AIE 2011 – Fable Mural Project

Questar III Claverack School Celebrates Fable Mural Project

 Questar III Claverack School students, teachers and staff recently invited the community to a reception to view the recently completed Fable Murals project – six mural panels created by students with pillar boarders spanning over 18 feet. The project was awarded a Twin Counties Partnership Arts in Education grant this year through funding provided by the New York State Council on the Arts administered by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

Teaching artist Ruth Leonard, Claverack School classroom teachers as well as support staff, developed the project to provide meaningful curriculum and hands-on learning experiences. Students created artwork based on Aesop’s fables, then reflected on their own experiences and conceived their own lessons and fables to express them. Each classroom acted as a team to work on a specific fable, developing animal characters to express the plot line and theme. Finally, each classroom produced an allegorical mural. 

Teaching artist Ruth Leonard (back, left) and Claverack School Social Worker and project coordinator Mary Warfel (back right) join Claverack School students to show off a finished Fable Mural project panel.

Each of the murals served as a piece of a puzzle which, when connected to the other individual life lessons, formed an integrated structure of moral reflections. The lessons – such as the importance of kindness, the uselessness of narcissism or the evil of greed – fit nicely with the school’s existing program of Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Fairness; Caring; Citizenship.

Literacy was the core of the project. As active participants in this project, Questar III students were not only able to express themselves creatively using their artistic abilities, but also read, write, and critically analyze fables. By exposing the students to the genre of folklore, Claverack School not only met New York Standards, but also gave them additional opportunities to practice the literacy skills that are being taught in the classroom.

A Fable Mural project panel depicting Trustworthiness.

In order for students to recognize important character building qualities of the characters in these fables, they needed to be able to analyze the characters’ actions and decide whether or not the characters were making “good” or “bad” choices. Analyzing situations between characters in literature is not only an important skill they must learn for English Language Arts, but a skill crucial for their own lives.

This project gave students an opportunity to comprehend and analyze traditional folktales through interactive hands-on activities, a strategy proven to be more effective with special needs students than the familiar method of direct instruction. In addition, through this project students developed improved problem solving skills, as well as collaboration and teamwork.

For more information about the Twin Counties Partnership Arts in Education program, call coordinator Kay Stamer at 943-3400 or email: gcca@greenearts.org. Last year’s application and guidelines are available on this web site. The 2011-12 application will be available after state notification of  regrant funding for this program is received.