Class is in Session: We Are All Special
The World is Your Oyster
In a world where everyone is desperately trying to survive amid the backdrop of an economic crisis, bipartisan angst and global unrest, we must remember that just being the best we can be individually is our best way of being. Being unique is a beautiful thing.
One of my favorite child literacy authors is a man named, Peter Reynolds (artist and author). Two of his books in particular summon up some noble ideas to cogitate on, not only for children but for adults as well.
The two books I will refer to in this lesson are the following:
· The Dot
· The North Star
This selection is about a young student named, Vashti, who had some challenges in art class. She couldn’t seem to draw anything; she felt inept and unqualified to create anything. Luckily, she had a teacher who asked only that she place some kind of mark on the paper and to see where that mark would take her.
Vashti responded by jabbing the paper and in essence, making her mark of originality on the page (a dot). The teacher had her sign it, she then showcased it. This inspired Vashti to expand her horizons by experimenting with color and designs of dots. Above and beyond that, Vashti went on to help a young man make his mark and gain confidence as well.
On many occasions as a teacher of both children and adults, I found that institutionalized education had drained our native abilities to be creative because education is all about conformity and regimentation. And, when you deplete the human psyche from being able to draw upon the uniqueness of its being, you produce a populace of generic robots. We then lose rather than preserve the Michelangelos, the Serrats, the Michael Jordans, the William Shakespeares, the Howie Mandels, and so on.
That said; let’s move on with a lesson. Literacy strategies come from 50 Literacy Strategies by Gail E. Thompkins
- Have students enjoy an interactive read-aloud with the educator.
- Then perform, hot seat, another literacy strategy where the students learn more about the character through assuming the role of the character (one person). The rest of the class gets to ask questions about the character while the person in the hot seat helps to answer the questions posed and asks others to summarize ideas as well.
- Once the students have thoughtfully hashed out the story, they can begin to endeavor on a more artistic level. How will they make their own “Dot?”
- The teacher should place books from other artists around the room, particularly including Serrat because as a pointalist, his work aligns with the flavor of the story. The idea is to have them generate some kind of marking that is unique to them---it can be anything, even a symbol. How about using an App??? Or your body to form a physical image?
- The culmination of the piece, have this creative play lead to another reading on another day using Peter Reynold’s other book, The North Star.
- You might opt to have a student reader or do Popcorn reading and pass the book.
The essence of this book is all about asking yourself, “Where do you want to go?” Life is all about the journey, not just the destination. Maybe you are encountering change or trying something for the very first time, the road less traveled. In any event, this story begs us to slow down, stop and smell the roses, be more reflective, inspire within you a dream and follow your own North Star.
So, from here, you review this story and then have them put it altogether. You can use a KWL chart format, a great literacy strategy (place one at the front of the room and have them place post-its on the chart, coming up and sharing their ideas), but let’s tweak it a bit.
What You Know (K)
What You Wish For (W)
What You Learned (L)
What You Will Do With That Info (D)
How Will You Inspire Others (I)
Have them sit in brainstorming groups and share their markings and ideas. Have them inspire their teammates to greatness. Then have them generate a piece that speaks to their own uniqueness and how they will follow their own North Star. Since I am a poet at heart, I would allow the freedom of expression, but knowing the constraints on curriculum, this can be executed as a full writing assignment or as a poetry session. The idea is to have them connect to the reading, become more creative and have that lead to textual expression.
Let’s look at the standards being used:
ELA:Reading and Writing
MST: If using symbols (math a math wiz wants a numerical connection?)
Science: Maybe they are mixing up colors?
Technology: Always invite Apps. In (drawing, post-its, etc)
Career and Development: What will your path be?
Languages Other than English: Have students use languages that are native integrated into the work.
Phys-Ed: Have students bodily do a form (kinesthetic dot)
Art: Review of artworks
Social Studies: The study of unique artists of all kinds
The mantra for today: Be the best you can be. You are unique and beautiful and let no one try and change that!