Lights. Camera. Action! To switch it up and give students a creative outlet, Flower Mound’s Downing Middle School 8th grade U.S. History classes created “Common Craft” videos to demonstrate their understanding of the seven principles of the United States Constitution: popular sovereignty, republicanism, federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, limited government and individual rights.
For those who may not know, “Common Craft” videos use stop-action animation with whiteboards and/or paper cutouts to illustrate/define a topic.
“My hope is once my students get the definitions, draw pictures and narrate their videos that they will fully understand what the seven principles are,” 8th grade U.S. History teacher Jennifer Thetford said. “We decided to do something more fun and hope once students create their videos, they can use it to go back and review.”
Students paired into groups of two to research, define and draw simple images of the seven principles. When the time came to make the movie – using district-issued iPads thanks to LISD’s 1:X initiative – one student narrated the video, while the other slid pictures/drawings in and out of the camera’s frame.
Eighth graders enjoyed the change of pace.
“This project is great because we get to draw, write and compile all of our photos and information into one simple video,” student Madilyn Weems said. “It’s definitely a great way to learn new information and get to the bottom of it in a short of amount of time.”
Upon competition, students shared their videos in a single Google Classroom newsfeed, where they could log in and view one another’s videos for peer review using a rubric. To culminate the project, each class discussed what the principles represented and why.
“I tell all my students that if there is one thing for them to take away from this class it is that they need to learn the Bill of Rights, because they are relevant to them as American citizens,” Thetford said. “If they don’t know their rights, someone may try to take advantage of them and regardless it’s important to know no matter how old they are.”
Elizabeth Haas is part of the public relations team with the Lewisville Independent School District.