Friday, October 20, 2017

Language Arts and Leadership conferences


For the last few years, I've worked with colleagues, college students, and grad students to coordinate a series of conference for high school students.

The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017
The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Spring 2017
The Language Arts and Leadership Conference, 2016
The Language Arts and Leadership Conference, 2015

That anti-bullying moment from comic book Superb



This semester, I'm coordinating a small study group with students from the SIUE/East St. Louis Charter High School. The project focuses on comic books--Noble and Superb. Working with younger readers helps me see what we're covering in new, useful ways.

When I first read Superb #1, I moved past a moment that I now return to with more focus. Early in the story, there's a moment when Kayla, one of the protagonists, stands up for her friend Jonah who's being bullied. Initially, the scene did not register in a strong way.

However, responses from high school students shifted my interests. When asked what stood out to them about issue #1  of Superb, nearly all of the students mentioned the scene with Kayla preventing Jonah from being bullied. The moment apparently struck a chord with the high school students.

In retrospect, it makes sense. All across the country, large numbers of students report being bullied or witnessing some form of bullying at their schools. Thus, students coming across that scene in Superb would no doubt take special notice. Receiving feedback from the students on that scene gave me a renewed appreciation for what it would mean to them.

Related:
East St. Louis study group focusing on comic books

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A free book fair for black girls



One of my signature events over the last several years has been the book fair. I first became particularly interested in bookstores in my late teens, and I've managed to maintain that interest for quite some time. One way to share that interest is by coordinating events that showcase books.

For our fall Language Arts & Leadership Conference yesterday, I coordinated a book fair, with assistance from a group of my students. The high school black girls who attended seemed to really enjoy the book fair.


The items at the book fair included novels, biographies, comic books, and volumes of poetry. The students were most interested in the novels and comic books. They were especially interested in novels and comic books about black girls and women. One of the favored works, which blended novels and comic books, was the graphic novel version of Octavia Butler's Kindred.







Related:
The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017
A Notebook on bookstores, book collections & book fairs

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Comic book heroes and black girls


We coordinated a session on comic book heroes during our fall Language Arts & Leadership Conference. The session included a small display on heroes--Storm, Spectrum, Oracle, and Riri Williams. The purpose was to expose the students to heroic characters and highlight the science and technology behind their powers.

Rae'Jean Spears facilitated the activities, with assistance from a group of undergraduate volunteers. The high school students observed the display panels on comic book heroes, and talked about which characters they would be interested in taking on if given the chance.

Rae'Jean Spears facilitates discussion with students about comic book characters


Several of the students mentioned their interest in Storm. Her ability to fly, they said, was especially appealing. Some of the girls also highlighted Riri Williams, noting that her engineering knowledge and ability to attend M.I.T. at an early age were quite impressive.

One of my colleagues Matthew Johnson, Curriculum Specialist at the STEM Center at SIUE, helped me produce the panels on the superheroes by providing observations concerning the science and technology behind some of the superpowers presented in the panels.

Related:
The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017

Scenes from the Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017



We held our fall Language Arts & Leadership Conference on October 18. What follows are a few images from the day's activities.

Cindy Reed, black girls, and poetry



Cindy Reed, black girls, and poetry


I've lost count of how many times Cindy Reed has led poetry presentations and workshops for us over the years. I'm grateful, though, that I can keep depending on her.

Today, she led a workshop for our fall Language Arts and Leadership conference for high school black girls. Cindy's workshop prompted participants to investigate how black women’s poetry imagined black girls on the page and how those images prompted them to explore their real life experiences. The high school students analyzed poetry and addressed some of the reasons why black girls represent themselves in the ways they do both in poetry and in person.



The high school students really enjoyed workshop. Some of them noted that the poetry was interesting, and just as important, Cindy affirmed the young women throughout the session.

After the workshop, Cindy observed:
I was fascinated about how the young sisters readily opened up and talked about their own experiences after reading poetry that reflects the images of black girls and women. In fact, the discussion got so good, we ran out of time. This demonstrated two significant things: black girls need more exposure to literature they can see themselves in, and they crave safe spaces in which they can discuss issues and ideas related to their black girl identities.


Related:
The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017

The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017


Today, we'd hosted our first fall Language Arts and Leadership Conference at SIUE's Lovejoy Library. The conference involved workshops on poetry and a viewing and writing activity focused on comic book heroes. 45 high school black girls participated.

I've coordinated arts and humanities conferences each spring for the last few years. The subject matter and participants for this conference was different.

Poet and scholar Cindy Reed led workshops on poetry. My graduate student Rae'Jean Spears facilitated an activity that involved a small display on comic book heroes. We had lunch at noon--generously funded by the Black Studies Program and the East St. Louis Action Research Project. Finally, we closed with a book fair. The books were made possible by our Leadership Forum project.

Related:
Cindy Reed, black girls, and poetry
Scenes from the Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017
Comic book heroes and black girls
A free book fair for black girls

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Language Arts and Leadership conferences

Haley Reading Group: “Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible?”


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2016)]

Cynthia A. Campbell

Rose Eveleth’s article “Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible?” focuses on the problems associated with creating comfortable sports bras. Eveleth illuminates the evolution of sports bras. Ultimately, the article speaks to the original purposes of sports bras—to provide support and comfort for breasts during exercise and while participating in sports—and how that has changed because of the fashion industry.

Eveleth’s discussion of breast-science workshops was especially enlightening. At one point, Eveleth notes that "representatives [of different brands] learn ways bras can be designed to help reduce pain" (49). This point indicates that scientific research of sports bras is as influential as the fashion industry’s marketing.

After reading Eveleth’s article, what was one point concerning how sports bras are developed or advertised that found especially intriguing? Why? Please provide a page number citation.