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917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
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Teaching Counter Narratives Through the Arts

Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Eddie Madril taught counter narratives to a group of Marin County teachers by sharing his experience as a member of the Native American community.

Madril is part of the Pascua Yaqui tribe of southern Arizona and northern Sonora Mexico and represents his culture as a dancer, singer, teacher, playwright and filmmaker. During his presentation, teachers experienced history differently and learned how to make a corn husk figure (not a doll). Madrid talked about how important it is to understand multiple perspectives, including how tribes historically cared for and respected the land where they lived and did not consider it something that could be bought and sold. He also explained that if there is only one student in a class who is Native, for example, that student should not be singled out or made to represent all Native American people. Teachers ended the day with a hoop dance.

“It’s critical for teachers to be able to hear counter-narratives to expand their teaching to reach all learners,” said Youth in Arts’ Executive Director Miko Lee. “It’s through these culturally responsive teaching practices that our students can learn about the world that we live in with a more balanced perspective.”

Madril has taught American Indian music at San Francisco State University and was a three-year recipient of the California Arts Council Artist-In-Residence grant. As a dancer and educator, he has performed throughout the western United States, including the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and World Arts West’s arts education program People Like Me. He works with students to encourage the appreciation of and respect for American Indian dance, music, culture, history, art and sign language.

To review the hands-outs and suggested readings, go here.

Youth in Arts worked with the Marin County Office of Education to provide professional development courses like these. We are proud to announce a generous grant from the California Arts Council to provide for Eddie Madrill’s Assembly Performance and Workshops for Title 1 schools whose teachers attended the counter narrative training. Thanks also to Marin Community Foundation for supporting our work.

Shawna Alapa’i Shares Her Hawai’ian Culture with Students at Dance Palace

Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’i and Halau Hula Na Pua O Ka La’akea performed for students from the Bolinas-Stinson Union School District at the Dance Palace Community & Cultural Center in Point Reyes. Spanning traditional Kahiko (ancient) hula to modern (‘auana) hula, students experienced Hawai’ian story-telling through melody, hand-crafted instruments, dress, and dance traditions.

 

 

The assembly concluded with a fun hands-on workshop where students learned parts of a Haka, a traditional warrior’s dance originating with the Maori people and adopted into Hawai’ian culture. Kumu Hula Shawna incorporated aspects of the Haka into a hula danced to the music from Moana as a way to engage students and connect culturally based on common knowledges.

 

 

A special thank you to the Dance Palace Community & Cultural Center and the California Arts Council for their support of this program!

 

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Family Artists respond to Student IJ Story

IJ Article 2040 1-24-19On January 24, the Marin IJ published an article written by fifth graders working with Shirl Buss, YIA Mentor Architect and educator with UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN.

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On Thursday night, Laurel Dell hosted a Family Art Night for second and third-graders. Families were able to visit the gallery of works created over the Fall, and to participate in a hands-on art-making experience.

YIA Mentor Artists Cathy Bowman and Suzanne Joyal asked students and families to respond the IJ story: What do YOU want for San Rafael’s future? What important words can you read? Circle them. Now, choose the MOST important word, and turn it into a piece of art that fills your whole page.

Each student and family member found a word in the article that was important to them, and turned it into one of the mini-artworks you find here.

Lastly, we glued all of the pieces together into this one cohesive collage.

The students ranged in age from TK (PATHS), to third grade (ELECTRIC from a kid who says he doesn’t feel safe walking in his neighborhood at night). We saw parents translating for each other, children reading to their parents, and even tiny little pre-readers able to pick out letters and begin their journey to reading.

Here is a link to a member of the community in Fairfax who wrote a letter to the MarinIJ entitled:  “Inspired by Youngsters ideas on Sea-Level Rise”.

Thank you California Arts Council for your generous support!

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Building Tiny Bridges: Where do you want to GO?

Laurel Dell fourth graders embarked on a 12-week journey exploring bridges to make connections between art and architecture. The course ended with tiny bridges that were built in a box. This project was another approach to a self portrait. Where are we now? Where to we want to go in our lives? The goal of this project was to bridge our current and future selves and dreams.

We began with a discussion of symbols and what images we would use to show our present and future selves. We sketched a design in our sketchbooks to work out what our bridges would look like. This was a crucial step in working out the details. Then we used watercolor to paint the backgrounds, carefully adding details with colored pencils. It was hard to wait for the paintings to dry! The paper was pre-cut so it would fit into 6 by 6-inch wooden boxes.

The final class was devoted to building tiny bridges made from thick white paper, string, buttons and glue. We used Q-tips to carefully apply the glue to small places. It was challenging to work small, but good practice using scissors and hole punches.  Some students used traditional bridge designs while others got quite creative! One student built a lily pad bridge using clay. Several students said this was their favorite project.

