August 2013: iMovie movie trailers across the content areas

Kathy's Katch

I have finally had time to work with iMovie movie trailers on the iPad, and it is so much fun! A movie trailer is a perfect summarizing activity.  It can also act as a “teaser” as an introduction to a presentation or student paper. A movie trailer can readily showcase the acquisition of knowledge of a lesson or unit.

A movie trailer includes many of the literacy areas. There is a component of information literacy as students search for and gather assets to include in the trailer. There are reading and writing skills (traditional literacy) as students write out their ideas and scripts. There are elements of media literacy as students identify their audience, use words to persuade viewers, and maybe transfer another mode of publishing (like a research paper) into a video. Visual literacy comes into play with the choice of colors and font.

The movie trailer component of the iMovie app for the iPad includes several themes to pick from. The transitions and animations are already built-in, but students can do some editing of these themes to showcase their work in a different way.

The first step in making an iMovie movie trailer is taking a look at the script and storyboard pages. It is a good idea for students to spend some time thinking about the theme of the trailer they want to use and start gathering the pictures and videos to use in the production.

One great site by Timothy Jefferson includes PDFs of all of the theme scripts so students can work things out on paper first, as they are going through the development process. Here is a sample of one of the PDFs.

 storyboard sample

Some ideas for using movie trailers across the curriculum include:

  • Have students create an “end of course or class” trailer to introduce others to the course
  • Students can create an advertisement for a product they created in a STEM class.
  • Movie trailers can put a new spin on the “all about me” presentation.
  • Students can help create promo pieces for upcoming school events, class elections, and fund-raising activities
  • A movie trailer can be a very short, but exciting digital story, summarizing the content and/or process in any curriculum area
  • Roz Linder’s ideas for using movie trailers as a way to introduce different viewpoints
  •’s  great resource about the use of film trailers in the classroom
  • Mr. Manion’s Movie Trailer Analysis which could easily be turned into a rubric

You can also find many tutorials which include instructions on the process of using iMovie movie trailers on the iPad

Discovery Education Streaming, with its editable videos and hundreds of images, is a wonderful set of resources to use in iMovie movie trailers.  I decided to utilize DES to make an iMovie movie trailer and only use the iPad.

I logged in to Discovery Education Streaming, did three searches (tornado, storm, lightning) and limited the search to images. I added the images to My Content. When I had collected enough (with three personal ones also), I opened each one and “saved to library” which then put all the images into my Photos app Camera Roll.

I picked the Scary trailer theme, entered the credits information, and added the images to the storyboard, as you see below. I adjusted some of the Ken Burns transitions to highlight the important parts of the photos.

iMovie Movie Trailer scrneechot

I then simply sent the completed movie trailer up to YouTube! Give iMovie movie trailers a try today!

Do you have some ideas for the use of iMovie Trailers across the content areas? Please share in the comments!


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  2. Carlos Páez said:

    Good article and thank you very much for the ideas. I will try to use it in class this course.

  3. Tim said:

    Great article Kathy and thanks for linking to the storyboards I created. I’ve just made 6 more today!

  4. Allan said:

    The “Timothy Jefferson” link is no longer viable. I have followed your blogs and been impressed much of the time by the quality of information, but I would hope bloggers would actually check out links they suggest. It’s frustrating to diligently take the time and effort to read a blog only to find that links do not work, or are unrecognized.

    • Allan said:

      Thanks to Julia Colby I saw the problem. Thanks, Julia!

    • Kathy Schrock said:

      Allan, I always check the links before I put them in the blog. This one was an HTML error, not a URL error. I will fix it.


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  6. Sean Ludwig said:

    What a great blog post Kathy, I really appreciate the handy info you share with us here. I wanted to comment on this particular blog post because I also use online video tools in my classroom for the kids to build their own creative videos. I find it really helps, not only to retain their attention but also teaches them valuable life skills.

    I wanted to share with you the tool I use as I think you may find it fun for the kids to use. Its called and it is an animated video creation platform. I have my kids create short animated videos to explain the topics/assignments they are working on to the class. It adds a bit of a dynamic factor to the otherwise \boring\ powerpoint presentations.

    From there i’ve noticed that the kids have also been sharing their videos on facebook and youtube and have gone on to create other videos for their personal lives. It amazes me everyday what they come up with.. and the fact that the platform if free to use and so easy makes it even better.

    I hope you like my suggestion.. and I thank you again for all your wonderful blogs.. you definitely have an avid follower in me.

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  9. Kaminofen Freunde said:

    My kids made a film and “polished” it with iMovie in only a few hours 🙂
    iMovie = realy creativ tool (and my kids as well) 😉

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