Main objective

SWBAT evaluate the fairness of a society and make an argument that uses and contextualizes multiple sources.


California History Standards

6.4.3. State the key differences between Athenian, or direct, democracy and representative democracy.
6.4.6. Compare and contrast life in Athens and Sparta, with emphasis on their roles in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH8. Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

Introduce claim(s) about a topic or issue, acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.

Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

"Hello and welcome to Democracy Now!"

For our end of the year project, students wrote, directed, and filmed their own episodes of Democracy Now. Instead of focusing on current events, their episodes focused on the birthplace of democracy itself – Ancient Greece.

The unit began with students applying and interviewing for jobs in each of their “channels.” They had four available job opportunities: Producer, Director, Tech Manager, and Reporter.

Students then used hyperdocs to learn about the governments of Ancient Greece and the difference between direct and representative democracy. Each hyperdoc required them to write a short news report – an argumentative paragraph synthesizing multiple sources. For their final episode, they completed the Oakland Unified History Writing Task, which evaluates the relative fairness of Athens versus Sparta.

Next, student teams worked together to film their newscasts. Filming took place in the “studio,” which sounds high-tech but is actually just my closet with a green screen from Amazon, two desks covered with fabric, a borrowed camera, and a coffee mug. Students were given between 5 and 10 minute “appointments” in the studio, which simulated the real-life urgency and complexity of filming!

Finally, students used the WeVideo app to create professional-looking newscasts complete with music, backgrounds, titles, and more! I created a cheat sheet for students explaining step-by-step how to navigate the user interface.

Video Examples
Suggested Steps

Green screen




A closet as a makeshift “studio” and have students sign up for recording slots! This cuts back on outside noise.