Rookie of the Year Trailer by Anna Chan Rekate
I teach third grade at the Hong Kong International School. For over two decades, I’ve taught students from grades 3 to 12. I’ve worked in public and private schools in New York City and in international schools in Shanghai and Hong Kong. My favorite thing about teaching elementary school is encouraging young people to become life-long readers. How important is reading to me? My daughters, Emma and Elizabeth, are named for Jane Austen characters.
Last August, I read Phil Bildner’s A Whole New Ballgame as the year’s first classroom read aloud. With each passing scene, I watched my students’ eyes scan our room and saw the lightbulbs going off in their heads as they made text-to-self connections. We were sitting in a third grade class in Hong Kong, but they’d been transported to Room 208 with Rip and Red:
Wait! Mrs. Rekate has a “Reading is Not Optional” sign hanging in the room just like Mr. Acevedo!
Wait! Our homophone wall is under the “Confusing Words” strip too!
Wait! Mrs. Rekate wants us to write our ideas in a writing scrapbook!
Wait! How come we don’t have a bathtub in our classroom?!?!
We built our 3B1 community in Hong Kong; Mr. Acevedo built his community at Reece Jones Elementary School. We set up our writing scrapbooks; Mr. Acevedo’s students set up their writing notebooks. My students found stacks of books on their desks; Mr. Acevedo handed stacks of books to Diego to choose from. And then, in a case of life imitating art, we used Mr. Acevedo’s perspective writing lesson and stood on our desks and wrote about what we saw.
Phil Bildner and I have been colleagues and friends for many years. We first met in the spring of 1999 at P.S. 333 in New York City. I was on the committee that hired him to teach at the middle school. Following his interview, we wanted to hire him on the spot and have him start immediately. Phil and I are always comparing notes about lessons and pedagogy, but we disagree about baseball — it’s a Yankees vs. Mets kind of thing! Phil is forever recommending new books to me, which I pass on to my students.
When I told the students we were going to meet Phil via Skype, they couldn’t contain their excitement. They made lists of questions to ask and counted down the days. When his face finally appeared on the screen, they waved and cheered like crazy sports fans.
During that first Skype session, the students asked Phil where he got his ideas for his picture books and chapter books. Phil asked the students to help “build the world” for one of his future characters, thereby teaching them about character development and setting. He recommended picture books, graphic novels, and scary books. The kids went nuts when he suggested Cece Bell’s El Deafo because half of them had already read it!
This author became their author, and during the year, we Skyped several more times. Kids prepared by having their favorite books on hand. James, who sported a Mets cap just for Phil, shared his copy of one of the books from Phil’s Sluggers series. He explained that his dad had been on a business trip and brought it back from the United States. Hiro held up Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, a graphic novel Phil had mentioned previously, and that Hiro had subsequently read and re-read a dozen times.
So when Phil mentioned that he needed some help making a book trailer for Rookie of the Year, the second book in the Rip and Red series, twenty-two hands shot up. When I told the students they would need to read the book on their own time and read it fast, those twenty-two hands stayed up. Eventually, we had to whittle the number down to seven by picking out of a hat.
Over the course of six weeks, Naya, Anya, James, Derek, Christie, Charis, and Morton Skyped with Phil several times. The students studied other book trailers. They brainstormed ideas. They drafted a script, which they shared on a Google Doc, and Phil gave his feedback. The students made the changes and got real world lessons on the importance of editing. They laughed when my “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” suggestion was nixed because of copyright concerns. Using iMovie, we shot the scenes and recorded the narration, and when time became a bit of a factor at the end, my daughter Emma stepped in and helped out with the video editing.
Each time there was an updated draft of the video, the kids wanted to show the class. They were super proud of their work, and now they are super excited their efforts will be watched by students, teachers, librarians, and readers across the world! Talk about a purposeful and authentic form of publishing!
We hope you enjoy our Rookie of the Year book trailer.
Anna Chan Rekate currently teaches third grade at the Hong Kong International School. An avid fan and follower of the Nerdy Book Club, Anna hopes to meet many from the online community this November when she attends her first NCTE annual conference in Atlanta.