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Posts Tagged ‘students’

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Photo: David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer
Asiaish Lawrence speaks about his involvement in Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny, an augmented-reality mural that involved students from the Haverford School and Philadelphia’s Mastery Shoemaker Charter School.

At my last job, my very artistic colleague Melita tried to explain augmented reality (AR) to me. It sounded like science fiction. As I recall, she had ideas about using it in one of the exhibits she curated, but I don’t remember what the upshot was. Our workplace appreciated new technology, but not necessarily arts technology.

Schools tend to be more open than that. Recently, I read an article that both explains the AR concept and shows how it was used by students from somewhere I once lived. (Years ago, I lived in a third-floor walk-up directly across from the Haverford School.)

Grace Dickinson wrote the augmented-reality story at the Philadelphia Inquirer in October, but the project she describes is available for at least a year.

“Mural Arts Philadelphia is bringing art to life with the city’s first augmented-reality mural, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny. The project invites viewers to experience a large-scale painting completed on a warehouse at 53rd and Media Streets through the lens of a smartphone app that casts holograms and generates a changing soundtrack as you move from left to right. Picture a metaphysical version of Pokémon Go in which the power of a screen momentarily alters reality around you.

‘To see the augmented-reality mural, you’ll need to download the free app, created by the local production firm Blue Design. It’s available in the Apple App store under the name ‘MuralArtsAR.’ ”

The idea was that people who showed up at 53rd and Media would just need to point their phone screens with the app at the mural.

When you do that, Dickinson says, “Immediately, elements such as light beams, colorful orbs, floating crystals, and sculpturelike figures will begin to pop out from the painting, covering a wall the length of a city block. …

” ‘I like making art that the viewer can look at for 15 or 20 minutes and really get lost in,’ says muralist Joshua Mays, who conceptualized the project with Philadelphia DJ and producer King Britt, the mastermind behind the audio component. ‘Both King and I are futurists, so we enjoyed the idea of going deep in order to create further realms to discover.’

“With the yearlong Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny project, Mays and Britt set out to visualize possible futures for West Philadelphia, involving students from Mastery Shoemaker Charter School, across the street from the mural, as well as from the Haverford School. The collaboration marks the first Mural Arts Philadelphia partnership to connect public and private high school students. …

“Says Mays, who worked with about 30 students, ‘I want them to always remember to aspire for something greater but to also continuously stretch their imaginations — and their imaginations really ran wild with this.’

“Thinking about the destiny of West Philadelphia, the students dreamed up imagery ranging from an undersea world full of squids and water spirits to a landscape where robots intermingle with humans in everyday life.

” ‘I picture clean energy, no smog, with holograms suspending all around us, and a soundtrack of Kanye West’s Graduation album playing on repeat,’ Haverford School senior Garrett Johnson says. …

“Including the students’ ideas in his design, Mays developed a progressive series of abstract images that start with a representation of the African diaspora and end with a portrait of a woman holding a shining seed between her fingers, the focal point of the mural.

” ‘The seed is meant to unveil a world of future possibilities, radiating out to a past that reconnects the main character with her ancestral heritage.’ …

“The audio component, which you can hear through the app, follows the temporal transition of the painting. Drums, chants, and other tribal percussion notes mark the beginning, shifting to trumpet and electric piano tunes inspired by ’70s jazz, and ending with rhythmic, hip-hop-inspired beats mixed with futuristic sounds. …

” ‘I recorded them doing things like riding the elevator up and down, banging on the water cooler, and closing classroom doors,’ says Britt. ‘Then I manipulated the recordings into musical notes — so, for instance, the water cooler became the kick drum, and the elevator was worked into the sound of a keyboard.’ …

” ‘I had the kids come up with a list of questions to ask [neighborhood elders], such as, “How do you think the mural will affect this neighborhood?” and, “What did the neighborhood look like 20 years ago?” and, “What kind of music do you like?” ‘ ” says Britt, who then included snippets of the interviews in the soundtrack.

