Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2016-2017: Oberman & Kato

“We are History” Creative Process & Final Showing  videos:

“We are History” Creative Process
“We are History” Final Showing

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.):

The CPS curriculum for Third Grade Social Studies is Chicago, but we wanted their experience with the material to be meaningful, transferable, and relatable. Students went on a field trip to Chicago History Museum to reflect upon the whole picture of Chicago History they are going to learn and also to pick out their interested area of focus.

2. Big Idea:

We are History Makers.

3. Inquiry:

What is our responsibility as citizens of Chicago to know about events that have previously taken place?

4. Grade Level:

3rd Grade

5. Academic Subject(s):

Social Science (History)

6. Artistic Discipline(s):


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

This is the first year for Dani & Ayako, passed down from Emily Victor who worked two years with Ayako to Dani.

8. Please describe your project:

The students got to pick an event in Chicago’s history to research and create a newspaper article for. Based on these events, Ayako grouped them into categories with music after the students brainstormed how they envisioned the movements working for that particular event. Using the students’ choreographed ideas, Ayako and I worked with the students to make sure that their vision was portrayed. The final project was a choreographed dance and interpretation of Chicago’s history. 

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

Students will recognize deeper reason why they are socially “here” now. Then, they will start to see relationships between themselves and parents, others, school, community and Chicago in relation to Chicago History. They will perceive history as not something plastic, but something still alive and from there, creation of movement. The students will also recognize that they are a part of a current history taking place and they are paving the way for future generations.

10. What surprised you during this project?:

Dani: I was shocked at how abstractly and creatively the students thought about the deliberate movements they chose to represent the events in Chicago’s history despite the lack of creative time given to them in school (we do not have a Music class and Art class is only one hour each week). They were able to connect history that had taken place years before their existence with the impact it had on their lives today. 

Ayako: Students of Henry at 105 surprised me with their level of focus, interests, and determination to create this dance work on history. Normally, students take so much time to develop and learn movement phrase and remember the sequence, entrance, and exit during the piece. Yet they ended up creating this epic 20 minute Chicago History “We are History” dance in 15 hours.  

11. What worked in this project and why?:

The reasons why the project was very successful is:

*Dance motivated students to research and learn history

*Allowed students to improvise and build and solidify the dance work through rehearsals overtime

*Exercised how to make dance 

*Generated responsibility and empathy by every student being choreographers and dancers

*Early music selection and let students move with it

*Classroom teacher’s extra hour and effort to reherse with students

*Long hour visit (not one hour, but 90 minutes each) by a teaching artist

A student is filling out Choreographic Chart

Ayako: This time, the dance part of the lecture began from Introduction to Dance History along with video, looking at Dance History Tree Chart, and a two page Dance History handout provided after the lecture to review. 

From the handout, students learned the different types of dance such as: Social, Ceremonial, Folk, Martial, Religious, Street, Competitive and Concert dance. Also they learned how the western concert dance developed from ballet to contemporary dance. Students learned some art, dance as well as history related vocabularies such as abstract, choreographer, improvisation, postmodern and contemporary. 

This time, students experienced a practice session of how to create dance from one motion of “dubbing.” It was the first answer came out from them when I asked what they imagine when they hear “movement.” They leaned formation, unison, canon, repetition, mirroring, reverse-mirroring and more to construct and build up movement as choreography, moving to their favorite pop song. Receiving another Developing dance handout upon how to make dance, students exercised with Dani even out of the sessions. Dani created Choreographic sheet and students drew their images/ideas of formation and movement to initiate the historic dance section they selected. 

First movement! Dubbing!

The class had only 17 students and that also helped for them to work tightly. Dani and I expected them to be both choreographers and dancers. For each section of their choices, we assigned two choreographers each to work as a team. Students expressed 12 historical events as the ensemble, having from eight to seventeen of them in each group: Native Americans, Early Settlers, The Battle of Fort Dearborn, Civil War, Chicago Great Fire, River Reversal, st Valentines’s Day Massacre, The Construction of O’Hare Airport, The Great Chicago Blizzard of 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. Marches in Chicago, Sears Tower Completed in 1970, Obama Speech in 2008. 

This time, to make students feel easier to practice and create movement, music selection was done earlier than usual right after the sections were clarified. Also rather than using all the different music for each section, only four pieces of music were used. Therefore, each scene became concise. Dani worked with students to rehearse other than the time Ayako was coming.  

Overall, things I prepared: lecture with dance history handout, how to choreograph handout, and Dani’s choreography chart, early music preparation, allowing structured improvisation to move with flow of music, not always exactly with the rhythm and melody of music and not with exact movement helped students to keep developing the work and feel more open to dance. 

Dani: The kids really took ownership of this project. The preparation ahead of time was key and helped us outline the necessary steps to take for the kids to experience true success and meaningful learning. Ayako came in with a very useful timeline and that allowed us to prepare the kids for future lessons. 

