Feature stories

'Beautiful' project

Literacy event inspires creative activities at Brooklyn school

Teacher Carlisa Luke discusses the book with her 3rd-graders.Jonathan FickiesTeacher Carlisa Luke discusses the book with her 3rd-graders.

What began as an early-grades literacy event has turned into a schoolwide project to design a mural for the outside of PS/IS 184, a UFT community learning school in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Prekindergartners create a mural based on the story “Maybe Something Beautiful.”Jonathan FickiesPrekindergartners create a mural based on the story “Maybe Something Beautiful.”

Classes from pre-K to 3rd grade and their invited guests met on Oct. 25 in the auditorium to hear a narration of the story “Maybe Something Beautiful” as 3rd-graders acted it out onstage. Then everyone joined in a discussion and a question-and-answer period.

Colorful costumes and stage sets were adapted from the illustrations of the book. Nathaly Warner, the school’s ELA coach, said the event marked the second year the school has celebrated Read for the Record, a national campaign to have students in communities all over the country read the same book on the same day to promote literacy during early childhood education.

This year’s book was based on the true story of how a splash of color transformed a dingy neighborhood in San Diego, California, and how even the smallest artists can accomplish great things. Back in the classroom, each class at PS/IS 184 heard the story again, this time read by a parent or neighbor, and then chose its own follow-up activity.

In Nicol Casey’s 2nd-grade class, the students tied the story into their lessons about bullying by providing suggestions to complete a sentence beginning, “The world would be more beautiful without bullying because ...”

Joining the student actors on stage following their performance are (from left) Jonathan FickiesJoining the student actors on stage following their performance are (from left) paraprofessional Earlyn Henry, universal literacy coach Danaika De Los Rios, ELA coach Nathaly Warner and teacher Tracey Rousseau. Students act out the story on stage.Jonathan FickiesStudents act out the story on stage.

Casey said she “was impressed by how engaged the students were when they spoke about the story.”

Pre-K students got a jump-start on the school project by painting a classroom mural as their follow-up activity.

Now every class is working on its own mural design inspired by “Maybe Something Beautiful.” The winning design will become the mural that will add a splash of color to the outside of PS/IS 184’s traditional, five-story brick building.

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