Picturing Tableau – A Night at the Museum
by Abigail Wood, Pinnacle High School
I recently had an amazing opportunity to visit the Phoenix Art Museum with my English class and many other students. My English teacher, Ms. Katherine Fizz, has given her students the privilege to explore literature and art in all different forms, and visiting this museum was one of them. She welcomed not only all of her honors English Language Arts classes, but also any of her other students that wanted to have this experience as well. I decided to take my whole family with me. My mom, also an English teacher, loved the opportunity to go and see firsthand what I’ve been taught and how I am now able to analyze and take in cultures that are very different from our own.
Another unique thing that Ms. Fizz brings to the classroom is called a Tableau. This is a representation of a word, phrase, or entire being in the form of body movements. We use these in class to assess our knowledge of certain subjects, in a way that isn’t just the scripted definition on paper. Personally, I enjoy being challenged and assessed in different ways that go far beyond just memorizing answers and writing them onto a piece of paper. Miss Fizz explained to us that “tableau offers students an opportunity cultivate 21st century skill sets that cannot be found by bubbling in scantrons. When students tableau they are creating, communicating, collaborating, and critically thinking on their feet”. We even incorporated them into our visit at the art museum, depicting paintings and poems in the form of Tableau. This type of learning is experiential and speaks at every level to all visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners and is a lot of fun.
The Phoenix Art Museum hosts a diversity of art such as more contemporary pieces like a digital picture projected onto a wall, or ancient vases and paintings of historical figures. There were even exhibits made from simple materials such as burnt wood turned into visually stunning art displays. The crowd favorite was the “Kehinde Wiley, A New Republic” gallery. Kehinde portrays paintings from history in a new way, with new, modern African Americans in place of the original historical figures. I was intrigued that he decided to express his art in this way, depicting modern people such as Michael Jackson in his paintings. That gallery was one of many that really just blew my mind.
Our Principal, Chad Lanese, also attended the event and was able to experience first hand what Ms. Fizz accomplishes with her students. We love how Ms. Fizz lends a deeper understanding of the world through experiential activities and the difference in cultures around the world.
“Teacher innovation is something we always encourage in education and Ms. Fizz has provided a great example of that through the Night at the Museum experience. She does an exceptional job of blending the arts with literature and this culminating activity illustrates that idea very well. The end result is that students are engaged through a meaningful experience. I look forward to future events of this nature,” Mr. Lanese shared with a smile.