Bulb Archived: Melody Collaboration Laboratory 2017-2018: Alexander, Crawford, Lopez & Javani

2017-2018 Collaboration Laboratory

Teachers: Mikehia Alexander, Monica Crawford

Teaching Artists: Michael Lopez, and Elnaz Javani

Melody S.T.E.M is public school on Chicago’s West side. We are a  Pre-K through 8th grade school providing education to about 600 students in the area.  Ms. Alexander and Ms. Crawford teach in Second and Third Grade classrooms. There are about 21 students in each classroom between the ages of 7 and 9 years old. 

Big Idea: 

Confidence and Self Expression


How can public art help to create a positive self image?


Academic Content(s): 

Reading, Social Studies, Art

Artistic Discipline(s): Interdisciplinary: Painting, Collage making, Writing 

Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation) 

Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

S.L. 2.5
Add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

We decided as a teaching team that it would be beneficial for the students to express who they are and gain confidence through mask making. 

We started with the students creating a collage of their feelings using pictures and words to show how they felt and what the pictures represented to them. 


We then discussed the collages and each student presented their collage in front of the class. It was important for us as teachers and teaching artists to have the students present this in front of the class and talk about their feelings. Other students could make connections with them while gaining the confidence to present what they had worked hard on in front of an audience. 

In the mask making process the students had to paper mache their own  masks


We decided to show various masks from all over the world to give the students an idea of what they could create.  The students then used that as inspiration to design their own masks.


The students then participated in a “mask off” celebration. 

The students would showcase their mask while doing a little dance showing who they are.

The students described how they decorated their mask and their feelings while creating the mask.

The teaching artists then worked to hang and display the student masks. 


Our teaching roles as the educator was fluid. Teaching artists were responsible for their mediums and assisting the students with their masks. We all knew our roles in the project and we created art together.


Collectively I feel as a teaching team we learned that our students were able to think and create using their own thoughts and take part in their learning while committing to sharing out their feelings and who they are in front of an audience. This project helped us by reflecting on the ways in which students learn and the importance of having projects like these, where students can be creative and are intrinsically motivated to create something that is solely about them. 

This experience challenged us to think outside the box and collaborate with the teaching artists. This was a rewarding challenge also because it became so organic, the students were allowed to create artistic models to represent their feelings and identity. It also helped the students venture out of their comfort zone and create meaningful art that they will have forever.