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Oral History 

Oral history is about the stories of everyday people in our families, schools and neighborhoods.   By studying oral history, students learn to listen carefully to the memories and reflections of their elders and community members.  Eventually, they learn how to connect these stories to the larger trends of immigration, war, revolutions or other broad narratives of history.  


Example: A teaching artist comes to your classroom and co-designs and teaches a 5-7 week project weaving content in your curriculum, the use of video and audio recorders and a rigorous oral history component.  Past projects include: 

  • Eighth graders studied the anti-war movement of the Vietnam War and interviewed veterans, anti-war activists and refugees.  

  • High School students worked with two teaching artists, one who guided them to interview family members about stories told around the dinner table, and another to design and paint symbols of these stories to create art weaving image and text.

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Seeking out one’s artistic voice is central to this project. Students will read poets of diverse cultural perspectives and learn to make connections to their own lives and communities. Ultimately, students will learn the techniques they need to compose their poems, thinking of different forms, including Golden Shovel, haiku, sestina, elegy, etc. In addition, students compose poems, using metaphor, simile, color, imagery and rhythm.

Examples: Bilingual students read poems, from a range of diverse poets, as models for composing their work.  They include some of their native language in the poem, peppering the English with proverbs, expressions, and quotes from elders.  As a culmination, students participate in a poetry reading and create an anthology of their best work.


In an 8th grade class, students learned how to compose poetry and then pair up the text with images and/or photographs using Adobe Premiere, creating a digital poem with voiceover.

Digital Media 

Students learn to storyboard and write narratives that are visually rich and then create short digital stories, using software like IMovie and Final Cut.


Students learn about various social movements improving social and economic conditions, such as the Civil Rights Movement, Anti-war movement, Gay Rights Movement.  Youth learn ways to mobilize and organize on contemporary issues relevant to them.  


Example: In Jericho Middle School, I worked with a class of students studying issues of diversity in an elective class. Students were divided into small groups and made 3-4 minute documentaries.  They learned about ways to use video to promote social justice. Topics include: race, class, gender, LGBT awareness, standardized testing, and environmentalism.  During the class, students watched some documentaries to learn techniques. This project culminated in a film festival.

Rangoli: Folk Art from India 

Kolam and Rangoli:  Learn about an Indian folk art in which geometrical designs are created on the floor using colored sand, rice or flower petals. Often seen during Diwali, also called "Festival of Lights", Rangoli or Kolam, can be created using a series of dots and patterns at the threshold of a home, thus inviting the Goddess Laxmi into the house.  Kolam is more often created in South India while Rangoli is popular in North India and brings more colors into the patterns. Learn how to make various patterns in this hands-on workshop.  Bring card stock paper and Sharpie markers. 

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