Surrealist Stories

Matt Milkowski
with students at Kenwood Academy, Chicago


Students write and play with narrations for a sequence of images, to investigate ways text and images alter each others' meanings.

Materials: slide projector; 10 random, engaging, images with narrative elements (people, actions, or places), 10 small strips of paper, 10 boxes labeled 1-10

1. Instructor shows students the first image.
2. Students write down the very first dialogue, narration, or thought that comes to mind, no matter how unusual on paper strip 1.
3. Teacher repeats this process for images 2-10.
4. Place strips into the corresponding boxes ( strip1 in box 1, strip 2 in box 2, etc...)
5. Teacher shows the 10 images again, each time choosing a strip at random from the corresponding box, and narrating it to the class (a student may narrate). Students may tape these strips to a piece of paper to save the narration.
6. Repeat step 5 a, creating original stories for the images each time.
7. Lead a discussion on ways text and imagery impact each others meaning.

Lesson Expansion:
1. Use 10 images that illustrate a common tale or fable (jack and the bean stock)
2. Have students cut images from magazines, and tack on the wall. Then cut random texts, and paste under images at random. Repeat dialogue from step 7.