Zines, Black History, & Lived Experiences


While many of the upcoming posts will chronicle Ms. S and Ms. C’s adventure into project-based learning, I am also working alongside my colleague Mr. Chance, who has written a post here before, as he uses zines as tool enrich his students’ experience with Black literature and connecting that literature to their own lives.

Mr. Chance’s zine project was born from several discussions we have had about the use of zines in an ELA classroom over the year as well as his experience at a previous school last year. Learning from what he felt were roadblocks to his attempt at using zines and to explore identity and Black literature he took time revise and prepare a great adventure into zine making with his kids.

In a future post, Mr. Chance will share the experience from beginning to end. For now, I wanted to share a few action shots of kids in discussion as well as creating. The images below capture his students in-process, and what might be taken away from these images contextually is these particular students are in his remedial, inclusion classroom.

20170223_125051In this first image, Mr. Chance is walking students through his own zine based on the poem “Bread” by Kamau Brathwaite. This is where Mr. Chance really elevates what I did last year with my study–he is building his own zine with the same focus he wants his students have. In his explanation he is explicit about how he is integrating the poem’s words into zine, which he is building as a cookbook. He points out his inclusion of a page dedicated to how to make ‘simple white bread.’ The sentiment here being that the poem deals with slavery and his zine cookbook is pulling that topic out as he puts down in his instructions to ‘lightly beat an egg.’ While the sentiment is not clear to every students, several start are able to see his double meaning. With the example set, Mr. Chance welcomes students to develop their own meanings from the literature they encountered during an earlier webquest and their own lived experiences.

The images above are just a few of the zines students were creating as the class period wore on–an observer such as myself can see each student is taking on the challenge uniquely. Some are writing narratives with hand-drawn images, while others are relying on images cropped and rearranged from magazines. In all cases, students appeared to be pouring a part of themselves into the work both creatively and academically. While only time will tell how involved these students connection to literature and their lives will be, the starting point looks promising, and the students are working hard to express themselves artistically and emotionally.

I look forward to providing an update on the adventure soon. Assuming Mr. Chance will agree to it, we’ll share how he set the project up as well as put his reflection of the process up soon.


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