Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Art of Instruction

See what listening to Billy Joel generated by 4 of our participants.
Doodle Art created to one of Billy Joel's tunes,
One warm-up activity in Art Appreciation unit.

Wednesday morning group spent this past summer 
engaged in Art Appreciation

Why? Learners wanted to share their artwork and what they knew about art. This topic was a subject dear to many of our learners' hearts

Our goal? Increase reading comprehension strategies and critical thinking skills while simultaneously sharing learners' artwork and learning about artists - past & present.  

Experimenting with art techniques and examining specific art pieces was providing a platform for:  Expanding personal art techniques. 
 Increasing vocabulary.  Growing observational skills.  Interpreting visual and written texts.  Building critical thinking skills. 
 Enhancing team building skills.  Improving investigation skills.  Forcing summarization skills.  Developing and delivering presentations.  Sharing ideas, supported with evidence.  

Seem odd for an adult literacy organization? 
Not this one! We use topics learners care about the most. 
We deliver literacy education, with a twist.*

Why this content? Are you willing to persevere at something you don't care about? Something that gives you physical or emotional pain? Something you know you suck at?

Reading is hard for our learners. Yet, we want them to experience the joy reading brings to other people. We want them to use reading seamlessly as a tool to get what they want in life. 

To get to this moment, we've found that learners need to be engaged in the practice of reading. Using "stuff" (reading materials) they care about (regardless of the reading levels) increases engagement. 

Look at these faces in these photos from our 5/10/18 lesson about "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso. Do you see engagement?

Who are our learners? The readers in the Picasso lesson ranged from beginning to moderate skill level. Some could read only a few words. A few could say all the words well, but didn't understand what the texts meant. All spoke English. 

How do we pull this off? Some of the questions under investigation required intense reading; some questions did not. For example, one group focused on examining the work of art itself. 

Groups had print and electronic materials available. An introduction to "Guernica" and Picasso were listed on our learner website, but groups were not required to visit or limited to the info on our site. One group found info about Picasso on Khan Academy, another found info about Picasso's art periods, and one group started with a paper-version of the encyclopedia. 

Presentations: Each group read and interpreted different information in search of the information needed to present the one piece to the entire group. 

Learners (and facilitators) worked on decoding, pronunciation, and comprehension to build learners' abilities and confidence to present what they learned to the group. Not an easy task. Our hats off to the learners who persevered because they wanted to engage in this activity. And, our hats off to the mentors as they skillfully oversaw inclusion and skill building. 

Note: Our underlying structure comes from a constructivism POV with support from CCR Standards. Career pathways is relevant because several of our learners are aiming for art-related careers through SLCC-SATTS. Generic skill sets are being developed and refined. Specific job options are highlighted, as appropriate.  

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