African American Girls Plan Their Own Talent Explosion- Winners!

g. kirklandholmes By g. kirklandholmes, 13th Jul 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

Just say the word, "talent show" or we are going to share our talents! Amazingly the girls went wild with excitement. Eagerly, they began to focus on other girls' talents and not their own. They knew each other well, but mostly through their gifts and talents. To the amazement of the project coordinator, she did not have to plan any part of the "talent explosion" that you are about to read about! These girls were leaders in their own special ways! Meet them!

What is Your Talent?

Everyone introduced themselves in the group. One by one the girls stood up saying their first and last names, their ages and schools that they just finished attending or ones they will be attending during the next school year.

You can learn a lot about the girls with this simple introductory activity. So many of the girls stood proudly, boldly and spoke so everyone could hear them. There were some girls who introduced themselves in a bold manner, but still looked around for support from the other girls. Then there were a few who may have been seen as shy, timid, nervous, afraid or not sure what this experience was going to be like for them.
One thing that I learned was that the girls who may seem to be a little timid had internalized survival techniques just like other girls. Six year-old Laayla let me know right away that she had never been to a camp before and that her mom had never let her come this far away from home without her. If indeed those who work with these girls could take those survival techniques and help the girls use those to empower themselves to do well despite situations and circumstances.

Today is a different day from our introductions. Each of the girls were told that all of them have gifts and talents! Pretty powerful statement to make by an adult before waiting to observe the girls' reactions.

So, what is a talent was the question of the hour. The girls began to raise their hands as some of them were still thinking of responses to this question. Seven year-old LuAnna responded by saying, "It's something that you can do well." Ten year old, Kenisha responded with, "It's something that you are born with, but you won't know you have it until you start developing it." Wow, that was a pretty powerful response. So I took that definition and decided to roll with that one to push the girls just in case they held back on their participation!

What Is Your Gift?

So now that we all know what a talent is, how about a gift? Is a gift any different from a talent? Now, this is an amazing question that certainly called for some intensive thought and thinking. Let's each of us take a moment to jot down on a sheet of paper what a talent is and what a gift could be. Then we will come back together and share our thoughts in unity!

Talents Giftsl

You are born with it You are born with it
It's within you It's within you
Ability to do something Ability to do something well
Able to accomplish Able to accomplish and achieve
Advanced skill Super skill
Something you learned to do Something you excelled in
Special gift Special talent

Well after we stopped, we realized that the two seemed to go hand-in hand. Some felt that a gift had some more defined words such as a super talent or a natural ability whereas a talent could be a natural ability also, but it seems as though you had to work harder at it than just possessing the gift. Agree or disagree, we moved on!

Do Have Something Unique to Share?

Now, we are moving to the initial stage of preparation for our "Talent Explosion." Who has a talent that they would like to share? The girls all started pointing to Arraya! Then they started telling her which of the songs they wanted her to sing. Of course it was one that I had not heard before. So they started saying, Sing, "The Love I Have For You."
So before we started our explorations for this "Talent Explosion" I had forgotten a very important rule. "Please no bad words, no profanity and no sexual inuendos! They said these are good songs. I told them, "Okay, I trust you."

So the first singer came up! I must admit, the girl was so talented I couldn't believe a nine-year-old could possibly sing this way. By this time, imagine now we are in the Computer Lab and there were just the workers and people passing by. Everyone stopped right in their tracks and listened to her sing the entire song. I asked for the name of the song and wrote it down. For that song would be a part of our "Talent Explosion" for sure!

Singing- A Gift from the Soul!

After the first beautiful song, the girls encouraged some of the other girls to come forward because they had heard them singing before also. A few of them said that they didn't know all of the words, so they quickly figured out that they could find them on the computer. So it was that girl's responsibility to print enough copies for all of the girls to sing some parts of the songs with them.

This part of the practicing, planning and organizing became a very important part of this experience for the girls. It brought a wonderful feeling of being recognized and accepted by others that can only be granted by girls who truly believed that they were gifted and talented. This was extra meaningful because the girls knew each other from school and had seen and or heard them perform before.This was like having a talent agent or talent scout come back, find you and inform you of how everyone felt about their performances! Quite an honor!

