Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2016-2017: Catarello & Neff

Please respond to the prompts below with your partner. You can upload images, videos and weblinks to enhance your responses to the prompts.


The unit began with an overview of activist art practices and close readings of some activist artworks.


Center and above: We spent time discussing how context (audience, time and place) change the meanings and effects of activist artworks / images.

1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? (Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):

We initially planned to do another project, an outgrowth of our research into teaching curatorial practice in a history curriculum. However, students were “fired up” about current events and clamoring for work on art and more immediate social issues. Therefore, we developed this unit on art and activism.

2. Big Idea:

Art and Social Change

3. Inquiry:

How can art bring awareness and action to contemporary social issues?

4. Grade Level:

6th Grade

5. Academic Subject(s):

Social Studies

6. Artistic Discipline(s):

Art history, curatorial practice, media and messaging

7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:

5 years

8. Please describe your project:

Our project started with the students identifying social issues and the types of activism connected to these issues. We then explore some of these issues deeper and discover how awareness has been represented through art.  Close reads of activism art gave us a platform to analyze strategies used to raise awareness and change effectively through art.  Students select a contemporary social issue and conducted research to produce a written essay.  They then created a activist art to represent their social issue/cause. While creating their work, students were encouraged to consider issues of audience, context and presentation.

Students work on their artworks in the Social Studies classroom studio.

9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:

We were hoping students would become more aware of the social issues/injustices that effect them or that they are passionate about…And realize that they can become activists creating positive change around issues that matter to them. 

10. What surprised you during this project?:

We were surprised by the level of awareness our students already possessed on a number of social issues.  They seemed to embrace the opportunity to project their own “voices” through their art.

11. What worked in this project and why?:

The integration of art history, close reading, and Social Studies research was very effective. This probably has to do with our time allocation for presenting information.

12. What didn’t work and why?:

The studio elements of the project were less effective. We didn’t time this well in relation to students’ research, so they were beginning their art projects before they had a nuanced concept of the intricacies of their chosen “issue.”

13. What was your approach to assessment for this project?:

Students were assessed on artistic product, written work, and in-class discussion.

14. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:

Student artworks were presented within the school and their written reports were shared in-class as presentations.

15. Did sharing your students’ learning occur according to your plan for social engagement in your proposal? Why or why not? Please explain.

We would have liked to move the students’ work further into the school community but were unable to because of time restrictions.

16. How are you as teachers, artists and students social engagers through this work?:

We explicitly connected our work as artists, students and teachers to broad social issues and attempted to engage directly with those issues.

17. Did sharing your project with others influence how you will approach future projects?:

Yes, in sharing our project we realized that in order to add complexity to our visual works we need to change the way that research and production are timed within the unit.

18. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):


Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.


Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

National Core Arts Anchor Standards

Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work. – See more at: http://www.nationalartsstandards.org/content/national-core-arts-standards-anchor-standards#creating

Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.

– See more at: http://www.nationalartsstandards.org/content/national-core-arts-standards-anchor-standards#creating