Today, the student who wrote about the playboy mansion rewrote his
poem. He wrote it about the importance of education and then told me
he was lying. I asked him blank in the face, "You don't want an
education for yourself?" He looked embarrassed and then said that he
did. But that wasn't the good part of the day. Today, the class was
still noisy, several students were still totally unengaged and wanting
to play around, but there were several who were engaged. At first many
had trouble figuring out how to translate their words into pictures.
Of course, this is partly my fault because I truly had to pull this
lesson out of the air at the last minute. If I was going to do it
right, I'd love to find videos and images of artists who used their
work to send a message. I hope to refine this lesson for next
term...because I really do like the idea of them coming up with a
message in a poem or rap and creating an image to go with it.
So today, I had perhaps almost half of the class who were actually
trying to come up with something cool. One girl gave me her poem to
read, and I swear it was all I could do to hold back my tears. It gave
me chills, it was that good and that mature for her young age. I have
since found out that writing is her love, so this project gave her a
chance to shine. She even typed it up on the computer last night. I
reread it again after class and ran out looking for anyone to share it
with. After the Assistant principal read it, she had tears in her eyes
as well. I cannot wait to see her finished piece and watch her
perform. I had several other students who asked me for help, and we
discussed their work and came up with ideas together. I would give a
few examples to show them how they could think of symbols, and then I
would ask them to think of images for words like freedom or peace.
Pretty soon, they began to think of things and expanded. I actually
saw some faces light up today. They seemed eager, and it felt like a
successful day FOR THE FIRST TIME.
I walked around and there were several kids who had really good
sketches. Some are working in colored pencil, some in pastels and many
have chosen to try watercolor. I was very nervous about this project,
but I'm now thinking that those who want to actually be heard and
create something might do something wonderful. There are still those
who seem out of reach, but I can live with that for now.
Any suggestions on how to make this into a better project and where to
go from here? I was going to lead into Romare Bearden next week and
perhaps Jacob Lawrence. I've looked at a couple of lessons. Does
anyone have a particular one they have found very successful? I don't
want to lose these kids right when some are starting to respond.