Bulb Archived: Disney II ATLAS 2015-2018: Barnhart & Brown-Rivera (Year 2, 2016-2017)

School Name: Disney II Magnet Elementary

Teacher Name: Kent Barnhart & Myriah Brown-Rivera

Section I: Arts Integration – 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.

We looked at how the Native American’s made choices and what impacted those choices prior to colonization. We looked at colonist’s choice and then the impact they had on the Native American way of life.

Identity and Culture: The interactions of identities and cultures produce varied perspectives, challenges, and opportunities within and among societies. Big question: Why do cultures come into conflict?

Identity and Culture: Identity is shaped by dynamic interactions between: individuals and groups; agency and structure; nature and environment. Big Question: What makes people who they are? What things shape identity?

Inquiry Question: How do cultures make decisions about resources and how they are used to meet the needs of the members.

The students were introduced to Native American culture through music in the form of celebrations and dances. YouTube was used to present authentic celebrations so the students  could observe and discuss what they watched. We observed concrete items followed by making inferences as to the importance of the celebrations and artifacts used. 


Living Earth Festival at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian – Pokaton Band of Potawatomi Indians Drum and Traditional Dance

Next we allowed the students to research tribes of their choice looking for celebrations and artifacts during their Language Arts time. We discussed how the Americans made things they needed from their surrounding biome to let them know we will expect their creations to also be made from materials found in their home biome.  Students will also be writing about their selected tribes celebration and how they will make their artifact, but will not allow drums or weapons to be constructed. Three steps will be needed to design the artifacts – drawing in 2D, 3D rendering in TinkerCAD (https://www.tinkercad.com/) and finally making the artifact. Finally the students will be responsible for documentation of the writing and artifact creation by uploading three items:Writing/TinkerCAD design and Photo of  their artifact into a class slide show. The slide show will be used for presentation as well as a culminating Walking Gallery of the student created artifacts.

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?

Moose Mask 

Slide Show links showing student work – three items 

  • 1 written report of celebration and artifact
  • 2 TinkerCAD design of artifact
  • 3 photo of artifact created from readily available home materials

5th Grade Blue –


5th Grade Yellow


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?

  • Inquiry Question: How do cultures make decisions about resources and how they are used to meet the needs of the members.
  • Big Question: Why do cultures come into conflict?
  • Big Question: What makes people who they are? What things shape identity?
  • Identity and Culture: The interactions of identities and cultures produce varied perspectives, challenges, and opportunities within and among societies. 
  • Identity and Culture: Identity is shaped by dynamic interactions between: individuals and groups; agency and structure; nature and environment.

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 students used their Chromebooks to explore their own interests of US regions, tribes, types of celebrations and artifacts. Those who may be interested in how food was hunted/gathered or grown could go that direction while students who were more interested in how early Americans clothed themselves could delve into the preparations of animal hides or students who wanted to pursue how music was used as a means to celebrate and what instruments were used could make their own rattle or flute. This led to huge student buy in for the project and of course we loved the idea that when time came for the presentations they would be teaching each other about early Americans celebrations.

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?

We included visual arts – artifact drawing, multimedia arts – Tinker CAD 3D design program and music – demonstration videos at the beginning, which touched 3 of the art forms and taped into the students creative sides. The Language arts and Social Studies curricula were approached in a creative way to give the students an alternative to only researching and writing a report. With the end goal in mind of creating an artifact used in a specific celebration from a specific tribe and from a specific US geographical region the students had to focus on what they needed to find out through electronic research. This was also a point were the teachers could reinforce checking the validity of websites and evaluating sources of content. The writing component didn’t loom over the students who had more difficulty with this process as they could see the bigger picture of the project and realize the writing was just a portion of their tasks. Being responsible for documentation was a neat addition to the integration project this year and gave them more ownership of the finished project.

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

Inquiry Question: How do cultures make decisions about resources and how they are used to meet the needs of the members. 

Students research lead them to discover what was needed for the specific artifact in use for the chosen celebration activity. Students had to figure out how the studied group got whey the needed and how this was accomplished then how could the student achieve the same outcome.

Big questions: Why do cultures come into conflict? AND What makes people who they are? What things shape identity? The Americans had conflicts with the early settlers pushing westward and often were forced out of the area they had been in for generations. This lead to a change in how tribes fulfilled their needs for  food, behavior and celebrations.

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?

The students started with pictures/videos they found in their research that showed the artifacts they wanted to create. The drawings made as step 1 in the creation process gave them the opportunity to deviate from the original item if they chose but most simply drew what they found. Step 2 Learning the new 3D CAD software was challenging and it let them explore a bit more in the three dimensional realm and start to figure out ways to build their own version of the artifact based on what they may have at home for construction materials. The third step of the building process occurred at home and compared to the TinkerCAD designs most came out as rendered in the software program. During the design process both teachers questioned why certain aspects of the artifact were chosen to nudge the students into thinking about why something looked or functioned the way that it did and what other options could be pursued as to: colors, design, size, use in the celebration and materials used in the original as compared to what they may have at home. Self direction occurred at varied levels depending on actualization of steps in the research with the end project in mind. Mentoring was encouraged from other students and helped motivate some students to think for themselves as they saw this same activity in their piers. 

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

Reflection occurred most days of integration and during Language arts. Both teachers asked question of the students to encourage more thought throughout the project. They reacted to works of their piers as they uploaded their own projects into the slide show and during the walking gallery at the end on the project. 

