Exploring the local creek and designing their own natural playgrounds, creating songs about protecting the world, discovering the details in individual leaves and creating posters, learning vocabulary through dance games, using sculptures to explore science. These are some of the new experiences that teachers led summer school students through at the University Prep Summer School.
Teachers attended the Marin County Office of Education and Youth in Arts’ recent STEAM workshop and put their learning into practice to make their own art-infused program at Lu Sutton Elementary School in Novato.
Earlier this month, Youth in Arts joined the Marin County Office of Education and a team of educators and experts to conduct a workshop on STEAM learning. K-12 teachers were asked to rethink how they could teach the California Environmental Principles and Concepts.
Lisa Heslip, principal of the summer school program at Lu Sutton, said students were happy, well behaved and engaged. Students made a giant “Making Learning Visible” paper wall documenting their learning that was posted in the courtyard of the school. The 1st through 5th grade students focused on the environment, looking at everything from how animals and people interact to their own carbon footprint.
Among other things, students considered the eyeball of a cow, putting the contents in a plastic bag, labeling the optic nerve, cornea and other parts, and taping the ball to the wall. “I wonder where tears come from?” pondered a student. Lower grade levels looked at creating sustainable playgrounds.
Heslip took photos and posted them on the wall, and students added their own drawings and Post It notes with questions and observations.
“They stop at it all the time,” Heslip said. “It represents them. It’s not teacher created at all.”
Summer schools teachers also had intensive coaching by members of Agency By Design Oakland, who helped them with curriculum planning and were present during classroom teaching, Heslip said.
“When you think of English Language (Learners), it’s getting them to talk and express their ideas … giving them the opportunity to use academic language,” Heslip said. “What better way to do it than with a hands on activity?”
Preliminary research shows an increase in student summer school attendance (100% this year!) Teachers say they felt “inspired” and “reinvigorated” to go back into the classroom with these new tools.
Thank you to the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant, Marin County Office of Education and Marin Community Foundation for helping to make this work possible.
by Crystal Barr, Agency by Design Oakland
During my time as the arts-integration mentor at ATLAS Davidson summer program, youth engaged in a myriad of making and arts activities to deepen their access and resonance with the content they were exploring. In the sixth grade classes, young makers explored the importance of watersheds and movement of water by observing how water moves within a flow table and then making a plaster cast of the table as a microcosm of how water flows over valleys and hills.
Seventh grade youth used their learning about water pollution to educate and advocate for access to clean water, creating original zines with drawings and text about how to create and use water filters to clean water and why we must act now to save our water sources.
The eighth graders took it another step further and asked themselves how they could reduce their dependence on plastics as consumers, and then made their original products such as lip balm, toothpaste, soda, and beeswax wrap and reused a glass container to place their new product in. Youth were asked to create a logo or ad for their product as well as a zine* that would describe the process of making their product and how this process is sustainable for the environment. I was excited to see youth creatively engaged in issues of water conservation and pollution, and seeing their ideas for collective change.
*Zines, short for magazine, are small, hand made, informational booklets that are accessible to make.
Thank you to the California Department of Education, Marin County Office of Education and the Marin Community Foundation for helping to make this program happen.
Youth in Arts joined the Marin County Office of Education and a team of STEM educators and experts to conduct a week-long professional development workshop on STEAM learning for more than 60 teachers in Novato, CA. The program was dedicated to considering how the environment impacts people and how people impact the environment, asking K-12 teachers from across Marin County to rethink how they might teach the California Environmental Principles and Concepts to their students in innovative and interdisciplinary ways.
Utilizing a culturally responsive framework to consider the diverse ways in which our students learn, we considered how to address global issues such as climate change through a local lens using place-based inquiry and problem solving. The week-long training event began with participants experiencing STEAM as learners, taking part in a Phenomena Walk that involved finding and drawing an intersection between nature and something human-made and employing discussion-based reflection frameworks like Visual Thinking Strategies to break down the meaning of the Environmental Principles and Concepts.
We then examined sea level rise and ways to make meaningful change through a case study of the Canal in San Rafael, and used the Engineering Design Cycle to plan out how to take this case study and apply it. Building on this process, we used resources from the Davidson Middle School’s Makerspace to think creatively and prototype solutions to issues such as reducing plastic consumption and designing structures for desalinization. Throughout the institute, participants learned ways to use art collaboratively in the classroom, from techniques such as theatre-based presentations to a Making Learning Visible wall that showed how to document the process of learning through photographs, words and art.
Participants were encouraged to create a cross-disciplinary framework meant to empower students to ask questions and become advocates in their communities. If teachers support students in becoming leaders, they in turn can design solutions to care for the environment. “The impact of humans on the environment is something we can’t ignore, and young people are already leading the way toward finding solutions,” said Executive Director Miko Lee. “This was an important collaboration to help teachers reach all learners through multiple methods.”
