Bulb Archived: Fort Dearborn ATLAS 205-2018: Houston-Moore (Year 2, 2016-2017)

School Name: Fort Dearborn Elementary

Teacher Name: Kimberly Houston-Moore

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.

Student Anger Pets are based on each students interpretation of their own anger.

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?


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?

The big idea for this unit was: ANGER.

The inquiry question was:


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.

Because our big idea was a human emotion, most of the research on the subject was based on self reflection. Surveys were used to gather information. Students also researched The Civil Rights Movement to investigate the role of anger and the responses to anger from a historical perspective.

Students began with a brainstorming session on the effects of anger

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 language arts component of this unit played a big role–there was a great deal of writing; responsive writing, poetry, informational writing. Social studies and the social emotional curriculum  were integrated into this unit.


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

The anger unit began with a much more narrow scope in terms of the technology. The original plan for the unit was to upload student  cell phone videos onto a social media platform with the purpose of making a statement on the presence of anger in social media. As  the unit progressed, through conversations with both teachers and students, more opportunities to utilize the videos presented themselves. The final project was a combination of cell phone videos, stop animation and recorded student/artist statements.

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 art work for this unit was highly individualized and based on their own concepts of anger.  Students were able to choose the way in which they depicted their anger pets as long as the piece was 3-dimentional. They chose their materials as well.  Each student met with the visual art teacher with their finalized sketches to discuss the process. Decisions about how their videos were shot (stop motion, phone video, etc)was left op to the student as well. 

 Students made decisions on the class video as well                                                 as their own individual  videos. 
Students created stop action animation as well as cell phone videos

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

Student work was displayed throughout the art making process and students assisted one another in problem solving made suggestions to one another with materials and shooting their videos.

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 original idea after discussion with the students, was to have small groups of students create  video commentaries on anger as it occurs in social media and to upload the finished work onto a social media platform. As the students continued in the process, the videos changed direction. We later had the opportunity to work with a teaching artist who used stop motion animation.  Instead of uploading individual videos, we created a compilation of their work along with a student interview. We displayed the pets themselves, the video, and their written work. This change actually allowed us to expand their work into an entire exhibition. Because of the technology aspect, my students and I did quite a bit of role reversal, making them the teacher and me the student. This unit allowed them to have a greater voice throughout the entire process. It has taught me to be more flexible and willing to change, and release control. My students learned that taking the lead is a responsibility. There is a seriousness that has to be maintained in order to take the reins and direct what your artwork will say and how it will speak. 

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

The student work was set up as an exhibit in the field house of the nearby neighborhood park as well as the Hairpin Gallery. The actual anger pets, student sketches,  reflective statements, poetry and historical perspectives were displayed.

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? 

Even though the project was very individualized, students had the opportunity to collaborate throughout. They began the unit with a sharing their feeling on what anger is and  and its effects. They assisted each other in the construction of their anger pets, and finally collaborated on their phone videos.

Students used the information from surveys to develop “anger attributes” to create sketches. These became 3-dimensional creatures.

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?

The students had a great deal of impact on both the planning and implementation of the unit. Because they had the technology experience, my students and I often reversed roles of student and teacher. When shooting their videos, especially those done on their phones, I was able able to just release them and act as coach. We did our problem solving as a team. Even though there was a definitive plan when we started, the project evolved as we went along. This unit allowed students to have a greater voice throughout the entire process. 

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

The teacher collaboration did not go as smoothly as I would have liked even though I was pleased with the end result. This unit involved the social studies and language arts teacher, along with the visual arts teacher. Initial planning was taken on by the social studies and fine arts teachers. The  social studies and language arts components were done at the very end of the unit, so the connection between the three disciplines  was not as strong. The academic side of the unit needed much more guidance than I would have liked. This could have been due to  lack of integration experience. 

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? 

The concept of anger with middle schoolers is strongly expressed social media today. Cell phones play an important role in their lives. Using the cell phone’s video camera was the natural choice. We took the same tool that is often used as their “weapon of destruction” and used it as a tool of expression. Students walked in with a great deal of prior knowledge in terms of the subject as well as the vehicle. This allowed  them to concentrate on how they would express their ideas rather than learning the nuts and bolts of a new art medium.

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. 

Students experimented with ways to make their anger pets display their attributes. They made choices in camera angles and movement, sound and some special effects that they invented. They researched sound effects and how to incorporate them into their videos. Those who chose to create stop motion videos had similar experiences, however needed more guidance than those using cell phone video. They also had to look at their final results and decide which style they preferred.

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

 We used technology as a tool for reflection of our work throughout the process.

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. 

Anger was a very personal and reflective theme explored in this unit. The extensive use of the cell phone was a good fit. My goal in this unit was to go back and reflect and respond to what we discovered about our own anger. Unfortunately, we did not get the time to do that. Technology played a role in the creation of our artwork and the documenting of that art. It did meet my expectations for facilitating student outcomes.

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.

Using the technology allowed students to separate themselves from  their own anger (something very personal), enabling them to view it objectively. Self reflection and analysis were both possible because of the use of technology,

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

Technology allowed students took anger pet sculptures and infuse personalities in them based on their written descriptions of their own anger. They were able to take their writing and bring it to life through technology.

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

I feel as if I can teach with a tool that creates a whole new level of expression for my students. they have the option of using sight, sound, movement, and writing. This gives them the experience of really having a voice and learning how to use that voice. I always tell them how much their voice matters in the art room. The addition of technology gives them choices in how they tell their story.