Interpreting Twain’s Satire Through Vine – 8121

Interpreting Twain’s Satire Through Vine – 8121


Excerpts of Mark Twain’s satire in the novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court are brought to life in 7-second Vine videos. Students work in small, collaborative groups to create these short, looping video clips. The brevity of these video clips challenges students to concisely portray their understanding of Twain’s satirical techniques as well as the targets of his satire, which include monarchy, the Church, knight errantry, human nature, and superstitions. The use of Vine, a social media-based technology that students would normally use outside of the classroom, fosters an exceptional level of student engagement and yields highly creative video artifacts and corresponding essays, which demonstrate strong student understanding of both satire and the content of Twain’s writing.

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In preparation for reading this novel and studying Twain’s satire, students complete guided research to learn about the life and times of Mark Twain. By visiting teacher-selected websites and answering directed questions, students develop a foundational understanding of Twain’s humor, which is essential for this assignment.

For this lesson, students work in small, self-selected groups to create a seven-second video and a corresponding essay that explains the context of the video. Each group must decide on a scene from the novel and determine the best means of demonstrating their understanding of satire through both written and video formats. Completion of this assignment takes place primarily outside of class time; thus, students must coordinate times and locations to meet with group members for planning and filming. Because the Vine application does not allow for post-production editing, non-verbal communication between group members during “takes” must be clear and purposeful. On a daily basis, students must confer with their group members and the teacher regarding their progress with the assignment. When composing the essay, students may use shared Google documents for collaboration. Because Vine is a social media platform, students are able to view and comment on the videos created by other groups as the videos are completed and automatically published to the Vine network, allowing for inter-group communication and collaboration of ideas. Through answering open-ended reflection questions, students reconnect with their group members and identify the triumphs and challenges that were experienced during this lesson.

The parameters of this lesson require students to condense their interpretation of a self-selected scene from the novel into a 7-second video. To do this, students must determine the best way to represent the scene and must select the best tools and equipment for conveying Twain’s message. While Vine is the recommended medium for this assignment, students are given the freedom to choose from other media applications that will yield a similar final product. When selecting and capturing the “perfect segment”, students must carefully plan each frame in order to eliminate unnecessary content and hone in on the essence of Twain’s humor. In their essays, students justify the decisions made while creating their video and draw connections to Twain’s novel.

Each group creates a 7-second video that concisely portrays their interpretation of a self-selected scene from the novel. Students determine which satirical devices to implement in their enactment of the chosen scene and must choose between invective or sarcastic language to capture the desired tone for their audience. In their corresponding essay, each group must justify these decisions. The video must be carefully planned so that the clips begin and end at precisely the right moments. Because the Vine application does not allow for post-production editing, groups must creatively fuse video fragments in a single take.

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