Want your students to amaze you? Try having them create original documentaries. My students loved this project, and I was blown away by the documentaries they created.
I started by having the students watch a documentary (I used "Supersize Me), and they recorded features of documentaries (Titles, Voice-over, Music..) We made an anchor chart of these text features and referred to it often.
Then, I had the students break into small groups an pick an issue at our school (such as recycling program, the cafeteria food...). They had to write a script (a.k.a persuasive essay), and research their issue. They also had to interview at least one expert in the issue.
I had a few iPads that the students were able to use, though most just used their phones to do their filming and editing using imovie.
We wrapped up this project by having our Documentary Film Festival.
Kids loved this project, and it made learning about persuasive techniques and rhetoric really engaging.