In Exploring Differences, We Discover Similarities

  • School Year: 2016-2017
  • Applicants: Rebecca Behlman, Lead Teacher
  • School: Charter Oak
  • Subjects: Visual Arts, Music, Language Arts, Social Studies

This workshop at Charter Oak International Academy Elementary School will allow our fourth grade classes to participate in a session with visiting artist Rachna Agrawal. She will use traditional Kathak dance to “tell” the story of Rama and Sita, a portion of the epic poem Ramayana. Through this traditional Indian mode of storytelling, Rachna will explore a variety of aspects of Indian culture: dance, music, art, artifacts, clothing, and customs. She will take students along a tantalizing cultural journey, as she demonstrates indigenous dance forms and storytelling; shares the intricate craftwork of native artisans; and paints a picture of this amazing country through stories of her ancestral home. Fourth grade students begin “Who We Are…”, a transdisciplinary unit on cultures from around the world, by interviewing family members to learn about their own culture. Then they immerse themselves in a study of folktales/myths. Students analyze the cultural elements of each story’s origin country through close investigation of words and illustration. At the same time, they are researching individual countries and incorporating elements from these studies into their own writing. After the workshop, students will use information gained from this experience as background for their individual projects for our annual Inquiry Gallery community event. A video of the “storytelling” dance performance will be shown to the school community during the celebration. Students will travel by bus and take a tour of the UN, including the Security Council and General Assembly where all 193 Member States meet to discuss global issues and resolve potential disputes. They will be get an insiders tour and be able to visit the four chambers including the General Assembly Hall, the Security Council Chamber, the Trusteeship Council Chamber and the Economic and Social Council Chamber. Students will have an opportunity to view the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights designed by Brazilian artist, Octavio Roth. They will hear about children all around the world who face challenges such as hunger, natural disasters and diseases and learn how the United Nations works to overcome these difficulties. At the disarmament stop of the tour, they will see artifacts from the nuclear explosions at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Building on their studies in fourth and fifth grade, they will delve into government, human rights, and see how they can change the word. This trip will reinforce their understanding of their place in the globe and perhaps even inspire one of them to become the next Madeline Albright or Condoleezza Rice!

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