Friday, October 21, 2011

Banned Book Movie Trailers and QR codes

About a month ago, Karl Fisch sent along a tweet from a librarian in Grand Junction, Becky Johnson.  Becky was creating QR codes to go along the spines of books in her library. The QR codes linked to YouTube videos students had created based upon the books.

After expressing my interest in building from Becky’s work, Karl contacted her to gain more information about the coding creating process and help us get started.  I thought I would pass along Karl’s questions as well as Becky’s responses:

  1. What site are you using to generate the QR codes? I know there are a bunch, but thought if you had one that worked well, we'd use that.
    1.  I use Kaywa QR-Code Generator<> - No registration or download needed, just paste the link to the site you want to generate the code for, choose the size and click generate.
  2. Any advice on printing? My concern is getting them small enough to fit on the spine of a book but still be a functional QR code.
    1. Printing is easy.  Copy (copy image) the code and paste into Word or a Google Doc.  Resize to fit the spine and print.  I've made them as small as a half inch square and never had a problem scanning them. Just make sure you re-size proportionally.  I use the ScanLife app on my Android phone, but I've seen kids use other apps and the Google Goggles App works too.  I just print them off on a laser printer and fix them on the spine with book tape.
  3. Did you do book trailers at YouTube, or did they create a site to host the videos, or what? Any links to samples you might share?
    1. I've got kids who've created videos in Animoto<>, FlixTime<>, Photopeach<> and Photostory.  It always works better if they can be exported or saved in a format that can be uploaded to YouTube, however I've included some examples that play in the native app, like Photopeach and FlixTime.  I sometimes create codes linked to student blog post book reviews, so I've included some examples of those.
  4. Anything else we should ask but I haven't thought of?
    1. 4. Problems encountered:

       *   As long as kids have devices with 3G or 4G access, Android or Apple, they can view YouTube videos and they always load quickly and play well.  My district's wi-fi blocks YouTube (grrrr), but the kids tend to loan devices to each other to enable scanning.  The QR codes are fairly new and I don't have a lot of them on books yet, so it is the geeky kids that are accessing them right now.
       *   Animoto is my favorite site for students to create book trailers, but I can't get codes linked directly to the Animoto site to play on some devices, so I always export or upload to YouTube. Using the Animoto Educator Plus Account<> allows students to make videos with no length restrictions and they can be exported directly to a YouTube account (if the student has one) or saved as an mp4 file, which I can upload to my YouTube account.
       *   I've tried uploading to SchoolTube.  The codes and links work fine, but the videos take forever to load and tend to look wonky on a device.
       *   The flash-based videos in PhotoPeach and FlixTime don't show on Apple devices.
    2. Samples:
During the month of October, along with our study of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, we read banned and challenged books. The kids print off a permission letter from our webpage getting their parent’s approval on a banned or challenged book they wish to read.  In year’s past, we have had the kids complete a banned book project where the students create a visual on their desk space presenting the book, the research on why the book was banned or challenged, and then, take a stance on whether or not they agree with the banning and challenging.
After hearing of Becky’s school’s work, I threw out the idea to Maura Moritz( my partner in all things 9th grade Honors)of our kids making movie trailers for their banned/challenged book. The kids were ecstatic about the thought of creating a movie.  We worked with the original rubric for the project, and adapted the rubric to fit our new idea. The kids wanted a lot of freedom in determining what parts of the project could be video and what parts could be still written. I thought this was important since some kids didn’t want to publish to the world their belief on whether or not a book should be banned or challenged.

To make this new project even more serendipitous, at parent teacher conferences, one of my student’s mom happens to be a creative director who has created a number of commercials and worked with movie trailers as well. Mrs. Friskey offered to come into class and help the kids think about movie trailers offering up her feedback to the kids. This was an amazing opportunity.  It helped the kids and myself refine the project even more.  Here is the new rubric based upon her suggestions and tips to the kids.  Also, here is some of her sage advice to our classes:
Mention/present your product and share its information/benefits in the best creative way to garner the desired response.
What Makes a Movie Trailer? (think of a movie trailer as a tease)
(Mention Product) The name of the movie (book)- this often appears at the end of the trailer. 
(Info/Benefits)  Plot points or cool prestige elements such as the director’s or actors’ names. Be careful not to give away whole story.
(Creative) Exciting editing, clever copy, memorable scenes or dialogue, compelling music. Most important to storyboard out idea.  Think about using catch phrases (powerful quotes), use imagery (taste, touch, see, hear, smell), LESS IS MORE
(Desired Response) TICKET SALES! Money? Get people to read your book?

She is also offering to stay in contact with the kids while they are working on their movie trailers. They can even post questions to her.

We watched some movie trailers in class today ( and to stimulate our thinking towards creating movie trailers.  Next week, we have one day in class where we will be solely working on the movie trailers. Other than that day, the kids are completing these projects outside of class.  The kids can use any video production software they desire. We have flip cameras available to them for check out as well.  Some kids are using my Animoto educator account to create their films; others are using MovieMaker, iMovie or Photostory. 

We plan on having a movie watching day with a special award for best trailer.  Karl and our library/media specialist, Mr. Tracy Murphy, will help the kids create the codes.  The kids are submitting all their projects through a Google Form to easily collect their masterpieces. I will post our results as well as feedback from the kids when the projects come in on October 31.

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