These are my notes from a presentation titled “We Are The Revolutionaries” on February 2, 2008, at the Oklahoma 2008 State Superintendent’s Social Studies and Fine Arts Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is, “Revolutionary Matters.” This presentation by Beth Howard and her students from Mark Twain Elementary School in Tulsa Public Schools has the following description in the conference program:

Join a group of elementary and middle school students who are leading a revolution in their own community. Their service-learning program is creating a future of socially conscious students. These revolutionaries use music, art, and filmmaking to create social awareness while addressing real issues.

I am recording this session with permission from Beth and will be sharing this subsequently as a podcast here.

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this is the revolution
– a drastic an far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving

WE are the revolutionaries
– radical supporters of political or social revolution

We are not high school students
– we are not selfish
– we are good examples
– we are not pretenders
– we are hard working
– we are not famous
– we are changing the world

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From the session handout:

Art Ambassadors is a service learning program that engages 4th and 5th students in community service while promoting visual art in the community. The goal of Art Ambassadors is to create student leaders, promote civic engagement, serve the local community and enrich academic learning through visual art. Art ambassadors focus on meting a specific community need. In the past the student ambassadors have enriched their school environment, their local housing project with murals. The mural themes have depicted a variety of social issues. The student ambassadors then use the murals as visual examples to teach younger students about the principles and elements of design, literacy and illustration and character development.

Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

Barb’s email: howarbe [at] tulsaschools [dot] org

participating students don’t have to have the top grades, but do have to be trying their “personal best”

last year students were able to contribute to painting a large mural at the local YMCA in downtown Tulsa
– it was more of a community service project rather than a service learning project, but it provided a great opportunity to get the students out of the classroom and connected to others in our commnity

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student comment: “We are teaching people how to use their helping hands, not their hurting hands.”

traits that Tulsa Public Schools said we had to have posted on our walls
– integrity
– truthful
– more…

students have done a WONDERFUL job working with younger students and leading them, being patient, being great teachers and examples

now showing a video that starts with Governor Brad Henry of Oklahoma

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We are round school, have intercession with 3 week breaks
– ours this year was called “Mystery of the Missing Tigers”

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Got in touch with a local animal preserve which keeps animals that can’t go to zoos
– if an animal has been declawed or neutered they can’t go to a zoo

students made their own creative tigers which went to art shows
– each one included tiger facts about endangered tigers

It was great to hear the Safari’s Interactive Animal Sanctuary talk about the animals they have and why you really don’t want to have those animals for pets

Project: Water on Wheels
– volunteered to make a new backdrop for the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks
– focus on the kelp forest
– went out to the museum and learned about what they want
– students did research and individual paintings
– developed word searches and puzzles for the museum
– had a big “wet and wild” event at the aquarium for the dedication of the backdrop, “celebrating with our families”

Helping students understand the power of images in our society
– kids creating their own movies
– kids created their own scripts
– I narrowed down the options for sound effects
– we talked about the sound effects which would really help communicate their message

created the video “two hands”
– another teacher has integrated the idea of “helping hands” into all parts of the curriculum
– lots of focus on gardening, but continual discussion about character development

Colin Wilson: “The mind has exactly the same power as the hands, not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.”

this is an ongoing project for kindergartners

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Creature care: we take care of animals in our school environment and in our classroom

Outdoor Birds: we feed and water the birds that live near our school

Classroom pets: being responsible means taking care of our animals

community gardening at the Sandy Park Housing Project

“As I move ahead, I will lend a helping hand.”

partner reading: eLearning to share and cooperate while learning

Today I will lend a helping hand by…

partner cooking: we work together following directions, measuring ingredients and creating something yummy!

hand bells: using our hands to make beautiful music

what do you use your hands for?

we use our hands to pick up trash
to change the world
to make peace

Music by Jack Johnson “With My Own Two Hands”
– starring Mrs Hembree’s Kindergarden class, produced by Mrs. Beth’s Art Ambassadors

Story of Desmond Tutu who came to Tulsa several years ago
– was on the committee which created the lesson plans for that visit
– I begin to integrate the visual arts, and Tutu’s philosophies and lessons learned from fighting aparteid in South Africa

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Desmond Tutu and the application of ubuntu through art
– ubuntu: it is about the essence of being human
– the interconnectedness of us all

do a weaving project
– the whole is greater than the sum of the part
– using burlap

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the solitary human being is a contradiction in terms
– learning about different communities and how that extends beyond us

also did African Mud cloths

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“We believe that a person is a person through other persons; that my humanity is caught up, bound up inextricably in yours.”
– Desmond Tutu

“Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.”
– Desmond Tutu

This year I have written a larger grant for this same project, but involving six schools in our area
– also introducing African songs and African drumming

evening of African storytelling this year

will have a family art day
– all focused on community building with an Arts focus

Are working with one of the local schools facing restructuring because of NCLB, doing community outreach, helping improve the image of the school in the community

Best part for some of the students has been the interaction

Audience member: some kids will sign up so they can put the name of a club on their resume for college, a much smaller group sticks around and actually follows through, this is frustrating

Beth: I have a great group of 20 VERY involved kids this year which makes it difficult selecting students

Another project: Cafeteria has shared a food pyramid video that showed Egyptians, this led to an entire mural drawing program with Egyptian research and themes

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For kids to paint on the walls and not get in trouble: That is pretty neat!

www.artambassadors.com

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