History and Mural Arts Integration

During the 2015-2016 school year at Cook MS I was tasked with teaching 7th and 8th grade history to Students in my history Special Day classes. Most of the students at Cook Middle School have Mexican roots. They were unaware of Mesoamerican history. So, we dove into the Aztecs, Maya and Inca.

We learned about the engineering prowess of Tenochtitlan, the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc, Spaniard rule, French rule, the Mexican American war, and Cinco DeMayo. We then, went into the Chicano movement in the 50’s and 60’s and Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers striking. Of course we looked into the future and how education can improve life for the people.

The mural was designed and painted by the 7th and 8th grade history students. They had to ask permission to paint on the school wall, show concept designs to the school Site council, and present the mural design and meaning to the principal. Each section of the mural was given to a group of students to present and explain. Of course, Principal Gannon was impressed and approved the design. It took my four classes about a month and a half to paint.

In the end, it was a fabulous project to start a chain of student-centered projects to engage the school as a community and give struggling learners a real stake in their school.

The Inspirational Quote Project at Cook MS

This project went on most of last semester where the students in my Maker Class chose a teacher to work with as a client. Together the teams of students and the teacher chose an inspirational quote that the students illustrated. The student teams had to interview the teacher to find out what they wanted on their door or wall.

From the interviews an inspirational quote was identified along with any color preferences or imagery the teachers wanted to see. The students produced a sketch, a color sketch, and had the design approved by the teacher befoer they went forward with mural production.

Students were introduced to ratio, proportion, measuring, a multi-step process, drawing and painting skills, and above all how to follow through on a long term project. In the end, the students had to have their final product approved by their client.

Hopefully the project will continue each school year until their are no longer empty spaces in this very bland looking school.

The beauty of the outside of the school has to match what happens on the inside of the school.

Art projects can reflect a school’s culture.

My art students at Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa, CA completed a culturally relevant project this school year that was supported by Donor’s Choose donors.

They wanted to make a Dia de Los Muertos style mask out of plaster.  Not everyone in the class was brave enough to have plaster plastered to their faces. But we did get some beautiful masks made out of the project. Some said they would even use it next year during a Dia De Los Muertos celebration!

Student making a mask
A brave student sits for the production of his plaster mask.
Students prepare the wall by washing it befoer the gesso (primer) is applied.
IMG_5016
Students hard at work on Dia De Los Muertos Masks.

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