What was so amazing and special? Every girl sang from their hearts and the depths of their souls! The other girls who were a part of the audience or background singers applauded them every step of the way. Then what happened at the end of the presentation, they gave her a standing ovation- the real kind. One girl was clapped back- mind you this is just a rehearsal!

Pantomine

Three girls decided that they wanted to do a pantomine. They wanted to use the music from a church song, "Can't Run, Can't Hide," by Lee Williams, a well-know African American gospel artists from Mississippi This man was very important to many of the girls. Lee Williams had been to their hometown several times, even when they were younger. The Black owned and operated radio station, well there are two of them in their hometown. This artist's songs were played a lot.

There was something else special about this artist. Most of the girls had family ties in the state of Mississippi. Many of their moms, dads, grandparents, great grandparents and great-great grandparents had moved to this town during the 1950s, 60s and 70s for work. So when they went south, they met many of the people who knew and or also liked this artist. Some of their relatives grew up with him.

So the girls were able to find the song and practiced their pantomime. Their skills were amazing- they never missed actions for any of the words or beats! These girls are going somewhere if they keep developing their talents in this area!

At the end of their presentation, they too received a standing ovation from the other girls.

Acting!

Okay, now came the time of a special request. Several of the girls say that they want to be actresses as the future career. So Keyanna was the leader. She was a leader in many ways. She was outgoing, friendly, kind and always helping others. So, she was the first to come forward with a one-person acting scene. Her acting initially entailed her acting as the mother, the daughter and the medical doctor. Much of what she did originally had very few words. After I understood the full effects of what she was trying to portray, I shared her message with the girls.

Then there were the volunteers who wanted her to choose them to be a part of her act. She selected five girls. The mother (who was dying of cancer), two daughters (sisters), a nurse and a doctor. The mother was on a pretend bed on the floor. When they went to visit the mother, and to find out how she was doing, she asked them for a glass of water. Then the nurse and doctor came into the room. The two sisters who were visiting and had just given mom a glass of water, found out the fatal news. The doctor told them, "I'm sorry she is not going to make it." Mom died and the girls sobbed
and sobbed. That was the end!
It was a very powerful acting scene and I just wondered was this a real scene in any of the girls lives. But never found out. So many of the girls had already shared some very tragic experiences, so I dare not ask unless they freely volunteered or one of the other girls mentioned it! Acting can truly be a very emotional experience whether real or pretend.

Reading!

I divided the girls into groups according to the grade they had just completed and or were going into during the next school term. Being a teacher myself, I knew the risks of this, but didn't want it to appear especially to the older girls that there were some of them I had already suspected that they couldn't read too well. I could tell some of this by their behaviors. There was one girl who was ten years old and the cousin of one of the girls in the camp. She was so different from her cousin. While they were similar in age, she always expected her cousin to take care of her. I just assumed perhaps this was a family value or tradition. If her cousin ventured off and away from her, she would accusingly cause her to come back. So this was a day that I had selected some wonderful African American books designed for the various grade levels. She was at the table with the older girls. After about five minutes she raised her hand and told me
"this book is too hard." Well, I had to think quickly because there were books at the first grade table that were easier, but I didn't want her to think that she would get an easy reader and then try to distract her cousin and the older girls who were reading intensely at this point.
There were two younger girls visiting a relative from another state who were among the youngest in the group. The one who had just completed kindergarten was able to read many of the words or if I told her the word, she was able to read the pages back to me.
So I hesitatingly had this ten year-old read the same book after I had the younger child go to the writing center to write and illustrate about the book she had just read!
Shockingly, the soon to be first grader read more words correctly than the ten year-old.
What was interesting was that the ten year-old was very eager to learn to read. Now, I wished that I knew what her school year was like at her school. But since I didn't have the information, I just provided many more opportunities for the girls to read and write.
We were also going to need readers at our "Talent Explosion." Some of them had asked about doing a choral reading- yes indeed!

Writing!

Writing was a bit more of a challenge for me with the girls. We were going to publish a book featuring the girls, their writing and special experiences. So we began by writing our initial stories in word on the computer. Wow, was this interesting. I am so glad that we had access to so much wonderful technology in the Lab I read two beautiful books that really motivated them to want to write. One of the books was about the mother pleading with the baby to do things that babies do and some that they should not do. They loved the book and it really started a lot of conversation, thought and interest in what they wanted to write as a part of their story. First they had to find a title for their story. It was just hilarious with titles like "The Funny Baby," "The Very Pretty Baby," and many more!

