Where The Light Travels

Academic Enrichment Grant 2020-2021 Project Summary

Jana Mcbeath

Ibarra Elementary School • San Diego, CA

As an arts integration-trained Media Educator at Outside the Lens, I have extensive experience integrating photography and digital media arts into core areas of learning such as English Language Arts, Social Science, and Science at City Heights schools such as Fay and Cherokee Point Elementary. In my process, I guide the students through the artistic and technical aspects of photography and digital media making, while developing and implementing arts-integrated units alongside classroom teachers, following Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Pedagogy (CLRP) approaches and strategies and while aligning with Common Core, ELA standards, California VAPA standards and NCA standards. By creating student-centered, innovative photography and media arts projects that align to core areas of learning, I have seen firsthand how students are more engaged in classroom learning, with an increase in academic outcomes. As class progresses, I also see how students’ media skills are strengthened, and the thematic focus grows from self-identity to family, the community, the environment, and finally the world. I propose extending this arts integration model from the classroom into after school in partnership with San Diego Refugee Tutoring, an after school tutoring program to support refugee youth in core areas of learning. I feel this valuable and academically enriching addition to the program would connect students’ learning within the school day and their academic advancement in out of school time. Students will also be given the opportunity to exercise their new-found skills through several self-reflective projects, including portraits of the people and things meaningful to them. This innovative arts integration programming will increase student’s confidence in their own abilities to use photography to tell a story and communicate their ideas and perspectives through analysis and dialogue about relevant images. By creating a safe learning environment, students can express their identity through an image and feel confident sharing it with peers. I propose creating and implementing photography projects during the 2020-2021 school year. Expanding on the foundational artistic and technical skills learned during Year 1, I will expand student learning to focus on mixed media projects in the 2021-2022 (Year 2) school year, and finally advanced photographic processes in the 2022-2023 (Year 3) school year. This progression will give participants the opportunity to learn digital and media literacies, while building upon new skills and aptitudes. According to Stanford lecturer Howard Rheingold, “Soon the digital divide will not be between the haves and the have-nots. It will be between the know-hows and the non-know-hows.” As technology​ and the ​importance of visual communication has skyrocketed​, ​we use digital photos and videos to share our understanding, to persuade our communities, and to express ourselves. Unfortunately, not everyone is a part of this digital phenomenon – I see my students at Title I schools are often at a steep disadvantage to their better-resourced peers. This arts integrated media arts program will provide refugee youth with the access and education necessary to critically create and consume imagery-based communication, giving them 21st century literacy, promoting success in school, career, and life.

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