Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Making the Connection, or Doing the Learning

Source: ASIDE, 2012
Source: ASIDE, 2012
Making the connection with kids by letting them create by hand allows them to build an understanding about the things they learn. The act of “doing the learning” changes how kids perceive information and develops a deeper knowledge for any topic.

This was the case with our sixth graders who learned how to write in Arabic as part of their study of the Islamic culture in their history classes. One of our parents, Dr. Isma Chaudhry, came to the classroom to teach the kids the art of Arabic calligraphy, which means “beautiful writing.” By learning how to do it, they gained a full appreciation of the calligraphic form.

Dr. Chaudhry gave the students an overview of the history of calligraphy and showed them its many different styles and variations. She demonstrated how this beautiful writing became integrated into the many art forms created by the Islamic people, starting with the early dynasties of the Umayyad and Abbasid empires. The students also discovered how the designs were incorporated into the elaborate decoration of buildings in the Muslim world, from the Dome of the Rock in Israel to the Taj Mahal in India.

Source: ASIDE, 2012
In past visits, the students viewed some examples from Dr. Chaudhry’s personal collection that she brought into class for them to see. She explained to them how the Arabic language is an oral language and that the sounds created by the strokes used in calligraphy are different from the literal use of letters in English.


Source: ASIDE, 2012
The students used a handout of the Arabic alphabet to practice making the strokes and to try to put the correct letters together to write their names. Dr. Chaudhry helped them draw the different strokes to create the letters and sounds found in the alphabet, and she worked with students individually to help them write their first names in Arabic. The images in this post are some of the many examples and designs the students created from this workshop.
Source: ASIDE, 2012

We are extremely fortunate and grateful to have such a wonderful parent volunteer her time to help the students understand a writing system less familiar than their own. In addition, it brings the heritage of our Muslim students into the classroom to better bridge the multicultural views of the world.

Making connections by actually trying your hand at creating work that ties to the curriculum can help students learn. Whether doodling, mapping, or constructing visualizations, it is the tangible aspect that changes the way they see and understand.


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