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The universal theme for SummerLEAP at the College at Brockport for the summer of 2018 was “Superhero-Super You!” Students explored what a superhero is, compared and contrasted the different qualities of a superhero and a supervillain, and then created their own superhero based on what they had learned about what constitutes a superhero. Along with exporing different supeheroes, each grade adopted a superhero name; kindergarten was the Justice League, first grade took the name of the Incredibles, second grade adopted the name The Defenders, third grade found that the Avengers suited them, fourth grade became the Fantastic 4, and lastly, our fifth grades identified as the Black Panthers. Each grade was tasked of creating their own original superhero - they had to include an origin story, the superpower that the superhero posessed, the physical qualities of their superhero, and a short story about their superhero in action. Once they had created their superhero, each grade chose a different art media to portray their original superheroes.
Kindergartners, first graders, and second graders created their superheroes, and with the help of the Arts Integration Director, created their own superhero movie. The students wrote the script of their movie making sure to include each student as their alter-ego superhero and even created their own original villian. Along with writing their own script, the students made the props, costumes, and scenary. After they had assembled the script, props, costumes, and scenary they made the movie. The Kindergarteners fought against the evil Mr. Croc, the first graders defeated the evil Controller, and second grade saved the day against the Evil Snatch Girl.
Third grade was also given the task of creating their own superhero, but instead of creating a movie the students created their own original comic books that featured their superhero. The third grade team studied different comic books during Arts Integration and Art sessions identifying different characteristics that made a successful comic book. They realized that the comic book needed an interesting plot, dialgoue, and an action scene. The third graders made an original comic book that featured their superhero.
The fourth and fifth graders decided to portray their superheroes by creating their own original superhero action figure. They did this by drafting an origin story and an outline of what their superhero would look like. They then applied the outline and made the character "come to life." Using wire and and modeling clay, the shaped and sculped the characters into form. And once the clay dried, they painted their superheroes to life.
During our final week of the program we held an Art Exhibition in which families, staff, and campus partners were invited to celebrate with us. We held a movie premiere to debut the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade films. The third, fourth, and fifth graders set up tables and displayed their comic books and action figures for everyone to see. The students presented their work to other students and guests by explaining where they got the idea for their superhero, how they created their comic book or action figure, and then explained how they themselves are superheroes. It was a great success and the students loved showing off what they had completed.
We chose the Superhero theme for our students because we wanted them to realize and embrace the fact that they all have superhero chracter traits. We wanted to celebrate the strengths that our students were able to develop. As the students read books about the different qualities that a superhero had- good hearted, strength, fast, funny, hardworking- they soon realized that they too had those strengths. While they don't have super strength or are not faster than the speed of light, in their minds, if they put on the right muscle shirt or the right pair of sneakers, they feel like they are.
With the release of the new Black Panther movie, we found that a lot of our students were able to identify with the character T’Challa in ways that they weren’t able to do with previous superheroes. For the first time many of our students saw a superhero that looked like them. We used superhero movies and comic books and pointed out the similarities students have with superheroes. It also helped students to read and do more research on the superheroes. There are picture books, comic books, graphic novels, and chapter books that teach students about superheroes. Students wanted to read these books and learn more, and by reading more, the students reading levels increased and our students were making massive strides in their reading grade level.