We’re basically a month into my students’ zine production, and some of their ideas are really starting to emerge into tangible products. As expected, many students struggled to conceptualize exactly what a zine is or how it even plays a role in the classroom, but that sentiment is shifting as most students have started actively shaping the content and focus of their zines. What’s been most interesting this year is the small group, collaborative focus that has emerged. Admittedly, this was partially established by me. Last year I purposefully asked students in a class to work as large group if they liked that idea; this year I only presented the individual or small group options. So last year I had a least one class produce a thematic zine together, and this year I really have small pockets of students collaborating on similar ideas.
These collaborations are community microcosms. Students certainly gravitate towards who they know, but some students have branched out to work with students they typically don’t talk to all based on a common interest. Not all these collaborations have gone smoothly, however. There is a sense of too many cooks in the kitchen for some groups, while other groups are constantly turning over ideas each week. Overwhelmingly though, groups are generating content as can be seen in the opening collage and the one below:
Groups, or teams maybe, are exploring some interesting territory. I’ve seen art driven zines that are meant to evoke emotion and connection via everything from paint to sketches to photo zines to comic strips. Others are meant to foreground culture and histories often underrepresented in the LA classroom (i.e. two Mexican students are developing a zine celebrating ancient and modern Mexican culture, including art, fables, people, and events). Yet another team are writing a series of fantasy stories that intertwine and are interwoven with games like word searches and crossword puzzles. One of my favorite zines that is really just now developing, however, is two young women who are tackling issues of race in the media from their differing cultural experiences (one young lady is black, the other white) and how those experiences also intertwine and negate differences. I’m beyond thrilled to see how this one turns out. Finally, I have a few teams that are looking to use QR codes to make their zines interactive by capturing video and audio, uploading them, and embedding a QR code in the physical zine to partner with their written articles. Super cool, huh?
The drawback I’ve noticed at this point are those who seem to have either isolated themselves or been isolated and are working solo. This could work out fine, but I see these students struggling the most to move forward and see value in the process. I don’t know how much to intervene in the process. I will need to consider what is truly best for the students; however, I don’t know what that looks like at this point. I want them to feel a sense of thrill and excitement and accomplishment, but I also feel as though any force I use defeats the purpose of what I’m trying to accomplish in my class.
As I ponder this hiccup, I am starting think ahead in the project. I have not set a date yet for this year’s zinecast, but I’ll keep everyone posted. Hopefully by the next post, I’ll have students using the #zineculture hashtag to share some of their work as they are developing.
While not a dissertation study yet, I see a bevy of riches to excavated from these students’ literacy practices. I am so glad I can share some of them with the world.