California Educator

February/March 2023

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the quarantine. "Everyone was going through the motions and unspoken struggles — when they put it to paper, the students were going through it themselves." Santos and Patterson led students through the project entirely on Z o om , splitting th e cl ass b etween th e tw o of them and switching off to cover both the written and visual arts pieces to the assignment. Students were directed to ask someone in their family about a transformational learning experience, such as a time when their education was inter- rupted. Santos delivered the art supplies (donated by a local business) to the homes of her students who she hadn't yet met in person. The educators also made videos to show students the process for creating their project. Using a tw o-foot by tw o-foot plyw ood board , students curated their project by choosing a butterfly design, drawing it, then cutting and pasting colors and textures from maga- zines and collaging them into the design. They hand-lettered their story around the butterfly, documenting the whole pro- cess using Flipgrid. The first year, students submitted 30 beautifully designed and written stories about personal transformative experiences, including family immigration stories and relatives who died from COVID. "e most inspiring transformation was not just their art- work, but their transformation from learner to reader, to writer, and especially to artist during what may become the most chal- lenging experience of their lifetimes, the pandemic," says Santos. e finished pieces were so inspiring that Santos felt like they needed to be shared. She set up a pop-up exhibit in town to show the work and invited students and their families. ings went so well that she had the pieces installed in front of Fresno High School and shown at the Fresno County Fair, where an attendee was particularly struck by one piece, offering to buy it. Santos says when the student learned of the interest to buy the work, they wanted the person to have it. To learn that their words and art had meaning to others was special, Santos says. "My students thrived when they knew there was an audience and a purpose. When people wanted to read "I decided to shine a light on students and asked them to share their stories about the pandemic. I wanted them to tell their truth." —Marina Santos, Fresno Teachers Association Marina Santos 27 F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 0 2 3

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