Thursday, February 5, 2009

Taking Education on the Road

Today we hear from Julie Bernson, Director of Education at the Addison Gallery, about her recent work with students in New Orleans.

I first met Benjamin Franklin Elementary School teacher Sabina Puri when she attended the Andover Bread Loaf Writing Workshop in the summer of 2006. This past December I traveled for the third time to New Orleans to work with teachers and students on a Photography & Writing Project. This time architecture was our theme as we explored the neighborhood of the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, one of only two remaining public elementary schools in the city.

The first day we explored through writing the architecture of the school from the inside and outside. The kindergarten through 3rd graders noticed many aspects of their school that they had never noticed before, such as the big house across the street, the details of the mosaic in the entry, and the various colors of the bricks on the outside of the building.

The following day, with sharpened eyes, we walked around the school and the neighborhood with cameras. Many were intrigued by seeing the house that we had seen only the roof of through the window from the front.

We saw many different styles of architecture and discussed why we liked certain details: the motorcycle in the front yard, the colorful flowers (even in December!), the double staircase to the front door, the sculptures in the garden, the paint colors and the holiday decorations.

Back at school, the students, parents, and teachers wrote and drew extraordinary things about what we had seen and experienced while exploring the neighborhood.

I saw red ornament balls on a tree. My favorite house has white columns. I liked the yellow, orange, and red leaves. Then I saw a circle shaped window. Next, I saw the McDonogh name on our school. Another thing I saw was pink, red and purple flowers. The seventh thing I saw was a door shaped window. I saw an address on the steps. The next thing I saw was a brown and black dog in a black gate. Then I saw a green plant with white dots used to make peppermints. Another thing I saw was a garlic plant that looked like a rose but it was white. I saw a house that was old that was brown and needed paint. Next, I saw green bushes with white flowers on it. Then I saw an orange and yellow plant in a garden. I saw an orange chimney at the top of a building. I saw a green fruit in the brown dirt. At our school I saw our blue and white notice board. Then I saw the brown bricks at our school. I saw the white worn out color of a note on the school building.

By Jarrell Clines, 3rd Grade, Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, New Orleans, LA

Student Photographs

The students continue to write about the photographs and the experiences from that day. The images and writing will ultimately become a book with copies printed for each of the students and their families.

Posted by Julie Bernson, Director of Education

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