A Visit to the High Museum of Art: Witness…The Art of Jerry Pinkney

high museum (31)Today was step 2 of our 3rd grade folktale project, and it was a big step.  We traveled to the High Museum of Art to see the exhibit Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney.  Prior to going, we spent time exploring all of Pinkney’s books in our library collection.  Mrs. Foretich, the art teacher, also did a lesson on museum etiquette.

On the way to the High, students explored Pinkney’s books some more.  As we neared our destination, I asked a few students to think about what they might like to tweet about the books or their excitement for the exhibit.  bus convo Our plan was to use twitter throughout the trip to document some of the things we saw and the things we learned.  We used our school hashtag #barrowbuddies to tag our posts.

After arriving, our groups  split in half.  Some toured the exhibit, whiles other ate lunch.  Then we switched.  Some of us were also able to explore some of the permanent collection before our tour began.

The tour of Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney was done by a docent.  We received a brief history of the museum before entering the exhibit.  Our docent had us sit in front of collections of paintings and told us about the stories that the paintings came from.  We saw paintings from historical books such as Minty and Black Cowboy Wild Horses, folktales such as Three Little KittensRikki Tikki Tavi, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Little Match Girl, and biblical stories such as Noah’s Ark.  Our docent had the kids work together to retell some of the familiar folktales as she pointed out things in the paintings.  We noticed how Pinkney set The Little Match Girl in New York City rather than in Europe where the tale came from.  We noticed how Pinkney set Little Red Riding Hood in a wintry woods so that it made sense for her to wear the kind of cloak she was wearing.  Along the way, we also learned about Pinkney’s childhood and how he always had access to a pencil and art supplies.  As we studied the watercolor paintings, we were reminded of the difficulty of working with this medium and the need to work quickly before the colors run together.  At the close of the exhibit, we looked at The Lion and the Mouse.  Along with looking at the paintings, students got to do some impromptu storytelling of their own using puppets.

The finale of our visit was getting to hear some of Pinkney’s folktales come to life through the storytelling talents of a rambler from the Wren’s Nest.  We heard 2 folktales, and the students were heavily involved in the performance.  He had them hanging on every word.

Our field trip allowed us time to do a brief second stop at the Georgia State Capitol rotunda.  Although students didn’t get to tour the entire Capitol, they at least got a frame of reference for the Capitol as we study it back at school.  We plan to use the Georgia Capitol Tour App on our iPads to do a more in-depth look at this landmark.

Once again on the way home, students took another look at Pinkney’s books with a new appreciation for the artwork that spans the pages of this books.  It was truly awesome to stand in a room surrounded by the collective work of Pinkney.  We did not have enough time to truly appreciate the years of work that went into this collection, but we will return to our school with a new appreciation of his art.

Our next steps will be to:

  • Continue reading folktales and studying their elements
  • Identify one folktale for each class to read without seeing the illustrations
  • Create the illustrations for the folktale in art
  • Put illustrations and text together with our iPads

More Kindergarten Storybirds

These cards were used prior to moving into Storybird.

These cards were used prior to moving into Storybird.

You may remember from earlier in the year that Ms. Hocking’s Kindergarten class worked on a sequence of lessons in the library and in their classroom to eventually produce their own story inspired by art using Storybird.  Now, even more of the Kindergarten classes are working on a similar sequence of lessons.  We have spent time on the common core standard:

ELACCKRL7:  With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

This has been done through wordless picture books, picture books where part of the story is told in text and part in pictures, and picture books where the pictures support the text.  Students read these books in class lessons as well as in the library.

To prepare for Storybird, we started by using storytelling cards from a set of cards called “Tell Me a Story“.  I chose a sequence of cards and then had the kids begin telling the story and linking the story from one card to another.  As we transitioned to Storybird, I told them that it was like pulling illustrations from a big deck of cards and figuring out how the story connected together across cards.  We wrote a Storybird together as a class to model the thinking it takes to select a sequence of pictures as well as create text that ties together the pictures.

Finally, in small groups with an adult, students wrote their own storybird. The role of the adult was to lower the barriers to artistic expression by helping students with things like typing, taking turns, etc.   Today, Ms. Seeling’s class (Mrs. Boyle’s Class), created their stories in small groups.  We had 5 groups led by me, Ms. Seeling, the parapro, a student teacher, and a parent volunteer.  Here are their final stories:

They Are Friends

The Rabbit and His Friends

A Porcupine Babysitter

The Mean Gorilla

The Porcupine Dream

Ms. Seeling also hopes to have some students make individual stories and then use Screencast-o-matic to record the students reading their stories.  I love how each teacher and class is learning from what previous classes did and building onto what was accomplished.


A Lunch Lady Connection

Remember this post about our virtual comic workshop with Jarrett Krosoczka?  After the workshop, Jarrett read my blog post about how many students created comics as a result of the workshop.  He and I chatted via twitter and email about the event and how inspiring it was to my students (and students around the world who watched).

One of the neat stories from within our school related to this workshop involves Marquavious, a 5th grader.  He is a huge Lunch Lady fan and has read all of the books multiple times.  When I announced that teachers could send students to the library to view the virtual comic workshop, his teacher immediately signed him up.  Marquavious took it a step further, though.  He found other 5th graders who were also interested in comics, graphic novels, and lunch lady and worked with his teacher to arrange for all of them to attend the workshop during lunch.  

Now that I know about just how much Jarrett Krosoczka (and lunch lady) mean to Marquavious, I often share with him tweets and blog posts that I read from Jarrett.

Another amazing thing happened as a result of my blog post and the work students did during the virtual workshop.  Jarrett Krosoczka mailed us some of the original artwork that he created during the workshop, and he autographed it to our school!

Today, that artwork arrived in the mail.  As soon as I opened it, I went to get Marquavious.  He was beaming when he saw the art.  I let him take a look, and of course, took his picture with the pieces.  I told him we would frame them and hang them up in the library.  He asked if he could help me when I was ready to hang them up, and I of course said yes.

Making connections and opportunities like this for individual students is a huge part of the participatory culture of our library.  I push myself to look closer for these kinds of opportunities.  They are hard to catch, but when I notice them, they result in powerful learning and contributions that truly matter to the members of our library.