Some of them needed prompting about how they think they were as babies. Some were so serious-minded that if they didn't know, they couldn't pretend. But all in all, we were able to get some words on the paper. Their creativity really showed during this experience- some turned their baby experience into poetry, songs and then their highlight of the day was to do a google images search and find a baby that looked like them when they were little. Wonderful experience. Four of the girls decided to read their baby poems during the "Talent Explosion." Before leaving this area of writing, I must share that once a put a few sample writings of some of the girls up on the screen, this became a big motivating hit. So as each girl got clues or ideas, they became more confident in their writing. But the exciting part is that after they printed their work, they came up and asked me to put it on the screen and read it to all of the girls. They clapped each time one was read! Wow, they proudly encourage each other!

Art

Girls like other children still appreciate arts and crafts. They loved everyone of the activities that we did. Making necklaces, bracelets, belts and even ankle bracelets became a hit right away. They worked for long periods of time making these just like real jewelry.

The next time I decided to allow them to make jewelry by tying knots with the plastic cuttings provided. Trying knots became a big challenge for some of the girls, but pretty soon they also got the hang of it. This allowed them to learn how simple it is to make something by design- just tie knots!

Now the paint was the big hit of the day! I feel like they should allow children to paint everyday that they want to. Being a preschool-kindergarten (multi-age grouping) teacher, the children who wanted to had access to painting at the easels everyday as one of their many choices. It still remained a hit with the children even at the end of each school year. I remember having a parent meeting and inviting the parents to explore the same learning centers as their children. I especially emphasized their trying the easels. They found out even as an adult it could be one of the most relaxing experiences one could ever have- no wonder the children wanted to go there everyday.
Here is one that allowed for maximum creativity and the children asking to repeat the experience over and over again. Popsicle sticks, glue, paper or cardboard, markers and pencils. They started with just the sticks. Then three girls started working on building their hotel rooms. They were going to invite us there. Other girls created a skating rink and some houses and buildings.
Each time they used the popsicle sticks they got more and more into geometry!
They were so proud that they wanted to make sure they took them home. Since all of these girls were African Americans, I had bought skin tone markers and crayons. They loved using them for their self-portrait. Those are hanging on the university campus- they all had brown faces of different shades!

Creative Arts

As this "Talent Explosion" all came together, we are almost ready for our trip to the church where the girls have been invited to perform during the morning worship service.
Since the school buses do not run on Sundays, it was our responsibility along the parents to make sure all twenty-five girls were able to get there. No problem all worked out with family communication forms.

The Creative Arts the last area in preparation for our "Talent Explosion." We now have the dancers, the cheerleaders, the gymnasts and those who wanted to do some physical tricks. So we decided to make some of our own jump ropes, a wonderful experience for all of the girls. We made three types of jump ropes- the first with doubled-over plastic from throw-away table cloths. The second one we made with some wool cloth fabric for the thickness of it. Then at the end, we got rope and tied knots to make our own jump ropes. The girls immediately started jumping individually and moved on to double-dutch jump roping! They each got to take home their own specialized jump rope. We were having so much fun with the creative arts that we decided we would do these at the church during our "Talent Explosion," but we would definitely share our newly learned creative arts gifts and talents with university students, faculty, staff and administration! Wow, we had a "Talent Explosion" that we girls will challenge for the rest of our lives. We spent the rest of the evening at one of our favorite restaurants in town with all of us girls, and the special people who helped make this one of the best days in our lives! Thanks to everyone for a great "Talent Explosion."

Tags

African American Acting, African American Culture, African American Dancing, African American Drama, African American Girls, African American Singing, African American Stories

Meet the author

author avatar g. kirklandholmes
I am an early childhood educator and taught pre-school-kindergarten multi-age grouping classes and early childhood courses at the University of Northern Iowa. I also publish with expertscolumn.com
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Comments

author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
17th Jul 2012 (#)

Wow great piece of writing. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar g. kirklandholmes
17th Jul 2012 (#)

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!

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