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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Story Quilting

HOW IT WORKS
Story Quilting is an interdisciplinary program based in literacy, but integrating social studies, math, art, and technology. The project includes an author study, read-alouds, analysis of craft, research, hands-on exploration of geometry, and a “virtual” museum trip. We begin with a look at the work of Faith Ringgold, with a focus on Tar Beach. The children reflect on this book and list “noticings”  which include her illustrations and their quilted borders. After visiting her Web site (www.artincontext.org/artist/ringgold/bio.htm) and watching a biographical video, they learn how quilting became the vehicle for her art and storytelling. Via the Internet, pairs of students explore museums and view her works and those of other quilters. Simultaneously, other groups research her and her work through nonfiction books and learn about the art of quilting. They become aware of the element of design and geometry in quilting and use pattern blocks and/or quilting tiles to create their own quilt patterns. From a magazine article, they learn how quilts were used during the time of the Underground Railroad to give clues that helped escaping slaves find freedom, and revisit Faith Ringgold through her book Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky. This leads to discussions  of Harriet Tubman and to the literary comparison of two poems about Tubman written in different voices.  The study culminates with the design in paper of an ABC quilt honoring Harriet Tubman  that incorporates all they’ve learned about quilting as a storytelling medium.

THE STUDENTS
Three classes of fourth and fifth graders (20 students in each) participate in this project during our extended-day Project Read program. Minimum technical expertise is required since sites are bookmarked for the students. Participants meet in the library, where there is Internet access. The program can easily be adapted for other grade levels. Since it touches so many curriculum areas through varied modalities (aural, tactile, visual, etc.), diverse interests and styles of learning are addressed. 

THE STAFF 
Helene Espinoza has been teaching for 15 years. She has taught third grade and TAG and is currently a cluster teacher, teaching research and library skills as well as Project Read. She oversees the administration of her school library and gathers resources for teachers and students. She is actively involved in the Columbia University Writers Project and tries to incorporate this into her work. She has led school-based parent workshops and has written curriculum for an environmental science program. 

WHAT YOU NEED 
Though this program was done in our library, which has a bank of four computers connected to the Internet, it can be done anywhere there is an Internet hookup. The materials needed are works by Faith Ringgold, appropriate non-fiction books for research, quilting tiles or pattern blocks, and basic art supplies. 

OVERALL VALUE
Story Quilting lends itself to easy integration of literacy with other subject areas. Among the New York City English/Language Arts Standards addressed by this project are: reading twenty-five books; reading and comprehending at least four books on the same subject, author, or genre; reading and comprehending informational materials; and responding to works using interpretive and critical processes. It provides hands-on activities, allows for cooperative learning, develops research skills, widens children’s experiences with technology, allows them the opportunity to “visit” museums, and takes them back in time to a noteworthy period in our history. The culminating creation of their own designs and quilt patterns encompasses all of the learning that takes place during this study. 

CURRICULUM AREAS
Literacy
Social Studies
Math
Technology
Art


GRADES
4 - 5

MORE INFORMATION
Helene Espinoza
P.S. 206 Q
61-21 97 Place
Rego Park, New York 11374
Principal
 Patricia Cosentino

IMPACT II Catalog 2000-2001
(pdf file: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

 

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