Bulb Archived: Holden ATLAS 2015-2018: Dousias (Year 3, 2017-2018)

School Name: Charles N. Holden Elementary School

Teacher Name: Rebekah Dousias

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. 

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? 

How can 5th grade students present their learning and research of an important woman in history through the use of film and animation techniques.

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. 

Small groups of students chose a remarkable woman they wanted to study. Over spring break each student was given a packet to help guide their research. Students used books, online sites, and other reference material to conduct their individual research. When students returned they shared their findings with their group and consolidated their information. Based on what they learned each group prioritized  3-5  important events were needed to teach others about the importance of this individual. Students drew and wrote about each event so that it could be a scene in their film. Students then constructed characters out of clay and constructed set pieces based. Many groups researched further primary source information to help inform them on the way the people and time period should look. 

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? 

This project involved reading, social studies, and art. Student engagement was absolutely key in this process. As soon as students understood that they were creating a movie they began to dive into the research. They felt that they really needed to understand the events around this persons life. When simply writing notes on their topic students understood why the person they were researching was famous, but they were content to not fully understand how it happened. One group who was researching a suffragette, understood that she had fought for woman’s rights but not much else. Once they sat down to make their scenes they realized that they did not know what struggles she had endured or what she had actually done to fight for woman.  Students then had to go back and research further to understand the whole story.

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

This was the first time we have done a research project like this. Denise Stack, the classroom teacher and I wanted students to research and then present their learning in an animated film. We assigned packets that were meant to organize the student thinking during their research. When student came back to their groups with their research they were stuck. Students were not able to take their research and organize it into a film on their own. They wanted to show every little event they had learned about the woman. Much of this was not even relevant to why this woman was note worthy. It was then that we realized that they need a graphic organizer to pull out the most important “chapters” in their persons life. We let students pick how many “chapters” they would include. We also found that asking them to draw as well as write about each section helper to inform the visual language they would develop. We encouraged them to investigate their images with further research.

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 chose their own topics and partners for this project. Student’s initial research was done individually at home over spring break. When they came together with their group they decided on their own how many scenes they needed to include to communicate effectively and what would be included in the scene. Students were being taught Stop Motion Studio and given clay to work with to make characters, but students decided if they would build or bring in backdrops or set pieces. They had complete freedom over all the other elements of the film. 

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

Student were given the opportunity to share their work when they had completed each scene. In addition students finished works will be shown during a group critique. Students will complete a self reflection on their process and work.

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?

Student research packets came back with lots of good information that was poorly organized for the purpose of this project. They needed guidance to organize their scenes. Student’s clay characters, props and early animation showed their love for the process and their rich exploration. Seeing that caused us to slow down and give them more independence in there process.

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

iPads with students work in progress were on display during the annual  art show. It is important that students see others reacting to their work.

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? 

Students chose their topics and partners for this project. Student’s initial research was done individually at home over spring break. When they came together with their group they consolidated their research and decided on their own how many scenes they needed to include to communicate effectively and what would be included in the scene. Groups delegated jobs and collaborated on every part of the processes of building, shooting and editing.

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? 

My cooperating teacher and I presented this idea from the context of Hamaltin the musical. We asked groups to choose a person who’s story they wanted to tell. We showed them the skills on the stop motion and iMovie apps. In addition we showed my daughters film to get them excited. Teachers walked around and conferences with groups. When a situation arose where they needed more explanation we used questioning to encourage them to experiment and solve problems. Then they would share their solution with the group. Depending on what they needed I would plan short mini lessons. At the start of each class all groups would share their progress. Teachers would scaffold next steps for their process.

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

Denise Stack was the fifth grade teacher that I worked with on this project. She and I met several times to discuss our goals for this project in each area of integration. Together we created a research packet, and rubric for the project. We team taught three out of five days a week for 45 min. In addition we needed to coordinate with primary teachers to rearrange classes so that I could be available during the work time. 

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? 

Last year I taught my middle grade students to do 3d stop motion animation. This year those students really took off and created amazing 2d and 3d animated films as well as live action puppetry. I had assumed that this sort of thing would be too complex for me to teach to younger grades. Earlier this year I showed my own daughter who is in 4th grade how to turn her clay creations into short films. With only a few minutes of instruction from me she was off and running. She decided to use these skills to create a film for the “creative” portion of a research report she was assigned at school. In a relatively short time she created and edited a 6 min film on the French Revolution. Once I saw how one forth grader could embrace the medium so independently I decided that I would like to give my 5th grade students the chance to do the same.

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 were all using iPads with the stop motion and iMovie apps. This was completely new for this group. I gave a basic introduction, but after that students were on their own to explore and discover how to use these tools. Sound and editing presented the biggest challenge. Students were encouraged to explore new methods. An example of this was when the group researching Ruby Bridges chose to import primary source images of white protesters into their films.

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

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. 

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

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