Patterning Self-Awareness: Our Snake Skins
Words by Daniel Boone Elementary School 5th grade teacher, Gustavo Soto, and teaching artist, Gwendolyn Terry.
How does self-awareness affect our desires? We started the unit looking at snakes and our perceptions of them, then we looked at how different cultures have different views of them and why. We reflected this back onto the students; looking at how they may feel they’ve been misrepresented or misunderstood by something or someone and vice versa. We learned about the principles of design to use basic line work (line control, line quality and line expression) and patterns as a symbolic language. With these ideas in mind the students were asked to consider something they wanted to shed, like snake shed skin, and what is it they wanted to focus on and communicate moving forward with a new skin.
At the onset we weren’t sure if the teaching artists would be allowed to join our Google Meet sessions with students. Since we didn’t get clarification until after starting our project Gwen made some great videos which we pushed out to students on a weekly basis. We also shared some videos about snake facts and myths which were shared via the EdPuzzle site. When students were viewing and listening to the video content they were asked to answer some comprehension questions which helped us to gauge student understanding.
Video #1 – Introduction
Introducing the class with a lesson on Snake perceptions and mythologies.
Video #2 – Shedding Our Skins
Assignment: Positive and Negative Traits
Video #3 – Line Elements
Assignment: Expressing Ourselves Using Line Elements
Video #4 – The Patterns that Define Us
Assignment: Creating A Pattern Using Line Elements That Express What We Want To Shed and What We Want To Grow
The project was completed with the students creating a snake skin that represented personal attributes they’d personally identified as a hindrance and wanted to work on and/or shed. They’d decorated them with patterns created from the different lines they’d made to represent their words/attributes. They then made masks that were decorated with patterns from lines created to represent the attributes/words of their strengths. Our inquiry process changed from our initial idea due to the pandemic and the subsequent remote learning. It morphed more into a dialogue with the students showing engagement and investment in the process, that can be seen in the recordings from classes and in the reflections found in student’s blogs and journaling.
The questions that came out of this project were if we, as the instructors and facilitators, would be able to engage the student enough to actually get them to do the work. Without a physical classroom we couldn’t physically manage them to complete the project. In this situation, if they’re not interested, they didn’t have to come or if they did they could put their computer icon on while physically engaging in something else. So there was a level of trust and interest we had to build upon to maintain their engagement, interest, and commitment to see the project through. On the students end, I believe for many there was some concern about not having ‘the right’ materials at home which opened a dialogue about reuse and repurposing and was also directly addressed and impacted thanks to material packets for the students set up by the CAPE team.