Character Vlogs: Beyond the Book Report

posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grade 6 students have been putting a variety of skills to use in a recent English Language Arts project. Gone are the days of simply being tasked with reading a book and returning with a written report: this project incorporated technology, critical thinking, reflection and imagination in a way that truly immersed the students into their chosen book.

They had from January to March to finish a story of their choosing, so every student was reporting on a different book. They were then tasked with not only creating three 1 ½ to 2-minute vlogs (video blogs) – each focused on an interesting or important plot point in the beginning, middle, and end of the book – but to create them while filming themselves in character, telling their perspective of what was happening! Students had to speak clearly, take on the character, and stay in the role. The videos will be shared consecutively amongst the class once all three are complete.

Yanyu chose a book called The Great Airport Mystery, the ninth book in The Hardy Boys series, by Franklin W. Dixon. His choice was based on the diversity of topics in the story, as well as the variety of exciting twists and turns. Yanyu reported on his book as 18-year-old main character, Frank. He told of a strange car crash in which they are hit by a low-flying plane, an encounter with an unfriendly stranger, and investigating missing mining equipment. Yanyu said he tried to memorize his script, so it wouldn’t look like he was reading, but it was a little too hard. His vlog took about five takes, and he filmed it himself in his bedroom.

Pierce picked Ice Time by David Skuy. “My mom buys a lot of books, and she thought I’d like this one,” he said. For his vlog, he created his own green screen with cardboard, and filmed himself as the main character, Rocket, talking of his first NHL training camp. He talked of his struggles with past issues relating to his strength and height, and his motivation for getting into the NHL: to provide for his family. Pierce attempted the vlog “probably a hundred times!” in an effort to memorize the script so it wouldn’t appear that he was reading on-screen. “My favourite part was making the script as well as finding out what’s important, and that’s working hard for your family.”