Friday, April 24, 2009

Giant Insects are Taking Over!

For whatever reason, insects have long been feared by people. They have ferocious looking , lots of legs, and many of them possess surprising, superhero-esque talents like flying, jumping, stinging, and lifting tremendous weights. Take these atributes and super-size them and you have something truly formidable! 

Over the last two years I have been developing a project that encourages students to explore the world of insects. The "hook" for this lesson is the creation of a movie trailer in the spirit of the man-eating monster movies of the 1950's. Two great examples are "Them" (the original giant insect movie) and "The Beginning of the End

Students select an insect from a list and create a movie plot centered on the actual abilities of the incect. The project is assembled using Microsoft's PhotoStory 3 which is available for download free of charge. I like PS3 because it is simple. It imports photographs (doesn't work with video) and allows students to do some simple editing and add the "Ken Burns Effect" to their images. They can also add a narration to their slides. PS3 allows some creativity without overwhelming students with editing and effects choices. 

The final projects that were turned in this year have been posted on youtube.com for viewing. My lesson still needs improvement as the final products are not as engaging as I had hoped. Next  year I will have students identify the components of a good movie trailer so that their trailers look and feel more like a professional movie trailer. If you have suggestions for improvement or extensions on this project, leave me a comment!

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea for a project! Sounds like fun. I watched a few of the movies and they were clever!

    I know I sometimes struggle with my middle schoolers with some projects - they seem more interested in being goofy than actually having great content. Every year I try to find ways to model the projects for them before we start so they see what my expectations are for a good project. Sometimes they get it, sometimes not, but each year it gets a bit better. Hoepfully you can use some of the best projects as examples for next time.

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