Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2017-2018: Conde & Neff

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.): 

Ravenswood is an arts integration school following an inquiry-based learning model. The practical and interpretive skills involved in curatorial practice integrate well with this educational ethos and style. Our curricular design allows us to use the work products from our CAPE-funded units as tools for school-wide, cross-subject inquiry.

2. Big Idea: 

How self-portraits shape our senses of self-identity; how they effect others’ views of us

3. Inquiry: 

How does creating and circulating photographic self-portraits shape our self-perception? How does it effect the ways that others see us?

4. Grade Level: 

7-8

5. Academic Subject(s): 

Language Arts, Social Studies

6. Artistic Discipline(s): 

Curation, Photography

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

8 years

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

In this unit, students produced a series of self-portrait photographs as a way to learn photographic techniques, the art history of portraiture, and to consider the ways in which photographic portraits shape and reinforce identities. Students first learned the elements and principles of photography, producing their own illustrated “digital dictionaries” of technical terms. Then, they looked at and discussed a discussed a diverse collection of self-portraits from throughout art history, concentrating on how the composition of the image effected viewers’ senses of sitters’ identities. This portion of the unit integrated analytical skills and writing exercises. Finally, students used what they learned to create a group pf self-portraits accompanied by written artist statements discussing how they had chosen to depict themselves and why. Students curated their photography throughout Ravenswood Elementary as a final element of the project.`

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

  1. Basic photographic skills 
  2. How self-portrait images circulate, especially how curatorial practices transform images 
  3. How to write about and discuss photographic images productively 

10. What surprised you during this project?: 

We were surprised by how clearly student “voice” came through in successive projects over the course of the unit, as students familiarized themselves with, and developed competency with, photographic techniques and art-historical discourses. 

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

What worked: We empowered students to create images and stories of their own lives. This was an important direction for Kitty throughout the year.

What didn’t work: We were unable to guide some students into a deeper engagement with self-portraiture; they remained at the social-media-ready level of self-portraiture.

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.) 

We pre-assessed student learning through a classroom discussion and associated notes responding to the question, “What is a selfie?” Later in the unit, retiring to this question, students used a communally designed rubric and assessment structure to evaluate their own final projects. 

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

Students shared their intentions and processes through written artists’ statements. These statements accompanied student-curated displays of their self-portrait series within the public spaces of Ravenswood Elementary. In the curatorial process, we as teachers stressed the ability of siting and display techniques to amplify the meanings of photographic images. 

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

This unit engages both Common Core standards for “Creating” (generating, developing and refining artistic works) and “Presenting” (students had to curate their projects in the school’s common spaces).