"I enjoy meeting my new students every year," said Mark Rougeux. "Meeting them is one thing, however; learning about them is quite another. The profile poster is what I use to help the process."
|A student shows off his profile poster.|
Rougeux teaches both seventh and eighth graders at Mannheim Middle School in Melrose Park, Illinois. He loops with the students, teaching them for two years. An avid hiker, it was on one his longer journeys that Rougeux designed the profile poster, an activity that has students characterize themselves through collage.
Each student selects a piece of construction paper and prints by hand his name within two lines drawn at the top of the page. Then Rougeux uses a digital camera to photograph each student. "When they're posing for the photos, I find that some students love it, some tolerate it, and for some, it's like pulling teeth to get them to pose, or at least smile," Rougeux said. "I learn how some students handle that kind of public discomfort. I respect them if they really don't give in easily, and I try to arrange a photo shoot just for them."
Next, Rougeux brings out a huge box of magazines he's collected. "The students find photos, words, designs, and so on, that represent who they are and how they feel about their world, and they make a collage," he said. "Each picture or design must be accompanied by a short explanatory caption. Students' photos are included in the collage. After gluing their photos and clippings and writing captions, students are encouraged to fill in the empty spaces with designs."
Rougeux learns much from observing his class during this project. He looks for their skill in following directions, their ability to use a ruler to measure and draw lines, and whether they are prepared for class with the proper tools.
Paying close attention to the clippings that the students choose also is illuminating for Rougeux, and he always keeps an eye on his middle school boys. "They'll find the one female underwear ad that I missed in the whole magazine and put it front and center," he quipped. "I've learned diplomacy -- they yield." The clippings tell Rougeux what his students like and dislike, as well as how they feel about such topics as smoking, war, drugs, and more. He accepts almost anything they choose as long as they present it to the class in a responsible manner.
"Where students place their pictures on the paper also is very telling," stated Rougeux. "I find that students who place their own photo at the bottom of the page seem to have a bit less self-esteem, while those who put them in the center at the top have a pretty positive sense of their abilities. Those students who place the photo in the center seem to be all-about-me people who seek attention. I'm not sure what I learn about those who put their pictures upside down, but I'm working on it!"
|Mark Rougeux uses his own profile poster as a model for students.|
When one student pasted his photo face down, Rougeux chose not to challenge him. The student said that he hated his photo and didn't want it on display. After all the posters were hung, he permitted Rougeux to take another picture, and this time he glued it on correctly. "I found the year to be very frustrating for that student because he always had to have things done on his terms," recalled the teacher. "We made the best of it."
Rougeux places students randomly in groups of three or four to work on the project, so they have the chance to meet and make new friends. Because the project is time-consuming, he schedules it for two days of class, and he notes increased conversation among the kids on the second day. He always has on hand a sample poster about himself to use as a model -- which delights the students.
As a course instructor for Walden University's Master of Science in Elementary Reading and Literacy program, Rougeux's focus is on Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and Jung's four learning styles. The profile poster satisfies most of the eight intelligences and includes Jung's styles that represent content mastery, interpersonal relationships, understanding of who students are and how the pictures represent their traits, and self-expression.
"I also try to involve myself in what is called the four principles of diversity while teaching; comfort, challenge, depth, and motivation," added Rougeux. "To that end, I try to make my students comfortable in their new setting. At the same time, they need a bit of a challenge to wake up the gray matter after a good summer rest!"
Photos courtesy of Mark Rougeux.
Article by Cara Bafile
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