Welcome to a special blog post! This particular post is the second half of a project I’m completing for my Talent Development class (taught by Dr. Susan Waite), which is part of my master’s program at Texas State University.
With this activity (one of four different choices), I’m supposed to explore the phrase “apart, we are together” or the phrase “a shared world” in relation to an issue I care about in the world today. Then, I’m supposed to create a piece of “art” and share it with others.
I’ll admit that I had no idea what I would do for this activity at first. However, upon further contemplation, I realized that I had a perfect piece of art on my flash drive from one of my courses last semester (Multicultural Teaching and Learning with Dr. Charise Pimentel). For that project, we had to create a counter discourse.
This particular counter discourse is related to a pressing issue in the world that I care about: state testing. Without further ado, I have added a recording of my project below, and I will add my artist’s statement at the end of this post.
Test Day by Jess Houser
•Classroom Photo by Eddy Tlessh (2004) is licensed under CC BY-SA
•Texas State Capitol Building by Larry D. Moore (2006) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
•Character photos provided through PowerPoint stock images, “Cutout People”:
•State Representative: Alfredo
•“Test Day” story by Jess Houser.
Thank you for taking the time to watch my presentation. The next section of this part of the project is to write an artist’s statement about my piece: what I hope you notice about it, the intended audience, and the different techniques I used.
Did you notice?
To begin with, I hope you noticed the original intent: the counter discourse.
This is my 10th year of teaching, eighth in Texas. At the secondary level, students who move here and do not speak the language are still expected to take the state test in English. There are some options schools can look into, including an exemption, but the majority of Emergent Bilingual students take the state test in English even after less than a year of knowing the language.
It’s heartbreaking for me to watch students struggle simply because of a language barrier. How does the data support their knowledge when the test isn’t in their first language, their strongest language? Did you notice how the student responded? They don’t understand, either.
It’s our job as teachers to teach all students, meeting them at their level and helping them progress from there. I don’t want students to be discouraged by a test they take one day, but I hope to encourage them to do their best every day.
If that means their work or instructions need to be in a different language, then I know there are resources out there that can help. I can learn how to say hello and several other conversational phrases in their native language (if I don’t know already), so they can feel welcome in my classroom.
I know my Spanish isn’t the best, but I hope that by incorporating it into this story, the message hits home a little harder. I think it’s interesting that the closed captioning picks up the English words, but it does not pick up the Spanish ones, nor does it translate them. Imagine a student in a similar situation in a classroom.
Although it is highly unlikely that a teacher can call a state representative and get an answer right away, I wanted to add that into my story for impact. We’re also not allowed to have our phones on us when we’re about to give the state test, but that is also not the point.
I utilized slide transitions and animations to help with the flow of the still frame story. It was actually rather difficult working out timing with the script. I wanted each character to have their own personality that fit the dialogue, and I also didn’t want to have to read too fast or too slow because of animations.
Let me know what you thought of this special post in the comments below. Did anything stand out to you?