I woke up Saturday morning with the thought in my head "uugghhh lets just get this over with." I sucked down 2 redbulls and made my way to the campus. When i got there, our entire class was sitting all together and I (obviously) joined them. We all reminisced on how late we had stayed up the previous night and how tired we were. After what seems like hours, we finally made our way out into the cold to go to our workshops.
I was soo happy to see that I got my first choice of workshop H (Diversity: Intergrating Art into the Curriculum). This was one of the most inspiring two hours of my entire life. It made me realize that YES I do want to be an elementary teacher!
Virginia Freyermuth started us off for the first half of the workshop. She told us about her visit to Taos Pueblo, New Mexico where she discovered prayer sticks. They start off as a seemingly piece of an old tree, or drift wood and are transformed into one of the biggest signs of respect in their culture. Every aspect of the way the stick is decorated has meaning to it. Whether it's the type of string used, how many turns the string takes, the colors, the beads, the type of tree and where the stick came from. She took this idea and made it "education friendly" by transforming the prayer sticks to hope sticks.
She told us how she has been sharing this idea with aspiring teachers for many years and how one teacher contacted her to show what a impact it made on her class during the time of 9/11. Dealing with the children, this teacher wasn't exactly sure how to show them how to deal with such a tragedy. After seeing a giant fallen branch in her backyard, she brought it in and had her class create a school wide hope stick. Each child helped decorate the giant hope stick and wrote a small piece of what their hopes were for our countries. It was then displayed in the front of the school to connect and bring together their school through a tough time.
We then were able to create our own hope sticks (I'm hoping Yanill will be posting pictures of it very soon!) and discussed what they meant to us with a partner. Towards the end Virginia left us with two quotes that really stuck to me. "Real learning does not happen until students and brought into a relationship with the teacher, each other, and the subject" and "Every individual is talented, original and has something important to say"
(here's one of her websites: http://artwhereyouare.com/ )
Next, Kristen Vito-Silva, who was actually the teacher of the classroom our workshop was held in, spoke to us. I hadn't even realized until she told us that every single thing in her classroom was created by the students. She didn't have one number line, alphabet, or cheesy little poster from a teachers store at all! It was absolutely astonishing. Her explanation was that she didn't want the children to come into her classroom knowing that it was her space in the first day. She wanted the students' first impression to be "Welcome to our space, let's build it together." She connect literally almost everything in the curriculum to art. Using pieces of art by famous artists, or having the students create their own artwork to get their minds thinking and their ideas out on paper.While some students may excel in many areas, others who would normally struggle are given the chance to show their thoughts and ideas through their artwork. Art is the tool that levels the play field. I believe this connects directly to the piece Rodriquez wrote (Aria). His piece mentions not wanting to speak up in the classroom because of his culture, and his language. Art is something that everyone can relate to and use to express themselves, there's no language barrier while creating art.
Now, the rest of the day was sort of a disappointment for me. I started out in such an inspirational and motivating workshop, it was hard to compare anything else to it. The expo was more of a socializing time with the rest of the class. Which wasn't too bad since I got to talk to a lot of classmates i usually don't talk to. But it was way to long!
I swear I tried so hard to focus during the Teen Empowerment session, but after about 20 minutes I could hardly take it. I felt like I was in a high school assembly. So many people were just talking, and getting up and leaving. It got extremely boring watching people play ice breaker games after a while. There's only so much excitement I can get out of watching them throw bean bags at each other. However, I did write this little quote down at the beginning when I was attempting to pay attention: "analysis + decision-making + action+ success = POWER.
Oh and here's a lovely picture of me and my hope stick<3