignment.

With the 60second Recap™, teens finally have an alternative to the boring, text-based study guides that have burdened them for generations. And — who knows? — maybe that’s just what they’ll need to begin a love affair with literature, one that will last a lifetime.

In addition to the videos on classics such as Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, and Hamlet, users will find a section called Recap Resource which includes a Dictionary of Terms (allegory, motifs, subtext, protagonist, etc.) and How to Write a Paper (that Won’t Put your Teacher to Sleep).  Again, these are presented in video form, which them much less intimidating for the average high school user.

The site also features an area for video responses from users, and another for users to request titles for recapping.

I highly recommend you visit the site and give it a look! I’m curious to see how it will change as it grows.

Know another great site for teachers working with novels? Find me on Twitter!

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Stephen King on Short Stories

One of my all time favorite short story writers expounds here on short stories and a bit more. If you have sensitive ears, skip this one!

Do you agree with King? Have readers become lazy?

Personally, I can’t say I disagree with him.

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The Power of the Preview

I recently read how one teacher provides her students with the entire plot of a new novel before beginning a study. Her thinking? If her students understand the basic story line, they”ll better be able to focus upon deeper aspects of the novel.swindle

Not a crazy idea. Think about the last movie preview you saw. Did it really leave you wondering about the film’s outcome? On the contrary. It presented you with enough bits and pieces that you could likely cobble together a reasonable summary of the entire film. So why bother seeing the movie?

To that question, a multitude of answers. Me, personally? Nothing beats watching a movie on the big screen with a big tub of buttered popcorn warming my lap. 95% of the time I know exactly what will happen (especially if the plot line follows the universally popular Hero Myth). What I’m there to see is how the pieces fall into place. I’m there to see what lies between them.

With this in mind, I took a different approach to introducing a new novel recently. Rather than share thematically related picture books, or draw out prior experiences relating to the book’s topic, I showed them a preview. And you know what? It really got them psyched. More importantly, just as my colleague hypothesized earlier, it helped my students to relax and focus on elements beyond the basic plot.

See Scholastic’s preview of Swindle for yourself. See if it doesn’t create some excitement for the reading experience. (This book trailer is just one of sixty-five book video previews available at the Scholastic site).

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In Search of the Novel

In Search of the Novel is a series of 8 one hour videos produced by Annenberg Media. From the series introduction:

Discover creative strategies for bringing novels to life for middle and high school students with this workshop, featuring the words and works of 10 novelists, including Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, J. K. Rowling, and Toni Morrison. Within the framework of real classroom practice, the workshop offers interviews with contemporary authors, literary critics, teachers, and students, as well as film clips from adaptations of the novels featured. In Search of the Novel poses basic questions that can help you examine the genre from multiple perspectives and bring it to life for your students.

If you’re a teacher serious about implementing an engaging experience with novels, this free on-line resource is a must-see. As a first time user you are required to sign up, but that’s it. You can then view the videos at your leisure with no software or video player downloads needed.

You also have the option to purchase the series on DVD or VHS with learning guides. This would make a great topic for a professional study group at the middle or high school level.

A synopsis of the individual workshops is listed below:

Workshop 1. Who Owns the Novel?
(illustrating how each reader makes a novel his or her own, depending on the reader’s culture, class, generation, gender, and personality)

Workshop 2. What’s the Story?
(how an author spins a story and why it is the most important aspect of the novel)

Workshop 3. Are Novels Real?
(must a novel bear some likeness to reality?)

Workshop 4. Where Do Novels Come From?
(the genesis of characters, plot, themes, and interpretation from the novelist’s point of view)

Workshop 5. Why Do I Have To Read This Book?
(the workshop’s ten novels are examined to see why they appear on recommended reading lists; also reasons for reading)

Workshop 6. What’s in It for Me?
(ways to help students respond to novels on deeply personal levels)

Workshop 7. Who Am I in This Story?
(examining the complex ways readers identify with characters in a novel)

Workshop 8. Am I Getting Through?
(teachers examine their effectiveness in helping students comprehend and appreciate novels; teachers also discuss and demonstrate strategies for evaluation)

9 and 10. Authors’ Notes
(contemporary authors — including Orson Scott Card, Horton Foote, Ernest Gaines, Arthur Golden, Daniel Keyes, Katherine Paterson, J. K. Rowling, and Leslie Marmon Silko — reveal even more of their own writing process)

In Search of the Novel is a little-known gem which you’ll come to treasure!

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Top Ten YouTube Videos for the Classroom

You’re reading this post at the old How to Teach a Novel site. Continue reading this post or the most recent post at the new site.

Tara Seale has compiled a nice list of the Top Ten YouTube Videos for the Classroom over at her Enhanced English Teacher blog. If you’re a middle or high school English teacher, you’ll find some great resources and insights there.

For example, those of you who have had the immense pleasure of attending my Teaching that Sticks workshop or my How to Teach a Novel workshop have heard me mention Joseph Campbell’s “Hero Myth.” The clip below features a discussion of the Hero Myth as it appears in The Matrix. Christopher Vogler, author of The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writersand Using Myth to Power Your Story takes over where Joseph Campbell left off. This snippet of video serves to set up this topic up for classroom discussion.

Thanks for the list, Tara! Visit her site and give her some suggestions for building it to a Top Twenty!

(Missed my How to Teach a Novel workshop? Visit my How to Teach a Novellens over at Squidoo.com for an abbreviated run-down).

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