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?

It was glorious to see the varied interests the students pursued. I found joy in seeing them guide themselves to learn about their chosen tribes.  I learned about their strengths and weaknesses by seeing how they researched and what information they uncovered. This gave a lot of individual attention to all as two teachers were available to ask questions and gently urge them on. It’s possible to have multiple avenues for discovery rather than a single project done by all and this allows greater student growth because they chose their own topic. As I viewed the first two steps of the three step artifact construction process (1 2D drawing, 2 3D TinkerCAD design) I could ask questions of the students to help them understand why and how certain choices of the tribes were made without having to be an expert on each.

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

The artifacts were on display in the classroom and were shared with three grade levels  by the classroom teacher as they came in for their regular class times. The Culminating Activity, a walking gallery,  was used for the whole grade level participating in the integration project to see and hear about what their friends accomplished. The uploaded slide shows will be an electronic portfolio available to each student.

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?

Collaboration occurred regularly as students researched we asked them go and see another’s results and to ask questions of them and then we would send others to mentor students in need of help. As they practiced on TinkerCAD both teachers let them know that we were novices and learning as they too were learning the new commands and functions of the software program and in need of help from them and encouraged them to help others too. As someone would show us a new function within the CAD program we would have them share it immediately with the class using the video output from one of our laptops so all could see and then practice on their own CAD drawings. As CAD drawings became clearer and more detailed we hailed these to the class as prime examples giving both positive feedback to the creators of the design but also higher goals to those who were just getting by and needed to see someone of their own age succeeding. When we knew the child was comfortable with their 2D drawing or 3D drawing we asked if we could show it to the class and then asked the class questions about it and how it might be used and improved.

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?


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

I met with Myriah Brown-Rivera at the beginning of the school year to decide in what quarter we should meet and to get ideas for the curriculum she wanted to cover. I also shared the ATLAS needs and we discovered that Q3 would work best for both of us. We checked in during Q2 and ironed out more specifics about the unit, and end project, use of TinkerCAD, two videos I would use as celebration examples of American Tribes, and 2 Big Questions and 1 Inquiry question written by Myriah: Identity and Culture: The interactions of identities and cultures produce varied perspectives, challenges, and opportunities within and among societies. Big question: Why do cultures come into conflict?

Identity and Culture: Identity is shaped by dynamic interactions between: individuals and groups; agency and structure; nature and environment.Big Question: What makes people who they are? What things shape identity?

How do cultures make decisions about resources and how they are used to meet the needs of the members.

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 wanted the students to create an artifact and the need to practice first is important. I had used TinkerCAD in a PD the previous summer and thought it would be fun for the kids to use too. After introducing the CAD program to them we discovered that the learning curve for the software would be very steep and didn’t want it to interfere with their creative process so we took a step back and decided that a 2D drawing should be done first. I could then show them a simple project to do all together in the CAD program using a few tools to begin with and then let them explore the editing tools. Then they had a better working knowledge of the TinkerCAD program and using their 2D drawing could try again to create a similar project in 3D. Myriah brought up the suggestion that the kids could upload their own projects in three parts: Writing, 3D design screen shot and photo of the completed artifact into a slide show which would be an electronic portfolio for documentation.

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.

After the integration unit was complete a student used his skills learned from the TinkerCAD design element for a mapping project in another class. It’s nice to see this transfer of skills.

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

Letting the students discover resources gives them the opportunity to be self directed and releasing the instructor form finding key sites for each child which lets us spend time asking questions and guiding the students. 

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.

The resources available on line are immense so the students can find whatever they are looking for. Of course we then need to spend time teaching them how to evaluate the sources which is an extremely valuable life skill. The technology let the students pursue their own line of inquiry to self discover and build confidence. The 3D CAD program was a big hit after we gave them a simple practice piece followed by learning a few editing tools at a time. Having students who are computer whizzes demonstrate to their class mates was great for differentiated instruction. Using 2D drawings, a 3D CAD program then constructing and artifact based on their research seemed logical and gave natural progressive stepping stones towards the completion of the projects.

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.

We routinely ask questions of the students to require them to think more about what they are planning and doing and hope that it becomes a habit. They have many different levels of learning and we try to meet them wherever they are so the use of technology lets them keep digging for more examples, information or other sources as they present to us anad then go back and look some more. When they present their 2D drawings, 3D drawing and final projects we see and hear their rationals and keep guiding. We also learn new things from them and let them know how impressed we are with their artifacts. Two months after the artifact project was complete a student used his TinkerCAD knowledge for a map presentation of a utopian society which is a great transfer for this child.

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

The students created their own version of the artifact they researched and recreated them form pictures but in most I saw their characters coming out as a form of self expression. All the projects are in the following 2 slide shows.

5th Grade Blue –https://docs.google.com/a/cps.edu/presentation/d/1VCsKoNYyMftnYYinMUHqNW0J2LFlV6UDDyWl8_AvnSs/edit?usp=sharing

5th Grade Yellow


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

I was able to let the students have more self expression in their choices of tribes and artifacts. In music we often work on a whole group performance song so this was a real treat for them and me to go in their own creative direction with only guidance from myself and Myriah. The use of a 3D CAD program kept me learning right along with the kids and I loved having their expertise shine through.