|FACE STUDENTS EMBARK UPON TREE PROJECT AND DECLARATION OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS|
MONTREAL, JUNE 9, 2016 - For the last few weeks Secondary III students at FACE School downtown, in conjunction with the artist in residence Konstatin Velitchkov, have been making huge Papier-mâché trees in their English classes. This activity was part of a larger literacy and communications project, where students had to work in teams of four and had to create their very own Declaration of their Responsibility to Future Generations.
Literacy, has a broader concept than just reading and writing of the written text. It is multimodal because students should come to understand how to read and understand multiple texts including images and objects and to decode the semiotics and the messages that are embedded in them. The idea of creating a tree for this project was to place a declaration, not on a written piece of paper, but to embed each declaration on the tree. The challenge, therefore, was to find a way to solve this problem of placing written messages on their tree and to create multiple points of ‘reading’ text.
As the students were constructing their tree, they were also asked to reflect on their declaration and to make changes to it, if they felt that they needed to. The students did take the time to synthesis concepts and ideas and had the space to change what they had originally written. These students appreciated being able to go back to their declarations in order to refine their thoughts and ideas and to improve on what they wanted to really say. This approach to literacy therefore facilitates an opportunity for students to understand that reflection is an important element in the way they engage towards their understanding of what they are learning and wish to express to themselves and to others.
The hope is that those who come to see the trees will engage in a discussion of what they see and how they understand the semiotics or messages that they can ‘read’ from these trees. Dialogue is also part of literacy learning. Finally the students have done a portfolio of their project as a means of documenting their experiences in the process of making the trees and their Declarations.
On Thursday, June 16, in conjunction with Madame Michelle Vachon, the trees will be used in helping to officially open the Forêt Frédéric Back - the Enchanted Forest, one that also brings hope to future students of FACE, so that will to have a place of quiet reflection, a place of refuge, and yes, under many real trees. Literacy and Drama teacher Simone Nichol is behind this project.
Michael J. Cohen