Reopening: Moving Toward More Equitable Schools

Character File of Autumn Helena Washington Hawn: Illuminating Standards Video Series

Created By

EL Education

Type

Videos

Discipline

This film features an interdisciplinary project in which a student created the life history—fictional, but realistic—of a person—in this case, a young Deaf girl. In addition to addressing Common Core writing standards, the project explored the College and Career Readiness Habit, “They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.” The project provided a deep, transformational, real-world immersion into Deaf culture. The film itself is ASL-interpreted through picture-within-picture technology.

THE ILLUMINATING STANDARDS PROJECT

In the last two decades of the ‘standards movement’ in American public education, many educators have concluded that ‘teaching to the standards’ and project-based learning are incompatible. Ron Berger (Expeditionary Learning) and Steve Seidel (Harvard Graduate School of Education), co-directors of The Illuminating Standards Project, wondered if this conclusion is true. Indeed, they speculated that long-term, interdisciplinary, arts-infused, community-connected projects may well be one of the best ways to actually see what state standards look like when fully realized in the things students make in school—to make the standards visible.Three questions frame the work of The Illuminating Standards Project:What does it look like when state standards are met with integrity, depth, and imagination?How can we use standards to open up and enrich curriculum, rather than narrow and constrain it?How can we use student work to raise the level of our understanding of standards and our dialogue about them? 

THE VIDEOS AND HOW TO USE THEM

Collaborating with Berger and Seidel on The Illuminating Standards Project, over 30 students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have explored these questions by choosing projects from the student work in Models of Excellence and considering the ways in which those projects did—and didn’t—meet specific state standards. Further, they examined how the student work illuminated the standards—and vice versa. Many of those students created short films and many of those films are presented here.We invite you to watch these films, and we encourage you to use them as the catalyst for discussions with your colleagues about the relationship between your commitment to meet demanding state standards and approaches to designing powerful learning experiences for our students.


Created By

EL Education

Type

Videos

Discipline

This film features an interdisciplinary project in which a student created the life history—fictional, but realistic—of a person—in this case, a young Deaf girl. In addition to addressing Common Core writing standards, the project explored the College and Career Readiness Habit, “They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.” The project provided a deep, transformational, real-world immersion into Deaf culture. The film itself is ASL-interpreted through picture-within-picture technology.

THE ILLUMINATING STANDARDS PROJECT

In the last two decades of the ‘standards movement’ in American public education, many educators have concluded that ‘teaching to the standards’ and project-based learning are incompatible. Ron Berger (Expeditionary Learning) and Steve Seidel (Harvard Graduate School of Education), co-directors of The Illuminating Standards Project, wondered if this conclusion is true. Indeed, they speculated that long-term, interdisciplinary, arts-infused, community-connected projects may well be one of the best ways to actually see what state standards look like when fully realized in the things students make in school—to make the standards visible.Three questions frame the work of The Illuminating Standards Project:What does it look like when state standards are met with integrity, depth, and imagination?How can we use standards to open up and enrich curriculum, rather than narrow and constrain it?How can we use student work to raise the level of our understanding of standards and our dialogue about them? 

THE VIDEOS AND HOW TO USE THEM

Collaborating with Berger and Seidel on The Illuminating Standards Project, over 30 students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have explored these questions by choosing projects from the student work in Models of Excellence and considering the ways in which those projects did—and didn’t—meet specific state standards. Further, they examined how the student work illuminated the standards—and vice versa. Many of those students created short films and many of those films are presented here.We invite you to watch these films, and we encourage you to use them as the catalyst for discussions with your colleagues about the relationship between your commitment to meet demanding state standards and approaches to designing powerful learning experiences for our students.


Transcript

- [Narrator] Let’s guide students in discovering the beauty of our multicultural country and world. This project is a fictional character file of Autumn Helena Washington Hawn. Former fifth grade student Zoey Scott de Paz created this project at the Shutesbury Elementary School as part of a larger learning expedition into deaf culture.

- I think that to appreciate and learn from other cultures you really need to go deep with a particular culture. You have to take a case study of a culture that you look into with some depth and integrity. So that students really get a sense of the heart of that culture, what the values are and how they’re different than the values of the culture that people are coming from. So that you can begin to see your own perspective from your culture and how it differs. And we used deaf culture as our case study.

- [Narrator] They come to understand other perspectives and cultures. Let’s explore what this standard really means in relation to the fifth grade deaf culture case study and culminating written fictional character files. Students understand that people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. This understanding comes to fruition through reading, listening and developing the ability to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. During the deaf culture learning expedition students became proficient at American Sign Language, researched the biology of hearing and the physics of sound, visited schools for the deaf, participated in student exchanges, and deeply investigated the issues that deaf people across the hearing and cultural spectrum encounter. These months of study and dedication led to the development of incredibly thoughtful and realistic fictional characters. Students viewed deaf culture critically and constructively, moving beyond a romanticized version so that through these experiences and their created characters, they could vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.

- [Ron Berger] Zoey’s creation of Autumn Helena Washington Hawn, there’s something haunting about just the physical portrait she drew of her. And then when you read the physical description there’s sort of a depth in the physical description of writing that resonates with the drawn portrait of it. There’s a real depth to her eyes in that portrait. There’s a depth to soul in the writing. They created her as a realistic character. She should be so real that a hearing or deaf person reading that character would think it’s a real character. So we had a real standard for this. It wasn’t just a fantasy. It wasn’t just using your imagination. It was combining your content knowledge. Both your scientific content knowledge of deafness and hearing, and your cultural knowledge of deaf culture and the intersection of deaf and hearing culture. To create a realistic person that someone reading it would assume was a real person. And we had these critiqued by hearing and deaf people. Most people assumed they were real characters. Sometimes we even explained to deaf people that these were created characters and they assumed they were real and reading it because they seemed so real. Because they have audiograms, because they have a deaf history, because they have a deaf schooling record. So that these characters were truly seemed realistic to anyone that would encounter them.

- [Zoey Voiceover] I think that project actually changed my life. ‘Cause I... It’s such a skill, like there’s the physical skill of I know how to sign. Like that’s one kind of skill which is very handy because I go anywhere in the world now and if I meet a deaf person I can communicate with them. And I can make friends that way. But on another way, just fundamentally when you get introduced to a new world view, or new ideology, or new paradigm, you really open... Your mind gets blown.

- [Narrator] As students navigated through a different culture, their powerful writing and artistry embodied a new meaning of what understanding can look like.

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