The following is a collaboration between a book, a painting, the past, and the future ....
My school district had a celebration for Black History Month, and the theme was equal rights in education. It centered around local history, and the closing of Lincoln School in New Rochelle, NY in 1961 -- a school that had kept this area segregated. You can read more about the history here.
I wanted to introduce my students to the artwork of Jacob Lawrence. He was so prolific!
To tie in with the theme of education, and because I was drawn to the simple forms and colors, and because I knew my third graders would connect with it as students, I focused on this particular painting, from his legendary Migration Series:
[Coincidentally, I was able to see this when I visited MoMA a few weeks ago! It's part of a 60-panel series, focusing on the northward migration of African Americans. It was awesome to see about half of the total collection; I was fortunate enough to see the other half on a visit to the Whitney a little over a year ago.]
My students created self-portraits at the board. Since we were in a hybrid learning environment at the time, and many students were at home, they used whatever supplies they had available... mostly crayons and markers, though some did collage or used oil pastels.
Next, I shared Peter H. Reynolds' book Say Something! I love how this simple story encourages the reader to speak up for what you believe in, and that everyone has something to say, and that things can be "said" in so many different ways: through actions, words, art, music...
My students seemed to love it, too. Again, they could connect with this on a really personal level.
The final step of the project was for my students to write or draw something -- whatever it is that they need to say -- on the board in their artwork. (Most drew "smart boards" replacing the traditional blackboard from Lawrence's painting.)
Themes ranged from love, peace, family... to STEAM clubs... to Black Lives Matter... to sharing the way they communicate best (math and dancing, for example)... to staying safe through the pandemic... I was thrilled and humbled with the variety of interpretations on this.
And the best part is, my students are in a wonderfully diverse, strong educational system, where they are being empowered to "say something" and be themselves.
I only wish I had more pictures to share! Here are a few...
I will leave you with one of my very favorite --and true -- quotes...
"Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else." ~Sydney Gurewitz Clemens
Thanks for reading!