LCA Students Create 21st Century Convention Reenactment

As part of the JBU History course*, Legacy juniors are studying the formation of the American Constitution. After a brief lecture on the problems with the Articles of Confederation and the various debates that led to the Constitution, Dr. Stone held a reenactment of the Constitutional Convention with her students. “I wanted students to actually internalize the information they were learning – to get into the minds of the Founding Fathers,” shared Stone. To do this, each student was assigned a historical figure to portray and required to research the biography of that person in an attempt to how that person would have voted in the Convention.

Here's where the twist comes into play. “It's always difficult to do a true reenactment in person because students have a hard time breaking away from today and truly putting themselves in the place of someone in history. I thought a digital convention would ironically make that easier while providing a fun, modern wrinkle,” Stone elaborated, “I set up a chat room in TodaysMeet and asked students to sign in with their historical name and state, rather than their real name.”

In no time, chat room was populated with various participants consisting of Gouvernor Morris, Edmund Randolph, James Madison, and more, with most students not knowing who was who. As the conversation developed, the different historical personalities truly began to emerge. One was uncompromising on the issue of slavery, and another was adamant about how many votes their state should get, because that's how their historical characters actually were. In one class, the students did such a good job of representing their people's viewpoints that a compromise was never reached, a fact that served to show them just how amazing it was that the true historical participants were able to develop a Constitution that everyone agreed on.

One fact that students agreed on: the success of the assignment!

James Madison (Mary Margaret Lewis): I liked the informality because we were able to better understand and express our thoughts about the lesson. Having a character limit (responses limited to 140 characters) forces us to express our thoughts in a more clear and short way.

Edmund Randloph (Josh Goh): The constitutional convention was great in that it brought US history to life and put a modern twist to its delivery. It allowed and pushed us to analyze the motives, desires, and aims of our founding fathers, giving us insight on the foundation of our country.
James Wilson (Dylan Beams): I loved using the chat room to reenact the convention because it caused me to get inside my character's head and truly understand their thoughts instead of just having somebody tell me what they thought or said.
Roger Sherman (Kathryn May): I loved the digital Constitutional Convention reenactment because our class got to talk about historical events and subjects through a modern way such as a chatroom. It really taught me more about the event and was very entertaining!
Edmund Randolph (McKenzie Gardner): Students that are often afraid to speak up in class but have something important to say were given a new opportunity to share.
*Legacy partners with John Brown University to offer dual credit courses, which provide students with both credit on a high school transcript, as well as a credit on a JBU transcript. Current course offerings include US History to 1865 (3 hours), US History since 1865 (3 hours), Intermediate Spanish I (3 hours) & II (3 hours), Survey of Calculus (3 hours).