This school year my students are more diverse in terms of economy, skin color, culture, philosophy, and in variety of other, more specific, manners. Last year, I tried to bring more diverse projects into my classroom; I attempted to incorporate multi-cultural artists and artworks. . .But, honestly, I didn’t truly try as hard as I might have.
When I look back to this first semester, I am floored by just how many multi-cultural projects my students have completed. The odd thing is that I haven’t made any whole-hearted attempts to incorporate diversity. Instead, I’ve been trying to devise lessons and projects that incorporate the standards. I noticed, early-on, that when my students were interested in the project, their behavior was much improved. It just happened by coincidence that the projects for which my students have the most interest are primarily multi-cultural.
In my free time, I’m obsessed with fashion and the art of dressing. . .It sounds like a tangent; but trust me, it all comes together. Using my RSS reader, I follow about 400 different fashion blogs that talk about high, low, and costume dressing. One of my favorites is I Spy DIY wherein the author uses high fashion inspiration for low-budget DIY projects. A few weeks ago I came across the tribal necklace design based on the runway designs of fashion designer Mara Hoffman’s SS 2012 line. The moment I saw the project, I knew I’d find a way for my students to do something similar.
Cut to the last week of school before the holidays. I easily “sold” my students on the idea of a project wherein they’d have a product they could gift to friends and family. I tied the project to fine arts standards, and my personal artistic experience, by incorporating the art of the Maasai tribe of East Africa (I have Kenyan friends who are Maasai). I also was fortunate enough to have a few beads my Mom brought back from a recent trip to Kenya from Kazuri bead to share with the students. And, whaddyaknow, I had a great, authentic, multi-cultural, and “standards-excellent” lesson plan.
View all of the pictures I took of students working and modeling their necklaces:
You can view (and download!) my PPT presentation about this project below: