Bulb Archived: Murphy 2018-2019: DeJohns and Anderson (2018-2019 A/R Partners)


1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project?

(Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):

2. Big Idea: Trying to Thrive in the Ecosystem (or Game of Survival)

3. Inquiry: How can we better understand the relationships within an ecosystem through designing and playing a board game?

4. Grade Level: 5

5. Academic Subject(s): Science

6. Artistic Discipline(s): Game design, sewing, drawing, graphic design

7. How many years have you worked together as partners?: 2

8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project: 

The organisms of an ecosystem rely on decision making, chance, choice, and natural or man-made change in order to thrive or perish.

Students selected a list of organisms relative to a particular ecosystem they had selected to study. They began by designing an ecosystem environment and by predicting what each organism’s role was in relation to the rest of the ecosystem. Students were asked to draw from knowledge they may already have, or glean new knowledge learned through studying ecosystem restoration.

Students developed game boards that represented a pathway through the potential perils of successfully living in an ecosystem including: The tundra, the rainforest, the desert, and the pond.

As they pursued further research into each organism’s role in the ecosystem, they developed sets of possible scenarios and outcomes both positive and negative that could impact each organism’s health or the ecosystem as a whole.

Students took part in gameplay design to make sure the game had a potential for the desired outcome, while also leaving chance for failure.

The final products were four giant game boards based on different ecosystems, made of used fabric materials, fabric markers, embroidery, and hand drawn cards. We also played a video on loop of students playing one of the games.

Documentation of final installation
Documentation of final installation

9. How did you share your student’s learning process with your school faculty or community?

In addition to the installation at the Convergence exhibition at UIC, we shared our project with Michelle Sera’s 5 grade class next door.

Teaching Artist Assessment:

How did you assess student arts learning?: (ex. Was it formative or summative? Was it a written, verbal or performative based assessment? Were students provided with teacher or peer feedback? Did you use a rubric or portfolio system? Etc.)

What were the results of the assessment? What did students learn in your class/project?

What did you learn from analyzing the student assessments that informs your Arts teaching practice?

I assessed student arts learning with teacher feedback from day-to-day. I regularly was in conversation with each group, assessing how engaged each member was involved with different aspects of the making process. Everyone took turns embroidering, drawing with fabric markers, and making cards. Students learned how to collaborate, as well as learning the roles different organisms play in each ecosystem they focused on. I learned that it helped to have groups split into researchers and makers – splitting in that way usually provided a role that students were consistently enthusiastic about.

Illinois Arts Learning Standards Addressed:

Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

5th VA:Cr2.1.5, a. Experiment and develop skills in multiple art-making techniques and approaches through practice.

VA:Cr2.2.5, a. Demonstrate quality craftsmanship through care for and use of materials, tools, and equipment.

VA:Cr2.3.5, a. Identify, describe, and visually document places or objects of personal significance.

Teacher Assessment:

How did you assess student academic content learning?: (ex. Was it formative or summative? Was it a written, verbal or performative based assessment? Were students provided with teacher or peer feedback? Did you use a rubric or portfolio system? Etc.)

What were the results of the assessment? What did students learn in your class/project?

The students completed a teacher-created self-assessment based on their abilities to describe the key concepts of their science unit. They had to find reasons that organisms in a given ecosystem were not thriving. The reasons they found led to further underlying reasons that they discovered through exploration and data analysis. The key areas of assessment were:

-Predicting how different organisms react to changes in a rainforest ecosystem

-Explaining an organism’s role in a changing ecosystem

-Explaining what is necessary for an organism to survive

-Explaining what measure of restoration an organism gives to other organisms.

Students rated themselves based on their comfort level understanding and discussing these concepts from 4(very confident and comfortable) to 1(total confusion).

They also reacted in adjective form to how they felt about working with CAPE. They also gave feedback on what they learned and some ideas for extension ideas.

Their adjectives were mostly positive. They were asked what they learned and answers were mostly about learning about ecosystems, but also about how a board game functions.

The extension ideas were mostly about exposing their games to a broader audience.

Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, SEL, Etc.): 

Next Generation 5-LS2: Ecosystems: Energy, and Dynamics

5-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Students who demonstrate understanding can: 5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the idea that matter that is not food (air, water, decomposed materials in soil) is changed by plants into matter that is food. Examples of systems could include organisms, ecosystems, and the Earth.]

•Developing and Using Models Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2 models and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions. Develop a model to describe phenomena. (5-LS2-1)

•Students will choose what organism or element of the Costa Rican rainforest ecosystem they are to represent. They will begin by predicting what their role is in relation to the rest of the ecosystem, drawing from knowledge they may already have, and creating a small clay figurine that identifies the organism/element. They will then research more into the organism/element’s role in the ecosystem, create a mask that expresses their role even more, and create a character development sheet in which they draw and write out its characteristics, its role in the ecosystem, what happens when it is hurting or absent, what measure of restoration it needs to thrive, and what measure of restoration it can provide to other elements/organisms. Each student will start as an expert of their one specific part of the Costa Rican ecosystem.

Common Core Math:

Geometric measurement: understand concepts of volume and relate volume to multiplication and to addition.

•We will further our understanding of volume and measurement by building scale models of objects in clay that reflect larger interpretations.

•CCSS 3(Anchor Standard): Recognize volume as an attribute of solid figures and understand concepts of volume measurement.

•CCSS 3b: A solid figure which can be packed without gaps or overlaps using n unit cubes is said to have a volume of n cubic units

We will be learning effective ways to use appropriate tools strategically; Attend to precision; Look for and make use of structure.

Common Core English Language Arts:

Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Through collaboration and discussion with peers, artists, and teachers, students will create presentations to explore the topic or theme of the project.

CCSS 5: Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

Common Core English Language Arts:

Writing: Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Students will synthesize many different aspects of this project into one central theme or big inquiry question.

CCSS 7: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Core Arts Standards:

Anchor Standard 1-3 for conceptualizing, creating and refining artistic work; Anchor Standard 4 for curating and presenting work; Anchor Standard 5 for analyzing artistic work.