Colleen Crossley is an ABE teacher with the Robbinsdale Adult Academic program. Her Level 1 Academic Skills class recently completed an art/writing project, “Altered Shoes and Life Journey Project.”
Students painted and decorated a pair of shoes to create visual metaphors that reflect their personality and life experiences. All of the students are immigrants, and some are also refugees who have experienced a great deal of trauma. Their experiences, as well as a desire to provide a means for self-expression through the arts, were the inspiration behind the project.
This interdisciplinary, hands-on project strengthened classroom community and used a variety of instructional methods and materials, Universal Design for Learning principles. It also gave students a better understanding of what it was like to “walk in in each other’s shoes.”
One student commented that doing the project helped relieve her stress. Another woman had kept her feelings suppressed for years, but the project helped her deal with and express them. She said, “Since I was born it’s been hard for me. I was a year old when my father took me away from my mom and sent me to a different place that I didn’t know. They treated me so bad.” To celebrate the end of the project, Colleen’s class hosted an art show featuring the Altered Shoes, students’ written descriptions, and life timelines.
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Colleen Crossley is a teacher in the Robbinsdale Adult Academic program. She conducts research and presents workshops for PANDA – Minnesota ABE Disability Specialists.