Lesson Plan

Compare and Contrast Movie Trailers over Time

Students use analytic skills to inductively figure out how movie trailers change as our society changes.
Bob C.
Classroom teacher
Taylor Street Elementary School
Sacramento, CA
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My Grades 3, 4, 5, 6
My Subjects English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will be able to...

  • Analyze how two or more texts (movie trailers) address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • Determine if the creators of the trailers were successful in achieving their purposes (to get people to watch the movies) in their relative contexts (different historical eras).
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 5 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook


Before the apps begin to flow, I must give credit where credit is due. I got this idea from Ian Byrd and his wonderful website, Byrdseed (http://www.byrdseed.com/compare-and-contrast-movie-trailers-over-time/). I've merely put together how I used it in my classroom while adding an emphasis on genre study.

First,introduce the idea of a movie trailer by showing an iMovie trailer that was previously created and that stars your students. Discuss how this trailer compares with other trailers they've seen.

Have the students follow the student instructions. 

They should discuss what they notice about the structure of the clip (types of film clips used, text, music, length of clips, etc...) within small groups. 

Have a whole-group discussion and note the structural elements that are important to the clip.

Student Instructions

As you watch, consider the elements of genre that will help you to decide if the author was successful in achieving the purpose (to show you the elements of a modern movie trailer). 

2 Direct Instruction

Google Drive
Free, Paid

Introduce the Genre Study document that will help students to analyze each film trailer. When you show the first trailer, you'll need to go through each aspect (audience, purpose, content, structure and context) so they understand the terms and how they relate to the "text" they're analyzing.

Of course, this can be done without the technology, but I create an assignment on Google Classroom so I can see my students' notes and assess their understandings as they engage in the activity.

Student Instructions

Genre Study


Who is the audience?


How do you know?



What is the purpose (Why is this created)?






What are the contents (What does it contain? Think about certain types of words, images, captions, etc… )?






What is the structure (How is the piece “built”? Think of introduction, conclusion, details that help explain the content, etc…)?







What is the context? (Where and when was this used?) How does the context influence the structure?

3 Direct Instruction

Activity: Broadcasting


Don't compare this to what students (and we) already know about modern movie trailers. Simply use the genre study guide as a way to analyze the elements of this very BIZARRE blast from the past. Walk your students through the elements and record your observations on your own Google Doc as the students do the same on theirs.

4 Guided Practice

Activity: Broadcasting


Show this Star Wars movie trailer. Have the students go through the Genre Study guide, discuss each section with partners or groups and fill it out as best they can. Go over their observations before moving on to the next trailer. Add the question: What are the similarities/differences between the two trailers.

5 Independent Practice

Google Drive
Free, Paid

Have students go through the next three videos and record their observations (including how each new trailer compares to the others) on their Genre Study guides. I usually have students use the same document, but add each trailer title under each category as they move along.




6 Wrap Up/Assessment

Storyboard That
Free, Free to Try, Paid

When finished, make sure your students noticed the most glaring change over time is the absence of any sort of narrator in the most recent trailer.

The final assignment is to create movie trailer storyboards. Based on what they've studied, what do students think the movie trailers of the future will be?