Final Reflections


DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER — original melody and lyrics by Talcott 6th grade
based on interview with Mr. Z, Talcott gym teacher
transcribed and edited by Lisa Golda, teaching artist; one of two songs written by 6th grade

Don’t judge a book by its cover, be a friend and give kindness,
don’t judge someone by how they look, find their good side, be adventurous

You might lose an opportunity, not choosing a friend merely shows blindness
You might have something in common; erase the hate, erase the darkness

I am feeling so confused; Am I being used? They’re so mean, what do they see?
What’s wrong with me?
View the final performance of the above song here:

Teaching Artist Reflection: Basing their project on the book "In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson", as the classroom teacher Ms. Thelen requested, combined with her efforts to integrate the unit, generated absolutely fabulous results. Developing the concept of cultural sensitivity began with addressing incidents of laughing in response to hearing Chinese music, which were immediately paralleled to the teasing the book's main Chinese character experienced in the US. By the time members of the Tianjin Peking Opera graced our classroom, the students were absolutely ready to respect and explore their cultural offerings and to participate in a class conducted in Chinese with translators. This was amazing. They also interviewed their gym teacher, Mr. Z, a Palestinian who was at a young age deported from Kuwait and his family's assets confiscated. This was a different migration theme -- and they learned a lot about compassion and sensitivity by hearing this teacher, whom they truly like, share his painful experiences and challenges. The students eventually composed lyrics for two songs and melodies for one using the Chinese pentatonic scale. Keeping a portfolio was obviously integral to all of this. MCLT Reflection: This was the 3rd year in which the students were in the project and I feel it was the most successful. Why? Because they made a connection with the text, their lives, adults, visual art, other cultures (China) and themselves. I feel the students really learned to comprehend what it is like to be different and how hard it is to be accepted in a different country or place. Ms. Thelen was a great help because she integrated the journals with the music classroom. including the masks also helped win the students to the project. Teacher Reflection: The students were able to walk away with a deep understanding of the challenges today and in the past in immigrating to the United States. The students were able to connect their learning in reading, writing, social studies, music, and art. They were able to make these meaningful connections and really embrace the unit through a variety of mediums and it really allowed every student an opportunity to show mastery using their personal strengths.

Teaching Artist Reflection: I truly don't think there was anything that didn't work. If anything, we ran out of time to fully actualize our performance concept given the time we spent on mask making and other activities. I wish we had had two classes a week so that one more hour per week could have been focused just on absolute music of China. There was just not enough time. MCLT Reflection: I agree with my colleagues. This was a successful project and the best of the three years. Teacher Reflection: It was a very successful project. If anything I would have liked to spent more time looking specifically at China Town in Chicago and having the students really look into the culture that is protected within that area. I would have liked to take a field trip there for them to experience the language, and culture first hand.

Teaching Artist Reflection: I think spending a whole year exploring a book and a culture in this way would have been possible, and I intend to try it at some point. MCLT Reflection: I wonder what the students thought of the visit from Ling Ke. I enjoyed the visit and watching him teach us about Chinese opera. Could the students write an opera and use this style to sing/move/tell the story? I would love to found out! Teacher Reflection:I am wondering which parts of the unit the students enjoyed the most? I am wondering now going forward in my teaching practice if creating unit notebooks from integrated units of study in a better method of note taking and organization for the students, rather than notebooks by subject area.

Teaching Artist Reflection: As our visiting artist Ling Ke said, bridges between cultures are best built through art. I saw this clearly demonstrated this year with a tough bunch of kids. I would use it as a cultural sensitivity/social studies/language arts/music and drama integration approach again with different books and cultures. This book happened to be quite compelling and that didn't hurt; but I think too that our approach to the subject matter, which was very personal, esp. after the interview with Mr. Z and the students' asking their parents about THEIR migrations, helped them to realize that in learning about migration and other cultures, they were actually also learning about themselves. MCLT Reflection: I think it is important for us to share this project with our colleagues. The total package is what happened this year with this project. I would like to continue to develop a project like this with a text for other grades. Teacher Reflection: I like the idea of using writing and written reflection daily to have the students being metacognitive and in control of their own learning. Going forward I would like to use more notebooks per unit of study. Having a notebook the students reflected on in literacy class, in music, and in social studies allowed them to see the connection of the same ideas, and how the unit was building. I would also love to continue to use personal experiences to really branch off to other things they are unfamiliar with. For example, our students know a great deal about immigrating from Mexico and about racism to African Americans, however they rarely think about other cultures and people immigrating or feeling prejudice in America. It was great to open their minds to this.

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