En la Clase: Conjuring Poetry and Ofrendas

SBMA Dia de los MuertosContinuing with this month’s theme of teaching about Día de los Muertos, in today’s En la Clase I’m going to share one of my favorite poetry writing activities from our Día de los Muertos teaching guide: Calaveras and Conjuring with Words.  If you’re planning on having your students make a classroom ofrenda or individual mini-shrines this is the perfect activity to pair with that.  This activity was produced by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and they very kindly let us reprint it in our guide.  They have excellent K-6 and Middle/High School lesson plans available for free on their website.  It’s definitely a site that I recommend you spend some time with. Continue reading

WWW: Teaching Día de los Muertos through Animated Film

Book of life picIt seems that with each passing year, we find it more and more common to see students learning about Día de los Muertos in their classrooms and communities.  A testament to the growing popularity and influence of Dia de los Muertos in U.S. culture and education is this year’s acclaimed animated film “Book of Life”, produced by Guillermo del Toro.  Día de los Muertos serves as the backdrop for the entire story, which follows a young man as he journeys through adolescence, facing his fears, learning how to celebrate the past while still looking forward. Continue reading

WWW: Fascinating & Educational Artwork – “Mesoamérica Resiste”

Mesoamérica ResisteThe Beehive Design Collective is a group of artists that voluntarily creates artwork dedicated to “cross-pollinating the grassroots” for use as educational and organizing tools. The graphics are created anonymously and can be used by anyone.

Beehive has released an epic trilogy of artwork exploring globalization and colonialism in the Americas. The third and final installment, released this fall, is truly magnificent. For nine years, Beehive artists worked on this intricately detailed, double-sided folding poster, illustrating stories of resistance. Titled “Mesoamérica Resiste,” the massive map drawn in old colonial style opens to reveal “the view from below, where communities are organizing locally and across borders to defend land and traditions, protect cultural and ecological diversity, and build alternative economies.”  Continue reading

En la Clase: Día de los Muertos, Sugar Skulls & Acrostic Poetry

IMG_3829It’s that time of year again! Día de los Muertos is a month away, so for the next couple of weeks we’ll be sharing various resources to help you teach about this cultural celebration in your classrooms.

Last week we had a wonderful professional development workshop on “Día de los Muertos: Skeletons & Cultural Literacy.”  I thought I’d share a few of the activities we talked about that night and how you could turn them in to a mini-unit including Acrostic Poetry and Sugar Skulls.  You can also access our entire guide on teaching about Día de los Muertos here.  It includes background information and reading, lesson plans, an annotated bibliography divided by grade levels, and a glossary.

Continue reading

En la Clase: Stitching Resistance through Chilean Arpilleras

Arpillera coverAs you may know from yesterday’s post, we’re continuing our series of thematic workshops around the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s exhibit “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras.”  Our series began last spring, and was so popular that we decided to add a third workshop this fall, as the exhibit will be up through January, 2014.

For today’s En la Clase post, I thought I’d share some of the information and curriculum materials that we wrote about last year.  Many of our new readers may not be aware of the many resources available to teach about the art and history of the Chilean Arpilleras.  The timing is appropriate, just last week September 11th marked the anniversary of the 1973 Chilean Military Coup in which Salvador Allende was overthrown and Augusto Pinochet came to power.  The arpilleras were part of the protest movement against Pinochet.  Continue reading

En la Clase: A Year of Mask-Making

Image from http://bottlejarboxcan.blogspot.com /2011/08/paper-bag-mask_07.html

Image from http://bottlejarboxcan.blogspot.com

Often when I talk about how much I love bringing art (like mask-making) into the classroom, I get the response “There’s no time for fun activities like that anymore.” Comments like that used to make me sad, and while they still elicit that response, I’ve also found myself feeling a little angry.  It just seems so defeatist.  It’s an excuse to give up the agency that we do have as teachers, that we should be fighting to hold on to (as many of the teachers I know are).  I’m not denying that the landscape of the classroom is changing.  I know the amount of time it takes to do all the testing required through the year.  I even added it up once–I spent close to two months worth of school days testing the last year I taught 3rd grade.  I know there’s increasing pressure to cover even more material in shorter amounts of time.  I’ve read about the moves to tie teacher pay and evaluations to student performance.  But, it’s for all of these reasons that I think it’s even more important that we include those “fun” activities, like art, in the classroom.  Continue reading

En la Clase: All About Me Cube

All About MeOur most recent series of En la Clase posts featured lesson plans that introduce teaching about race, culture, difference, acceptance, and respect as ways to encourage community building in the classroom.  Today’s post on “All About Me” Cubes offers one more way to build that classroom community while bringing students’ own lives into the classroom curriculum.  It’s a great activity to do in preparation for Open House or Parent-Teacher Conferences, especially if you’re looking for a fun display that showcases your students. While our previous series focused mainly on early elementary activities, today’s post can be adapted to a much broader grade range.  I found it was always the perfect activity to do at the beginning of the school year as we eased into the structure and curriculum of the new year.  With four separate parts, it was easy to spread the project out over an entire month, and it could be stopped and started without much trouble.  There are lots of variations of “All About Me” projects, if you already have one that you use, it could easily be adapted to the cube format.  Continue reading

En la Clase: “Comparing Herstories: The Arpilleristas of Chile and African American Women Quilters in the U.S.” (part 2 of 2)

Monday’s post was the first in this two part series on teaching about the history of Chilean Arpilleras as women’s protest art in Pinochet’s Chile.  In collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, we held a series of workshops this spring around the exhibition, “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras,” which is on view at the NHCC from October 19, 2012 through January, 2014.  If you missed Monday’s discussion, definitely check it out, as it will provide some necessary historical content on the topic.  Today’s post looks at some possible ways to integrate a unit on Chilean arpilleras into your curriculum, through hands-on activities. You’ll find supplementary guides and a lesson plan for creating your own arpillera at the end of the post, so be sure to scroll down.

Arpillera coverI know when I was teaching in the classroom, it wouldn’t have necessarily been easy to justify a unit on the history of Chilean arpilleras.  Continue reading

En la Clase: “Stitching Truth: Chilean Arpilleras in the Classroom” (part 1 of 2)

As Ailesha shared in her ¡Mira, Look! post this past week, our last thematic series of posts for this school year focuses on human rights.  Much of our work through with k-12 arpillerateachers is based on thematic workshops that connect Latin American content with human rights issues.   In collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, we held a series of workshops this spring around the exhibition, “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras,” which is on view at the NHCC from October 19, 2012 through January, 2014. Continue reading

WWW: Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Social Justice

pazIf I had to choose one point to take from our recent professional development workshop on Alice Leora Briggs’ depiction of the violence in Juárez, it is this:

Artists play a critical role in exposing injustice.

It’s true. Hypocrisy and greed are never safe around an artist. And among artists, there can be none more unabashedly political than an editorial cartoonist. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s: “Teaching Tolerance” website has a powerful series of political cartoons that can help students explore social justice issues while building important language skills like irony, satire, caricature, dialogue, etc… Continue reading