Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2016-2017: Watson & Perez

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

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 strongly believe that when students’ home culture, language and history are included in the curriculum, students feel valued and appreciated. In turn, students have a more positive attitude about learning and about school. Why not teach important content, reading strategies, writing techniques with topics that intrigue them and celebrate their cultural identity? What better way for students to demonstrate what they learn than through art?

Our students at Daley are predominantly of Mexican descent. Daley school is located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. It is a low-income neighborhood which lacks resources and has a high crime rate. Our students face issues such as gang recruitment, violence, crime, poverty plus many other obstacles and challenges as soon as they leave their homes to go to school. Our students at Daley are predominantly Mexican, immigrants, Mexican Americans or of Mexican descent. We wanted to give them the opportunity to address these social concerns brought by their environment while at the same time giving them the opportunity to connect to their native land.

2. Big Idea: Social Justice through Mexican Indigenous Art

3. Inquiry: Does learning about Mexican Native American history and art motivate students to explore historical events related to the concept of culture?

4. Grade Level:

5th Grade

5. Academic Subject(s):

Social Science, Persuasive Writing, Social Sciences

6. Artistic Discipline(s):

Painting, Bead & Yarn Work, Drawing, Transferring, Symbolism

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

2nd Year

8. Please describe your project:

Students studied various Native American tribes from Mexico. They explored tribes such as the Wixaritari/Huichol, the Zapoteca, and the Aztecs amongst others. They researched these native people’s way of life, traditions, religion, and art. Students  explored how these customs, traditions and religion influenced art and how throughout history these tribes have used art as a medium to share their history, traditions, to express beliefs and unconformities about the society around them. With out the use of a written language.

Daley students applied methods of art-making practices from the Wixawatiri/Huichol tribe and created Neilikas, paintings/artwork out of chaquiras (beads) & estambre (yarn) to talk about and advocate about social issues plaguing their communities. Student brainstormed and created many drawing/symbols to talk about their social concerns. These images had to be re-worked many times over. Students chose the strongest images that could resonate with the viewer.

Students also presented a final persuasive writing piece to accompany their artwork. Students will choose a social justice topic they feel strongly about to be covered in their writing piece.

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

How indigenous tribes and past civilizations with non-written histories were able to pass from one generation to the another their own personal histories, beliefs and stories through art. Students to find a deeper connection to their ancestors. Students to be able to find a their own voice as social engagers. Students to be able to discover a new form of communication with out the use of words in order to translate, document or voice what’s going on their community through the use of art just like the indigenous people/tribes/ancient civilization of Latin America/Mexico. A deeper respect to where they come from and how the past can help us put into perspective what is happening now in our world. 

10. What surprised you during this project?:

We had some behavior issues with some of our students. These students at times disrupted the creative focus of the rest of our students. This was due to some diagnosed (and un-diagnosed) behavior problems our students were dealing with emotionally, such as: bad home environment, ADHD, ADD, etc. Due to this, there were many interruptions in our lessons.  As educators, sometimes it’s easy to just focus on the ones who are deeply interested in the project. That concept does not work in types of scenarios. We confronted and addressed this issues and worked with these troubled students. Because we did, we were able to slowly integrate them back into the lesson. These students ended up finishing their Neirikas artwork and played a major role (by the last quarter of our project) in keeping the project organized and running smoothly.  At one point, Mr. Juan-Carlos overheard some of our students with behavior problems encouraging another student to not give up and continue doing the beautiful work he was doing.

11. What worked in this project and why?:

Talking About Social Issues:

Students really enjoyed, drawing and working with yarn & beads. They really respected the connection the art making process had with an indigenous tribe in Mexico. They seemed to enjoy that they were able to address issues or social concerns that they are normally not accustomed to talking about at home. They were really enthusiastic about finishing their work and finishing last touches on their artwork. 

One of our student’s chose the war in Syria. Currently it is all over the news and it caught his attention. All he understood about it was that the U.S. was involved somehow. So he assumed that the United States was at war with Syria. This was discovered thru his drawings. He hadn’t written about it because he did not how. Mr. Juan-Carlos sat with him and they both talked about the issues in Syria and all of the parties involved in this serious matter. They talked about the Syrian people, Assad, Russia and the United States current role. So the student could put it into context (this is a 5th grader). This was able to help him create a Neirika that approached the subject of war around the world. 

12. What didn’t work and why?:

We were teaching our students and working/walking them through the process of investigating and practicing using the tools. We found out our students also wanted to play a role in all aspects of the lesson not just the art making process. They wanted to participate in setting up, cleaning up picking up roles whether it was the bead assorter, the yarn distributor, etc.

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


Teacher generated tests and graphic organizers that were included throughout this unit of study to assure that students comprehend the reading material. Students’ persuasive essay and their art work were the final product to be assessed. The persuasive essay would be scored using a rubric taken from the fifth grade writing program. The final art work would be assessed using a rubric created by the teacher and artist.

Documentation would take place in the form of journal entries for all stages of the project.  Of course, photographs of the beginning, middle and final piece of art would also be included.  

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

We showcased their work on Literacy Night where we could reach more of the parent community. Student work was also installed at CAPE’s Convergence 2017.

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

No. Initially we were just going to display them in the hallway and have a small reception. Instead we showcased their work on Literacy Night where we could reach more of the parent community. 

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

Students used social justice theme from their writing for their art piece using techniques by artisans and artists of the tribe they researched. The final art piece connected the students’ expression with the art style of Mexican indigenous culture. Each student researched artwork of the Wixaritari tribe (Huichol) and what social theme they wish their art piece to convey.  Their artwork became am advocacy tool that communicated social issues, it’s consequences on the victim and those who are causing it. Dialogue in class also focused on the consequence and the variety of ways these injustices have on the community such as: family, friends, neighborhoods, etc.

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

Yes. Next time we will create an opportunity for students to share their work with another classroom. We will encourage them to lead and engage their peers in a dialogue about the social issues that continue to plaque our communities and our world. We will encourage to think about the importance of using the material & resources around them and the many different ways they could be used as a means to communicate, document or be used as a tool for advocacy.

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

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA.LiteracyRI.5.2 Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.RI.5.5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

26.A.2e-Visual Arts: Describe the relationships among media, tools/technology and processes.

26.B.2d-Visual Arts: Demonstrate knowledge and skills to create works of visual art using problem solving, observing, designing, sketching and constructing.

27.B.2 Identify and describe how the arts communicate the similarities and differences among various people, places and times.