Recreating history

The 8th grade documentary project heads into its final stretch in May as students recreate iconic images and video footage from key socio-political movements in post-WW II America. Here, film crew capture a staged protest for their documentary on the American criminal justice system.

The five-month multidisciplinary project engages groups of 4-5 students in every phase of production, beginning with intensive research, cited and annotated, using tertiary, secondary, and primary sources. Writing, storyboarding, and decisions around film editing, voiceover narration, and musical soundtracks are all performed collaboratively, a critical aspect of the documentary project, according to Middle School history teacher Tod Rutstein. “Most kids readily note that that the work could not be done without honing their collaboration skills,” he says, although it is not unusual for groups to struggle with that dynamic, at least in the early stages. “In the end, students are most proud of coming together and working extremely hard to create a final product of such quality and integrity. For a teacher, that’s the ultimate gift.”
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