Bulb Archived: George Washington SCALE 2016-2017: Leonard & Suitor

Due January 27th:

Teacher: Kyle Leonard

Artist: Antoinette Suiter

School: George Washington High School

Big Idea: Deconstruction & Reconstruction

Inquiry Question: How do we identify and build community through re-purposing natural and relatable materials?

Fall/Winter

Art Content: 

Non-Art Content:

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

Although primarily we wanted to complete the irrigation system before winter set in, philosophical and conceptual discussions have always been as important as physical outcome in our BioArts club. We looked at the Watts Towers and talked about how Simon Rodia used daily ritual and the materials that surrounded him to construct something epic and inspiring. So the students had the idea of breaking bottles to incorporate into the bricks.

We also designed triangles to alter the shape of the bricks for the side portion of the irrigation system. (We had been using cardboard, and we quickly realized that the inconsistency of the cardboard triangles would effect the ability of the irrigation system to work properly.) So after designing the triangles, we used the shop at SAIC to 3D print our mold to perfection. 

We also began to look at the whole of the irrigation system and redesigning the aesthetics we wanted to present. Luckily, it was unseasonably warm throughout the project, so we were able to work outside almost right up to winter break. 

Although we weren’t able to fully finish the irrigation system, we made a huge amount of progress. We were able to lay everything out for an easy return to the project in the Spring.

We began discussing our cold-weather project “the Teenage Brain”, which pairs neurology with the idea of a teenage diary of sorts.

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using the oiled 3D prints for casting
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placing the triangles dead center for consistency 

Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

I definitely do. Our Club has become a close-knit group, with students taking huge amounts of responsibility and ownership over the project. Many students have been able to oversee and teach other groups of students– creating a self-sustaining and closed loop of learning. 

We have been really happy with the students level or responsibility and pride in this project. Increasingly, open discussions with the students about how their time in BioArts is their own– and one free from complete dictation by adults, has also become a huge part of the Club.

We’d estimate that the vast majority made progress towards the learning goals. Our club tends to attract really self-motivated and dedicated students, which makes our job in terms of this easier.

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students individualize their own respirators, similarly, each group project has individualized “stamps” on it. We talk a lot about how the individual contributes to the group, and vice versa, for potential symbiotic relationships.
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Students discuss how much water is needed for the cement mix, and what pigments to add to this batch.

Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.

In the above images, you’ll see that the students are completely self guided in making the bricks/mixing the pigments/adding embellishments. This gives us time to double check brick numbers and complete other logistical tasks while the students oversee all creative processes. 

How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester?

At this point we’ve been working together long enough that teaching roles are able to easily morph back and forth between us. One of us might give a lecture or oversee a discussion while the other supports, and we alternate pretty organically. 

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Antoinette’s surprise party

Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

Honestly we feel as if compromise and conflict resolution are fairly easy and fair when it occurs, due to how long our club has run, and how committed our group of students is to the club. 

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

Although Antoinette is obviously the art expert and Kyle the science expert, there’s a lot of crossover between the two since the role of our club  in general is to see how science and art overlap, separate, and intersect. Often we split into two “teams”, one indoors and one out. For discussions we’re all together. 

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Sakrete

Due May 31st:

Winter/Spring

Art Content:

Non-Art Content:

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

Although our primary goal was to complete the irrigation system, Chicago weather forced us to re-think this goal. We were acutely limited on outdoor time, and while we definitely tend to focus on learning outcomes in regards to students growth in addition to project completion– this challenge offered us an opportunity to re-think the role of the club completely.

We began by returning to the irrigation system, and what we could do indoors. We glazed, made the remainder of the bricks, and focused on efficiency and competency in this process. (We learned to clean brushes properly, determined more effective work-flow, and researched and purchased tools to help us.)

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glazing process
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glazing process
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glazing process
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glazing process
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glazing process

Eventually we found that we had completed and glazed enough bricks to complete the irrigation system, but the ground was still to cold to work with, and it was still getting dark too soon to work outside. So we changed gears, and began with a discussion on neurology– how does the teenage brain function and what changes are the students going through?

We brainstormed– making notes/drawings about neurological pathways, brain maturation, emotions, etc. We also talked about the teenager as a societal trope– and talked about the history and economy of American capitalization of the stereotype. 

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group brainstorming during out “teenage brain” discussions
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group brainstorming during out “teenage brain” discussions
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group brainstorming during out “teenage brain” discussions
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group brainstorming during out “teenage brain” discussions

These brainstorming session ultimately lead to the question, “What do you want”? We all journaled about what we wanted, what we didn’t have time for, what we wanted to learn, and what the club meant to us as a sort of safe-space for what had become our small BioArts club community. These private journals became other group brainstorms. We realized that as a collective we were all over-committed, and over-worked. There was a unanimous voice for our club as personal time to do all these things we were too scared to admit we wanted to learn, or that we never seemed to have the time to learn. We decided to use ourselves as a resource, and to teach each other what we could, based on mutual desires.