More here.

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Photo: Bethesda Magazine
New research finds some children are more attentive after experiencing a class taught on the lawn.

As the fourth snow event of March 2018 decorates my yard, I’m finding it hard to visualize academic lessons on a lawn, but I know they do happen.

Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard, “A carefully designed 10-week study found outdoor lessons ‘boost subsequent classroom engagement, and boost it a great deal,’ writes a research team led by Ming Kuo of the University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign. ‘After a lesson in nature, teachers were able to teach for almost twice as long without having to interrupt instruction to redirect students’ attention.’

“In the journal Frontiers in Psychology, Kuo and her colleagues note that, while many European nations have incorporated classes in nature into children’s education, the idea has not been embraced in the United States. This may reflect ‘concern on the part of teachers that outdoor lessons will leave students keyed up and unable to concentrate,’ they write. Their findings debunk that notion.

“The study featured third-graders (ages nine and 10) at an environment-oriented magnet school in the Midwest. The kids were predominantly African American, and 87 percent qualified for a free or reduced-price lunch.

“Two teachers — one keen on the idea of teaching in nature, the other somewhat skeptical — each ‘delivered 10 pairs of lessons over 10 different weeks.’ On five of the 10 weeks, the first lesson of the pair was taught at a grassy spot just outside the school, adjacent to some woods.

” ‘For any given pair of lessons, both the treatment lesson (in nature) and its indoor counterpart were delivered by the same teacher to the same students, on the same topic, in the same week of the semester,’ the researchers write.

“The students’ engagement in the lesson taught immediately afterwards—which was always indoors—was measured in a variety of ways, including the teacher’s perception; the judgment of an independent observer who examined photographs of the classroom; and how often the teacher needed to stop teaching to attend to a student’s inappropriate behavior.

” ‘Classroom engagement was significantly better after lessons in nature,’ the researchers report. … Most striking was the reduction in ‘redirects,’ which are defined as ‘instances where a teacher interrupted the flow of instruction to redirect students’ attention.’

” ‘Normally, these occur roughly once every 3.5 minutes of instruction’ in a third-grade classroom, the researchers write. But after a lesson in nature, ‘teachers were able to teach for 6.5 minutes, on average, without interruption.’ …

“The five-minute-long walks to and from the outdoor learning area may have played a positive role. It’s also possible the kids were responding to rejuvenated instructors.” More here.

In college, I found the occasional springtime lesson on the lawn distracting, but there is no doubt it could perk up a teacher. And I know that both kids and adults benefit from just getting up and moving.

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Art: Dawn Marie Livett
Music goes hand-in-hand with other creative endeavors. This teacher writes, “Through music, from classical to popular, kids encounter themselves and experience the feelings and sensations associated with their worlds.”

Jeffrey Pflaum, a reader of this blog who taught children creative writing for many years, asked me if I’d be interested in reporting on some of his techniques. I am. This post is adapted from one of his blogs.

Pflaum writes that using experiences, reflections, and insights geared to “struggling, reluctant, and average readers and learners” in grades 3 to 6 helps them develop. “One key step to learning about any world is to know our selves first. …

“As an introduction to reading and writing I deal with kids’ inside worlds. What does each child have to know about mind, self, and imagination in order to learn? What makes up this inner universe? Why is it so important to know the contents of our worlds before studying the worlds of different subjects? …

“My lessons connect with the children’s inner lives.  It doesn’t help when education builds test walls around creativity and motivation, two huge channels to learning and developing a passion for reading. Education’s role is to open up students’ worlds so they are receptive to new ideas. … Motivation becomes self-motivation and education means self-education.”

Pflaum finds that helping children to develop self-knowledge enables them to tap their inner worlds and use their life experiences to enrich both schoolwork and everyday life. “Thoughts, ideas, feelings, fantasies, daydreams, dreams, dialogues, monologues, memories, reflections, and all the mental image pictures are the stuff of our inside worlds,” he says.

