Wednesday, January 6, 2010

BEST Ideas: Reading DIFFERENT Texts

Hello All!

This little exercise is turning into a habit! But I'm really excited to bring you today's idea because it just dropped into my lap, and I think it has very cool potential for teachers outside the wonderful world of Language Arts!

If you have attended one of the Content Literacy professional development classes over the past couple of years, you know that I share Dr. Roni Jo Draper's research about comprehending "texts" of every size, shape, and design. Dr. Draper reminds us that we "read" music; sea captains once "read" stars to navigate their way across oceans; hunters and trackers "read" signs along the trail; crime scene investigators "read" evidence. You get the point.

Today my friend and colleague Becky sent me a link to a YouTube performance of an "essay" in the making. I know you're saying, "Oh, that sounds EXCITING! Let's all watch someone write up an essay worthy of a DWA knockout score." Au contraire, my friends! Be prepared to be amazed! Unless, of course, you are one of the 4,000,000 plus who have already watched this video. Nevertheless, think of how it can engage students!

This"writer" creates her story in pictures - nothing new there, right? WRONG-O! This is NOT a story board, and her medium isn't pen and ink or colored markers. It's SAND! Okay, I know you've seen some sand art on commercials and maybe on YouTube, but this performance surpasses most others, and it crosses content lines in such a moving way that I had to pass it on.

The following is a description of the performance as described by Mr. OR Ms. Anonymous - you know those people who pass on a million or more email messages about a million or more topics, and we have absolutely NO idea who these people are, but sometimes he or she sends us something worth perusing. This is one of those! As you check this out, think of ways you can incorporate it into your curriculum.
The video shows the winner of 2009's "Ukraine's Got Talent," Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table. [Through her artistry, she tells] how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II.

The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears. Kseniya begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting and holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear, and the happy scene is obliterated. It is replaced by a woman's face, crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again.

The war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young woman's face appears. She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, and then the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier.

This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking at the monument from within the house.

In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man is standing outside, his hands pressed against the glass. He's saying good bye.

The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with 8 to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.

An art critic said he finds it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers "is beyond me." Bringing an audience to tears is the no bigger compliment, especially when the war is used as the subject matter.

Teachers of language arts, history, geography, art, and music could engage their students through this visual, audio, artistic essay about war and its effects upon countries' citizens. Students could record their reflections, supply written words to describe the images, create their own pictures in different mediums, research the time period, write a poem, tell a fictional story. The possibilities go on and on.

Let me know what you think, and SUPER-SIZE your day!,

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