Happy Birthday Bryan Collier!

Good Afternoon Friends,

On this final day of January, I want to pay homage to a terrific award-winning author by way of a little Throwback post. After receiving my daily Happy Birthday Author newsletter, I was struck with inspiration to share this post. Although this post would have served my teacher friends better had I done it last week, but alas. Enjoy!

Original Post: January 19, 2013
Happy Saturday!

Any fun plans for the three day weekend? I'm doing MCAS-Alt work (our state's standardized comprehensive assessment alternative - in portfolio format) for one of my students, going to wedding expos (yes, more than one!), and watching me some football with the fiancé. Oh yes, and studying. I am back in school now, for my FINAL semester of Graduate School!!! w00t.

As we all know, MLK Day is on Monday, and while we enjoy having a three-day weekend, it is important to commemorate such an inspirational historical figure. I make sure every year to celebrate Dr. King's life with my students, usually starting out reading Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.  I use this opportunity to discuss issues of inequality, prejudice, and racism. It is a heated debate, but I think children deserve to know the truths of our history. It does them no service to shelter them for the realities of life. This is one of my favorite read alouds of the year, as it allows for really meaty and philosophical discussions.

 During our discussion of the book and the activity, we discuss the illustrator, Bryan Collier's technique and what the images make us think of. We discuss how the pictures make us feel and compare them to other techniques illustrators use. We discuss why the artist may choose mixed media collages instead of paintings or sketching. After our read aloud and discussion, we create our own images of MLK using the illustrator's technique of mixed media collaging.
I provide the students with different scraps of paper, ranging from tracing paper, construction paper, scrapping book paper, to paper with heavier textures. I use an image I created as an example for the students.

After creating the collage, students are provided with a quotation from the book. You could allow the students to choose their own quotations, but I find it easier for my students to have a quotation chosen for them, as I see fit based on their abilities. One variation I have done in years past has been to have students write what the quotation means to them. This year, I nixed that extension to focus more on what the quotation means explicitly, based on my students needs this year.

This is always a fun activity and incredibly meaningful discussion topic. I have found that as Black History Month rolls around, my students are eager to have more of these discussions on inequality and segregation, and are itching for opportunities to debate these topics and fight for equality!

What MLK Day activities do you do in your classroom?

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Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading them :)

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