Attached is a video project that my students did for their Romeo and Juliet requirement. What they did is a music video of a modern retelling of the story. It's excellent work, and teenagers do excel when excellence is expected (which I will explain more later)
This video is a classic example of two things:
1. When kids are conditioned to think that results and mastery, not grades, are what's important, you often get effort that far exceeds expectations. In Montessori preschool and elementary, the kids are not graded. If you're grades oriented, you'd want to do the work that gets by, either gets by for a passing grade, or even get by with an "A" grade. But this group paid a huge fee for several sessions in a recording studio, composed and sung their own song, played their own instruments, and spent several days shooting the footage. The grade wasn't chief on their minds, excellence was.
2. I didn't rigidly set parameters for the assignment. I basically gave them the canvass and gave them the freedom to make their own masterpiece. Sometimes,you just have to do that (although I gave some examples). I had a student make a video game on Romeo and Juliet. Some did a HILARIOUS live action skit (that's my favorite, actually...no disrespect to this one).
Show them that you'd expect excellence, and teens will meet and exceed expectations.