Beginning

printing styrofoam 2 The sixth grade students read the novel Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor for our  reading language novel study unit. This story takes place in the rural south, Jackson Mississippi, during a vary dark time in African American history. The themes of our novel concentrated on many changes on race relationships with the characters. My students explored the themes of friendship, racism, trust and courage from the novel. We also selected this novel because it provided some interesting discussion on topics that centered around changes that African Americans faced during this time period.  Students are challenged with a new kind of discrimination and it overlapped with some of our topics on the civil rights movement that impacted our culture. Our school wide black history month theme included various topics on the Civil Rights Movement. This novel study presented rich history and provided historical places, events and controversial issues that students took seriously. We integrated literature, art and history to accomplish the goals of this unit.

Student #1

Jasmine 8The students studied both literary devices and character analysis as part of the novel study.  The character analysis focused on identifying a favorite character and learning about his or her traits and emotions. Students also learned about finding a characteristic that stands out to show a character’s mood, feelings and attributes.  Students selected one of their favorite scenes and a favorite character from the novel, and in the first arts integration assignment, they illustrated a symbol that represented a literary device.  This student selected the character, Sissy.  Sissy is the best friend of the the protagonist, Cassie.  The student created an image of a fist hitting something which is a visualization of the literary device, onomatopoeia, for the sound word “POW!”sketchbook 1

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Student #2

Raven beginning print 2This student completed a character analysis on her favorite character, Stacey, the older brother of our protagonist, Cassie.  She completed her character analysis and described the  actions  of her favorite character.  She explains that Stacey is hardworking, he saves up his money to purchase his first car, and he lives in Jackson Mississippi. He is a nice dresser and dedicated to his friends and family.  The literary device that this student selected was “Point of View.”  Point of view describes who is telling the story.  Cassie is telling the story, however, her brother’s voice is also heard. Students learned about first person and that some stories have a series of narrators, speaking in first or second person. This student decided to illustrate her symbol with a hat to represent the older brother. On the cover of the novel, Stacey wears his favorite hat.

sketchbook 1

Student #3

Tatiana beginning print 2This student completed her character analysis for her favorite character of Moe. She ties in her literary device of point of view along with the actions of the character.  She indicates in her journal that Moe is a caring person.  She thinks this because he cares more about others, his family, sister and friends.  He is also hardworking, and he is working on his Papa’s land. She learned about characters, how to focus on physical attributes, his smile, and she finds quotes and passages from the story to support her feelings about Moe. She illustrated her symbol, with a picture of a heart to represent his caring demeanor.

sketchbook 1

Middle

Student #1

sketch of Sissy in journalDuring language art classes with Ms. Jones, this student continued her character analysis and completed an Attribute Web. For this she brainstormed around the assigned themes of racism, pride, loyalty and friendship. Students also elaborated on their favorite character and had to identify some kind of conflict he or she experienced in the story. During the art sessions with Mrs. Skylas and Ms. T, this 6th grader sketched the character of Sissy in her journal. In the novel, Sissy Mitchum is a 17 year-old, African American girl, twin sister of Harris and best friend to Cassie, who causes unnecessary trouble. This student shares her thoughts about this character in her journal, and writes, Sissy is an outgoing and loving person.  She is in love with Clarence and expecting her first child by him.

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After completing the original sketch, this student then created a more detailed and larger drawing of the character. She then transferred this drawing to a Soft Kut printing block and carved the image.

 

Student #2

Raven final drawingFor her character analysis, this student sketched a picture of a car at a gas station.  This  represents an incident of conflict that happens with one of her favorite characters, Moe Turner. This character is a longtime friend of the Logan family, secretly in love with Cassie, and has dreams of owning his land; He is also normally submissive to white people. The student  wrote in her journal that the image represents the conflict as Moe is on his way out of town because of an incident that happened with the Stalter boys. Moe must get out of town before they find him and kill him.Raven Soft Kut

Student #3

soft kut blockFor her conflict study, this sixth grader focused on creating the scene involving the character Harris Mitchum who is a 17 year-old-African American boy and Sissy twin brother; he is robust but soft-spoken. She writes in her journal, that the conflict she drew is when Harris is being chased by the Statler’s boys and he is hunted like a coon. He climbs up a tree to get away from the dogs and boys and then the branch breaks and Harris falls to the ground.

End

carvingThe sixth graders transferred their character study and conflict drawings onto 9″ x 12″ Soft Kut blocks which are made of rubber. Mrs. Skylas and Ms. T taught students the proper techniques and safety rules of carving a block print. Carving took several sessions and once completed the students used inked their blocks and pulled 3-4 prints.

 

Student #1

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After completing the carving process, students printed 3-4 of their block prints. This novel study, The Road to Memphis, by Mildred Taylor was a great unit for our students. This novel  content was an open discussion about African Americans that covers so many themes and topics. Topics that really engage students thinking  about segregation, discrimination, teenage pregnancy, racial violence and historical events. This arts integrated process has provided students with a platform to express their artistic expressions, through character  analysis, literary devices, plot and themes.

 

 

Student #2

Raven final block print

Student #3

Tatiana final print

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year One
2011-2012
Year Two
2012-2013
Year Three
2013-2014

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