from Artifacts: Hearing When Clay Sings
Teacher: Patsy Hamby
Overview: This pre-reading activity encourages analytical thinking and appreciation for diversity. This method of inquiry transforms students’ interpretive abilities, challenging them to think more broadly about the meaning of a text. It also encourages both individual and group work through an interdisciplinary approach. Click here for extended version of this lesson with student artifact and teacher reflection.
- Copies of “Symbols: Tribes of the American Indian Nations”
- Modeling compound (available—and inexpensive—in the craft sections of department stores).
- Desk protector (waxed paper).
- Unlined white paper.
Time: One to two hours.
- Distribute “Symbols” and additional materials.
- Instruct students to shape the clay representing a meaningful aspect of their lives.
- Fold a sheet of plain paper into six sections.
- Leave the artifact and the paper on the desk.
- Move in a designated pattern to another artifact.
- Student responds to an artifact by writing a sentence interpreting an aspect of the artifact in one of the six squares.
- Student moves to another artifact, repeating this action in the second square.
- Once all squares are complete, the original creator of the artifact returns to it, reads aloud how others have interpreted it, and shares their own creative motivation for the artifact.
- Students discuss the implications, accuracy, and nuances of the various interpretations.
- Students write reflective pieces relating the reading of the text to their experiences with interpreting the artifacts.
Evaluation: Works as a community builder early in the semester. Formative observation.
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