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 did a similar project last year with younger and , on average, much lower functioning students. In 2015-2016, we had a TON of help, 2-3 teaching aids and a fantastic student teacher. We figured that we could do the project again, focus more on the design and writing, and have the students do much more of the hands on work. It also helped that this was a smaller class of 7 students. The students are enrolled at Vaughn and ICRE-R, which is the Illinois Center of Rehabilitation and Education where they were taking Intro to Design courses in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop so it only seemed appropriate for the project to focus more on the design aspect and the occupational aspect of the project. Another words, people have jobs that are in the area of design and animation so this project was perfect for the students.
2. Big Idea:
We are using the idea that everyone has superpowers to get students with mild cognitive impairment to first discover their own skills and then to create a logo for their own Superhero, in order to better understand and communicate about themselves and to focus on a design project. The other main piece was for the students to work for good in the world. A number of the students in this group are on the spectrum of autism and they have difficulty when it comes to thinking of others or helping others so I felt it was important that they would focus on being a Superhero-one who is an agent for good and tries to save others in one way, shape, or form.
Can we use the idea of designing superheroes and superhero logos to get students to build a design project, to write a back story for their characters, and to get them to focus on the idea of becoming an agent for positive change in the world?
4. Grade Level
Special Education High School Seniors (older 18-21), in their final years of high school.
5. Academic Subject(s):
Creative Writing-ELA, Occupational Preparation-Post-secondary Education, Intro to Design
6. Artistic Discipline(s):
Drawing, Design, Color Theory
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:
8. Please describe your project:
Our project is about being a superhero and helping the world be a better place through it. The students created superhero logos and a superhero background story of each of the characters the students had chosen. Some of the students had secret identities with their character, some decided not to have one, but each of them created a character and designed their logo for good through different scaffold projects. They worked on making large, thick design of their names, color theory, and design layout with creating the logo. They researched superheros and different design aspects by creating their logos. They then worked one-on-one with their instructor on their background story, along with their secret identity, if they had one and what their superpower was and how it was used for good in the world.
9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:
I was hoping this would give them a better understanding of color, design, and creative writing. Students with Autism have difficulty with imagining things and usually work with the concrete so for them to come up with their own character, identifying superpowers, and a design layout besides figure how they can help the world, was a huge deal for them and I feel that they did pretty well. Some of the students had more background dealing with animation and knew more about different superheros and their victories along with their struggles(the human aspect of their hero). A few of the students had little background knowledge in this area, so it was a bit of a challenge in different ways for them since they lacked a foundation or example. This is why I assigned them to watch a superhero movie on TV or Cable as their homework.
10. What surprised you during this project?:
The greatest surprise that I had was their ability to gasp the idea and run with it. Some did better than others in this area but with a few prompts from Chuck and myself, they were up and running with an idea along with a concept of what they would like their character’s logo to be with colors that they had chosen. I also was pleasantly surprised by the students background stories. First, I had them write out their stories on their own and that was interesting since they seemed to copy off of each other’s ideas, which was funny since they didn’t have similar characters but once I sat down with them and asked them questions about their character, they were able to come up with background stories that made sense with their characters superpowers and mission for good.
11. What worked in this project and why?:
The color theory and design aspect, I felt, worked really well for the students. They worked on collages of colors to see what colors complimented each other and what they may have wanted to change in their idea for colors with the logo before they actually made it. They also created a paper version of the logo before the actual vinyl version so they could see what they wanted to add or take away from the logo design. I think it helped to scaffold the project into segments leading up to the final piece so they could learn from any mistakes they may have made as they went along.
12. What didn’t work and why?:
Planning time was scarce so that didn’t work very well for this project. I believe it was due to different scheduling issues and we will work on this next year. I believe it is a simple issue that can be worked out but communication does need to be better between Chuck and myself for the next project. We need planning time without the students being present.
13. What was your approach to assessment for this project?:
My approach for assessment was with each task that was given. We would look at their color choices, how they followed directions, did they chose three or more shapes within their project and did they communicate their needs or advocate when needed. Each of these were assessed along with the actual designing of the piece. This group was able to be much more independent and able to own their characters stories and attributes.
Did the student identify 3 strengths or superpowers to their hero?
Did the student advocate for themselves when needed?
Did the student use at least 3 parts to the shape of their design?
Did the student make color choices as part of the design?
Did the students use tools and materials effectively and safely?
Was the student able to write and communicate their idea clearly, with the character’s background story and the creation of their logo?
14. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:
The students showed and shared their project with the ICRE staff as well as myself, sharing it with the instructors. They even did a superhero project there using Adobe Illustrator. It wasn’t as good as ours but it was still nice to see them really get into the project and be excited about what they created. They also explained their project to other CAPE students that were working with the other teacher, Ms. Bonness, when they came to the exhibit. It was pretty interesting since some of the students were with Chuck and myself, when we had worked on this project with the Sophomore group. They liked the part where we had made the stories and asked the public what was their superpower. They took part in the public/social engagement piece, which was really nice to see.
15. Did sharing your students’ learning occur according to your plan for social engagement in your proposal? Why or why not? Please explain.
We didn’t look at sharing the students learning as part of the social engagement but in the end, it was part of it. They learned how to communicate with their peers in a gallery setting, talking about their own art pieces. I feel that was true social engagement for these group of students.
16. How are you as teachers, artists and students social engagers through this work?:
Well, the teachers and students are both socially engaged with the project and each other as they work through the projects journey. Then they were socially engaged with their audience at the gallery as well as their instructors. They showed them images of their work. I was socially engaged with the instructors through images that I had taken of the project and the students along with the actual layout at the gallery. Chuck and myself were socially engaged through out the project as well as when we were hanging the art work at the gallery. We were also socially engage with the other people that were part of are art group through CAPE, as we chose our layout and space.
17. Did sharing your project with others influence how you will approach future projects?:
Yes, it made me think how we need to have the students come to the opening to be a bit more socially engaged with their audience. They were invited as well as their parents but it always seems to be a struggle to get them to attend. It would be great practice for the students to speak about their art work with strangers and engaging people that they don’t know, having a conversation about their process and what they created. It is very similar to interviewing and I really want the next group to attend, even if I have to make phone calls to their parents to have them come. I feel that we were engaged a bit more this year through the hanging and planning piece of the project. I liked that part but there were some issues on how that was addressed which I discussed with the researcher this year.
That was also another piece of the social engagement. I really liked the idea of meeting with the researcher in a different location other than the school and discussing the points of the project. I think it was helpful for it to be outside the location of the school.
18. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):
CCRA.R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCRA.SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCRA.SL.3: Evaluate a speakers’ point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
CCRA.W.7: Conduct shorts as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCRA.W.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCRA.W.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter times frames ( a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purpose, and audiences.
VA:Cr1.18a: Document early stages of the creative process visually and/or verbally in traditional or new media.
VA: Cr1.2.3a: Apply knowledge of available resources, tools, and technologies to investigate personal ideas through the art-making process.
VA:Cr2.18a: Demonstrate willingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms, and meanings that emerge in the process of art making or designing.