In one exercise, “kids close their eyes, visualize words in the mind, describe them orally and in writing, and then draw/sketch what they ‘see.’ Some examples of words for this practice exercise are: dog, rose, apple, room, sky, rainbow, clouds, parrot, pencil, pen.

“From here, I’ll build two-word sentences such as: Frogs hop; children play; birds fly. And then I probe what they are viewing with questions: What are you looking at? What pictures do you see in your mind? What thoughts are triggered? What feelings are connected to the image? Can you describe the mind-picture and your experience? Draw/Sketch the sentence you visualized (crayons, markers, pencil, or pen).”

Another exercise I liked had to do with using music for creative inspiration. It starts with a counting technique and progresses to listening to music, with the following instructions: “ ‘Sit back and relax. Put your heads gently down on the desks, close your eyes, and enjoy the music. When it’s over, write whatever you experienced inside yourself.’ … They learn to appreciate the contemplation process and the music as it soothes them into their worlds and journeys of self-discovery. …

“Through music, from classical to popular, kids encounter themselves and experience the feelings and sensations associated with their worlds.  They see what brings them up and down and learn to create a positive attitude towards contemplation, reflection, and self-expression.”

More ideas for teachers can be found at http://www.JeffreyPflaum.com. Some approaches might also work with adult students.

Educator Jeffrey Pflaum

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https://www.bamradionetwork.com/home/experiences-reflections-and-insights-a-project-in-reading-and-emotional-intelligence

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Photo: Ben Fractenberg
Jason Reynolds is a 
New York Times bestselling author, a National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors.

Some children and teens who think they don’t like literature can really open up to it through poetry that is less intimidating. That’s the view of Jason Reynolds, author of the young adult novel Long Way Down, among others. Recently, he talked to PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff about using poetry to capture the attention of reluctant readers.

“Woodruff: While Hollywood has figured out how to get boys to watch movies, the formula is trickier for getting boys to read, especially among those who have already expressed frustration and boredom with books.

“Reynolds: If you were to tell me that you were afraid of dogs, I wouldn’t then return to you with a pack of pit bulls. … What I might do is casually walk with you by one of those doggy day cares. The ones with the pups small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Yippy little fur balls that get so excited, their tails wag the entire back halves of their bodies. The dogs that grin and want nothing more than to lap your skin with fervent affection. …

“So then, why, when it comes to young people who don’t like reading, who feel intimidated by literature, do we answer that cry with an onslaught of the very thing they fear? Why do we show up with a pack of pit bulls in the form of pages, and expect them to stop running away?

“Perhaps they haven’t found the right style of book because, sometimes it isn’t about subject matter, or voice, or point of view. …

“For some kids, those words [on the page] — the amount of words — is equivalent to a snarling dog. So, why not start with the less threatening, palm-sized pup in the window? In this case, poetry.

“Poetry has the ability to create entire moments with just a few choice words. The spacing and line breaks create rhythm, a helpful musicality, a natural flow. The separate stanzas aid in perpetuating a kind of incremental reading, one small chunk at a time.

“And the white space, for an intimidated reader, adds breathability to a seemingly suffocating task. …

“With the incredible selection of poetry and novels and verse from past to present, this is an opportune time to use them to chip away at bibliophobia. Less words on the page, more white space, without necessarily sacrificing the narrative elements.

“And once young people experience turning those pages, once the rush of comprehension and completion laps at their psyches for the first time, perhaps they will know they need not fear a thing created to love them, and for them to love.”

Read a 50-word poetic narrative that Reynolds wrote to draw in kids, here. See also this post on “poetry slams,” another way to get young people engaged in language arts.

My thanks to poet Ronnie Hess for posting the Reynolds piece on Facebook.

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Asakiyume is a wonderful writer. I have read many of her stories for adults and her three main young adult books. The latest is perhaps the most marketable so far. Kids, teachers, librarians — all sorts of people — will be as riveted as I was. (Perhaps she will comment below with a few words on the theme.)

