Zapata Elementary is Located in Little Village. Zapata is part of the largest school districts in Illinois, Chicago Public Schools. To understand my experience I find it important to know the demographics of the school. Zapata has 817 students, 99.6% of those students are hispanic. 97.1% of the students at Zapata are low income and have free and reduced lunch. Free and Reduced breakfast is also available at Zapata elementary. 49.2% have limited english making Zapata a bilingual environment.
Continuing to discuss the demographics and location of Zapata Elementary I thought it was interesting the situation Zapata was in. Due to the size of Zapata they have a extension, or as they call the branch, to their school. There is a large problem with the branch though. To start with it is one large block away from the school. A block is not that far but when i walked it with my classmates, it was a lot farther than we thought. The walk was about 10 minutes and we were surprised how hard it was to cross the first street. The branch does not have any other amenities such as a cafeteria, gym, or elective classrooms. For those things students need to travel to the other school. To get back and forth from the branch to the school students need to cross a busy road (Kostner Ave.) and then go down a block (w. 27th to S. Kolin Ave.) and through a neighborhood. I myself did this walk with my classmates discussing how much of a hassle it is to go there by ourselves, let alone with students. If you think about it, this is Chicago, this is not California, some of the worst snow happens in Chicago. It is crazy to imagine taking 30 plus students with all of their snow gear one block away to get lunch. Since my art education sequence also discusses students with disabilities, i couldent help to think about students who had to make this trip when they are wheelchair bound. This moment stuck with me because the assistant principal was also telling us about how excited she is for them to finally have a branch on their property. Although it will be another year before the new branch will be open, it will be much better for the students once it is built.
My colleagues and I created 2 different lessons to teach to the students of Zapata. 1st-3rd grade students focused on emotions and color focusing on representing what things make them happy, sad, mad, etc.. 4th-6th grade students focused on self portraits that included elements that represent themselves.
With both of our lessons we had a lot of student freedom. We gave the students parameters to work in but allowed exercise of choice. This encourages motivation and eagerness to work (Jenson 2005). The older students were encouraged to add things that were specific to themselves when they drew self-portraits, things they liked, such as sports or video game symbols. This connected to the students so they were learning, but also included things that they found important. Students were able to pick what they outfit they drew on themselves or what background they placed themselves in them. The younger kids were able to pick their favorite thumbnail sketch out of all the ones they created to use in their final project. On the thumbnail sketches they focused on what evoked their emotion, things that make them sad, angry, happy etc. Both lessons focused on the students and how to help them create a piece that represented themselves in some way.
With the older kids we did some lecturing regarding facial features and where facial features should be placed. We would lecture for short periods of time, allowing artmaking time in-between. We did this to keep students engaged while also providing information to help them continue with their art projects. Hurwitz states that “the lecture method should be used sparingly” (Hurwitz & Day, 2007). This also relates to Jenson’s idea of how many minutes students should receive of direct instruction. K-2 should receive a max of 8 minutes of instruction whereas 3-5 should be a max of 12 minutes for direct instruction (Jenson 2005). Over all it’s important that we were aware of how long we were giving a lecture or direct instruction in our teaching. That’s why we broke it up into segments to avoid attention loss.