Mayah’s Lot in Action

Video by Jeff LaGreca

With the generous support of the Northstar Fund’s Greening Western Queens Fund, CUER spent Spring 2013 and Fall 2014 working closely with fifth grade students at PS85Q in Astoria Queens.* In 8 weeks of meetings, students exercised their close reading skills on Mayah’s Lot and learned about environmental justice. Along the way, students picked up lessons about environmental conditions in their own neighborhoods, as well as about civic engagement and citizen science along the way.

As part of the program, students worked with artist Charlie LaGreca to create their own environmental justice heroes and villain. Given PS85Q’s close proximity to the elevated N/Q train, the students unanimously voted to make the train noise their environmental villain. Each class then created its own hero to do battle with the noise villain.  Creating their own stories built around the hero and villain, students worked in pairs to make their own comic books using ComicLife computer software.

The student-created comics are big on creativity. The Mayah’s Lot pre- and post-tests demonstrate they learned quite a bit about administrative law, environmental justice, and fact-based reasoning. Mayah’s Lot turns out to be an effective teaching tool, one that reaches reluctant readers and star students alike.  And, best of all, it is loads of fun

* CUER also ran a separate, related program at PS122Q in Spring 2013.