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 used the project that we created the year before as a jumping off point. Last year students used photography as their primary medium and the Civil Rights Movement as the historical content for students to use when creating their art. As we reflected on our first project we concluded that although students took stunning photographs and their art work blended together nicely, students did not seem to grasp the idea of breaking through social and political cliches in their photography. Because of this, our goal this year was to stay focused on integrating academic knowledge and student’s social issue of choice using artistic strategies that were modeled, taught, emulated. Our hope was that this approach would help guide the path of our project and also help us better gage student understanding and growth throughout.
2. Big Idea:
Civil Rights and Activism Through Arts
How do we exercise activism through art and what is the current situation of this relationship? What rights are we fighting for today?
4. Grade Level:
5. Academic Subject(s):
6. Artistic Discipline(s):
Photography and mixed media
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:
8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project:
Students took photographs of different forms of activism in their community and used their images as either inspiration or to directly generate art that could highlight an issue important to them. Students produced art that could be easily reproduced into multiples, such as stencils, stickers and posters.
9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:
We really wanted the students to have three main takeaways from this project. First, being able to analyze art by observing, identifying symbolism, and then making inferences about it’s (intended) meaning. Second, we wanted them to put passion into their art by choosing a social issue they believed was relevant and important today. Lastly, we wanted them to use their understanding of history, social justice, and activist art to create works that incorporated these three things.
10. What surprised you during this project?:
Something surprising we encountered was an unexpected position of uncertainty/despair. We came to a point in our project where we both felt as though the students’ momentum had stalled and that they had become disengaged in their project.We were at a loss because we felt that we had exhausted all of our ideas to reengage/inspire the class. We were frustrated and at a loss.
It was at this point when our initial project shifted gears from activism mainly through photography to modern social activism through different forms of art. We looked at activist art from well-known artists like Banksy and Ai Weiwei and explored 5 steps to create political art; use iconic imagery, develop a distinctive technique, tap into the topical, make your art approachable, and get your art out there. Students chose an artist to research to identify and reinforce these 5 steps. From here, students chose a type of political art to create (stencil, poster, sticker, etc.) and began focusing their art on the social issue of their choosing.
11. What worked in this project and why? What didn’t work and why?:
Working with an artist like Niema is a dream. Not only does she bring depth, intuition, talent, and experience to the program, she also helps hold me accountable in maintaining on-going reflection. This reflective element is essential because it generates new or revised project direction/elements that are not only thoughtful, but also very meaningful for the students, the process, the art, and myself. Her reflective nature and open-mindedness are two strengths that I, personally, have found most effective in our partnership.
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 used a portfolio system to assess the students’ learning. This included art work they created throughout the project along with their reflective statements. This system was helpful in assessing students growth and understanding because we were able to clearly see the progression of their work as well as the progression of their thought process.
13. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:
Using chalk spray and their stencils, some students sprayed images of their activist art throughout the school. Ribbons to raise awareness of various types of mental health topics. Stickers and posters to create conversation.
14. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):
SS.IS.1.6-8: Create essential questions to help guide inquiry about a topic. Students will be involved in forming their own inquiry questions/topics to guide their exploration, learning, and also to guide their artistic creations.
SS.CV.3.6-8.LC, MdC, MC: Compare the means by which individuals and groups change societies, promote the common good, and protect rights.