Teacher: Rachel Stempel
Artist: Juan-Carlos Perez
Assistant: Vicky Mendoza
School: J. Thomas Waters Elementary School
Big Idea: Implementing Change
Inquiry Question: What issues would you take on if you had the opportunity to implement change?
Art Content: Scratch Board, Drawing, Transfer Techniques,
Non-Art Content: Present/Past-Tense Verbs/Comprehension/Past Participle
Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)
Our classes began in October, a month before the Presidential elections which were the talk of the town. Our parent group’s discussions would not waver from this topic. We had planned to explore a different topic altogether, but we decided to focus our lesson on issues concerning our students asking a couple of simple questions and creating examples of persuasive writing ( a clear statement of purpose, convincing language, a strong conclusion and setting a course of action).
As the election approached and then was decided, we spent a lot of time talking about the issues. There were many issues that concerned us. Topics included valuing the contributions of immigrants, providing for students with special needs, raising taxes on the wealthy, remembering our past, and the dangers of coming to the U.S. These were illustrated on scratch board.
If you had the opportunity to run for president:
What kind of leader would you be?
Student answers: compassionate, fair-minded, thoughtful, strong; unifying, a listener
What would you like to accomplish?
Student answers: Rescue the middle class; Provide an avenue for citizenship that’s fair and realistic; Make equal education available for all; fair taxation; Provide job training.
What issues would be of most important to you?
Student Answers: Immigration reform, education, fair wages
What makes a good leader?
Student Answers: Compassion, thoughtfulness, civility, seeking compromise, fairness, a good listener
What does not make a good leader?
Student Answers: dishonesty, rabble rouser, grandstander, greed, egocentricity
What are some bad traits for a leader/president to have?
Student answers: Selfishness, incensitive, racist, immature, stubborn, being weak, explosive, doesn’t listen, not civil, greedy
The ESL assignment was to write a persuasive speech, one with a strong beginning and conclusion including the reasons for our opinions. We feel 3/4 of the students made progress toward the learning goals on this first project based on the speeches they presented. Clearly it was too difficult for one student who only just began while another did a lot of writing at home and produced her personal best. While students presented their writings, we wish we had made time for them to help each other strengthen their arguments.
An unexpected outcome was a French student who was visiting the U.S. for 4 months. Jazmine wanted to learn some English so that she could communicate with her grandchildren. Our students were quick to welcome her. It was hard to communicate with one another at first but once the trust was built then the shyness went away. We made her feel welcomed in all parts of our sessions. Though she was far behind in learning the English language, when it came to art she was at the same level as everyone else since they all began the art technique of scratchboard at the same time.
This year all of our students are reading “Like Water for Chocolate” by Sandra Cisnero (the english version). Jazmine, our French visitor, took great effort to read the book. All of our students read out loud. Every once in awhile in class, when it was hard to keep up or follow the others in the readings, Jazmine would follow along with the French version of the book. Sometime we would read a chapter in the book then Jazmine would read the same chapter in French. Our students were in awe and enjoyed seeing how the vocabulary in the book transferred over to French. Next thing we knew they were comparing Spanish, English and French words. Jasmine returned to Paris promising to return next year.
We’ve have a pen pal in France.
Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.
Learning to use past tense has been very successful although I was a little surprised at how much was forgotten over winter break. It took a few weeks to recall that the “ed” in regular verbs can have different sounds. Now that I have introduced progressive verbs, students have remembered past tense as we recite all three tenses. We can all hear the mistakes in conversation. I have numerous exercises in finding and correcting sentences on paper. Writing seems to be the hardest for everyone. That’s a surprise since usually students are anxious about making a mistake out loud. I like to attribute this surprise as the result of the comfort and trust among the students. Our regular attending students have made excellent progress.
We have one new student, Mrs. Paz, who has never learned phonics. Her progress is slow. It is gratifying to see how everyone is anxious to help her with pronunciation. We discovered that she has trouble reproducing letters and is learning using tiles with letters on them from a game. She really likes using them. She only knows how to write in cursive and this made it a challenge at first. She lives with her son, his wife and mother-in-law. They all converse in English. She says she has begun to speak certain words in English like shoes, door, beans. It caught her family off guard and they were really impressed. Now her daughter-in-law and mother go talk in another room because they worry that Mrs. Paz can now understand their secrets, lol!
Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.
Students learned how to create Scratchboard artwork. A technique where artists scratch out a design or drawing from a completely black surface, exposing only a white line. The art material is a board (or paper) where it’s surface is painted with white clay. The surface is then covered in black ink. A variety of carving tools are used to create different types of aesthetic scratching techniques. Students really enjoyed working with this new medium.
How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester?
We have worked together long enough that we know where to pick up where the other left off. We listen to one another, share our observations at how the lessons are developing and also share how we perceive the students taking on the lesson. We are constantly observing and responding to our students. Teaching ESL and Visual Arts is not as easy as it may seem. We are constantly observing and responding to our students. They are all at different stages (learning) of the English language. We are always paying attention to their reading, writing, pronunciation, etc. We have come to learn when a student is having difficulty with a lesson. They might shy away. Their voices begin to crack or get low. They begin to doubt themselves. Rachel is really in tune with our students. She is always prepared with lesson plans and isn’t afraid to have our students dig deeper.
Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?