For the next month or so, we learned German, Spanish, meditation, swing and cumbia dancing, and attempted to learn some American Sign-language. In this time our club became really close and more open with one-another, as we discussed what it was that stopped us from learning these things, and how these things overlapped.

At this point, we trusted that a project would organically form from our efforts– and we researched a field trip to see if we could see Contemporary art in action in Chicago, and perhaps even arrange a show of student work.

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“What do you want” ? Brainstorm post-journaling
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A beginning of a structure– how can we use BioArts Club as a space for us? To do the things we want to do that we don’t have time for? How can we use each other as resources to learn these things?
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Swing dance lessons with Kyle
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Swing dance lessons with Kyle
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Swing dance lessons with Kyle
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meditation lessons with Mayra
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meditation lessons with Mayra
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meditation lessons with Mayra

Meanwhile it warmed up outside, and stayed light long enough for us to begin work again, so we shifted gears again. We assessed any damage to the bricks caused by the winter, and began leveling the garden. At this point we had found a water-proofing  coat for the bricks– since the glazing technique we used was water soluble. We choose some bricks to clear-coat showing evidence of their life outside, and other bricks to brighten with new glazes and then to coat. 

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Back outside– checking and leveling our irrigation plane
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Back outside–sorting finished bricks for use

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Carla photobombing us–again

A short break…

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surprise pizza party for Janet’s birthday

Although some changes had to be made in the initial planning… we were ready for our field trip!

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On the bus– field trip to Currency Exchange, University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator, and the Renaissance Society
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On the bus– field trip to Currency Exchange, University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator, and the Renaissance Society
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Our amazing server and Social Practice interviewee at Currency Exchange
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Students peruse the heavily soul-food based menu at Currency Exchange

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Tired but happy IB students at the end of a long semester, posing in front of the Currency Exchange library

We were able to see some of the the things we learned in action in the gallery by translating two german phrases in one of the pieces, which was pretty exciting. It was also great to open up our classroom discussions into the functioning of Contemporary art in it’s various environments. We discussed the significance of “the Petty Biennial” at the Arts Incubator and the Currency Exchanges role in the surrounding community, verses the Renaissance Societies role in the international contemporary art community.

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BioArts club visits the Renaissance Society
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BioArts club visits the Renaissance Society
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BioArts club visits the Renaissance Society

In the end, the time frame was the biggest challenge. BioArts was often held not only in the coldest times of the year, but also the busiest. In terms of future planning, we’ve started discussing beginning the club in August and ending in July, and having a hiatus Jan/Feb/March.

Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

Although due to weather and other factors (busy IB students, busy CP schedule) we were unable to complete the irrigation system, we really feel that this year was especially significant in our BioArts club for the personal and intellectual growth of our students. We discussed all of this after our field trip, and decided that we would plan our share event around what was most important to us this year in BioArts club– which was the experience itself of being there, the conversations, and the lessons that took place. So we planned our share event to bring others into this ‘space’.

In terms of percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals, we’d have to say 100%. The club has become a tight-knit group at this point, and although there are always changes as sports and other school activities effect the flux of attendance, we’ve even regularly had one student return from college to attend the club. While obviously students have different levels of experiential learning gained from the club, we’ve consistently had thorough participation and leadership from students. We believe that every student has come away with at least one important lesson, while our core group has meanwhile gained more. 

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brainstorming for our share-event presentation
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brainstorming for our share-event presentation
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brainstorming for our share-event presentation

Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.

The initiative and leadership that our group showed when organizing and writing the text for the share event, as well as the share event itself, showed the level of growth they achieved. 

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Writing the ‘station’ texts for our share event
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Writing the ‘station’ texts for our share event
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Writing the ‘station’ texts for our share event
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Writing the ‘station’ texts for our share event
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Share Event– setting up each ‘station’
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Share Event–preparation for the brick-making, mortaring, and glazing stations
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Share Event–instructions
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Share Event– station 2
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Share Event–directing arrows
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Share Event–brick-making and mortaring stations
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Share Event–brick-making station
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Share Event–mortaring station
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Share Event–glazing station

Obviously, we were disappointed to not finish the irrigation system and wish we had images of its completion to include…

We do feel however, that although the learning outcomes were different than what we initially planned, there was more depth to what the students ended up gaining from BioArts club this year. Next year hopefully we can gain that along WITH a visually completed project.

How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester?

Well. We’ve been working together long enough to have a method.

Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

We mostly planned in person after BioArts club. We’ve also continued to use Google Hangout video for planning and emails when this is not possible. At this point our differences feel like old hat, and its easy to discuss ideas and use our differences for a more well-rounded club. 

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

Kyle takes the science end of things, while Antoinette takes the art. Since the club focuses on their blurring and intersection, we’ll often discuss our personal understanding of a concept according to our individual discipline, and then sort of ‘discover’ the overlaps as we work.