An analysis of the potential of Vine and Instagram videos in the classroom was recently posted on the Edutopia website. After reading it, I was determined to find a way to make it work for me. My philosophy is:
If I can meet my students where they already are, rather than forcing them to learn on my terms, they are more likely to see how history can be relevant in their own lives.Things Weren't Going As I'd Planned
I had spent the better part of a Friday evening building interactive review games through my Smart Notebook software. I've used these activities before. They give students a chance to play with the Smart Board and they review content to prepare for assessments. But, when I tried to fire them up the following Wednesday in class my Smart software got corrupted and the activities were freezing up. I was in a bind and there were still 40 minutes left in the period.
What do we teachers do when the technology fails us? We adjust!
I asked, "How many of you have a Vine?" Roughly 1/3 of my 9th graders raised their hands. I told them to get into groups of 3 and to make sure that at least one person in the group had a smartphone with the Vine app already set up.
- Each group is assigned an important idea from our unit on the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation.
- Make a Vine (a video that is 6 seconds or less), post it, and send me the link.
- No one had to create a Vine if they don't already have an account. Some groups ended up using my Vine, which I use professionally rather than for personal networking, to post their work.
Some student groups didn't want to be on camera so they used props. This group shows that Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance man.
Some were ready and willing to be on camera! This group explains the concept of humanism.
Of course, some groups were more creative than others. But each 6 second video led to good class discussion and a decent review of the unit. We spent the last 10 minutes of class watching the Vines and talking about why they chose certain methods to represent the ideas they were assigned.
A few students were freaked out and asked if I was going to follow their Vines after this activity. I was kind of glad that concern came up, because I could reinforce the idea that Vine, Twitter, and most other social media platforms are public. A little media literacy thrown into history class never hurt anyone. Anyone could follow their Vines, even me, their history teacher. Although I'm not following any of them as of right now, thankyouverymuch.
As for the academic value, I would definitely consider using Vine again. The lesson didn't go badly at all, and it was done on a whim because I was in a bind. With some more specific planning and guidance, I bet the Vines will be even more fruitful in the future. Pun intended. This is a great example of allowing students to learn the way they CAN and ARE already learning, rather than forcing them to learn the way we think they should.