It can be difficult to get to know a group of students quickly and develop the type of trust necessary to embark on a project that requires time, creativity and a strong commitment. This is the type of trust that usually grows over the course of weeks or months, not days. Matters become more complicated when the project is asking students to examine not only their neighborhood but also the L.A. River, which for many students has little to no connection to their daily lives.
So how do we begin, how do we break the ice and get to know one another while simultaneously developing a safe space to launch a multi-media community exploration?
For Youth Voices that ice-breaker is the "Meet Me" project -- a Power Point presentation that serves as an introduction to each student and uses visual language (images pulled from the web or their own archive) to express who they are, what they feel and what they believe. It gives the students an opportunity to examine their own identity while utilizing and building on their media and technology skills. This is a key step that prepares the student producers for the next phase of the larger "My Neighborhood" project, in which they will be asked to identify or create media that explores their relationship with their neighborhood.
This segment of Youth Voices is designed to take approximately 4 hours or 3-4 class sessions, but as often the case for many lesson plans, the reality of the classroom changes whatever plans were originally devised. Challenges with technology and the plethora of distractions available on the internet slows the progress down. Students can get lost and/or frustrated when media gets lost, misplaced or computers are slow. In some cases it's necessary to take a step back, review the instructions and revisit the goals of the project, while asserting the importance of hearing each student's voice.
Even with these challenges the students at the three Youth Voices sites pulled together thoughtful, insightful and humorous projects that provide a glimpse into who they are and lead us to the next step of the project.
Catch up with all the Youth Voices Students by visiting each school's page:
Below are some examples of the Youth Voices Producer's Meet Me projects. More can be found here.
Meet Natalie Maya from ArtLAB
Meet Brandon Lee from ArtLAB
Meet Alondra Barajas-Lopez