I was particularly interested in how the first sketches grew into the final scratch board designs. Often our English lessons began with the recent campaign news that morning or the latest Trump tweet. Soon students made up their minds on the subjects of their drawings; Trump and his tax plans, education that brings diverse groups together, schools that welcome students with special needs, the reality of global warming, the plight of immigrants and the U.S. as a refuge.
Juan Carlos suggested we include Mr. Calaveros in our design (since this was October and Day of Dead celebrations were going on), a skeleton image used in Mexican political satire. I was dubious, but silent. In the end, I was the only one to include him and enjoyed the change. The others did not include him. We most often bend to the will of the class.
Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?
We divide our time in half and though recently we take turns going first, we make sure that the art & english lessons are connected to one another. We listen to each other and can pick up where the other left off. Because all of our students are at different stages of learning the English language, there are times that all of us (Rachel, Vicki & myself) are working different parts of the room (at the same time). For example, one students needs to learn their A, B, C’s and the days of the week while another needs to practice on her pronunciation while at the same time students that are more advanced need to work on a lesson plan on wording past tense phrases.
I am not much help in the Art department, just a willing and enthusiastic participant. However Juan Carlos and Vicky are great assistants. Often Juan Carlos will take turns reading to students from “Like Water For Chocolate.” Sometimes he will help students translate into English. He’s willing to help someone who has just joined the class or needs help.
Vicky is a great resource, finding ways to translate and filling in where we can not. She is always looking for resources that can accommodate the lesson plans. Because the majority of our students come from different parts of Latin America/South America their Spanish is regional and the language doesn’t always translate equally among our students. Vicki is able to fill this area. She is often a touch stone for a student’s understanding. She is helpful at providing what the bi-lingual Waters community is feeling, and the Waters’ history and concerns. She sees that we keep track of birthdays and special events. We celebrate a lot.
Art Content: Self Poprtraits, 3-D/Sculpture, Fiber, Painting, Paper-Mache, Armiture Building & Performance
Non-Art Content: Using Descriptive Vocabulary, Sentence Structure, Creative Writing, Building Narratives & Script Writing.
Our parent student ESL student class created and performed a puppet show. Remembering how much fun we had with our marionette show based on a popular Mexican television show, El Chavo del Ocho, we chose to create a puppet show, a comedy, this time based on our own ESL class. Here the goals were to write a script that reflected our own personalities, to learn our lines and present with the appropriate tone and inflection, as well as the body language to match the lines. At the beginning, the group tried to write the dialogue in Spanish to be translated into English. It soon became apparent that what might be funny in Spanish wasn’t so funny in English.
There are many differences between Spanish and the English language. Not everything translates accordingly and if it does translate correctly, sometimes the definition changes. When translating, context is very important. You need to listen to the entire sentence and meaning in order to translate correctly. Just cutting and pasting translated words together doesn’t equal a correct translation. These are some of the problems the most people encounter when looking to social media for a definite translation (like google translate). Also, language changes from one region to another, because of this, it can make it a bit more complicated.
Writing the script was challenging, but each student contributed to the dialogue at his/her level. In this we were equal partners, teachers and students. “Why do you come to class?” and “What makes English so hard? were questions everyone had an answer for. Some of the answers were more jokes. Learning their lines was challenging, but adjustments were made as we went along in the amount of lines one learned so that everyone could be successful. And phrasing and intonation improved for everyone as puppets shrugged, whispered, stamped and spoke in unison.
Another great challenge was that unlike the marionette show which was based of an existing Mexican TV show with already composed personalities, our students had to learn how to create stories/scripts authentic to their own personalities and their fellow classmates. They did not have an existing base to springboard narratives & scripts from. They had to invent it all themselves based from true, existing living individuals –such as themselves.
Students created their puppets out of paper-mache’, wire, wood, and garments. They had to apply a variety of skills in order to create their puppets and give them mobility. Each material required a particular type of instruction. There was a whole process required for each step of the puppet-making. For example for the armature: Students had to learn how to manipulate wire, work with adhesives. They also learned to create a cushion/pillow for the torso. Along with paper-mache, students learned different stages of creating clothes for their puppets, Such as: pattern making, sewing, stuffing, and stitching hair. They learned how to create features on their puppets face through the use of geometric shape. They also had to learn how to create different flesh tones through the use of paint.
Please type your response here. You can also include video and/ or images.
How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester?
We have been a team for several years and have learned to zig and zag. Time is always a challenge, but if one needs more time to work on making the puppets one time we adjust the next time to practice our lines. We respect each others suggestions about how to approach issues. Vicky has been key in sensing the tenor of our students and the Waters community.
I cannot remember any conflict. We’ve had different ideas for projects, but there is always one that appeals to both of us. “Can we do that?” I wonder. “Sure, he says.” There’s been a calendar, a cook book, a puppet show, a 3-dimensional map, books of folk tales, a family made out of boxes and more.
Please type your response here. You can also include video and/ or images.
We spent one hour on ESL and one on our Art project. Because our class is like a one-room school we have students at various levels in both ESL and Art. In both cases there are tasks that can be done by everyone at his own proficiency. However it is so helpful to have Juan Carlos and Vicky to spend time with an individual who has been absent or who needs some one-on-one attention. As the year has gone by our class members have taken on the responsibility of helping each other. Getting ready for our show was an effort that gave everyone a chance to help a classmate.
ESL/ARTS “ARTE SIN BARRERAS” 2017