At the end of the year, students always welcome alternatives to book reports and final exams. This is especially true for students who have recently completed standardized testing. Thankfully, there are many options for alternatives to book reports for English Language Arts. A student favorite is the book trailer project – this alternative assessment is perfect for both independent novel studies and whole-class novels!
Using book trailer projects is a great way to incorporate differentiation in English Language Arts. It is also a great way to implement project-based learning within your curriculum. Most importantly, it provides the chance to end the school year on a fun note.
In this blog post, I will show you how I use book trailer projects as an alternative assessment in English Language Arts. This end-of-year activity is suitable for middle school and high school students. It can be used as a project for any novel study. Furthermore, it serves as a fantastic summative assessment for literature circles or independent novel studies.
Why Use Book Trailer Projects as an Alternative to Book Reports?
1. Book Trailer Projects Create Instant Buy-In
There are several benefits to using book trailers as an alternative assessment. The main one: students genuinely enjoy them. There are a lot of project-based assessments that end up being a lot of work for both students and teachers. However, most of your students might already have the skills needed to create a book trailer.
In fact, your students probably use these skills on a daily basis. The majority of them are quite familiar with movie trailers as a medium. This eliminates the need to learn about the medium itself. For inspiration, all students need to do is rewatch a few of their favorite movie trailers. You won’t have a hard time convincing them to do so!
To add to this, video content is viral on social media. The majority of your students probably watch TikTok videos or Instagram Reels. The opportunity to bring video content into the classroom is an instant buy-in for students.
Additionally, students will see this assignment as a chance to entertain their classmates. They will find creative ways to incorporate video trends and editing techniques that they see on social media. This will motivate them to complete this assignment to the best of their ability.
2. Book Trailer Assignments offer Collaboration Opportunities
Project-based assessments are a great opportunity for collaboration. A book trailer assignment is the perfect group project because it requires different skills. Students can decide on who will write the script, film and edit the content, and act in front of the camera. This allows each student to rely on their unique strengths.
In order to create their book trailer, students must collaboratively discuss their novel. This will allow them to learn from their classmates’ insights. As they share their opinions, their understanding of the novel will deepen organically. Because of this, book trailers can be just as beneficial as a standardized exam – if not more!
3. Book Trailer Projects Save Time on Grading
The best part of this alternative assessment is presentation day. Students love sharing their book trailers just as much as they love watching their classmates’ work. You’ll love watching them too. But what you’ll love the most is the ability to grade them on the spot!
To assess this novel study assignment, you can simply print each book trailer rubric before the start of class. As each group presents its trailer, you can fill the rubric out. It is helpful to have classmates share their feedback too. This will give you more time to consolidate and grade on the spot.
4. Movie Trailers are a Great Alternative Assessment for English Language Learners
The best book trailer I’ve seen was by a group of English Language Learners. Book trailers are a great alternative assessment for ELLs. For an ELL student, a written assignment or standardized test may focus more on grammar or syntax than the actual content of the novel.
In contrast, a book trailer allows ELL students to explore characterization and recreate the setting without focusing too much on grammar and mechanics. ELLs can find creative ways that express their understanding of the text.
Another great accommodation for ELLs is extra time. A typical class presentation can place a lot of pressure on an English Language Learner. Pre-recording their book trailer can alleviate some of that performance anxiety. The editing process is also a learning opportunity because ELLs can practice their pronunciation and listen to themselves speak.
What Do You Need to Assign A Book Trailer Project?
When I assigned this alternative assessment for the first time, I did a lot of research on movie editing software. I figured some of my students would need extra support. It turns out that my students were actually the experts!
As mentioned, your students are likely engaging with video content. Some of your students are also likely familiar with video editing. Ask them which programs work best for them. If you have no other factor determining student groups, you could build each group around a student with strong video editing skills.
Here are a few video editing programs for students:
How to Assign and Assess Book Trailers
Mondays Made Easy’s Book Trailer Project Outline includes everything you need to assign this summative assessment. This resource includes assignment instructions, a task checklist, a book trailer rubric, a peer evaluation form, and a student example.
Assignment Scaffolding and Instructions
You can facilitate this project by providing students with assignment instructions. These instructions explain the purpose of a movie trailer. This is helpful for students because it reminds them to avoid simple plot summaries. Instead, their trailer should capture the conflict, theme, and characterization within their novel.
These instructions also include a book trailer reflection. This written reflection is a short individual assignment. In this assignment, students can explain the connection between their book trailer and their literary analysis.
Your students will also benefit from using a student planner and task checklist. This graphic organizer outlines each step to create a book trailer. Each group can create their own target date for completing each step. This will prevent students from leaving most of the work until the last minute.
Alternative Assessment Methods for Book Trailers
There are several opportunities for assessment within this Book Trailer Project Outline. Students will complete both a self-evaluation and peer-evaluation form for each member of their group. To save time, you can have students upload their trailer to a Google Drive folder and share it with you. This allows presentations to run smoothly.
The resource also includes a book trailer rubric for summative assessment. This rubric evaluates knowledge of the novel and inquiry regarding critical perspectives in reviewing the novel. It also evaluates communication by considering grammar, inflection, and visual appeal.
In the past, I’ve assigned a group grade, along with an individual grade that is based on their written reflection and feedback from their peer- and self-evaluation forms.
Book Trailer Assessments for Online Learning
Book trailers are a great option for online end-of-year assignments because they are very suitable for distance learning. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate remotely. They can film their content from the comfort of their homes, and edit their content to simulate the feeling of being together.
In addition, there is really no way to plagiarize this assignment. Academic integrity is one of the most challenging aspects of remote learning. By using book trailers as an alternative to book reports, you’ll be sure that students are submitting original work.
The book trailer project is my favorite end-of-year activity for English Language Arts. They’re a great assignment for project-based learning. Additionally, they provide a creative alternative to book reports. There is no better time to harness your students’ excitement over video content. For handouts and rubrics to facilitate this assignment, check out this Book Trailer Project Outline on Teachers Pay Teachers.