Contributed by Jessica Maffia, Story Studio Teaching Artist
For our second project of the school year, my 9th and 10th graders are working on identity collages. I drew each student’s profile by tracing their shadow. We looked at master collage artists such as Romare Bearden, Anthony Brown and Benton Lutaaya to see how artists can communicate who they are and where they’re from using text and imagery.
Students searched through newspapers, magazines, and old books in search of text and imagery that resonated with them. They selected a few patterned and solid colored papers to lay down as background. Now, we are working on adding the found text and imagery on top of the background.
To accompany the artwork, students are writing “Where I’m From” poems that use sensory words and metaphors to describe where they’re from.
During the first project, my phenomenal co-teacher Mr. Helio expressed that he was unsure of the value of the program. Now at the beginning of our second project together, Mr.Helio loves Story Studio and finds it incredibly meaningful! He is amazed by the work the students are producing- especially the personal narratives the students wrote about overcoming challenges.
Late last Wednesday, Mr.Helio alerted me to the fact that the following morning we were going to be observed by the DOE. The school had received a poor Quality Review grade. It was a very high stakes situation!
The observers, including the Principal and Vice Principal, walked in during VTS (Visual Thinking Strategy). It was a very successful class. The students made great observations and Mr. Helio used every opportunity to make explicit connections to literacy skills, such as providing evidence when making a statement. The kids were really engaged and their beautiful works in progress were displayed for all to see. A few days later Mr. Helio let me know that we got great feedback! I’m glad to see that Story Studio is helping to improve outcomes for the school as a whole.