12. What didn’t work and why?:

Ayako: I tried to let students work faster when I came in. Yet time takes for them to think, discuss, create and build up. I truly appreciated Dani’s and students’ hard work between sessions. Thanks to that, what I did in class was giving them feedback to give them more hints to be expressive, changing facing or new ideas to develop the dance movement better.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dani: There were times where the students were at a standstill because of time constraints or not knowing what to do because they just hadn’t been exposed to enough forms of dance or choreography. Ayako did a wonderful job with the lecture and showing them forms of dance but it would give the students a much better variety if this material was given to them throughout the entirety of the school year.

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

As I wrote above, I gave students feedback  during  rehearsals. They were just beyond my expectation all the time.

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

The progress was displayed and shared amongst other grade level teachers that were teaching the same material to their students. The students also shared their learning with their families at home. The final performance was given to second and third grade classrooms, the performers’ families, and school administration.

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

Yes it did! The students were able to share their work with their peers, future third graders (I received feedback from the second grade team that the students expressed heightened excitement to come into third grade), their families, and administration. If possible, I would have loved to extend the performance to the fourth grade, but our school schedule did not allow for this.

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

The teachers and artists are critical in the learning process. We had to show passion and interest in the work in order for the kids to buy into it. In order for students to feel comfortable throughout this process, we as teachers and artists had to show willingness to grow and step out of our comfort zone as well. Allow the students creative time with feedback was invaluable. The students needed time to play with concepts and feel successful with each other. Ayako and I praised their ideas and made them feel like their work was truly important. If not for this component, the project would not have been as successful. 

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

Definitely. As stated before, I would like to open this up to fourth grade especially next year because my students can see how their work in here transferred. This also allowed for reflection and how to make future projects better with some tweaking. 

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


Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

-During the students’ research for their newspaper articles, students will be required to read informational text and make cause/effect connections. For example, “The Great Chicago Fire was so dangerous because (event 1), (event 2), and (event 3) happened.” Their articles will be written in chronological order.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.

-In order to read informational text about Chicago, students will have to understand and use appropriate vocabulary to communicate with their audience.


Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.

-While conducting research on Chromebooks and informational texts, students will be using text features to support their ideas and expand upon them. They will learn helpful search techniques (glossary/index of a book, key words to use when searching a topic on the computer, what kind of sites are reliable and why).


Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

-We will be exploring how images help enhance the learning experience. With more information, the students will be able to better communicate with their audience.


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

-During discussions, students will work collaboratively with one another when discussing what should be included in the news article.

Core Arts Standards: Dance

Grade 3


a. Experiment with a variety of self-identified stimuli (for example, music/sound, text, objects, images, notation, observed dance, experiences) for movement.

b. Explore a given movement problem. Select and demonstrate a solution.



Process Component: Plan

Anchor Standard: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Grade 3


a.Identify and experiment with choreographic devices to create simple movement patterns and dance structures (for example, AB, ABA, theme and development).

b.Develop a dance phrase that expresses and communicates an idea or feeling. Discuss the effect of the movement choices.



Process Component: Revise

Anchor Standard: Refine and complete artistic work.

Grade 3


a.Revise movement choices in response to feedback to improve a short dance study. Describe the differences the changes made in the movements.

b. Depict directions or spatial pathways in a dance phrase by drawing a picture map or using a symbol.



Process Component: Express

Anchor Standard: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

Grade 3


a.Judge spaces as distance traveled and use space three-dimensionally. Demonstrate shapes with positive and negative space. Perform movement sequences in and through space with intentionality and focus.

b.Fulfill specified duration of time with improvised locomotor and non-locomotor movements. Differentiate between “in time” and “out of time” to music. Perform movements that are the same or of a different time orientation to accompaniment. Use metric and kinesthetic phrasing.

c.Change use of energy and dynamics by modifying movements and applying specific characteristics to heighten the effect of their intent.



Process Component: Embody

Anchor Standard: Develop and refine artistic technique and work for presentation.

Grade 3


a. Replicate body shapes, movement characteristics, and movement patterns in a dance sequence with awareness of body alignment and core support.

b.Adjust body-use to coordinate with a partner or other dancers to safely change levels, directions, and pathway designs.

c.Recall movement sequences with a partner or in group dance activities. Apply constructive feedback from teacher and self-check to improve dance skills.



Process Component: Present

Anchor Standard: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

Grade 3


a.Identify the main areas of a performance space using production terminology (for example, stage right, stage left, center stage, upstage, and downstage).

b.Explore simple production elements (costumes, props, music, scenery, lighting, or media) for a dance performed for an audience in a designated specific performance space.

Classroom teacher Danielle Oberman discussing with students to categorize historical events.