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Autobiography with Found Objects

My found objects

  1. I wear many hats as a teacher

    Artist: playing the 5 of hearts in Alice in Wonderland

    Student: Life long learning ...or just indecisive?

    What do you teach?

    Such a simple question, isn’t it?

    I know, I know

    we don’t teach subjects-

    we teach children

    we teach young adults

    we teach people- not subjects

    Yet it’s a relatively easy question for most, right?

    You know what the easy answer is- math, grade 7, kindergarten,


    It’s like How are you?

    you know it’s easier to just say I’m fine

    well, I don’t have an I’m fine for that question: what do you teach?

    I was the ESL teacher overseas

    not authentic enough

    “but you look just like us” they insisted

    I’m from Canada I repeated

    I’m the primary teacher


    “ to the carpet for calendar in 5, 4,3,2,1”

    I’m the sex ed teacher

    “hold the condom by the tip to squeeze out any air”

    I’m the Special Ed teacher

    the Resource teacher

    the TOC

    When they’re desperate,

    I’m the French teacher

    (Sing Alouette)

    I guess you can tell I’m not much of singer,

    you’re right, I’m not musical in any way shape or form. I can’t play an instrument,  keep a beat, or dance with any rhythm

    I really can’t draw, or paint, or sculpt,

    I guess I’m not much of an artist

    …..although there was Alice in Wonderland…

    I played (pause) the 5 of hearts!

    (show card)

    I had some lines

    “Off with her head! Off with her head!”

    well, of course that was after the Queen said them first,

    and I did share them with the rest of the cards

    I wish I still acted- even a little bit, even little bit parts

    I guess that’s why I’m here,

    people are always surprised I’m still in school

    Aren’t you done yet?? they ask

    I’m a teacher I believe in life long learning blah blah blah

    the truth is, I’m just indecisive

    (music plays: The Zombies: I just can’t make up my mind)

    i just can’t make up my mind

    Someone has to help me

    I never seem to know what to do

    I just can’t decide for myself

    Like a yo-yo,

    up, down, ok just down

    but I really want to be up

    but that part about life long learning

    well, I guess that’s a little true too.

    This autobiography assignment was surprisingly difficult for me;  I really struggled with the “multi-modal” aspect of the assignment. Beyond written narrative you say? but it’s the only way I know. I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument. Storyboard? I can’t draw- I’m not artistic. I only know literacy- it’s the one I was taught all the time, the one I use with my students all the time, the only one I’m comfortable with. So it’s true, we really do teach the way we were taught? In the end, I did a monologue of sorts with my presentation. It was scary but extremely fun to explore in ways I haven’t been asked to do since high school. I feel like that artist in me just grew a tiny little bit.

    I think about how primary students do this activity all the time as “sharing” or “show and tell” on the day that they are “special helper”. They bring in objects and items that are important or special to them and talk about it. Our learning objectives for literacy still centre around reading, writing, and oral language. Personally, “sharing” time gets pretty boring and monotonous, with the same presentations and questions time and again. I think it would be interesting to see how children embrace multiple literacies (drama, painting, poem, spoken poetry, multimedia presentation, photographs etc). Of course, children always need modelling and it will definitely be difficult for me to come out of my comfort zone of writing, reading, and telling and present/represent through action, embodiment, and other ways.

    In the past, I have done something similar using a Heritage Box filled with objects/items that represented the student’s heritage or cultural background. They loved hearing about each others’ and recognizing items they had as well in their own home, or hearing about unfamiliar things. I think these activities with found objects as representation of identities really allow students to learn respect  for each other and build confidence and community through sharing.

    "Gallery exhibit" with found objects

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Amanda
    August 3, 2011 at 5:25 AM

    What a beautiful autobiography poem. I am really impressed with your poetry skills. I feel like I know you just a bit more and I appreciate you sharing. I think that sharing about yourself in class is so important for your students to create a community.

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