After students’ field trip to the Wexner Center to see Miwa Matreyek, I visited Mandy Bruney and Dawn Brosnan’s class to reflect and introduce an assignment.
Here were the learning targets for the lesson:
- I can reflect on an experience and create meaning from it.
- I can engage in a collaborative conversation that includes both active listening and respectful participation.
- I can gather real-world research to start the writing process.
Students began the lesson by reflecting on the play through writing (see the Power Point at the bottom of the post for prompt). Then, we discussed what they had written.
Afterward, we introduced the assignment to gather real-world research for writing (see below) and discussed examples of “moments of awe” and “moments of transformation” in daily life.
The lesson would have ended with this video called The Beauty of a Second, which is a one-minute compilation of beautiful moments of daily life captured on film; however, technological difficulties inhibited this part of the lesson.
Here is the student outcome expected following the lesson:
- Awe: A feeling of wonder
- Transformation: to change in form, appearance or character
Miwa Matreyek explains her process as “daydreaming” and gathering “abstract ideas” from her daily life before she actually begins to create her performances. She describes how the piece we all saw was inspired by everything from her plane rides as she traveled for work to the dioramas she saw in a history museum. This “real world” research eventually leads to a physical product, but the process always starts by information gathering through notes, sketches and pictures.
For this assignment, you will begin by spending the next 48 hours gathering real world research that inspires you. You can choose to either gather “moments of awe” or “moments of transformation” in your daily life. You need to write notes about these things and record your:
All information you gather needs to be brought back to class tomorrow; you will continue to use it as the beginning of your creative process.
This assignment would eventually lead into students creating a piece of writing related to these notes and observations and connected to themes in the play. Bruney told me she plans on having students conduct a silent “gallery walk” in the classroom where student work is displayed and classmates leave post-it-note feedback for one another about the writing. In addition, some of the students’ work might be submitted to potentially be published in the PAGES anthology.
Here are the resources for the lesson:
Miwa Matreyek is an artist who performs live, projecting her shadow into worlds created through digital animation. Her work is very surreal and multifaceted; it includes elements of performing live, taking photographs, gathering information and research, curating music and creating digital animation among other things.
Students responded well to her performance of This World Made Itself (here is a clip). As students watched, they were to focus on emotions, themes and moments of transformation in the play. This would lead into a discussion and assignment later.
After the performance, Miwa answered student questions. One of the PAGES teacher-partners took some notes over her process which can be viewed here.
I took some notes as well, and here are a few things I thought were interesting.
- Matreyek started out as a physics major and was “amazed by the world and physics and wanted to ‘feel’ the process in a different way.” She felt she could do this better through the arts instead of the sciences.
- She then went to grad school for animation and was paired with a theater major through a class collaboration.
- Her art is a process of experimentation where she takes several approaches to see what works. It is a process of “tinkering, playing and inventing” with “plenty” of challenges.
- She was inspired by natural history, the earth from the sky while traveling by plane, and dioramas in the Natural History museum.
Matreyek’s personal history is fascinating because it defies the stereotypes of the artist and the artistic process being disparate from “left-brained” fields. In addition, her eclectic education provides an interesting context for considering the benefits of interdisciplinary studies. Through art, she was able to experience science in a new and engaging way.
Her process is interesting because it shows the artist as a critical thinker, problem-solver and innovator. These are all twenty-first century skills coveted by those in the field of education. I think it was valuable for students to hear how these skills are used across fields to navigate issues and find success.
As part of PAGES, a literacy and arts integration program through the Wexner Center, a resident artist comes to the classroom before and after each of three art-integration field trips throughout the year. The visiting artist has a direct, real-world connection to the experience the students have while at the Wex. When I was part of the PAGES program, I had graffiti artists, cartoonists, actors, poets and others in my classroom working with students and co-teaching with me.
For the activity, Bruney had taken pieces of students’ narratives and distributed them to groups of three to four students. They were asked to choose a beginning, middle and end of the story together. After they have chosen the three moments, they had to decide how to create a “frozen” re-enactment of the scene using body language and facial expressions. Each group then presented the three scenes to the rest of the class.
From watching Decker, I enjoyed how she “coached” students through the presentations. For example, she asked questions of the students presented, modeled facial expressions for them and provided formative feedback for improvement. This was a more “interactive” form of presentation that I had seen in the past. I feel like students learned more from this style where the end product was about “process” and not a “product.”
Susan Turley is exploring “non-verbal narrative” with her Honors Thematic Studies 12 class as an extension to her narrative unit, and in preparation for this, I presented a lesson with her to students using short, non-verbal films to analyze the author/artist’s choices and their contribution to building the theme, tone and plot development of the video.
For the lesson, our learning targets were as follows:
- I can identify and analyze non-verbal cues that can contribute to tone, theme and plot development in a narrative.
- I can plan a narrative that uses non-verbal elements to develop a tone, theme and plot.
Although we used short films instead of text sources, students still practiced the following skills referenced in CCS: using evidence to draw inferences, examining central themes and analyzing author’s choices in structure. In addition, the students built these skills through a collaborative discussion that addressed speaking and listening standards. Ultimately, practicing these skills with a variety of mediums will help students to make connections when working with texts.
For the lesson, I gave students a graphic organizer to record their observations as they watched the short films. They had to examine multiple elements including use of color, sound, and plot structure among other things (see bottom of the post for a resource to use with students). As we watched the narratives, I paused every few minutes to allow them to record observations before moving forward.
At the end of each film, students recorded what they noted about narrative structure, topic, tone and theme. Then, we discussed the author’s choices and how they contributed to the theme and tone intended. This built to a graphic organizer (also attached at the end of the post) that asked students to plan how they would use color, sound and plot structure in their own non-verbal narrative to develop the tone and theme they wanted to portray in their own work.
Students engaged in a rich conversation about the use of non-verbal cues to build author’s intent. This was especially impressive considering the films used. While the first one, Post-It Note Love Story, was fairly traditional in theme and content, the second film by Miwa Matreyek was very abstract and challenged the conventions of narrative format.
Here is the first video we showed called “Post-It Love”:
Here is the second video we showed by Miwa Matreyek:
Here are the resources that we used during the lesson:
- Film Comparison- graphic organizer for film analysis
- Planning for Non-Verbal Narrative- graphic organizer for planning student projects
Also, this website (previously mentioned in my Feedly post) is an awesome resource called Film English for using short films in an English classroom. Kieran Donovan provides lessons and curated videos.