‘Vining’ the Bill of Rights: History lesson taps social media

BY April Brown  December 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM EDT

Students in Andy Kastl’s (second from left) social studies class at Clintondale High School in suburban Detroit use the social media app Vine for a lesson on the Constitution. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour

At the time of the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, there were no phones or telegraph machines; communication was conducted by post or in person.

These days though, few teenagers can bear to be separated from their mobile phones. Rather than keeping personal technology out of the classroom, one Michigan school is telling young people to use them — at times.
Students at Clintondale High School in suburban Detroit are using the social media app Vine to demonstrate their knowledge of the Constitutional Amendments. They create videos on their phones or other mobile devices and post them to the site. Bu there’s a catch: Videos can only be six seconds long.

“They love it,” said Andy Kastl, a social studies teacher at Clintondale. “If you really know what it means, you can take this big broad amendment and then you narrow it and you narrow it and you narrow it down to six seconds.”

Morgan Duda, 16, and her classmates had to sum up one of the later amendments, that which abolished slavery.

“I dressed up as Abraham Lincoln and we had my friend make a poster that said 13th Amendment and when I signed it all the slave owners dropped and all the slaves were cheering,” Duda said.

Morgan Duda (with the stovepipe hat and fake beard) and her classmates used Vine to share the basic premise of the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “I actually learned the 13th Amendment,” Duda said of the Vining exercise. “And it probably will stick with me throughout my whole life because I would remember and it was fun to do.” Kastl, too, sees an important outcome from the assignment. “It’s more of an authentic assessment I think,” said Kastl. “Instead of, ‘Can you regurgitate the information that’s been given to you over the last two weeks?’ Well a lot of kids can just memorize things and regurgitate it without really understanding it. This, I think, forces them to understand it and prove understanding.”


Here are some of the other Vines produced by Clintondale students on the amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Amendment II:

 

Amendment III:

  Amendment IV:

 

Amendment V:

  Amendment VI:

Read more about how teachers are using technology in their classrooms:

This story is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.