Interdisciplinary Collaborations--The Great Migration


On October 23, 2017, the teachers of Passages Academy--Belmont initiated a new interdisciplinary unit focused on the historical era of The Great Migration (1915-1970).  During this time period, millions of African Americans travelled from the Jim Crow South to better opportunities in the North.  African American artist Jacob Lawrence chronicled what became known as the Great Migration with a series of paintings begun in 1940.  

Our interdisciplinary unit brought together the history of the Migration and the visual interpretations of Lawrence, and current events related to migrants around the world, along with workshops from visiting teaching artists to prepare students for a field trip to the New Victory Theater for a performance by Step Afrika! based on both the Migration and Lawrence's paintings.

The following sections will decribe a little bit of what classes did each day to give you an idea of the breadth and depth of what we're hoping to teach our students.  --Sean LeBeau, Special Education Teacher

I'll start by telling you about our kick off yesterday.  Ms. Lori Ikawa, Speech Language Pathologist here at Passages Academy, pushed into several advisory classes with me (the school librarian) to introduce the topic and Jacob Lawrence's famous artwork via the picture book, The Great Migration: An American Story.  We invited students to wonder about the artist and the art.  Here are some of the questions students asked:

All of these questions were brainstormed by Rose Group during a collective brainstorming session.
--Jessica Fenster-Sparber, School Librarian


Our Advisory class has been working hard on understanding The Great Migration and the role Jacob Lawrence has in this interdisciplinary study. Our students have been reading the book and examining the paintings while simultaneously trying to create meaning and make connections to the history of it all. We have been studying new vocabulary and aspects of Lawrence's life that contributed to his success as a famous painter. We have been recording our inquiries and sharing out our ideas as our minds process this new information about history, the artist himself, and the narrative he creates within his art. --Jessica Ernyey, ELA teacher

These questions were brainstormed by a 16-year old student working independently during his first class session encountering Lawrence's The Great Migration: An American Story.

These notes were made by a student encountering this text for the first time.

These questions were brainstormed by a 14-year old student working independently during his second encounter with Lawrence's text.

A Gallery Walk With the Reading Specialist
From 10/26

Here is the board which I put together to introduced The Great Migration series to the students.  My goal was to arrange our former library as a makeshift museum.  Due to the condition of the room, I decided to place the paintings on the poster board.  The students were given an art analysis reflection form along with a rubric to reflect on the Jacob Lawrence's artwork.  The following questions were posed:  Why do people move?  List as many positive or negative reasons.  Have you ever moved?  Why did you move?  The students ran with this activity.  I feel that it was a success! --Hermithe Bernard, Reading Specialist

From 10/30
I had a positive experience working on my student's Speech goals while engaging in our collaborative process.  For two consecutive sessions, we worked on increasing my student's vocabulary.  More specifically, given a context cue, the student was able to verbally define a curricular vocabulary word using a complete sentence with correct grammar.  
During Session 1, the student was introduced to The Great Migration using Ms. Bernard's Great Migration Poster.  This visual stimulus enabled the student to become engaged in the inquiry process (which was previously modeled for me by Ms. Fenster-Sparber during 3 push-in lessons).    

During Session 2, the student became more comfortable with the topic of The Great Migration.  We alternately read aloud from Jacob Lawrence's book pausing to reflect upon unfamiliar vocabulary words. 

Session 2 culminated with the first draft of a writing piece by the student about the topic.  He attempted to answer the question, "What was The Great Migration?"

He was encouraged to use newly acquired vocabulary in his writing.  This piece will be revised and edited during subsequent sessions. --Lori Ikawa, Speech Language Pathologist

From 11/01/17

Scratch Art in Art Class
Students created mono-prints from the copies of photographs of African  American migrants, who moved North during  The Great American Migration.  This art project complemented studies of the Great Migration that students undertook in the other subject areas. Inspired by the art of Jacob Lawrence, students annotated their mono-prints with short sentences that explained the content of their artworks. --Nelli Bespalova-Carter, Art Teacher

 11/3, 11/6, 11/13 and 11/14: New Victory Pre-theater and Post-theater Workshops

Click here to read more about these workshops.  Here are some additional photos of students engaged in the workshops:

11/17/17  Advisory

11/21/17 Advisory Trioramas

Belmont at the New Victory Theater 11/8/17

Reflections At Bronx Hope with Passages' Speech-Language Pathologist, Lori Ikawa

How the show made me feel:

I felt sad after the show because it made me think about poor people in the south.

My Opinion:
I really love the colors of the set.  The colors were coordinated with the music.  The costumes were nice because they made people look like slaves. I liked the paintings in the train scene. 

What I saw and what surprised me:
I was surprised that sometimes the dancers wore shoes and sometimes they did not. I felt scared when the singer fell on the stage.

Author: DE

How the show made me feel:

The show made me feel excited because there were lots of females dancing and showing their talent and skills.  

My Opinion:
The dancers used teamwork very well in order to change their costumes very quickly.   I like how their dancing represented the paintings and the images kept changing in the background.

What I saw and what surprised:
What surprised me was that they started tap dancing together in order to show what they practice on.  
There was a drummer on stage and he started drumming and he asked the audience to clap with the beat.

The collaborative work done during The Great Migration project expanded across Passages Academy sites.  As students in both Brooklyn and The Bronx were able to see the dance interpretation of The Great Migration at The New Victory Theater, teaching efforts also spanned the boroughs.   

Students at Bronx Hope were asked to reflect upon their experience after seeing The Migration.

Speech and Language goals addressed during this reflection activity included answering "wh" questions, vocabulary and making inferences.  Additionally, the students were encouraged to use their creativity to illustrate a memorable scene from the show. --Lori Ikawa, Speech-Language Pathologist

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