Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. [Positive/Negative Art]

Once a year, a strange thing happens, a blog that I no longer write on starts to get a crazy amount of 'traffic'.  And that traffic is thanks to pinterest, and one art project that I'm insanely proud of, and can't wait to do with my students next Tuesday!  Some of this post is a "re-share" from my previous thoughts on this project, and I will make sure to share this year's results in their full glory sometime after the holiday, plus I've added a few new links to help you create your own Martins.

Inspiration: 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, five years later,  I cannot 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.  I have taught this lesson with both 5th and 6th grade classes, but I have seen even 2nd and 3rd grade teachers successfully create their Martins following the same lesson.

Now, I may be a tad challenged when it comes to this concept of positive/negative space art, but from reading a few other posts that have since tried the project with their own classes, they all agree - PRACTICE and make a few examples before guiding a class through the process.  Here are a few more tips and tricks I found from many years of practice.

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

Every year I like to change the written piece that corresponds to the art.  My first year they created their own "I Have a Dream" speeches, and then we aged regular old construction paper to look 'authentic'.  Here is an image of the original Martins in all their glory!

Last year I played around with personification and my students wrote a poem personifying EQUALITY.  Man, did they really run with this idea, even though I must admit, I knew they could do it, but I really hadn't mapped out exactly where their poems may go.  And, in true 'poetry teacher' fashion, they far exceeded all expectations.  Read more here about their personification poems, and find a basic lesson on how to teach it.
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).
This year we just completed a whole school 'booster day' on the positive behavior support system we have on campus, and part of the history lesson that day was teaching about assumptions.  They wrote a personal poem about assumptions they have experienced in their own lives, and I'm thinking that we may take these drafts and connect them to Martin Luther King Jr., because let's face it, so much of racism comes from assumption, so I think it may be the perfect fit for this group of students. 

Finally, I wanted to share a resource that Nicole from Teaching with Style created to share with fellow teachers[I'm not sure why the images on her blog no longer come up with this link - sorry!].  I am so happy that she has done this, because let's face it, I was always an 'inspiration' teacher blogger, never organized enough to be uploading google docs and such, but wow, are we lucky that there are teachers out there who do!  So thanks again Nicole for finding my project, and spreading the love.  Here is the free link to the outline you will need to create Martins of your very own, all you will need is the construction paper! 

And just one more thing, I get pretty excited this time of year when I see the enthusiasm for this project, or when I stumble on others having successes in their own rooms.
Here are a few of the images I found of other bulletin boards created from this project:
Cortez's Corner
Borrowing the Best...and Making the Rest

If you create your own Martins using inspiration from this lesson - PLEASE comment below, I would love to compile and share these projects being created across the country!

Also, you can see how this project inspired a woman from across the globe with her country's own influential figure.  See her project here!

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