After anxiously waiting for several weeks, 47 newly published student-authors finally got to see the inside of their book for the first time and show it off to their proud parents during a publishing party held at Oak Mountain Intermediate School.
Fifth-grade students of Chaney Klein and Jennifer Colburn had worked on a six-week project earlier this semester called “The Kleinburn Museum.” The cross-curricular English Language Arts project involved research, reading, creative writing, Social Studies, fine arts, and technology – including lessons on Internet safety and which sites were appropriate ones to conduct their research.
Klein said students began researching famous works of art and picking one that they felt spoke to them or they connected with in some way. Next, students researched the time period that the painting was created in, and also what was going on in the world that might have affected the subject or character of the painting.
“Students created names for the subjects in their paintings and wrote about what they might do on a typical day,” Klein said. “In a lesson on inference, students inferred what might have been going on in the mind of the person being painted in the stories.”
After extensive research and learning about the writing process and dialogue, the students drafted stories in which the character would either learn or teach a lesson, Klein said.
“A few examples of the morals in these stories are ‘You can find strength in nature,’ ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ ‘Give yourself time,’ ‘Never give up on your dreams, etc’,” she said.
Klein said the project had a lot leading up to the writing process. The students filled out many graphic organizers and did plenty of research before creating a story on the person in the painting.
“Essentially, we began by choosing a piece to recreate, researching the time period and historical events going on, placing ourselves into the minds of our subjects, and creating an inference on what they might have been thinking. The stories came after all of this.”
Klein said she published a book with a previous group of students and feels that it helps with their writing stamina.
“It is easier for them to want to write when they see themselves as published authors,” she said. “I feel like the secret to teaching is to get the students really engaged. Once you get them excited, you can really see the learning start to take place.”
The students also did a recreation of the famous piece of art, replacing the subject of the painting with themselves. The photos of the art recreations are included on each student’s page of the published book, along with their story.
This part of the project is what impressed Jennifer Colburn, the other teacher helping to lead the project.
“What was amazing was that there were able to take a picture and interpret it into their own vision,” said Colburn. It was awesome to see them take their learning to this next level.”
Ava Wilson, who chose the 18th-century piece “A Young Girl Reading” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, imagined in her story that the girl reading the book was the daughter of a British Colonial soldier who had not seen her dad in four years because he has been off fighting in the American Revolution. The dad returns from the war with the news that the Americans had won the war due to their grit and service for their country. Her motto for her story was “Never Give Up.”
Vy Vo chose a self-portrait by famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, who is best recognized for her unibrow and mustache. Vo’s story imagines Frida, her friend – “Ivana”, and her parrot – “Grace” visiting downtown Mexico City in 1931. Frida is bullied for her appearance by some rude people, but her friend convinces her to ignore them. As the story continues, Frida and her friend buy art supplies and start selling colorful paintings. The motto of Vo’s story is “Never ever give up on your dreams.”
Yash Paul Bhatia chose a portrait of Abraham Lincoln by George Peter Alexander Healy which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. When asked by OMIS Principal Laura Junkin and Superintendent Lewis Brooks why he chose the Lincoln portrait for his project, Bhatia excitedly rattled off three reasons.
“Number one, he was a good president who drafted the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery,” Bhatia said. “Number two, it is a good painting. Number three, he had a cool beard!”