ConstitutionUSAwith Peter Sagal. 2 DVDs. 4 hrs. Prod. by TPT National Prods. and Insignia Films. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-901-8. $29.99.
Gr 9 Up–Sagal, the find-humor-in-our-everyday-lives NPR host, broadly examines our Constitution in both historical and contemporary contexts in a manner that will transfix viewers. Metaphorically traversing the country on a red, white, and blue Harley-Davidson, his goal is to recount the perspective of the document’s development as well as to examine it in terms of today’s critical issues. “A More Perfect Union,” the first segment, describes the intriguing manner in which our federal system of government was determined and issues facing us today as a result of federal, state, and local control questions. “It’s a Free Country” studies the Bill of Rights, and the controversies surrounding those individual freedoms in today’s society are detailed. The Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War to guarantee equal protection for individuals and groups, and its subsequent landmark impact is the focus of “Created Equal.” Finally, Sagal leads a discussion about the vitality of this remarkable document from the perspective of the 21st-century social and political milieu in “Built to Last.” The nicely paced presentation uses a variety of presentation techniques, such as graphics and humor, to connect with today’s students. There’s also an effective balance of commentary from constitutional scholars as well as ordinary citizens impacted by this document. Several bonus sections add to its usefulness, particularly commentary by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Each chapter includes the scene selection option. English language subtitles and a Spanish language audio are optional. Both classroom teachers and media professionals will find this a popular addition to every school’s collection.–Dwain Thomas, formerlyLakeParkHigh School,Roselle,IL