School of Education News

Book Trailer Film Camp a ‘different kind of summer reading program’

August 05, 2013
by Todd Finkelmeyer

Fifteen students who will be entering eighth grade at Madison’s Whitehorse Middle School are in the midst of a unique two-week filmmaking project that was designed to encourage reluctant readers to hit the books.

“I like to think of it as a different kind of summer reading program,” says Kathleen T. Horning, the director of UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), which helps run the program along with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the School of Education.

Participants were given iPad minis at the start of the summer, preloaded with e-books and audio books from the Read On Wisconsin program, a literacy initiative administered by the CCBC that promotes high-quality books for children and teens throughout the state.

The students then were required to read at least two books in order to participate in the special Book Trailer Film Camp. They are now in the midst of the two-week program in which they are learning to create short films, using their iPads, for the books they have read. Whitehorse teachers Sarah Waddell and Brooke Gritt, and library media specialist Jennifer Milne-Carroll, are working in conjunction with Horning and Professor Mary Louise Gomez.  This group spends each weekday afternoon from July 29 to Aug. 9 with the students at Madison East High School creating book trailers -- which are short films designed to give viewers a glimpse into books to pique the interest of potential readers.

Students not only learn the basic techniques of storyboarding, filmmaking and editing, but are taught about fair use and copyright issues, and learn to accept criticism from their peers en route to producing their trailers on the iPad minis. The films they make will be posted at the beginning of the school year on the Read On Wisconsin website for other students to view.

The students’ films will be premiered at the Bridget Zinn Film Festival, which runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Marquee Theater in Union South on the UW-Madison campus. This red carpet event and reception is free and open to the public.

Although this program is only in its second year, Horning notes that all indications point to the initiative having a significant positive impact on the students. While youth tend to lose reading achievement during the break -- which is often referred to as the summer slide -– Horning reports that those who took part in last year’s class either maintained or improved their reading level according to tests administered before (in May) and after (in September) the program.

The film festival's namesake, Bridget Zinn, was a librarian, author, filmmaker and a strong advocate for books and reading, who died in 2011 at age 33. The School of Education's Partner School Network, as well as the Friends of the CCBC's Bridget Zinn Memorial Fund, sponsor the film festival.

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