Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2017-2018: Carlstrom, Scully, Morado, Wedoff & Malmed

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.): 

This is the second year that Jesse and I (Courtney) have worked together. This year we were lucky enough to have the 2nd graders, 6th graders and our drama teacher to be included in our project. We decided to expand on what we did last year with our students. Last year we decided to focus on our students’ culture. This led us to this year’s project, which we still focused on our students’ cultures but we were curious as to how different aged students would learn and express their ideas both through visual art and performance.

Because the project was so new to us, with new teachers and art forms, we left it very open-ended and started only with themes of background, culture, and identity. We had students draw pictures that expressed an aspect of their families or their cultures. In drama, students did movement activities in which they explored words and phrases that they identified with. We wanted to see what the students would bring and build off of that. 


2. Big Idea: 

Identity, Culture and Celebration 


3. Inquiry: 

How does my identity, culture, and community connect me to the world? How is culture constructed? How is one’s identity shaped by cultural forces? Who am I? Who are we? And who are they? How do our families and friends help to create our sense of self and of community? How does our sense of self change as we grow?

4. Grade Level: 

K, 2, and 6

5. Academic Subject(s): 

Social Studies


6. Artistic Discipline(s): 

Drawing, Painting, Performance, Social Practice

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

Jesse and Courtney for two years, for everyone else this was the first year. 


8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project: 

K: They worked on making pictures and paintings that represented themselves. We also did some group paintings, and drawings. These turned into the decorations in our party space.

2nd: In 2nd grade, students were learning about various cultural traditions that their family celebrated, using a culture interview, poetry, and art to display aspects of their family’s heritage. Students drew pictures of celebrations or parties that their family had, focusing on conveying the emotions, sounds, and energy of a party in their drawings. Students added details, colors, and text to their pictures to convey the energy of their party. Later, students brainstormed aspects of a celebration, planned components of the party, created colorful decorations, and made invitations. The celebration drawings, name art, party decorations, and invitations were all a part of our culminating party.

6th: In 6th grade social studies, the students were investigating who they are and the different aspects of their identities. So the students started by drawing a representation of a family member’s birthday party. They were asked to think about their families and how they thought they would have celebrated a birthday and work from there. The students used colored pencils and paper to create a representation of a party. From there, they zoomed in on one part of the party and used that part of the picture to create a new picture. Then, they were asked to make shapes from their new pictures. All of the art created was used as decorations for the final coming together party!


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

K: I was hoping that the students would learn more about who they were as individuals but also who we were as a classroom. A lot of kindergarten discussions are very surface level. I love that the students were able to learn about each other through this process. I also love that the songs they shared during our celebration had them working together as a whole class. These are lessons are hard to learn while just sitting in the classroom and adding drama class into this was great for them.

2nd: I was hoping my students would learn more about their heritage, cultural traditions, and how to express themselves and their unique identities through art. My class is wonderfully diverse linguistically and culturally, and we have been learning about each other’s cultures and identities all year through our social studies and ELA curriculum. I was looking to this partnership as a way for students to explore their identities and learn more about themselves and their peers.

6th: I hoped my students would learn how to be comfortable being creative and not so structured. They are always looking for a “right” way to do things and I wanted them to feel success even if it didn’t feel “right” to them. I wanted them to explore their cultural and personal identities and want to express that through art.


10. What surprised you during this project?: 

Having all three grades mesh so well really surprised us. We were hoping to find a way for it to work. I was honestly surprised how everything came together at the end! I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure where we were going with it, and it all just made sense at the party and at the Convergence! I was also surprised with how much my 6th graders were willing to share. Had this been the beginning of the year, I’m not sure they would have been as willing to share as much about themselves.

2nd: I was surprised that my students were expressing so much of their identities through “mainstream” culture, instead of drawing on their heritage languages or traditions. They were honing in on aspects of culture like Taylor Swift’s new single, instead of focusing on the beautiful traditional music that their parents shared with them. I think I was surprised by that blend of identity I was seeing in many of my students; like they were losing some aspects of their heritage culture. However, students were able to express how they mix aspects of their culture together. 


11. What worked in this project and why? What didn’t work and why?: 

What was amazing and worked so well is when we decided to work with three grade levels.

K: I think that with this group of Kindergartners we needed to start sooner. I think they would of benefited from more times to meet with Jesse and maybe shorter sessions. But overall I feel that the outcome was still a success.

2nd: I also think it would have been helpful to have more time; it was hard to sustain both the content development and the creative process with only 45 minutes a week. I think students’ self-concept really came through in the cultural celebration projects that they completed, as well as in their name projects. The bridge between the artistic expression (in art and in drama) and the social studies curriculum was effective.

6th: I agree with Courtney. I would have liked my students to have a little bit more time with Jesse 🙂 Also, if I were to do it again, I would make more time for reflection. I would ask my students to do some writing around what they were working on to better bring it together for them.

Drama: Having all three grade levels work together and see each others work at the party was more gratifying that I possibly could have imagined. In the future, I would like to and beginning and middle all grade sessions for the different grade levels to interact at different stages of the process.


12. How did you assess student learning?: (ex. Was it formative or summative? Was it a written, verbal or performative based assessment? Were students provided with teacher or peer feedback? Did you use a rubric or portfolio system? Etc.) 

K: For the kindergartners we used a lot of verbal assessment. Were they able to communicate information about their culture and identity? Were they able to answer questions about their identity and culture and ask questions about others in the classroom?

2nd: We did a lot of informal observation of students working on their celebration pictures, and interviewed students about their culture and traditions. We also held discussions and built in time outside of the art block for partner work, interviews, and presentations. I agree with Alice though; I’d like to incorporate more student reflection pieces into the program in the future.

6th: We used more discussion as assessment as well. In drama the students performed. Again, if I were to do it again, I think I would like to build in more formative assessments along the way.

Drama: Lots of informal observation of individual students and group dynamics/interactions. Students also watched other groups to reflect on whole group’s work. 2nd grade completed a reflection worksheet and 6th grade wrote reflections showing their personal takeaways of the culminating party and the process in general.


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

6th: I shared with our school via Class Dojo.

2nd: We got families involved with the culture interview, and by creating the invitations to the party. 

K: I shared with our school and our families using Class Dojo. Also the Kindergartners made posters that represented their cultures, and they showed them off to the community and school during our culture event.

The greatest impact on the students was getting to share with the other grade levels. 


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


Common Core


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.


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.


SS Standard: Culture is a way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs, values, and customs.

National Core Art Standards:

Creating: Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

Anchor Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Hibbard Transfer Goals: Long-Term Transfer Goal: Students will develop cultural awareness to actively participate in the global community.