Learning the different types of Genre is a major aspect of the NeSA-R test. Students need to be able to identify the genre of a passage after reading it. They need to learn characteristics that make up each genre.
When speaking with the 4 th and 5 th grade teachers the number one subject they wanted me to work on with their students was genres. Even though the 5 th graders had been working with genres for the past two years, they still struggled with knowing the difference between each genre. I realized I needed a new way to approach teaching genres.
iMovie is just a platform. I knew I needed something that was engaging to the students and something they would be excited about using. I had used iMovie a number of times to create movies for my lessons so it was something I felt comfortable using. This lesson can be done using other mediums like Animoto or Windows Movie Maker.
As I was saying I was comfortable with iMovie which is why I choose it. My students become engaged anytime technology is brought into a lesson. By using iMovie they would be able to customize their movie. iMovie lets them add music and sounds to their movies and the students are able to pick up on how to use it very easily.
Background teaching before beginning this lesson is essential. Before starting the movies, we spent a lesson on a genre. We discussed the genres mystery, science fiction, fantasy, folk tales, poetry, informative, realistic fiction, and historical fiction. We discussed what each genre was and what makes it that genre.
For this lesson students were divided into partners. The students had to first write their script for their movie. For their script each group had to choose a genre and 3 books that at least one of them had read in that genre. For some students it was easier to pick the genre first and then pick the 3 books. Other groups we had to focus on what books they had read and then find a genre where they had 3.
After picking their three books they had to identify 3 characteristics of each book that shows the book belongs in the genre. The students had to be specific in their characteristics. For example if they choose fantasy for their genre and Harry Potter as one of the books, they couldn’t just say it has unusual creatures. That wouldn’t be specific enough. If they said though Harry Potter has creatures such as giants, centaurs and unicorns that would be more specific.
Once they finished writing their scripts out they used PowerPoint to create slides for their movie. I gave them the general pattern of how to organize their slides, and then they followed it for their script. The pattern was one slide listed the author, title and a picture of the cover of the book, and then they wrote one of their characteristics on the next slide. They continued this until they had finished all 3 books. After writing out the script they got to choose different ways of customizing their PowerPoint through background colors and fonts.
We saved all the slides as JPEGS and then imported them into iPhoto so we would have access to them in iMovie. Students put their photos in order on iMovie and then got to spend time adding music or title slides to the iMovie. This was by far the student’s favorite part and they really came up with some creative ideas.
The whole process took about 6 days to complete. The script writing took about 2 days of 40 minute periods to complete. My students had very little typing skills so transferring their script to PowerPoint also took 2 days. They then could spend a day on both PowerPoint and iMovie to customize. Our 7 th day we had a showing of all their movies which we invited their teacher to come and watch. I then posted all their movies on the school website so they could go and watch ones from other classes. Months later they were still watching other’s movies.
I was amazed when I first started the project how little the students understood genres. When they were writing the script they were under the impression that if it was made up it had to be fantasy, so I had kids listing Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a fantasy. Once we started talking about the characteristics more, they got better.
I noticed after this project the students knew their genre really well, but still struggled with the other genres. I think the next time we do the project instead of picking one genre with 3 books, each pair of students will have to pick 1 book for each genre and give 3 characteristics. This would help them understand all the genres better instead of just one. Also instead of first writing out the script by hand and then going out and typing it, they would write their script at the same time as typing.
The lesson was very engaging with every student wanting to participate and give their best effort on it. The students loved making the movies and especially enjoyed when we got to show them to all their classmates.