Thursday, March 24, 2011

Buddy Class Quilting Project Update

You may remember this post, where we told you about meeting with our buddy class and creating quilt squares.

Ms. Layne, a reading coach at our school, wrote an article about the school-wide activity and it was published in GlobalConnections, one of our district publications.  To see the article in that publication, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Because the link occasionally does not work, I’ve also pasted the article here for easy access.

Thank you to Ms. Layne for a wonderful explanation of our great activity!

Rethink, Remember, Renew: Literacy Learning and Cultural Connections

By Vicky Lane
Reading Coach
Engelhard Elementary School

Every year, schools across America take pause and reflect on how to best create a climate that meets the needs of the students. This requires them to take a look at where they have been and make intentional decisions about where they want to go. Engelhard Elementary, as part of the Elementary Redesign Initiative, has spent a great deal of time this year weaving powerful elements from its successful history into its vision for a successful future. In the spirit of the school mantra “Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day,” students and teachers alike are finding ways to improve upon an already successful program of instruction.

The growing population of culturally and linguistically diverse students has added another layer to this task as Engelhard teachers strive to gain knowledge of and to honor cultures different from the ones with which they are familiar. The school sought to create an artistic project that would address our schools' growing diversity. As a result, the art of "weaving" became a theme throughout the school as the departments of art, library, and literacy collaborated to complete the project “Rethink, Remember, Renew.” Each primary classroom has an intermediate buddy classroom with whom it meets for projects throughout the year as part of the JCPS “Care for Kids”. This year each buddy partnership read from a selection of literature with themes of friendship, cultural diversity and weaving.  Titles included:
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat: The book is based on a Yiddish song I Had a Little Overcoat and is about a Jewish farmer who has a little striped overcoat. As the coat ages, Joseph makes it into a little jacket until gradually it becomes a single button. When Joseph loses the button he makes a story out of it. The moral of the story is that "you can always make something out of nothing."
Luka’s Quilt: Luka is disappointed when Tutu, Hawaiian for "grandmother," makes a two-colored quilt for her that doesn't quite live up to what she wanted - a multicolored quilt. Luka and Tutu quarrel until Tutu thinks of a compromise at the Lei Day celebration. Why not create a rainbow-hued fabric to place atop the quilt? Tutu and Luka work together to sew the new quilt and in the process heal their hurt feelings.
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt: Clara, a young slave, works as a seamstress and dreams of freedom. Before escaping to Canada, she creates a patchwork map of the north and leaves the quilt map behind as a guide for others.

After students read the books, each class discussed themes from the books and how to weave together feelings, events, and experiences to create the kind of world that respects all people and their unique histories. To emphasize how these unique histories come together to create bonds of friendship and respect, students were partnered with a buddy from their class. Each pair received a weaving loom and multicolored pieces of cloth from which they weaved together a square. Each square was labeled with students’ names, a title for their piece and the name of the book which inspired the creation. After collecting all of the squares, the art director, with the help of some fifth grade students, connected them to create a large quilt that is displayed where everyone can walk by each day.

The “Rethink, Remember, Renew” project did more than create a beautiful symbol of Engelhard’s commitment to diversity. It opened the entire staff and student body to the idea that together we can do incredible things that improve not only our schools, but the communities where we work, live, and grow.

Happy Reading,

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