This year’s Habla teacher institute focused on two essential questions:
We began with a series of community building activities – the first step in a teaching and learning methodology known as the PERFORMANCE CYCLE.
This website: http://www.artslit.org/handbook.php provides descriptions of all these steps and stages in this methodology, which takes a multiliteracy approach (including arts integration).
Our community building activities included such delightful peer to peer engagements as:
This sort of community building is essential to scaffolding the social nature of literacy development in the classroom by the “socializing of intelligence.” This process is of itself a pleasurable experience, and highly motivating for even reluctant readers.
“Literacy is rooted and entrenched in social worlds and social relationships that give life, breadth, context, and meaning. Literacy is social, and oftentimes instruction dissocializes literacy into something artificial and unrewarding.” –Kenneth Goodman, et. al., 2017
Throughout the institute, participants moved between individual work, small group work, and collective work; between writing, reading, speaking, and artmaking in different media; and moving back and forth between English and Spanish translations throughout.
We next moved into entering and comprehending the worlds and the words of our first text. On the day we began the institute, we began with Jacqueline Woodson’s lovely children’s book “THE DAY YOU BEGIN, illustrated by Rafael López.
We then employed a variety of inter-related strategies for entering and comprehending this text by discovering MICRO- STORIES within the text:
This approach makes readers who are daunted by text feel safe entering the language in manageable stages, propelled by the fun of the “detective work” of this literacy strategy.
We then drew upon the understandings we were developing from the text to create our own texts that had personal meaning for us (both readers and writers) by making IDENTITY LISTS:
This sequence brings together individual work with socially engaged sharing and comparing.
Finally, we REVISED our lists into collective “scripts” showing what is unique and what is in common, REHEARSED our scripts that we developed from our lists, showing what is unique and what is held in common, and then PERFORMED our original texts.
Students need more than words to engage in generative and reflective thinking… Inquiry models, across modes of expression, invite learners to see themselves as knowledge makers who find and frame problems worth pursuing, forge new connections, and represent meanings in new ways. – More Than Words: The Generative Power of Transmeditation for Learning by Majorie Siegel, Teachers College, Columbia University
Transmediation – the process of translating a work into a different medium – is an essential element of Habla’s methodology. Throughout the institute we consistently represented and re-represented our understandings of texts through different media. This makes visible and public the nature of reading itself – which is always a translation of what an author or other artist puts before us, which we then translate into images and associations of our own creation.
After lunch, Cynthia Weiss, Fannie Medina , and Tommaso Iskra De Silvestri worked with us to build on the work we had done in the morning o to translate our writing about our identities into accordion books. Every expressive medium has its own expressive vocabulary, and reveals through its own particular nuances an expanded understanding of meaning. Here are the big ideas and essential questions that this aspect of our work explored:
We began with Introduction to the artwork of Rafael Lopez and examples of accordion books, and we also looked at the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse as inspiration for creating our own accordion books to represent the identity writing we had developed in the morning.
We began by creating a collective “bank” at each table of cut out shapes from black construction paper. Cynthia pointed out the negative spaces created by each shape that was cut out, and urged us to save the all the pieces – both the “positive” and the “negative” cut outs.
We individually read texts from the morning and thought about images, shapes, designs that illustrated ideas from the text. We were then we treated to demonstrations of watercolor and stencil techniques. We discussed layering, different ways of dividing up images on paper, ways of sequencing images, ideas about through-line design, and the use of text in images. Painter’s tape was provided, allowed the participants to lay down sections of tape that could be painted over and then removed. We worked at our tables to create our individual highly personal identity books, and ended our afternoon by visiting other tables to reflect upon the wide range of our fellow participants’ work.
Kurt introduced us to the idea of “Thinking Routines”- structures for stimulating learner’s thinking and reflection, and Cynthia provided blank pages for us to decorate and to record our reflections. The first Thinking Routine we used to reflect on the previous day was Wows & Wonders.
We shared our Wows and Wonders with ourselves in writing and then with our tables verbally, maintaining an institute wide rhythm of moving between individual, small group, and whole group thinking and learning, and between written word, spoken word, stillness, movement, listening, making sound, and various media for representation.
Kurt introduced us to “cordels” – a tradition of displaying beautiful written documents on cords in public, often accompanied by singing and storytelling.
He then told stories about educator Daniel Soares and his students in Inhumas, Brazil who share their work daily on a cordel in their classroom and in the courtyard of their school.
Our morning reflections were then posted on our own cordel at the institute.