SchoolArts Magazine

FEB 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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18 FEBRUARY 2019 SchoolArts who is an immigrant herself, have shaped a project that seeks to articulate, share, and reflect upon the narratives and experiences of high-school students using digital storytelling in recognition of the unprecedented role that digital tools play in spaces of both learning and leisure for students today. Digital Storytelling Critical digital making strategies, such as digital storytelling, can be highly responsive and adaptable to the difficult realities and needs of students dealing with today's world. These types of art projects can pro- mote understanding and empathy. By creating and publishing original digi- tal stories, students have the opportu- nity to experience how critical digital making can create possibilities for surpassing polarizing issues, engen- der shared understandings, and foster awareness of the relationship between critical digital making, citizenship, and the pursuit of a common good through democratic dialogue. For this project, we used widely available, creative digital tools to help students articulate their voices as a means to promote dialogue and under - standing of their perspectives. At the start of this project, it is important to emphasize to students they have the right to express their thoughts and opinions, and others also have the right to respectfully disagree. Creating a safe environment where all views are welcome is key to having students truly create and express their unique perspectives on timely issues. Identity and Immigration The topics of identity and immigra- tion were something pressing upon students' minds, in and out of my artroom. Historically, public schools have provided immigrants who arrive in the U.S. with a mechanism to integrate into mainstream American culture. Educators across the country uphold the notion that public schools are integral in sustaining America's democracy, building on John Dewey's ideas that education should prepare citizens to make informed, intelligent decisions leading to the public good. Who Is American Today? The prompt we decided to use with students for their video narrative was, "Who Is American Today?" The ini - tial question sparked additional class- room conversations, which students were encouraged to continue with their peer groups and at home: "Think about this in terms of your family, school, and community. What ideas or people come to mind? What do these look like and what do they represent? Do you see yourself as an accurate representation of an American today?" The topic was timely and we liked the overlap of a current issue with a popular technology. As teachers, we liked the idea of embracing the notion of students shifting from being pre- dominantly consumers of technology and becoming prosumers, making and contributing. Today's students have been raised with digital technology and tools, so we created a project that would leverage their communication abili - ties. In this participatory project, high-school students use digital sto - rytelling to express their experiences in America. Students' responses varied from the experience of not feeling recognized within their com - munity to conveying a sense of con- nection and pride in being identified as "American" to views that were rooted in a society that is idealisti - cally inclusive to all. Each student example demonstrates that students position themselves across a spec - trum of perspectives on citizenship. Including Parents Prior to students' creative work in class, they were given a preliminary assignment: First, articulate your own views in writing, and then dis- cuss this within your family. I have parents sign a release form since this project will be shared in physical and digital public spaces. It's also a good idea to let parents know that you intend to address sensitive topics at the beginning of the semester by including a statement in the syllabus. Progressive educators have an essential role in sustaining democ- racy and can explore difficult content within the safety of their classrooms. The arts provide students and teach- ers with opportunities to embrace the changes in society and to rethink The artroom is uniquel situated to create a safe place to address difficult subjects.

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