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Bronxville Union Free School District

Sophomores Create Movie Trailers to Show Understanding of Short Stories

Bronxville High School sophomores – who have been studying societies through literature in Franco D’Alessandro’s English classes and exploring how and why societies form, who they serve and how they best serve the good of the people –recently created original movie trailers to visually demonstrate their understanding.

After reading two dystopic short stories, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut and “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula LeGuin, the students were challenged to create a movie trailer for one of the two stories. Working in groups, they crafted a storyboard, pieced together stock footage, found or created their own music and edited a two-minute movie trailer for their chosen story.

“The images in the students’ trailers represented the worlds created by the authors, and this challenged them to read the texts very closely and carefully as both stories dealt with disturbing effects of government control and utilitarianism,” D’Alessandro said.

For their trailers, some students chose to capture their own footage and images by using a drone to shoot in and around the village of Bronxville. Another student composed and recorded all of his own original music for the score, while another group of students acted out the scenes in their trailers.

“The students demonstrated incredible innovation, imagination and creativity,” D’Alessandro added.

Throughout the course, the students examined the differences between utopias and dystopias and studied philosophies such as Bentham’s utilitarianism and Kant’s moral imperative, as well as modern philosopher Robert Nozick and his essay “The Experience Machine.” By reading the texts and engaging in meaningful discussions and Socratic seminars, the students received a rigorous introduction to the intersection of literature and philosophy.

In addition, the unit was set up as a project-based learning experience, called Passion, Position, Protest, to give students an opportunity to research and further explore a topic or issue of personal importance to them.