Making Curriculum Pop

Bringing New Literacies in to the Classroom: Reflection on Dr. Kist's Presentation

I really enjoyed Dr. Kist’s lecture for he knew how to engage us in our learning through active participation. Instead of just talking to us through PowerPoint slides he got us to take part in our own learning. He didn’t just teach us about new literacy practices in the classroom but showed us. He kept us on our toes through the whole presentation because we didn’t know what to expect next. We were all confused in where these activities were going to lead as we threw paper balls at each other or lined up in the hallway. The activity was we all had to write down our favorite literary media on a piece of paper then crumple it up and throw it to someone around the room. Then the paper that we caught we had to respond to what was written. Then after two rounds we were asked to go to the hallway, and find the person whose paper you had. It was in a state of anticipation in what was going to happen next that kept us engaged through the whole presentation. Also learning was no longer just about listening to the teacher talk but it was about collaboration where we worked with other classmates. Kist made an excellent point about the importance of getting students to work with their peers. When their peers are the greatest influences and concerns in students’ lives what better way to get students engaged than to have them talk and work with one another. Kist also made you reconsider the possibilities of what the classroom could be like. At one point when everyone was talking to each other after lining up according to birthdays (another activity done in the hallway where we had to line up according to birthdays without talking) Kist stopped and said “this is what you want to hear in your classroom: talking and laughing among students.” It made you think about what the classroom could be like where learning becomes fun. In these activities we saw how using new literacies in the classroom could change the ways of teaching in which learning becomes exciting, engaging, and active. Furthermore I thought Kist made a good point when thinking about bringing “new literacies” in the classroom. In the previous lectures it was all about the moving image and incorporating film in to the classroom but Kist defined new literacies as any tool that promoted connectedness, community and collaboration. What made Kist a great teacher was that he shaped his lecture and teachings based on the interests and needs of his audience. When you center your teaching to connect to the experiences of the student you’ll get them engaged in their learning and empower them to do more.

Kist’s presentation made me think about my own teaching practices. As an art teacher I am always trying to re-engage students with new materials as they bring forth their lived experiences in to their art making. It is all about making connections and students make meaning by being able to connect their experiences with what they are learning in the classroom. When this connection is not made students are detached and disengaged in their learning. So in what different ways can we bring students’ experiences and their voice in to the classroom? As we learned from Kist that bringing new literacies in to the classroom is about “connectedness, community and collaboration,” thus I believe that the Arts is one of the most effective ways to achieve this. As we talked about using film and moving images in the classroom during this conference you can also expand to other art forms such as looking at paintings or sculptures as well as engaging in art-making. Within thinking about the theme of teach, think and play I provided some resources that might help you think about how the Arts bring these three components in to the classroom. I attached some readings that make ties between art, learning and the imagination. Also I provided some links where you can learn to incorporate art in to your teaching practices.

Ways to incorporate art in to your lesson plans:

MOMA Modern Teachers
http://www.moma.org/modernteachers/index.html

Art: 21
http://www.pbs.org/art21/education/index.htm

Great site to learn about artists from all over the world:

Art Forum
http://artforum.com

Some great books on the importance of arts in education as well as in the development of children:

Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change by Maxine Greene

The Dialectic of Freedom by Maxine Greene

Burton, J. (1981). Developing Minds: Representing Experiences: Ideas in Search of Forms. School Arts, January, 58-64.

Hurwitz, A. & Day, M. (1995). Children and their art. New York: Harcourt Brace


Ok I hope that was helpful. If you are unable to check out the books I would recommend reading the articles that I've attached. They are really interesting.

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I second Elizabeth's recommendation of Maxine Greene's Releasing the Imagination. What a terrific book! This was required reading for one of my classes and I refer back to it often. I remember her writing, "teachers must make an intensified effort to break through the frames of custom and touch the consciousness of those we teach." Funny how the simple act of getting students out of their seats can seem revolutionary to some traditional educators. But in these times where boredom can envelope a student quicker than a bolt of lightening, something more than feeding kids information has to occur. Mr. Kist definitely showed us ways to get the blood flowing in effective and most importantly, uncomplicated ways.
Elizabeth:
I enjoyed reading your post! I'm so glad you connected with the arts portion of my presentation. I think the "Arts in Education" people are often swept aside when new media is talked about when, if it weren't for the work they've done,' we would be completely clueless when trying to help kids "read" and "write" in these screen-based ways.
I'm also going to check out the links in your post. Thanks!
Bill
Hi Elizabeth,
Great post! I was completely confused when Kist asked to get up and go out side to line up in the hall! The laughter and chatter that followed showed how great that activity was. In my kindergarten class, they no longer get art :( It is rare they get time to just color or paint unfortunately. I am just a student teacher, but i try to let the kids do art as much as possible. I know how art engages students and want my students to have this as well. I want them to laugh and talk just like we did!
Elizabeth,
The resources are wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing them. I am not a very artistic person but think that students should have many opportunities to experiment with art. Since I am not artistic it makes incorporating art into the classroom a little difficult. Your resources and pdfs make incorporating art a little easier for me so thank you! You stated that: "When you center your teaching to connect to the experiences of the student you'll get them engaged in their learning and empower them to do more." I agree with you one hundred percent. That is why the home-school connection is so important. If you can talk to students parents about what they enjoy and then find a way to incorporate that into a lesson, students will be much more engaged then if you talk to them about something they have no interest in. Wonderful post!
Callie
I just received Peggy Albers' book: Finding the Artist Within --Creating and Reading Visual Texts in th..., which I must highly recommend.
Hi Elizabeth,

I am not the most artistic person but I just requested Releasing The Imagination from the library! I work with student filmmaking and since cinematography is SUCH an artistic endeavor, any resources I can get are always helpful. Dr. Kist's presentation really invigorated me and I have the notes I took to keep me going in the classroom.
For several years now I have been the art teacher to my students. As someone who still struggles with stick figures this certainly has been challenging. I just found this website . It is an interactive website in which students can create various Art projects through different mediums. Another way to incorporate technology into the classroom.
Amy what was the website - you left us hangin w/out a hyperlink! :)
Here is the website that I mentioned in my earlier post The website can be used for older and younger students. Let me know what you think!
Hi Elizabeth,

Your post reminded me of a talk by Sir Ken Robinson I recently attended at the Teaching and Learning Celebration Conference here in NY. He talks a lot about multiple intelligences, the importance of creativity and innovation and the fact that school is actually killing creativity. He says that "All children are born artists but we get educated out of it." I picked up his book The Element and it's fascinating. I think his book is great for everyone, especially art educators. I'm definitely going to check out Maxine Greene's book you recommended.
Here's a link to a You Tube clip of him speaking about Education and Creativity:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga2CYYCrtNE&feature=related

Jen
Hi Elizabeth,

I as well was skeptical as to Dr. Kist's teaching of age strategy in the hallway. That will forever be known as a great ice breaker. Even the exercise previous to that which I believe was called the snowball? Writing interesting facts about one’s self and crinkling up the paper and tossing it randomly was very intriguing. I truly thing Dr. Kist’s strategies and theories should be practiced and shared. I will be using his presentation content to strengthen my strategies in the future.
Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for your post and especially for your resource links, those look really useful. Unfortunately, the high school where I teach in the Bronx does not have an art teacher and a social studies teacher conducts drawing classes to fulfill the city art elective requirement. While I teach English, I try to include an artistic component to class projects whenever possible to give the students more exposure to creating art.

I appreciated your quote from Kist where he says that talking and laughter is a good thing. I wish more educators felt this way and recognized that interactive behaviors does not mean there is no learning in the classroom.

Alicia

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