Enlivening Minds Through Literary Art

While the current craze of gutting classrooms in order to assemble Makerspaces is racing across America’s schools, there has been for many years vibrant, three-dimensional learning going on in the classic literature classroom. For example, eighth grade students at Levine Academy in Dallas have the good fortune of having a creative literary maverick in their teacher, Joanie Geffen, who putsDSC_0001 (3) together a real investigative and creative project she calls “The CSI Project” that elicits brilliant wall sculptures. Her project engages students in literary investigation, 3D metaphoric thinking, critical analysis, and thematic understanding.

The steps are simple: Let’s take To Kill A Mockingbird for an example:

  • Student first must read the book, of course, and they must annotate character traits of their selected main character.
  • Students then select passages from the book that illustrate particular character traits.
  • Each team of students will then assemble their re-typed passages and begin discussing the visual metaphors they will begin to collect and construct. Materials must be ready at hand, from home, or from the classroom itself, but nothing purcIMG_1240hased is allowed.
  • After the montage on the wall is completed, with snippets of quotations placed alongside the visual metaphor, then each team begins to discuss their presentation to the class, which will be presented in dramatic form.

DSC_0016 (2)And the assessment is done with real learning in mind, as the students know the rubrics up front, with descriptions of each level of accomplishment, from poor to excellent, spelled out clearly for everyone. Students are scored on Evidence, Organization, Creativity of Images, Oral Presentation, and Conventions.

Check out the results in these pics! Students were clever, resourceful, motivated, artistic, risk-taking, and penetrating—they really learned and loved this project!


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