“I Am From” Project (Presentation and Writing Workshop)
In 2018, George Ella Lyon, the former poet laureate of Kentucky, developed a national writing project based on her poem “Where I’m From” in response to the rhetoric of xenophobia and isolationism that was increasing in the United States. This workshop will begin by introducing the original poem and exploring the Southern/Appalachian subculture of the United States, dispelling some of the most common stereotypes of this region in hopes of evoking a more honest sense of place. These myths and stereotypes include the belief that all Appalachia natives are white, poor, uneducated, and racist who only eat fried food and listen to country music. Hopefully, we can replace these misconceptions with an understanding of the growing diversity of the region and its people. Then we will explore some of the national responses on the project website to learn about the multiculturalism of this region in the United States. The workshop will end with students writing their own “I am From” poem, based on the structure of the original poem. CC: 1.2. Identity and Cultural Diversity.
Folktales and Myths Across America (Presentation)
From the Cherokee Creation Myth to the tall tales of Daniel Boone and John Henry to the stories of La Llorona, the weeping woman, this workshop will introduce some of the folktales of different subcultures in our American culture. Students will listen to some of the tales and record the cultural “values” or storytelling “lessons” they hear from the stories. Then the students will share some of the folktales they grew up with or know about as we discover together the power of stories to define who we are. CC: 1.2. Identify and Cultural Diversity.
Voices of Native Americans: The Cherokee Indigenous People of the Southeast (Can also be a Teacher Workshop)
In many of the educational workshops I have attended in the past year, the presenters begin by offering an acknowledgment and thank you to the ancestral people who inhabited the land before us. My home is located on the land of the Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East) people. This workshop will present an overview of the Cherokee Indians, the story of the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears in 1883 to the creation of the language immersion schools that are preserving the Cherokee Native Languages. I would like to end the presentation with the students and teacher(s) teaching me about the indigenous people in Norway or in the cultures of their family’s backgrounds. CC: 1.2 Identity and Cultural Diversity.
The Spoken Word Poetry of Amanda Gorman and Jamila Lyiscott (Possible 2–3-day workshop: presentation and then writing workshop for students and then presentation day)
Spoken Word has its roots in a long history of oral tradition in American literature. It often encompasses elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, and jazz, rock, blues, and folk music. Spoken Word poems often contain themes of politics, social justice and equity, and community. In this workshop, we will listen to some of the spoken word poetry of Amanda Gorman, America’s first youth poet laureate and Dr. Jamila Lyiscott, a nationally renowned scholar and spoken word artist as we begin to explore language and power dynamics in American education and society. At the end of the workshop, students will have an opportunity to create and perform their own spoken word poems about current issues in their own society. (Possible 2–3-day workshop: presentation and then writing workshop for students and then presentation day) CC 1.4: The joy of creating, engagement, and the urge to explore.
From MILCK’ s “Quiet” of the “Me Too Movement” to Janelle Monae’s “Americans”, and Joe Troop’s “A Plea to the US Government to Fully Fund the Postal Service”: A Presentation of Contemporary American Protest Music (Presentation)
American novelist John Steinbeck wrote of folk musician Woody Guthrie that his music represents the “will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit.” The United States has a long tradition of protest music, never more alive than now. In this workshop, I will introduce some of the diverse musicians and musical backgrounds from the Dixie Chicks (now just called the Chicks) to Childish Gambino’s “This is America” who are embracing social change themes in their music. After the presentation of some of the themes and issues represented in the music, students will have a chance to share issues that they hear in their own contemporary Norwegian music. CC2.3: The Basic Skills.
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