Making iMovie Trailers to Learn about Plants in Science Class

Making iMovie Trailers to Learn about Plants in Science Class

Teachers are always in search of cool ideas to add to their lessons. I cannot remember a time in my 25 plus years of teaching that I wasn’t looking for something new to grab the interest of my students. How can learning be both fun and meaningful? This is a battle I see teachers struggle with every year, no matter the subject area or the age of the students. Often teachers are looking for ways to assess students other than using traditional tests. Are projects the answer? What about doing a presentation? Is there time in the schedule to teach the content and create the projects or productions? The struggle is real. For many teachers they are driven by standards and time restraints. So when I come across a program that has withstood time by evolving to meet the needs of its user, I cannot help but share how it is used. The program I am referring to is iMovie.

Evolution of iMovie: Originally designed in 1999, iMovie has gone through numerous transformations. The program itself has had over 20 version updates and redesigns for the Mac and 9 for iOS. Apple is continually adapting the program to meet the ever growing needs of the public. The program has full versions for formal movie making productions as well as what I call mini-versions for quick trailer and movie presentations.

Computer? Mobile Device? Both? Trailer? Movie? Deciding the platform is the first step in iMovie production. Do you want formal editing and high quality movie production? If so, you want to work on a Mac. Do you want a fun movie trailer with a template to follow? If that is the case, you want to do a trailer on a mobile device. A cool aspect that iMovie now has it that you can transfer between both! You can start on a phone or iPad and airdrop to another device. So if you want to use it in your class, you need to think about what devices the students will use.  Check out this link to learn more about the program options: Apple iMovie site

How a 6th Grade Science Teacher Used iMovie in Class: Jane Settle, a 6th grade science teacher at Porter-Gaud School, has over 20 years of teaching experience. She is one of those teachers who is always looking for ways to reach her students and share her love of learning. I offered iMovie training and she was one of the first to enroll. She shared that she has wanted to use iMovie in class because she has seen other teachers use the program and has heard so much positive feedback about the process. I met with Ms. Settle and we went through the differences between movies and trailers. I shared templates and we played with the program. Ms. Settle’s excitement was contagious! I found myself wanting to be a student in her class and complete the project she was designing!  

The Science Activity: The students in 6th grade science class were learning about plants and Ms. Settle decided that creating an iMovie trailer was a great introduction tool for this unit.

  • First, she used the Notability app to let students rank their choices based on personal interest. Students brainstormed plants that fit in the following categories: food, medicine, building, clothing, paper/art, and aesthetics.
  • From there the students ranked their top 3 choices of plants and shared the rankings with Ms. Settle. Grouping was done based on interest. Students were put in groups of two or three. An occasional student was allowed to work individually if there was no shared interest and he/she was passionate about a specific plant.
  • Ms. Settle chose four trailer templates for the students to use for the projects. She did this because she did not want the students to take too much time on choosing and she wanted the theme to match the content. She felt four of the themes were appropriate. Students then were given the template for planning purposes. (Here are the templates for you to use: PDF iMovie Trailer Planners.) Students were held individually accountable by the work that was written on the template.
  • The template was turned in and was used along with the rubric for assessment.
  • The topics for the template included the name of plant, how the plant was grown, where the plant was grown, how the plant is harvested, and how products are made and used.
  • The template allowed for the students to create an outline and plan the video before videoing the content. Once the template was created, videos and pictures were shot and imported in the program.
  • After the video trailer was complete, the students practiced their presentation skills and shared it with the class.

Students were introduced to and learned so much about plants such as quinine, cacao, Madagascar periwinkle, Venus fly trap, bamboo, oak, sugarcane, papyrus, spices, pacific yew and more! The enthusiasm and excitement from the iMovie trailers was the perfect introduction to the plant unit!

I consider iMovie to be a timeless tool for students and teachers! I am sure I will be sharing more iMovie ideas in the future!

Until then- love what you do and do what you love!

Peace Out,



2 thoughts on “Making iMovie Trailers to Learn about Plants in Science Class

  1. You rock!! But I knew that already! Thank you so much for your help & encouragement! I am more excited about this than anything I’ve done in quite a while! Hugs!!

  2. You are an inspiration to other teachers! I love that you are always willing to learn new things and challenge yourself professionally. Your students are lucky to have you sharing your passion for science and learning with them!

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