Eighth graders recently completed a major group research project in social studies as part of their unit on modern China. Student groups were formed around key research questions such as, “What are the key features of Chinese culture?”, “What are key environmental concerns caused by Chinese industrial growth?” and “What are China’s key scientific and technological achievements in the modern era?”
Each student was individually responsible for conducting research and taking notes on the key question. Then, the students worked collaboratively to develop a script for a 3-4 minute video featuring hand drawn illustrations. Finally, each video was shot live in the classroom in a single take after several days of rehearsal.
This project is easily my favorite of the year as it provides numerous opportunities for individualized learning, skill building (e.g., time management, editing, etc.), and creative expression within a collaborative work environment. To allow students the freedom to take risks, the script and video were graded only for completion. In particular, many groups grapple with the challenge of editing their video down to 3-4 minutes. However, the one-shot performance at the end ultimately keeps a tight goal focus for each group.
As I tell them every year, you are guaranteed to get full credit on your video, but every group films a video no matter what!
“I liked it because it was unique. I had a lot of fun and it also had an art part, which made it a lot more interesting.”
“Different groups could focus on a sector of China that they were interested in, and learn about it without the pressure of it being graded.”
“It was fun to learn more about a specific aspect of China and found it interesting to work with people that I don’t normally work with.”
Below are a few examples of student films:
China Film Project: Environment by Jewel Kislin ’23, Sierra Smith ’23 & Emma Hogan ’23
China Film Project: Culture by Elena Tongg Weiler ’23, Yan Yu ’23, Maddie Golden ’23 & Michael Alchaer ’23
China Film Project: Human Rights by Anjali Shankar ’23, Grace Baittinger ’23 & Nabeel Rifai ’23
All student videos are available for viewing and download via Moodle. After logging in as either a current user or a guest, click on ‘China’ on the left sidebar to access the films.