At the end of the year, students always welcome alternatives to final exams. This is especially true for students who have recently completed standardized testing. Thankfully, there are many options for alternative assessments in the English classroom.
I’ve tried a handful of alternative assessments for final exams. Some of them work well; others require a lot of scaffolding or take the focus away from curriculum content. Undoubtedly, there’s one project-based alternative assessment that is my favorite: the Movie Trailer Assignment.
Using movie trailers as an alternative assessment is a great way to incorporate differentiation in English Language Arts. It is also a great way to incorporate project-based learning into 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 movie trailers as an alternative assessment in English. This end of year activity is suitable for middle school and high school students. It can be used as a summative assessment for any novel. Furthermore, it serves as a fantastic summative assessment for literature circles or independent novel studies.
Why Use Movie Trailers as an Alternative Assessment in English?
1. Movie Trailers Create Instant Buy-In
There are several benefits to using movie 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 movie trailer.
In fact, your students are probably using 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. Movie Trailers offer Collaboration Opportunities
Project-based assessments are a great opportunity for collaboration. A movie trailer 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 movie 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 grow organically. Because of this, movie trailers can be just as beneficial as a standardized exam – if not more!
3. Movie Trailers Save Time on Grading
The best part of this project-based assessment is presentation day. Students love sharing their movie 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!
I simply print each rubric before the start of class. As each group presents their trailer, I fill the rubric out. It’s 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 Great for ELLs
Believe it or not, the best movie trailer I’ve seen was by a group of English Language Learners. Movie 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 movie trailer allows ELL students to explore characterization and recreate the setting without focussing 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 movie 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 Movie Trailer Assessment?
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 Movie Trailers
Mondays Made Easy’s Movie Trailer Project Outline includes everything you need to assign this summative assessment. This resource includes assignment instructions, a task checklist, a 4-level 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 movie trailer reflection. This written reflection is a short individual assignment. In this assignment, students can explain the connection between their movie 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 movie 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.
There are several opportunities for assessment within Mondays Made Easy’s Movie Trailer Project Outline. Students will complete both a self-evaluation and peer-evaluation form for each member in 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 4-level rubric for summative assessent. 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.
Movie Trailers as an Alternative Assessment for Online Learning
Movie trailers are great option for virtual end of year assignments for English Language Arts 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 movie trailers as an alternative assessment, you’ll be sure that students are submitting original work.
Movie trailers are my favorite end of year assignment for high school. They’re a great project-based assessment for English Language Arts. Additionally, they provide a creative alternative assessment to final exams. There is no better time to harness your students’ excitement over video content. For handouts and rubrics to facilitate this assignment, check out Mondays Made Easy’s Movie Trailer Project Outline on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Click Here to Download Mondays Made Easy’s Movie Trailer Project Outline