Embodied Poetry Idioms for ESL Learning

Project Date

Released into 2 high school classrooms during Spring 2009 and displayed at ASU’s Digital Arts Ranch in April 2009 at my MFA Thesis Show.  Research on this project was presented at ACM Creativity and Cognition 2009.


The Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab or SMALLab — learn more about SMALLab

For this project the SMALLab was used to:

1) create 3D motion paths to drive animations

2) display multimedia projects for peer evaluation and play

About the Project

Embodied Poetry Idioms is a product of the Professional Learning Community of Coronado High School in partnership with ASU’s Embodied Media SMALLab Learning project.  This project in particular focused on creation of student-generated art for the purpose of learning idiomatic language.

The first step in the creative process was brainstorming.  Two groups of English as a Second Language students were challenged to consider both the figurative and literal meaning of their idiom through visuals, movements and sounds. They were also challenged to consider audience and perspective.

The student groups used a worksheet to organize their abstract thinking and brainstorm how they could animate text and visuals to describe an idiom. Students thus had to think about what words to include and how they could bring those words to life through multimedia. In this process they thought about examples of how their assigned idiom would be used in daily language.  The students then transformed these examples into visual and sonic elements that could clue viewers in to both the literal and figurative meaning of the idiom. On their worksheet, students also made lists of the movements they wanted to record with the glowballs in the SMALLab, and how these movements would enhance the composition.

Spread Yourself Thin
The ESL students brainstorm ideas for how to represent the idiom “to spread yourself too thin”

Once students were done with their preliminary designs they moved to the SMALLab to make 3D movement and sound recordings. They also worked in their groups to make visuals and textual elements for their compositions. Once they had created their movements, textual elements, sounds, and visuals, students then worked with SMALLab media artists to program their compositions.

Spread Yourself Thin from Sarah Hatton on Vimeo.

Students shared their works first in their classrooms and then they moved to the SMALLab to look at the opposite class’s artworks. During sharing, students looked at the other class’s compositions and had group discussions about four key concepts: 1) the figurative meaning of the idiom 2) the literal meaning of the idiom 3) examples of when you would use the idiom 4) the idiomatic phrase. The compositions were also shared with the local community in an art exhibition along with other Embodied Poetry compositions made by ASU students, faculty and staff.

Documentary Video

Say it Like You Move it: A Documentary from Sarah Hatton on Vimeo.

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