Teacher Reflection: My good friend, Ryan Gray, is receiving is MFA in ceramics at the end of this semester and has been working on a body of art that is (in my words, not his) rather politically charged, making commentary on the creation and disposal of nuclear waste in the world. Inspired by his work, and by the art of Banksy, and noticing the rather sizable amount of artistic capability in my own students, I worked alongside Ryan, my students, and multi-media teacher Anna Petrick to create a political art piece stencil project. Keeping in mind that students access knowledge differently, I added an open ended piece to the project--you MUST make the stencil. But you can also make something else that represents your standpoint--and that can be anything you want it to be. Students wrote and recorded music, painted, collaged, worked with clay--everything you can imagine was thought up, and more. Finally, to round out these collections of thought-provoking, political, art, I worked alongside their physics teacher who was working on mechanical and electrical circuitry. Returning to the thing that started it all--the novel In the Time of the Butterflies--I brought up the idea of symbolism and how the butterfly represented the girls become politicized. Kurt came up with the idea of integrating together--students would have to create butterflies that flapped their wings (mechanical) and lit up (electrical) and were designed and decorated in a way that represented their political stand point (symbolism). Students were also to write a synthesis paper after reading at least 10 articles or pieces of legislation on their chosen topic--and at least two of those articles were to be from the opposing camp. There are a few things I would have loved to change--I had originally put together critique groups but the critiques that we did didn't seem to be particularly helpful in the process. I think I need to look back and see how I can structure the critiques to better serve the students and their needs. Also, I would have spent a lot more time with JUST the novel before diving into the project. The novel wasn't actually particularly necessary for these final products, but a more in depth look at it would have helped students understand what it means to be politicized--and that is what I wanted them to feel as they created their pieces. I feel that we read the novel much too fast and that many of my students got lost inside it, but the timeline constrained us to finishing so that we could watch the play version as knowledgeable audience members. This was probably my favorite project of the year so far. I loved watching my students work independently, and I loved watching them get charged and heated over very real, very current issues in modern day America. I did a lot of talk about the news with them, and I think that this project, more than any other one we have tackled, has made my students more aware, global citizens. I was rather proud of the amount of outside world stuff we were able to draw in--Anna brought in an artist from SONY, a parent brought in a council member to speak to them, we were able to watch the play version of the novel in San Diego, we went to an arts center to work on the pieces, visited Chicano Park, Writerz Blok, and the Museum of Contemporary Art--that's probably the thing I'm the most proud of--the way that we stretched the walls of our classrooms far beyond 1420 San Marcos Blvd.