Project Description

Students use their creativity and critical thinking skills to create 1- to 5-minute documentary-style films that spoof whatever concepts they are currently studying.

Project Examples

Hans - A cute, one-minute video about the daily routine of someone's pet woodlouse. This could serve as a great model for a student project that would work well for practicing reflexive verbs.

A Day without a Mexican - Describes the interesting use of a mockumentary as a tool for raising awareness about issues regarding immigration. The video itself is rated R.

Underfunded Schools Forced to Cut Past Tense - A satiric piece from The Onion that could be used to stimulate thinking about the kinds of mockumentaries students might like to make.

Science Fi & UFO "Mockumentary" in Italian - You could ask students to phrase every statement made in the "dubious documentary" in ways that express doubt. For example, "We doubt that . . ., we aren't sure about . . ., etc."

Annoying Sister - As told by an elementary student about his sister

You could also have students make "serious" documentaries such as Ritournelles and Manivelles

Mi autobiografia: Antonio - Autobiography slide show told by a Colombian exchange student in Spanish

Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs | The Onion - Funny spoof that does a great job of replicating both the voice and the genre of newspaper reporting. It could be used as a model for a "dubious" news report--especially if you want students to do this as a written assignment instead of multimedia. Students could also create their documentaries in multimedia forms, but then write an article like this to demonstrate how the same information would be repackaged for distribution by the mass media to a popular audience.

Project Resources

Documentary & Docudrama - Links to definitions, examples, resources, and scoring guides

Roadmap for Creating an Informational Documentary - One-page PDF that visually lays out the steps in creating a documentary

Characteristics of an Effective Informational Documentary - One-page PDF list that could be expanded to include elements from the Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities standards

Media Elements - One-page PDF that outlines key elements students can layer in their documentaries to produce more powerful products

Modern Marvels - A collection of documentary videos from the BBC

Pitch - One-page PDF worksheet that helps students think about the purpose and focus of their documentary before they begin filming

Storyboard - Useful PDF that provides space for students to plan effects, images, soundtrack, transitions, and voiceovers

Technical Resources

Eejit’s Guide to Film-making - This fantastic site contains simple, but comprehensive tips to help amateur movie makers with the pre-, during, and post-production process. The well-designed, nicely illustrated pre-production pages offer suggestions for generating ideas for a movie, laying out a script, structuring the action, and creating storyboards. The other pages include information on costuming, editing, lighting, shooting, and special effects.

Quick 10 Cinematic Errors - A nice article (albeit icky formatting) with 10 Cinematic Errors (for those creating Machinima, but applicable to anything). It will give your students some interesting ideas as well as things to avoid.


  • Animoto - Upload images and the software will analyze them, suggest music, and remix them to create an interesting video collage that you can share with others

  • BubblePLY - Allows you to add speech and thought bubbles to any online video. Great for drawing students' attention to specific features of a video clip, for encouraging them to use their language skills to comment on the content of the video by having them insert them

  • Comeeko - Allows you to drag and drop photos and text to tell stories in a comic book format

  • Dandelife - Allows you to mash up blogs, photos, videos . . . produces a really interesting chronological, visual time line of your posts

  • Jumpcut - Allows free, online video editing

  • Mojiti - Similar to Bubbleply, but allows you to add images and animations in conjunction with pop-up bubbles to video content

  • OurStory - FANTASTIC - upload text, photos, and videos into a simple interface to produce a chronologically sequenced timeline. Can collaborate with others, customize, and share. Choose a type of album, answer questions, it generates for you

  • Slidestory - Allows you to overlay audio narration onto a slideshow

  • Viddler - Allows you to upload up to 500 MB of video directly from the camera to the website, insert timed comments, tags, and share with others

  • VoiceThread - Easy way to connect photos and voices--particularly useful for emphasizingAl language without ignoring visual (in FL classes, for example). Would also be great for capturing family history

Assessment Resources

Sample Informational Documentary Rubric - One-page rubric (Word document) that could be adapted for the language classroom

Digital Media Scoring Guides - A slick interactive rubric maker that allows you to select characteristics for particular kinds of multimedia products commonly assigned in English classes (docudramas, documentaries, how-tos, public service announcements, etc.). It generates the rubric.

Low-tech Alternative

Students can use a National Geographic sort of format in order to accomplish this on paper.