As you might recall, a few weeks ago during my stint of substitute teaching in the 3rd/4th grade class, we embarked on a study of leaders. Students selected someone they wanted to learn more about, researched important facts about his/her life, drew a portrait using oil pastels, wrote a poem, and found a quote from their person. A few students also drew comics about something related to their leader. Kenzie, one of the 4th graders, has a reputation (and talent) for drawing characters and comics, so we called on her for assistance with another project.
The 1st/2nd graders recently began their own study of change makers. In writing we’ve been learning how to tell a story through comics, and have been practicing drawing short imaginative pieces. When they started the change maker study, their teacher and I decided it might be fun for them to illustrate their person’s life through drawing a comic. Although I was marginally successful demonstrating how to make a comic, we needed an expert. Kenzie immediately popped into my mind. She was excited at the prospect of being a teacher. Today she made her debut.
We started out the session by having her talk a bit about her selected leader, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She shared the poem she’d written and explained a few details of RBG’s life, including that she grew up in New York in a low income, working class neighborhood. She described how hard RGB had to study, that she was a law school teacher, and she stood up for women’s rights. The first phase of the conversation concluded with a brief inclusion of the fact that RBG was one of only a few women who served as a justice on the Supreme Court.
Then Kenzie began her most excellent demonstration of how to draw a comic. She drew four sections on her drawing sheet, and quickly went about illustrating each chosen aspect of RBG’s life. As she drew, she fielded questions about her process. The 1st/2nd graders had many questions, and a few comments. By the time our session came to a close, she had a beginning draft for each section, with the promise to return to the group once she completed her comic. After a round of applause, she returned to her own class, and the 1st/2nd graders enthusiastically got to work. Across the board, they each jumped into their work of beginning to draw their change maker and her/his life story. Receiving such a powerful boost from a peer was just what they needed as inspiration to make their best work. It was truly an experience with a change maker up close and personal.