Movie Poster


Movie Poster is an activity where students create a poster about a text that includes a main graphic image, a tagline, and a quote from a critical review. Each element of the movie poster should be selected carefully and deliberately to accurately represent the text. This activity is used to gauge a reader’s ability to make sense of the material. In this activity readers will create a movie poster for either a fictional movie based on a literary text or a documentary movie based on a non-fiction text. In addition to the movie poster itself, students will explain their design concept in written format.

Learning Strategies 

  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing
Experience A Text, Making Meaning

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Text-Based Answers


Select a fiction or non-fiction text. Depending on available technology, decide whether the poster will be created electronically or on paper. If electronic, select a tool (Word, Publisher, other Web 2.0 tools). If paper-based, gather materials (magazines for image searches, drawing paper, pencils, markers, rulers, and glue). Create an assignment sheet and corresponding rubric. Collect sample movie posters that include taglines and critical reviews

Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce movie poster and the design concept.

    Introduce the purpose of the movie poster as a tool for attracting new people to the text. Review the assignment sheet that includes the expectations for the poster (graphic image, tagline, critical review). It is important to emphasize to students that the design concept (the decisions they make as they are designing the poster) is a crucial component.

  2. Review sample movie posters

    Provide sample movie posters for students to analyze for the key elements. Discuss the purpose of movie posters and the role of the image and text on the poster. It is important to select posters of movies that students have seen so they can provide deeper analysis. Have students label and critique the central image, the byline, and a critical review. If they have trouble critiquing you can ask them guiding questions like “How does this part of the poster affect you as a viewer?” or “Does this part of the poster make you want to go see this movie/read the text?”

  3. Brainstorm themes of the text

    Students can work individually or in pairs to brainstorm the key themes of the text.

  4. Rank themes and justify the ranking with evidence from the text

    Students can rank the brainstorm list in order to narrow down to the essential theme that should be included on the poster. The thought process behind the ranking is the key element in this step. Students should defend their top three rankings with evidence from the text.

  5. Select and defend the theme

    Students will select their theme from the top three. They should justify that selection. This is a good opportunity for students to practice the design concept explanation. “Why did you select this as your theme? Defend your selection.” This could be done in written form, verbally with a peer, or during a student-teacher conference.

  6. Brainstorm a list of images that reflect the theme

    This step will help students start to focus their image search. This should be a very quick, independent activity. Use a timer and ask students to write down in one minute everything they picture in their heads when they think of the theme they selected.

  7. Gather visual images

    If creating a paper-based movie poster, students should flip through magazines to find images that reflect their theme. They can scroll through Google images if using a computer-based design. This initial image gathering is a time for students to be creative. It should be a fluid process between looking at images and generating ideas. As they look through images, they add ideas to the brainstormed list they created earlier. Logistically, it is helpful for students to have an envelope for magazine clippings to help keep track of the images. If working electronically, students should copy and paste images into a Word document or a compile a list of the image links.

  8. Rank images and justify the ranking with evidence from the text

    Students rank the brainstorm list to narrow down the image that should be included on the poster. Students should defend their top three rankings with evidence from the text. A sample sentence-starter could be: “This image reflects the theme because throughout the text …”

  9. Select and defend the most compelling images

    After students have narrowed down to three images, they will select one image to include on the poster. They will defend that selection. This could be an independent step or students could take their three images and theme and ask for feedback from their peers before making the final decision.

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