Posted by: jockmackenzie | November 2, 2009

Superheroes – Part 3

Superheroes - student drawings 1

Superhero drawings 2

Mac – double click, PC – right click to enlarge

These are the superhero pictures drawn by my students. So many of them complained, “I cant’ draw.” but I beg to differ. The pictures above appeared in the monthly school newsletter – and around the room or in the hallway.

Celebration of work done well has always been one of my goals. The idea to include some kind of student work in each monthly newsletter came to me late in my career – but it proved to be a worthwhile thought. As we know, newsletters tend to get quite lengthy so I suggested to my language arts colleagues that I didn’t want to hog prime real estate, that I would only offer my students’ work if no other was forthcoming. Sadly, I was often the only one to provide “copy” for the newsletter. It was, after all, my priority and the autumn of my career so I was particularly vigilant to meet the required deadlines. If only more of the illusive time were available.

Once students had created their new superheroes (described in the blog entry Superheroes – Part 2), we put the masked marvels to work. One of the first exercises was to put the hero and a sidekick into a conversation. I offered a sample. In it, my superhero, TeacherMan, talks to his partner and helper, Stutea – short for Student Teacher. (pronounced stew tee’ yuh) The conversation revolves around an arch enemy, RK Guy – RK being the initials of our then-premier who was cutting funds to education.

I offered my sample in two formats. The first was conversation as it would appear in a play and therefore without the restrictions of the quotation mark rules. The second, which followed in the same conversation, was direct quotations but using only opening and closing quotations in an effort to simplify the mechanics.

My sample looked like this:

TeacherMan (quietly): How will I ever help these students if RK Guy won’t give up?

Stutea (confidently, as any good superhero sidekick should talk): Don’t worry, TeacherMan. You will think of something. You always do.

TeacherMan: But this time he’s gone too far. RK Guy is sucking the money right out of every school budget.

Just then a rumbling noise was heard. TeacherMan and Stutea dashed out into the hallway.

RK Guy announced, “Don’t even think about trying to stop me, you two lowlifes!”

TeacherMan replied, “In your dreams, RK Guy. You have finally met your match.”

Stutea added, “Yeah, it’s two against one, RK Guy. And besides, good always triumphs over evil.”

“Not this time,” chuckled the sinister super villain.

“What pitiful plan of pain do you have in that twisted mind of yours, you dastardly devil?” responded the smiling friend of students throughout the world. “I dare you to try!”

“Watch out, TeacherMan!” cried Stutea. “He’s reaching for his Dry Erase marker and you know how allergic you are to certain scents.”

With speed faster than students leaving school on a Friday afternoon, TeacherMan reacted and dove behind a pop machine. Stutea ducked behind a row of lockers. RK Guy’s blast from DE-Marker Gun richocheted harmlessly down the now-empty hallway.

Creating the superheroes might have be enough in itself, but I like the idea of using them for a purpose and the conversation assignment is one that works.

My final leg of this journey involved taking the superhero descriptions to a high school art class. I had to photocopy just the front side because I didn’t to give away the vision the creator of the superhero had of his or her invention. Alan McIntyre, the teacher of the class in question, distributed the descriptions to his class BUT he photocopied the descriptions one more time so he could give each description to two artists. The artists read the descriptions and then painted/drew/charcoaled what they envisioned.

The results were stunning. My guys had to wait some time for the renderings to be returned but what they got was worth the wait – TWO quality drawings. As one might expect, what one artist created was quite different from what the second artist produced. It turned out to be a super idea.

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