Virtual Student Workshop: Imagination, Everyone’s Superpower

This is a guest post by Kim Waters, an elementary teacher from Florida whose class participated in the Library’s virtual student workshop, Imagination, Everyone’s Superpower

I have been an elementary school teacher in Palm Beach County for 20 years and recognize the importance of finding ways to engage students and their imaginations. Last October, I received an email from my school’s media specialist announcing the Library of Congress was offering a pilot program with virtual workshops for students.

Having visited two years ago, I felt excited; eager to have found an interesting workshop to share with my third graders. I knew this would be a unique experience outside of the daily curriculum. My goal was immediately clear: my class would learn about the Library of Congress and the extensive resources available. This would be an engaging way to introduce the Library and build the students’ excitement for their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. in the fifth grade.

Little boy in Spiderman make up

A young Spiderman in Denver, Colorado, 2015; photographer Carol Highsmith, Prints & Photographs Division

Fond of comic books and comic strips myself, the Imagination: Everyone’s Superpower workshop resonated with me. Knowing how vast and influential the Library’s collections are, I recognized this as the perfect chance to broaden my students’ horizons and introduce them to the world of comics. I hoped this would help hone their ability to explore their own imaginations as well as the creativity of others. Looking at the various comics through the students’ perspectives was inspiring. Many of them hadn’t seen comic books or comic strips similar to those shown from the Library’s collection.

After the presentation, the students shared their favorite moments:

  • A few of the students loved the Eugen Sandow photograph and motion picture while others were drawn to the sea monsters portrayed on the old map where the cartographer utilized both fantasy and reality.
  • Another student enjoyed the quotes from Albert Einstein.
  • They learned that imagination drives inventions and were invited to discuss a few that became reality in the early-mid 20th century.
  • The students shared their desire to explore their own imaginations and discover what characters they could create while doodling.
  • Many said this presentation made them feel more creative.
  • One student declared, “I never knew that imagination could take you so far.” He was referring to all of the inventions created with imagination.
  • Even reluctant students who didn’t think they had the ability to draw were amazed by their own hidden capabilities and gained enough confidence to attempt a comic of their own. This workshop helped build the group’s self-esteem and fits in perfectly with the SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) lessons.

The interactive discussion enabled my students to better share ideas. Examining the purpose behind the creation of each piece opened their minds; their participation allowed them to unlock their own imaginations. This process will reinforce what they learned, allowing for greater retention of this learning experience.

This workshop made me aware of the numerous resources the Library offers my students which I’m now able to incorporate in future lessons. Even at their young age, my students now have a greater appreciation of the Library and its various collections. Access to other topics that arouse their curiosity unlocks a doorway as they’re now inspired to explore and further discover the power of their imaginations.

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