Cool Movie Trailer Activity

Trade boring old papers for fun videos – here are 5 steps my colleague followed

My colleague Sara Kelty, who teaches Global History and Geography in our high school, shared with me this cool movie trailer activity she created. I couldn’t wait to blog about it (and soon will steal it for my own middle school students!).

Here’s how she organized it:

1. Sara had students write a paper about a famous hero from World War 2. The paper had to tell the tale of a real life hero of the Second World War. The paper also had to take the form of a proposal – to convince a movie producer to make a film about this individual.

2. Sara assessed the work and then chose a number of them that she felt were the best.

3. Those students who wrote the best papers were declared directors. These directors, along with their teammates, would then create a movie trailer – as if a movie were being made about the person at the heart of the paper. Sara set up a process for determining the remaining roles that needed filling: actors, costume and prop coordinators, writers, editors, etc.

“For this activity, I chose the groups,” Sara explained. “It was pretty complicated but I think it worked out well because it gave the students voice and choice but it allowed me the final say. I had the directors write down five people that they would be interested in having work on their movie.  The directors shared their hero’s story and then the other students wrote down at least two stories they were interested in working on.  They also wrote down their strengths and interests, for instance acting, writing, editing.  Forming the groups was like putting together a puzzle but we were all happy with the results.”

4. The students, using their own cameras and a variety of editing software, filmed the trailers.

5. Finally, the completed trailers were presented. First to the class, by the directing team, to generate interest and excitement about their film and the hero they were focused on. Finally, they were presented to 8th grade social studies students – the prospect of an authentic reaction from an independent audience generated much buy-in from the high school production teams.  

“Many of the students used the same editing software iMovie for the Mac,” Sara lamented. “So, I was blown away by the first clip I watched and then saw similar elements and heard the same soundtracks again and again. Next time, I will give the students better guidelines to ensure more diversity.”

Here’s one of the trailers:

I have never done an activity like this, but I am itching to give it a try. And, my students, who are getting tired of the same-old, same-old, probably want me to do something like this also!

Have you ever had students create videos or movie trailers? What are your tips? What advice would you give to a first-timer?

We would love to hear your story!

If you want more details about this project, Sara Kelty can be contacted at

Hi 5!

2 thoughts on “Cool Movie Trailer Activity

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