I'm a big fan of Common Craft videos.

This is the third year I've done these videos as a mid-unit project with my 7th graders during their unit in Roman History and the project has evolved significantly over that time:

The first year I did the project, I was just happy to get through the project; there were a lot of elements to it and just juggling everything was something of a triumph. I discovered though, that given too much freedom in picking their topics, all 7th graders will turn their videos to the topic of stabbing someone. I made a note to myself to narrow the potential topics to stab-resistant subjects.

The following year (last December), I realized that my 7th graders need a lot more scaffolding than my 8th graders. Students' instructions need to be very explicit; they tend to do exactly what they are told - no more, no less. I was also frustrated by the old problem of group-work. Less motivated students would leave the diligent students to do most of the work, then share the same grade.

This year, I made it a point to write very, VERY detailed instructions. I wrote a rubric that graded the research and preparation parts of the project much more heavily than the actual movie, which had the double advantage of keeping students on track and being more fair, in terms of group-vrs.-individual work.

[Click below to download my project instructions and rubric.]


My 7th grade Social Studies classes have been studying the Roman Empire. One of my classes was assigned to make Common Craft-style videos on a topic of their choice. Each group chose a different topic, but somehow, each video came back to people stabbing each other.