Recognizing Culture as Curriculum:
Orozco School Presents Student Artwork in a Digital Age
It's 2:35 p.m. and eight students sit around a table in the Learning Center. Amid munching on cookies, they fight over the sign-in sheet and exchange comments about the day's events with each other, the adults who are there to teach them, and those who stop by for a cookie of their own. Although the cookies may seem insignificant to an outsider, they are very important to us. The eight students are committed to staying after school for an extra hour and a half 2 days a week. Besides the fact that many of them haven't eaten all day, by 2:30 in the afternoon we all could use some extra nourishment.
The students have been chosen to be at the table by the technology coordinator and their classroom teachers. These are students who, although not necessarily the best in their class, have demonstrated a commitment to learning, a willingness to try new things (especially in the area of technology), and a dedication to their work. They have agreed to become a part of the Web Team, and they know the requirements of the job. Although at times they may whine and complain, they are conscientious workers, and they understand that they are responsible for documenting and presenting the work that they and their peers have created in their arts-based humanities program to the world.
The Jose Clemente Orozco (JCO) Academy Humanities Web Site became a reality in the fall of 1996 when we received a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to fund the equipment, training, and personnel that would make the web site possible (www.orozco.cps.k12.il.us). JCO had been working with the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and neighborhood artists for 2 years prior to this time. Teachers in the seventh grade had also been working collaboratively to integrate the arts into the curriculum—not as a separate subject, but as a means to learn content. One of the art teachers involved in the program expressed interest in publishing student work over the Internet, and the idea for the humanities web site was born.
As an extension of Orozco Academy's humanities program, an interdisciplinary program that emphasizes language arts, social studies, and the fine arts, we proposed to design and maintain an Internet web site that would include student research, student artwork, and lesson plans and activities that Orozco faculty had developed for the humanities program. We worked in con