My students need 27 art materials and related tools such as paints, picture frames, oil pastels and masks to create reading-themed projects at home. The requested materials will allow students to engage our Reading and Writing standards by creating artistic products that demonstrate understanding of texts and skills covered in class.
Picture this: Johnny, a student at SuchIsLife Elementary School, walks his little brother and sister home each day after school. A fourth grader with maturity past his years, he juggles a number of tasks as the “man of the house” until his mom is home from work. Preparing food, watching the young ones and trying to connect with his friends while dodging gang violence, Johnny sits down to complete his homework.
At home, minus the support of adult guidance, he could use a different kind of format to process what he’s learning in school and relate it to his world. It would stick much better that way! Music is blasting outside the door and though he wants to concentrate, it’s hard to keep his mind on one thing—-especially something as dull and lifeless as a pen and paper. All around him, life is popping—-it’s full of life and color--why can’t homework be?
Johnny is my student--welcome to his world. With a classroom full of Johnnys (and Johnettas), I often find it hard to compete with the thumping, bumping world of urban life that my students find outside the doors of their homes, beyond the reach of my classroom. What if I could put a set of art supplies in Johnny's hands to engage him in understanding our curriculum in a hands-on way that he won't forget?
I would like to equip my students to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind--and of life in the 21st century--by giving them a creative outlet with which to explore the state standards we study as readers and writers. Classroom time does not permit the creative assignments that I think would inspire them to delve deeper, but if I could place materials in their hands for home-based work, we could meet the needs of various learning styles, engage students in ways the classroom does not make possible, and help students to love homework, all while raising student achievement!
I propose a set of art materials and creative tools-—which I could check out to parents-—that students could use to complete a variety of standards-based assignments. For example, I could ask students to: paint/draw a scene or picture summarizing the selection; create a story wheel depicting various elements of the story (setting, conflict and resolution, etc.); create a diorama of the story’s setting; create a mask that represents the traits of a main character; or create a yarn Venn diagram comparing and contrasting two informational texts on the same topic.
I imagine that this project’s donor is one who loves both words and art. Funding this project is a huge step towards multiplying that love of things literary in a group of energetic, intelligent fourth graders with few options and fewer resources. My students’ long-term retention of important reading and language arts concepts can be ensured with the introduction of the arts into our homework regime. I thank our donor(s) in advance for the generosity, vision and sense of adventure that mark true greatness.
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