Tuesday, February 24, 2009

10 Things Tuesday—Exhibitions

My students submitted the preliminary proposals for their Exhibition projects for my classes. Each of these will be composed of a formal research paper (5-7 pgs) and a Demonstration Element that allows them to creatively share what they’ve studied. They get a class period to present their topic of study to their classmates and involve them in an activity that helps them directly (and, if all goes well, creatively) learn something specific about it. Each year I get a wide range of topics, but I also usually have French as well as Spanish classes. This year, because I’m only teaching Spanish, I was expecting a narrow list, but I was surprised. Here are the ones that stood out, among the 48 different topics my students proposed to study:

1. The work and inspiration of the architect Antoni Gaudi. The student who proposed this has an idea working about how to help students to understand that creative inspiration can come from anywhere, and she’s thinking about demonstrating how Gaudi came upon the idea for La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona.

2. Learning the Flamenco. There were two proposals for this topic in different classes, but in the one of note, the student is choosing to study the dance from an instructor over the course of the semester. She’s thinking about creating a short choreographed piece to share with the class, then teach them a few steps. If she completes what she proposed, she’ll qualify for Honors Credit because of the amount of time outside of class she’ll have spent in “research”.

3. Cervantes, Don Quixote and Spanish literature. I regularly see research proposals on Don Quixote, but this one will explore not the story, per se, but its influence on other works and other authors. The Demonstration Element is still under construction, so this topic may get tweaked before its approved, but I liked the original approach to an entirely too familiar topic.

4. Bolivia, through the eyes of a pen-pal. Most pen-pal based Exhibitions fail because the correspondence never materializes. In this one, though, there’s already some history between the student and her pen-pal. She’s going to research in detail where her pen-pal lives and what life is like, but her real work is to learn how to use technology to write in Spanish at a much more advanced level than what she’s practically able to manage on her own in class.

5. The Spears of Twilight. The student is reading the 1997 book by Philippe Descola, and wants to explore the discovery of indigenous peoples in Central and South America. I’m going to encourage her to look at what Descola did as an experienced anthropologist and compare it to what the conquistadors did in the 1600s. She’s still working on a Demo Element.

6. What it means to be Taína. The student with this proposal identifies strongly with her Puerto Rican heritage, and wants to explore who the Taíno really were, what the term “Taína” means today and why she should be proud of where she comes from. She wants to encourage others to think about issues of respect for heritage.

7. The work of Picasso. I get art proposals every year, but far more in French than Spanish (because of Impressionism). Lots of my students have heard about Picasso, but few no anything of substance. This proposal will do a good job of educating them on the basics of the artist and his work, then provide them a chance to create their own works based on his techniques.

8. Spanish Cinema. This student wants to learn more about what makes the cinema of Spain unique. She came to this topic after watching Penelope Cruz accept her Oscar, and her curiosity was piqued about what she didn’t know. She’s thinking about doing a mini film festival, using clips from a variety of Spanish films and directors.

9. The Inca. Of the three major pre-Columbian civilizations, the Inca are the least popular, when it comes to Exhibition topics. I’m looking forward to this one for that reason alone.

10. The instruments of Latin music. This proposal involves an exploration of the many and varied instruments that are used in traditional Latin music. The student will, as part of his demonstration, bring several of the more unique ones for students to learn about and teach them how to use them in concert to create music together.

I’m thinking about asking some of my students if they’d like to be considered as submissions for the Coalition of Essential School’s National Exhibition Month event. It’s early, but I think several of these have real promise. What do you think?


The Grammar Snob said...

I think that's a fascinatingly diverse list. And pretty mature as well. Would love to have a follow up post after the presentations.

I think it's great that you let them decide which direction to head.

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