STARS Prep Academy MS 45
Citizen Schools, East Harlem, New York
Rachel Cranston, Language Arts and Literacy Coach, 7th
This project was a museum-classroom lesson for seventh-grade students focusing on Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series in collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem. The project integrated a museum visit with art making and writing assignments based on students' personal histories of moving and migration in relationship to the Great Migration.
Prior to visiting the Studio Museum, students discussed the various elements of migration, asking how, when, and why a people would migrate and where they would relocate. This discussion provided students with background for their museum visit, where they explored issues of immigration and migration using Lawrence's The Migration Series as a teaching tool. The students examined and discussed several panels from the series. For each panel, students identified action occurring in the sequence of the migration. Our museum educator, Shanta Scott, school and family programs coordinator at the Studio Museum, helped the students see how Lawrence used a written narrative and a visual language of colors and shapes to express the feeling and story of the Great Migration.
We then shifted from Lawrence's process to that of the students. Inside the Studio Museum, students produced paintings that connected to their own daily "migrations" along the streets of Harlem. Some modeled their work after specific panels in Lawrence's series. Other adapted Lawrence's artistic process, focusing on patterns, shapes, colors, and, in some cases, technique. This painting activity was followed by a short essay-writing exercise about students' experiences at the Studio Museum and their thoughts about migration and Lawrence's work.