Lee was one of the keynote speakers of day one focused on Cultural Responsive Teaching. On the second day students from the Sunrise Movement spoke about getting the Green New Deal passed in Marin. On day three, artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez, who talked about the importance of looking for stories that allow students to create a future of possibility. She also showed a map of the Bay Area and noted how poorer areas bear the brunt of pollution. Encourage students to examine their own community, she said, and document what is represented – and what is not. On day four former Youth in Arts Director Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez spoke about the importance of interdisciplinary learning. To watch the keynote speeches, please visit the Marin County Office of Education.
The final two days included time for curriculum planning. A cohort of 18 teachers returned on Sunday to gear up for Summer School. Those summer school teachers, will receive mentoring from Agency By Design whose Executive Director is Brooke Toczylowski, former YIA staff artist.
Mishka Banuri is a 17-year-old from Utah who helped craft and pass the Utah Climate Resolution, the first of its kind in a traditionally conservative state. Here is a video made by the Brower Awards.
Mari Copeny, also known as Little Miss Flint, has been the 11-year-old activist about the Flint Michigan water crisis. Here is an article/video of her in Teen Vogue.
Jamie Margolin is a 16-year-old Seattle teen who founded Zero Hour, a youth led climate change movement. Here is Jamie’s TEDX talk. Each of the teens in Zero Hour represent a different perspective and part of the United States. More about the team in the NYTimes here and also here in the New Yorker.
Jade Sweeney is an 18-year-old from North Carolina who is combatting Colony Collapse Disorder and addressing bee conservation by introducing apiaries and pollinator parks in her local schools. Here is a video made by the Brower Awards.
Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh is a teen Indigenous environmental activist who sued the U.S. government over the issue of climate change. He is also a spoken word artist. Here is a vice video (FYI swearing involved). Here is his talk to the United Nations.
Greta Thunberg is a teen Swedish climate change activist who lead the international student strike. Here is Greta’s TED talk. Here is the Brave video about her leading the movement.
Rose Whipple is a 17-year-old from Minnesota who is fighting the Pipeline, which is proposed to go through Minnesota and indigenous territories and will threaten the way of life of the Anishinaabe and Dakota people. Here is a video made by the Brower Awards.Kaiya Yonamine, an Okinawan-American 17-year-old created “Our Islands Treasure” video about the building of another U.S. military base that is polluting the ocean. Watch the 3-minute trailer here. There’s also a 20-minute documentary with some subtitles.
Brower Awards – Go here for video profiles from Earth Island Institute’s Brower Youth Award for Environmental Leadership. Many, many excellent youth activists from across North America and covering a variety of environmental issues.
Climate Woke!/CultureStrike Project discussed by artist Favianna Rodriguez links climate change to racial injustice. Climate Woke video.
Water Protectors – Here is a teacher’s guide (with lessons, videos, stakeholders) on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters -– the Standing Rock Water Protectors (many of the leaders are youth).
On 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.
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!
Laurel Dell’s 5th grade students have been invited to participate in the 2040 San Rafael General Plan planning process. The General Plan expresses the community’s vision of how and where our city will grow and change in the future. It’s an official document and covers topics such as housing, transportation, open space, arts and culture, natural resources, community design, public services, and safety. The intent of the General Plan is to envision how growth will be managed to protect the quality of life and make San Rafael more accessible, equitable, and vibrant for residents, businesses, and visitors.
The Plan is an opportunity for residents and leaders to think about and speak out about what we wish to preserve and what we wish to change. We will be adding youth voices to this process. The Plan will address issues that impact us all—including traffic, jobs, housing affordability, environmental quality, resilience, disaster preparedness, sea level rise, and public services. Once the General Plan is adopted, City Council, local commissions, and city staff use it to make day-to-day decisions about our future.
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.
A STEAM workshop: Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, Math
Youth in Arts staff Suzanne Joyal and Miko Lee in collaboration with the Marin County Office of Education led a cohort of classroom teachers through a workshop teaching about the environmental pollution and ways to transform garbage into art while also teaching about graphing.
Teachers watched this video about the Pacific Trash “Island” and learned about the immense amount of plastic that has been impacting the planet. They watched the presentation (available below) about the impact of pollution on animals and saw how professional adult artists and kid artists could make powerful art from trash to tell a story.
Suzanne described the Graphing Garbage arts integration project that she created at Willow Creek Academy. Lesson plan (available below). She showed how graphing can be showed in a various artistic formats. Teachers then went through trash collected by YIA. They sorted the trash by items that had the most dangerous impact on animals. Working in teams they showcased this by featuring three sizes of fish and a jellyfish on an ocean backdrop. After reflecting on this process, teachers discussed potential math and literacy extensions.
Teachers then created individualized animals that they could bring back to their classrooms to replicate the process.
For help with sorting and weighing garbage in all Marin Schools (except Novato), contact Casey Poldino at CPoldino@marincounty.org and check out this website http://zerowastemarin.
To make the recycled art more successful, Suzanne suggested purchasing Extra Tacky Glue and Tempera Cakes from RileyStreet Art Supply.
PaperSeed Foundation currently has a Recycled Art contest. Teachers and students win prizes. Click here for more info.
Thank you to Christina Lunde for making the dinner and helping with logistics and to Eileen Smith for her assistance. Thank you PaperSeed Foundation and the California Arts Council for making this evening possible.
By Shirl Buss