Sunday, February 9, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. - celebration project

It seemed like when I was an elementary teacher there was always time to break away from pacing for a bit to study events that may be tied more to the calendar than state standards. However, in middle school because of the brief time that I see my kids each day, I often struggle to veer from my pacing. But sometimes, you just have to do it. In my third year of teaching I walked into a teacher's classroom and she had a beautiful bulletin board celebrating MLK's life and achievements. Now at this point I can't even remember what exactly her art looked like, but it inspired me to create a project of my own. I had been strangely entranced by positive/negative space art and was determined to develop a classroom project around the concept.

This website was the only one that helped me understand how to create this style of art. See it here

I'm blaming being left handed on my slow to get process here. I also learned that making a few examples before teaching the project is also a really good idea. 

So bringing it back to the current school year I decided the morning of to make it a "Martin day" and enjoyed this project with my sixth graders. I still do this project with very guided instruction using my document camera and projector to show each step. This project really tests their listening and spatial reasoning skills, and man do they look impressive hanging around the room. 

This year I decided to change the written piece that I have accompany the project to a personification poem on equality. This last minute project change was a blessing since I had forgotten that I shared this project with a friend of mine, only for me to move into a position that made me those kid's teacher the next year. See more on that here.

I used a personification poem format I learned in a masters class that made the writing manageable for my kids. They have to assign the following information/details to whatever they are personifying, and for us, we used equality as our prompt. Here's a sample outline:


Now you can modify it however you like, and I was very flexible on format and order, as long as they were able to "paint me the picture" clearly, then they were good. (Week 3/4 on our poetry anthology projects and I think I can finally use this saying without the kids freaking out that they are also having to paint a picture for each poem!)

Here's one example (they conveniently forgot to put their name on the front of the paper, which dinged them a couple of points because that was a project expectation, but hey, it works well for blog example purposes).
Because I did this project with my 100+ students we have Martin everywhere, hanging all over our room from baker's twine, and even out in the hallway on a bulletin board. I loved the discussion we had this year about the symbolism behind this project. They talked a lot about how the project doesn't work unless you have equal parts of black and white. Others noticed how to two colors had to work together in order to create his face.  Love the process, the final product, love the discussion we had while creating!
See my first attempt at this project with my 5th graders here.

And see this project inspiring others around the world here.

If you are interested in making the project for yourself, Nicole from Teaching with Style loved the project so much, she has shared her template for her Martin online.  Go check out her blog for the freebie!  FYI, she did this project with 2nd graders, so it really can be done at so many levels!

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