Friday, October 21, 2011

Calling for Words

Last spring, I attended a training session given by Mimi Herman at Penland School of Crafts for a program called SUBS with SUITCASES.  The premise of the program is that artists (and others) lament the fact that  because of budget and staff cuts, arts education is diminishing in schools.  So, instead of just sitting around whining about it, they've come up with a brilliant plan to work within the existing system:  namely, substitute teachers.  What the program does is train art professionals to be subs, then when they are called, they are already prepared, suitcase full of materials in hand, to give an art lesson.

If teachers know when they're going to be gone, they can work with the sub ahead of time so the art lesson is related to classroom content.  However, even if you call one of these subs last minute, they will have prepared lessons ready to go.  As a former classroom teacher, calling in sick was always something I dreaded... because it usually meant more work than the misery of being in the classroom while ill.  You had to prepare all this "busy work" for the sub and then grade it all afterwards!  But with this system, teachers would have far less to pre-absence (and post-absence) work, making choosing one of these subs much more desirable.  PLUS, think about the children!  Instead of busy work, they're using a different part of their brain, appealing to other learning styles, and adding back in a missing component of their education.

Most of the subs in this program are visual artists, though there are some musicians... and then me, the writer.  It's is somewhat difficult to distinguish between "arts writing" and regular "school writing,"  but I am coming up with some any-age creative writing activities to pull out of my suitcase.

The one I'm working on now is a spin-off of magnetic poetry, but I'm just going to have the words on laminated cardstock.   Right now, I'm trying to figure out what words I should include.

So, here's how you can help:  
1.  If you have old Altoid tins, give them to me.  : )  I'll need about 25.
2.  What words spark your imagination?


Jaye Robin Brown said...


I could go on and on. SWS is a great program.

Britt Kaufmann said...

oooh. Some of those are great. I especially like squish and goop!