While waiting for an agent, Asakiyume asked Kelsey Michele Soderstrom to paint the main characters, below, and began to plan a website about the book and its exotic settings.

I thought of Asakiyume when I read an article in the Concord Journal the other day about high schoolers who weigh in on galley proofs of young adult books.

The Journal says, “Just two years after the group’s inception, the Concord Carlisle High School Young Adult Galley has been selected as one of 16 Young Adult Library Services Association Teen Top 10 review groups.

“Members of the group will read galleys, or uncorrected proofs of books, before they are sent off to be published, and select 10 they like best. This information will be used to select YALSA’s top 10 galleys this year.

“Jennifer Barnes, ex-teen library services consultant at Concord Carlisle High School, was the head of YALSA’s teen fiction division and used to bring galleys into the high school’s libraries for interested students to read. The galley group formed …

“When Barnes left the school, students still wanted to review galleys but had a harder time procuring them. …

“Using Kindles, group members would download galleys off of NetGalley, available to bloggers, educators and members of the media. The CC Group members would also send letters to publishers requesting galleys.

“Then, still looking for more galleys to review, the group decided to apply to be a YALSA  Teen Top 10 Review group. …

“ ‘Sometimes authors will respond [to reviews],’ [recent grad Clare] Bannon said. … ‘It was so cool when an author would respond to something you wrote. It would encourage you to keep reading and keep reviewing stuff.’

“The group will continue to get together and meet up to discuss books throughout the YALSA Teen Top 10 process.” More at WickedLocal.com.

Art for Asakiyume’s latest story: Kelsey Michele Soderstrom

 

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We blogged a while back about tutoring students via distance learning. Kyle Spencer at the NY Times wrote about it here:

“Newly designed software for the tutoring of beginning readers has bridged the gap, allowing volunteers to meet students online from a distance. P.S. 55 is testing the program with students in its four first-grade classes.”

Now it turns out that remote tutoring is not the only kind of remote volunteering possible. In this article by Casey Armstrong at Shareable, we learn more about why “volunteers don’t have to be in the room anymore to physically volunteer.”

“As far as fun volunteering opportunities go, playing with kittens at an animal shelter is probably unequaled. It’s no wonder that the option to do this over the internet is a popular one. The Oregon Humane Society gives volunteers the chance to control robotic arms wielding toys for bored cats waiting to be adopted. This opportunity is not only good for the cats and volunteers, but it’s a great way to encourage donations and adoptions.

“And, if you look beyond the surface, this is more than just a stunt. It proves a concept: Volunteering can be done from anywhere by anyone if you accommodate it with the right technology. … Check out Reach-In.com if you’re interested in setting up your own robot volunteer opportunity.”

Photograph: Librado Romero/The New York Times
Edward Muñoz, a first grader at P.S. 55 in the Bronx, works out tricky words with Jenny Chan, his tutor in Midtown Manhattan.

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My husband and I like Colin Cotterill’s quirky mystery books about Dr. Siri Palboun of Laos. The series starts with The Coroner’s Lunch, in case you are interested.

Cotterill has been involved in several worthy causes in Laos, including one addressing the abysmal lack of children’s books in the country. You can read how he got started on his quest for children’s books, here. That work is now handled by Sasha Alyson at Big Brother Mouse, who writes:

“Do you remember the excitement of rushing home to read a book that you hoped would never end? Many Lao children have no such memories, because they’ve never seen a book that was fun or exciting to read. Some have shared textbooks; others have never seen a book at all. We sometimes have to explain how books work: ‘Look, if you turn the page, there’s more!’ ”

Big Brother Mouse is a “Lao-based, Lao-owned project.” More.

Cotterill also works with http://www.copelaos.org to help victims of land mines left over from the CIA’s “secret war.”

And, pointing out that more than 75 percent of children in the far north of Laos have no schools, Cotterill funds efforts to get hill tribe students into teachers colleges. More.

Art: Colin Cotterill at http://www.colincotterill.com

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