Students Experience History Through Arts Integration!

Retelling historical events can be difficult, but retelling your favorite scene in a movie or video game is a piece of cake. Well not for long! Mr. William’s eighth grade classes are learning how to storyboard events from their history books, through the use of sensory language, and the use of  three types of shots: close up, medium shot, and wide shot. By the end of this project, students should be able to more readily envision historical events as well as be able to describe those events as if they were experiencing them themselves.

Then what happened!? Since the beginning of this project students have become increasingly vocal when asked to envision historical events. While exploring the Civil War, students were asked to envision the experience using sensory language. The energy in the classroom was palpable as students described the sound of canons firing, the smell of gunpowder, the sight of fallen comrades, the feel of heavy weaponry.

As an educator, there is the challenge of making information relevant to students. During a recent class, students studied an illustration of John Brown, an abolitionist. In talking about the composition, and symbolism, I found an opportunity to link video game terminology with the composition of the illustration. By using the term, “easter egg*”, students became excited about the placement of a specific object in the illustration, and achieved a deeper connection and understanding of composition overall.

*an object hidden in a video game by game designers.

– Zawadi Noel is an Urban Arts Partnership Teaching Artist