Relevancy and Student Empowerment

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Students have finished their social issue piece that I posted about here in this post,  Making Space for Students’ Voices. My goals for the unit were lofty but I am thrilled out of mind to share with all of you how it actually went. Students were able to share some personal things through a variety of methods – we used #INEED as entrance tickets one day, then the next used #IWISHMYTEACHERKNEW as entrance tickets. These were all posted, along with the post-its from the first day.

Students were incredibly engaged in this assignment from the research to the curation to the creation. Students asked in some classes to listen to the podcasts from Revisionist History as a whole class and we had a discussion about college costs. Students watched videos and tedtalks about prison and who ends up there and then asked a ton of questions about how they could make change with some of the policies. Students really loved being able to choose their research and their issue to dive into. They planned well and problem solved in order to figure out how to get viewer’s engaged – they posted work in the hallways and in the cafeteria in order to get a range of engagement. The range of issues were broad and it was incredible to watch them work and dive into the issues.

So I can’t continue describing the process or the outcomes, I have to share the work with you.

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This is a silhouette with the brain piece showing a black boy with a mind filled with negativity. I created my art by cutting out a head shape and brain area and putting it on a white sheet, thus filling the brain with words. Racism and love is the big idea of my artwork. To strike thought into the minds of the unfair. It represents me growing up and how I received hate for being a certain color and race.
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Our artwork is a message about police brutality. It is a picture of a person who’s surrendering to the officers and fearing for their life because of the cops. We created this because of all the past situations with police brutality that made the news. The big idea is to see it in first point of view. Our goals is to send a message to everyone that police brutality is not okay. 
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My piece is on gender inequality and the abuse of women all over the world. I chose this because it’s an issue that I have always been interested in and I finally got the time to learn more about it. I drew a scale to show that in most cases men are treated better than women. All around it I wrote facts about gender inequality that shocked me and that I think will shock others. I also wrote a question because I want people to think more about how women in general are treated. The purpose of the whole piece was to engage the viewer and hopefully to inspire people to treat women better.
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My piece is about how transgender people are not getting the support needed and that they can’t be who they want to be because of society. I created my art by using sharpies and colour pencils. I also used shading where it is needed. My goals for this artwork was to show and intrigue the viewer about unsupportive people in society. My thoughts on this is that this didn’t turn out how I originally planned it to be.

Over the past few days, I’ve conferenced with each student – to check in with them about their perceived strengths and areas of growth and ways I can support better. This has been such a valuable thing for me to do and as I’ve found through these conversations – students have felt empowered and their voices are being amplified. Students are feeling like artists and like they have something to say.

As I reflect on this unit and how I feel as an educator and as I’ve watched my students – I realize I need to do more of this somehow, I’m not sure how, but it’s valuable.

How do you connect to students lives? How do you empower students? 

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