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This land is your land...This land is my land.... Comprehensive Arts


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 18 2003 - 20:53:25 PDT

Dear Art Educators,

If you believe in Comprehensive Arts DO IT! I did and it was fun (I was very
dramatic...and put on an act everyday in my remembered the big
ideas we talked about). I am now proud of the fun ways I got kids to do
their work. Yes - I was "off beat"....but man on man was it ever fun!
I did two collage landscapes with sixth graders (and had a third one planned
for my third trimester students - but never had a chance to do that one).

I have one of the projects online:

This lesson doesn't have EVERYTHING I did written into it. It would take
much too long to write.
Anyway....what I did was purposely get my sample watercolor strips mixed up
with the table where I was working (oh, I was good at making it look
accidental)....Then I would have to start with "This land is your
land...This land is my land...." (sorting) "Ok now kids hum along with me
cause I don't know the words." They would all just laugh (I really can not
sing!)....and I would say, "Gee, aren't you glad I don't teach choir?"
.....Then I would go to the computer and look up "This Land is Your Land"
and I read the words to the kids. I tried to make music a little part of
each lesson in some way.

Something else I did with my collage lesson was get them to think about some
things that always bothered me when I was growing up. I never did like it
that "we" (white folks) took the land from the Indians. That always bothered
me.... So..... I would tell the kids if they had extra land pieces to put
them in a special box. We would share the land -- and share the sky - mother
earth and father sky (and then the trees were our "brothers and sisters" --
got that from a Native American, too -- gave me a little opportunity to
throw in respect for other cultures' beliefs/religion). Our art then became
collaborative for some (some kids had painted lots of strips while others
maybe only had a few.. .and those with a few didn't have to worry -- we had
plenty of land to go around).... Before I did all of this of course, I would
take (steal) a piece of land from one of my students....wait for a
reaction.....then of course go into my "Well, think about this"...and go
into an explanation of the point I was trying to get across - stealing, and
taking something that isn't ours. Then while they were working I would talk
about issues that are facing Native Americans today....and of course tell my
younguns that they are the generation that can make changes.... The "world"
is in their hands. My lessons were jam packed with all sorts of content.
They taught art (we had the P's and E's)- but I taught a lot about the
bigger picture, too.

Speaking of "brothers and sisters"...and trees.... We have been debating
about cutting down some of trees. Two of our maples just didn't come back
this year. They appear to be dying..... We can't decide if we should cut
them down - or just trim them back and see if they perk back up next
year....Decisions....decisions....Next year we would have to pay to have
them come back and cut them down if the trim job doesn't work.....What to
do? What to do? smile. See, I have some tough decisions to make, too, once
in a while.

Getty folks - really laugh out loud at this one! I wrote in a email to our
building staff calling them "brothers and sisters" in education - our
(blank) Middle School family.....and they really thought I had flipped off
my rocker on that one (it was the last email I sent to the staff -- and was
in response to a Channel One segment). Superintendent read the email to me
(someone forwarded it to him) - It had some of my concerns on what I saw
happening in our building - what some of these things were doing to the
kids.... Super said/shouted "This email concerns me!!!".....and all I could
say in reply was "Yes, those things concern me too". The email was about all
of the tensions they were in our building between staff - between the
exploratory and core....and some other concerns I had ...I got them from
talking with the KIDS!!!! Hey folks if you really want to know how to fix
education talk to the kids (smile). Find out how they learn best.....TALK to
them. My "prayers" for that building were eventually answered - the
administrator did leave the district and now they have a WONDERFUL
principal. Wouldn't it be great for them if they would also get a new super
someday? We can only hope.....I won't tell you more right now.....but just
know that I will ALWAYS listen to your administrator woes....vent to me
anytime (off list is best)....I mean that.

I will continue to share with the lists this summer what worked for me in my
teaching.....what made me love it so much.

My last Fabulous Friday post. Good night all - sleep tight.

Judy Decker - Ohio
Incredible Art Department