Ellie Hutchinson at Baldi

This morning, after grabbing a much needed Starbucks cappuccino, I met Carla Bednar of ArtsRising to visit CCA Baldi Middle School. Teaching Artist Ellie Hutchinson, of Al Bustan Seeds of Culture, would be in the classroom today doing a writing lesson with her students, so we though this would be the perfect time to visit and see how things were going in Pat’s classroom.

As Shannah has written from past visits, students at Baldi have been busy working on Self-Portrait Projects and learning about different poetry techniques to describe who they are. Today, Ellie decided to change things up a bit and get the kids to visualize a story, talking about how details of a story that stand out to each student are very telling about what they value and how they see, both similarly and differently. “I’m going to read you a tale,” Ellie told the class, “and I want you to listen carefully. When I am finished you will have 10 minutes to draw a picture of what you remember most about the story, or what details stuck out the most in your head.”

The story Ellie chose to share was a spin on The Three Little Pigs, where in the end the third little pig out smarts the big bad wolf and serves him up for supper instead! The students sat silent, intently listening to the tale, only erupting in laughter at the very end when they realized how clever that third little pig really was!

After their 10 minutes, Ellie collected the drawings and the class had a discussion about the different scenes that each student chose to depict. Many drew the brick house with the wolf outside and of course the pig. However, some chose  very specific moments in the story, or used scale to create focal points or express the role each character played. In some, the wolf was very tall and dominant, overshadowing the clever pig. In others the wolf’s expression and movements captured his fright and anger at being out witted time after time. A few chose to focus on how smart the pig was, drawing a moment where the pig climbed a huge apple tree and threw an apple to distract the wolf while quickly scurrying home.

In the end, the students began to understand why they chose certain moments to draw or certain feelings and expressions of the characters. “How you visualize words, situations, stories and moments can tell a lot about who you are and how you see,” Ellie told the class. “Think about this as you work on your self-portrait projects when you have to think about that fact that how you think and see makes you who you are and determines how you express yourself.”