Bulb Archived: Brennemann ATLAS 2015-2018: Foss (Year 2, 2016-2017)

School Name: Brennemann

Teacher Name: Mr. Foss


Below are questions that will help you to complete your Project ATLAS Digital Portfolios.

Directions: Please answer the questions based on a project completed during the 2016-2017 school year.

For each question, please include your written reflections. You are also encouraged to provide other multimedia to deepen your written reflections and exemplify your analysis. Multimedia can include images, sound files, and video clips.

Please annotate your multimedia, describing why you have chosen these particular artifacts, what you are interested in your audience knowing about them, and why they are important to share.

Section I: Arts Integration – Documentation.

Please upload documentation from your project. Please include a variety of media forms for your documentation.

1. Documentation should not only provide a narrative, or story, of your project, but should also provide evidence of students’ engagement in the unit inquiry.

I. Students created dioramas depicting the travel route of slaves escaping from the south to the north based upon the book and concurrent song Follow the Drinking Gourd. Initially, our plan was to create an installation in the art room as a backdrop for a dramatization of the story and videotape the event. Due to scheduling conflicts and space limitations, the students changed opted for the creation of dioramas in place of an installation. Working in teams, students depicting an event from the story that they wished to show and recreated the scene through mixed media painting and sculpture.  

One of the dioramas depicting Peg-Leg Joe waiting in a boat on the Ohio River.

2. Through your documentation, please provide student artifacts that depict the range of work completed. For example, what were the various ways in which students responded to various aspects of the project?

At first, students learned the story and the history behind it. They became familiar with the United States map of the mid-1800s. Secondly, they created drawings and pictoral maps of the routes slaves took to freedom. Students used the maps as blueprints for and installation. The art room floor was graphed with X – Y -coordinates and installation pieces were made. Due to the realities of the physical size of the classroom and its use for other art classes, the project was modified and ideas for the installation were adapted for the smaller scale of dioramas. Events from the story were imagined through visual depictions. 

A drawing of student’s graphed route. 

Section I: Arts Integration – Inquiry

3. What is your Inquiry Question for your ATLAS curriculum unit? What big ideas does this inquiry question address, and why do you think the question successfully addresses these?

4. How did student research help them to engage more deeply with the unit inquiry question? Explain how your students conducted research for their ATLAS project, and how that research opened up avenues for further inquiry.

The Inquiry Question was “How can visual art be used to reenact the story Follow the Drinking Gourd?” The big ideas developed from the theme and message in the text. For example, “How do humans make positive changes in their lives? What resources do they utilize when they take measured risks?” 

5. Describe how the unit inquiry opens up avenues for interdisciplinary connections between the arts and academic content. How did arts processes and/or research practices facilitate students’ understanding of the academic topics addressed in the inquiry question?

The inquiry opened up avenues for interdisciplinary connections when the students decided to use the art room as an installation space. They needed to learn about the geography of the United States; they had to understand how to plan the floor space for an installation and how to draw ideas for the installation within that conceived space; they needed to learn about the constellations and how they appeared in the evening sky; and they had to understand the story and the history behind it so they could comprehend the literary elements used in the text and the art elements the illustrator chose to create the setting and mood for the story.  

6. How did the curriculum evolve based on the unit inquiry process?

Students learned to apply the graphing of coordinates to the creation of a “real space within the classroom.” Students undertook explorations of the history of the era, reading other stories about the Underground Railroad. They studied maps of the United States of the 1800s. They also looked as maps of the stars and the placement of the North Star, the Big and Little Dipper, as viewed from the northern hemisphere during spring, summer and fall. They also analyzed and studied the color illustrations in the book and how the artist used color to create mood and augment literary elements.  

Section I: Arts Integration – Create Works

7. How did students self-direct while creating their artistic work during the ATLAS project? Please provide any examples for the ways in which students made their own aesthetic choices and direction for creating their artwork. Examples might include but are not limited to: how did students make choices about the use of materials, how did they decide what they wanted to communicate, how did they make decisions about how to present work?

Students were learning how to graph points in quadrants based upon an X-Y axis in their math class, they used this knowledge to create an installation floor plan. The floor plan reflected the information about landmarks provided in the text as well as having a relationship to the actual maps of the country at that time. Mixed media materials and tools where explored and experimented with, some to be retained and others to be abandoned based upon their efficacy. Students wanted to learn the song Follow the Drinking Gourd, and they did the art teacher taught students how to play the song on an acoustic guitar. 