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Second Graders Study Collage

Second graders at Laurel  Dell Elementary School made their own murals by studying the great collage artists. We looked at art by Romare Bearden and other well known collage artists, looking at how they used textures, shapes and colors to layer their work. We began with a lively discussion of what a healthy neighborhood contains. What do we need besides a home, a school, a library, a hospital, a fire station and a police station? We divided up into teams to make the buildings, trees and parks that we needed. First we sketched in our sketchbooks. Then we turned the sketches into collages. We glued down the roads to provide a framework. Homes included apartment buildings and houses. One student made a motorcycle airplane; another student created a moon house!  The art will be displayed in the hallway at school and added to throughout the year.  WRLogo-Online200px-Red

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Kindergarteners and First Graders Play With Clay

For our final project at Laurel Dell Elementary School, kindergarteners and first graders played with clay. Working with Sculpey builds strong fine motor skills, since the hard clay has to be softened by warm hands. Students used a maquette, a small model made of pipe cleaners as a structure, then built their clay creatures around it. We then tested beads for size, choosing the ones that fit to slide onto arms and legs. It was a challenge to squeeze the clay tightly around the form. Many students got quite creative with their people! We baked the clay to make it hard and more permanent.CAClogo_stackedRGB

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Kindergarteners and First Graders Make Self Portraits

What do we look like? What do you see? These are some of the questions that kindergarteners and first graders pondered at Laurel Dell Elementary School.

Looking into mirrors, we touched our faces. Where are our eyes, noses and ears? What color is our skin? How do we show emotion with our expressions? Students started with a sketch, encouraged to draw themselves big enough to use the whole page. We drew faces, necks and the tops of shoulders. Once the sketches were done, students copied their best lines in Sharpie markers. At the following class, we added watercolor. It was important to know when to stop and how to use watercolors carefully so we didn’t make mud! Kindergarteners then decorated cardboard frames, using black and white pastels. First graders used white pencils on black frames. We told a story in the pictures and words we used. The results were wonderful. The portraits will be part of a spring show at the YIA gallery. Stay tuned!

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Diane Ferlatte at Dance Palace

Master storyteller Diane Ferlatte, accompanied by musician Erik Pearson on the banjo, performed for hundreds of K-8 students at Dance Palace in Point Reyes this Fall. Diane believes that story telling enables us to understand each other better, and many of the stories she shared with students emphasized empathy, tolerance, respect for others, the importance of working hard, and the value of our environment. From the adventures of the clever Brer Rabbit to the history of slavery in the United States, Diane’s tales engaged with social studies standards for middle school students through folk traditions, song, percussion, and American Sign Language.

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Students and teachers listen to the story of Brer Rabbit’s Dance. Ferlatte uses ASL, intonation, music, and body language to engage students.

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Following the Assembly, Diane and Erik held a workshop with 5th grade students. Students engaged in a discussion about what makes a story successful, and how to utilize performative tools to share their stories with others.

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A special thank you to the Dance Palace and the California Arts Council for their support of this program!

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4th Graders Bridging Differences at Laurel Dell Elementary

By Shirl Buss, Architect and Educator

We had a wonderful session with the 4th grade students in Mr. Seligman’s class last week.  Suzanne, John and I teamed the students in pairs.

Their mission was to design a  bridge that was structurally sound, but that symbolically “bridged” opposites or differences. After working out their ideas in a “sloppy copy”, the students were remarkably creative and astute each team created a collage representing their concepts.  The opposites/differences  included:  Cartoon/Real Life, Light/Dark, Above/Below, Fire/Ice (with water in between), Glass/Crystal, Complicated/Simple and many more.
It was a was a very productive session.  Enjoy some photos below.

Thank you so much for your support: Laurel Dell PTA, teachers and students, UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN, and the California Arts Council

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Architects in Fifth Grade

The architects Shirl Buss and Janine Wilford have been working with fifth-graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael for a month now, and the work is amazing! Students have been practicing layout, design, scale, and model building as they prepare to tackle their big question: What do you desire for San Rafael in the year 2040?

For the “Real World Challenge” portion of their architectural residency, students will work collaboratively in hands-on in-class studios with architects and planners from Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. We will build upon the work we did last year for the Resilient by Design Challenge. We will research and make proposals about San Rafael’s future—from a youthful, but informed perspective, with a special focus on selected areas of the city (downtown, canals, open space, etc.) We will incorporate the academic focus on earth systems and apply this research to our recommendations.  The students will have an opportunity to present to the General Plan committee members.

The San Rafael 2040 Plan: Students consider their own paths, what they want for themselves in 2040, and what they want for their CITY:

Lesson in GEOMETRY: 2D to 3D!

 

Learning about SCALE:

Thank you so much to the California Arts Council, the Laurel Dell PTA, Y Plan at UC Berkeley, and Wilford Architects for sharing your talents and energy with us!

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