After we read House of the Scorpion, I worked up a lesson plan that I have wanted to do for a long time. I wanted my students to create an personal loteria card that illustrated some event, character, or concept in the story. Then, they were to write a paragraph explaining why they chose that image and what it had to do with the book.
I hate to say this, but most middle school students are reluctant to draw. I insisted that they give it their best shot. Some of them did a great job, some traced their images – that is completely okay with me – and some scratched out the minimum required drawing. I insisted that they fill in the whole card space – making some sort of background. After I collected them, I planned to scan in the pictures and make a loteria deck out of them.
There were a few things that I had not control over. I handed out a list of possible drawings, but I really couldn’t say, “Oh, so-and-so is already drawing a heart (or a wine glass or a scorpion): why don’t you draw something else?” So I ended up with a couple of versions of the same sort of image. Of course, I also warned them that they couldn’t just draw a skull and crossbones because they liked drawing them – it had to be explained in connection with the story. Of course, some didn’t listen, but that’s another story…
After scanning the lot of pictures, I decided to “touch them up” a little bit in PhotoShop. The first one I did was the one above. The picture to the left was the original. I cropped it and enlarged it. Then, as I usually do, I intensified the hues. Finally, I used one of the many, many special effects to simulate a stone wall. In the story, the scorpion is probably not stone-aged, but I really liked the effect. After that, I worked on a few more, with good results.
As often happens with me and Photoshop, I got more and more involved in my editing process. So, my question is this: is it really student art now? I am thinking about it. Now, if I were a kindergarten teacher and did something cutesy with my students work, I think that would be okay. So I am going to go for it.
I have three classes of 9-10 students each, and my plan is to combine the images to create Loteria tablas of nine images each. Each student will receive a card with his or her image included in the group. I will have to juggle a bit to replace all of those hearts and wine bottles, but I think it will be something for them to keep and remember from the class. I will post the finished products later.