8. Please explain what opportunities the students had to reflect on their experiences and react to the work of their peers.

Subjectively, time always felt curtailed for the students who would have liked to work on creating for the entire afternoon, in place of one hour, but we took time for critiques. They were coached in how to talk about their work, how to talk about other’s work and how to question. Reflection took place bi-weekly.

9. How did the students’ artifacts from various stages of the ATLAS Unit impact your teaching practice? Please provide artifacts that exemplify your points. What did you learn about your teaching practice from looking at these artifacts?

The students’ artifacts helped me to check for understanding and to do formative assessments so as to help me with pacing. I also learned about student choice and how to build student choice into the curriculum.

The image led to re-teaching about the constellations.
This image spoke about people taking risks to improve their lives, a message students found in the story.

10. Describe how the students’ work was shared in the school or publicly. Why was this an important part of this unit?

Students shared and presented the work to their class and to other students in their grade, informally, in the art room at the culmination of the unit and the school year. Additionally, a digital portfolio was on view in the ATLAS year end show.

Section I: Arts Integration – Collaboration

11. How did students collaborate at different stages of the project? Examples might include but are not limited to: did the students research together, did they create together, did they critique together, did they present together?

Student collaboration was an integral part of the unit once the literature was reviewed and the floor planned was graphed individually by students. Following this students formed teams and began working on the projects. 

12. In what ways did you collaborate with the students for this unit. How did the students impact the way in which the curriculum was implemented? For example, how did students help you plan, develop, and/or implement the curriculum?

Based upon available resources, materials and time frame, students pursued ideas, planned and implemented their art. Some ideas were transformed, based upon student’s choice, some were abandoned and restarted. We had critiques approximately every two weeks, either briefly at the start of the class, or as a way to close the class.

13. How did you collaborate with other teachers in your school to plan and/or implement the unit?

The math teacher had taught the students how to graph coordinates on the X-Y Axis. This was adapted for visual art and we eventually graphed the room in one quadrant for simplicity. The English Language Arts teacher was consulted on how to teach the idea of theme and how to derive a message from the text, as well as identifying literary elements. The Music teacher allowed access to a guitar for the performance of the title song.

Section II: Technology Integration

14. What was your process for selecting this form of digital media technology? Why did you think this form of digital media technology would be ideal for student learning?

We used the ¡Pad Pro to document our progress and then our results. 

15. How did students use digital media technology to direct their own learning? Provide artifacts to show evidence of how students used the technology to direct their own learning. Examples might include but are not limited to: making choices about technologies to use, using technology to facilitate experimentation, using technology as a research tool, to express themselves artistically, and/or to make meaning of their experiences.

A couple of students were given the job of being interviewers and they interviewed teams at various intervals through the project to ask for the students’ ideas as well as their reasoning for how they made artistic decisions based upon the text.

16. How did you use technology to enhance the learning environment for both you as a teacher and for the students?

Thanks to the technology we had the work available for the show. There would have been no physical way to get all of the products to the gallery site on time without renting a van and hiring help. It would have been nice to have worked with the English Language Arts teacher on how to create and ask salient questions in a scripted way that would also appear natural.

17. In what ways do your chosen technology resources align with your goals and outcomes for student learning? Looking back at the unit, how did the technology meet, not meet or exceed your expectations for facilitating student outcomes.

Technology met our needs on a basic level. Moving into interviewing would be the next step. In the future, allowing students to document the process of the unit would lead to a richer use of the video. Perhaps allowing several ¡Pads to be available would cut down on competition between students and help them to feel at ease with exploring the media.

18. How did the use of technology contribute to students’ application of higher order thinking skills? Examples of student higher order thinking skills include metacognition, self-reflection, analysis, and application of knowledge or skills.

The interview process seemed to help the students stop and reflect. Some of course stumbled with it, while others hammed it up and got a little off topic, but ultimately it brought the students’ thinking into focus and asked them to reflect.

19. How did the use of technology drive student creative artistic expression? Please provide student artifacts that exemplify how technology supported their artistic expression.

I think the technology piqued students’ interest and created novelty around documentation of the work, but they appeared to be most enthralled with working in mixed media painting and constructing. They really enjoyed the tactile nature of sculpting for the dioramas and especially working with color via painting.

20. How did the integration of digital media technology impact your teaching practice?

The use of video and photography during this, our first ATLAS unit, was mostly for documentation and recording the making of our dioramas. I learned that the use of technology as an integrated element of a unit takes a great deal of planning and preparation and can change the course of the curriculum in a positive way.