A/R P BULB
1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? Marc: This was our second collaboration and we generated a project idea very easily. Last year we worked with students on a series of Ode poems and turned them into printed posters. One of the successes of that project was the personal and sometimes quite courageous nature of the students’ writings. I think we both enjoyed sharing the editing process with the students and Karen does a great job of cultivating a classroom environment where students can take on difficult subject matter. Last year the final visual outcome of the project heavily drew on my graphic design and printing and this time we gave the students a more central role in the look of their pieces.
We began generating ideas by talking about which texts Karen would be using in class and then talked about what the students might write or do in response. This year we showed the students more visual art that could be a model for their work. As before, we both worked with the students together to help them edit and develop their writing.
(Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.): We decided on this project because the students were reading Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. We wanted to build off the literature so we asked students to interview someone in their life who had faced a struggle in either a work or living situation. This relates to the struggle that George and Lennie face in the novella: their work is tough and doesn’t pay much, they have to share beds in a bunkhouse with a group of strangers.
2. Big Idea: Overcoming adversity with another person.
3. Inquiry: People have an easier time overcoming adversity in work or living situations with the help of someone else. In large and small ways, other people help us in our struggles. How has a person faced adversity at work or in a living situation? How did that person work to overcome the struggle? Who helped?
4. Grade Level: 9th
5. Academic Subject(s): English Language Arts
6. Artistic Discipline(s): Drawing, Writing, Painting, Collage
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?: 2
8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project: We prepared for this project in several ways. First, the students read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. This reading was done out loud, in class, with a great deal of discussion along the way. We also showed the students examples of drawings and prints by Charles White that depict working people in a dignified way. We also looked at an excerpt from Working by Studs Turkel.
Next the students wrote a text based on an interview they conducted with a family member about an adverse experience they had at work or at home. Both Karen and Marc critiqued the texts and they underwent several revisions.
Next we introduced the final project of creating a 16″ X 20″ work of 2-D art on illustration board that combined the use of image(s) and their written text about a family member’s experience. We showed them examples of art that mixes image and text including works by David Wojnarowicz, Cheri Samba, Fly, Will Laren, Lynda Barry, Nancy Spero, Howard Finster, and survivors of Hiroshima.
Students then started drawing or otherwise planning images to combine with that text. Each student produced one 16″ X 20″ piece. Some of the students collaborated in pairs.
9. How did you share your student’s learning process with your school faculty or community?
Two other classes visited our room during two periods and we displayed all of the finished works. Additionally, because the works are so intimate and require being close to read, we invited about 5 students per class to present their projects and tell the stories of their pieces. The students that agreed to participate seemed unusually comfortable sharing personal content in front of a large group.
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.)
We created our own rubric (see examples below with finished works). We also gave informal (verbal and written) feedback throughout the project and talked to students individually as they were working on their projects to help them plan how to integrate image and text.
What were the results of the assessment? What did students learn in your class/project?
Students explored a process that included studying examples of multiple forms of relevant creative work in art and literature, collecting source material in the form of interviews with a family member, transforming that content into a piece of writing, and transferring that writing into a work of visual art that included an image or images. Students learned the importance of drafts and revisions, and saw the challenges of combining image and text into a clear and coherent design within a limited format.
What did you learn from analyzing the student assessments that informs your Arts teaching practice?
I tried to show the students examples of art works that combined writing with drawings and other forms of images that were compelling and powerful without always having the most skilled or refined drawings or graphic design. My hope was that the students would see that if their writing was strong, and they chose meaningful stories to illustrate and present, the result could be moving to readers even if it wasn’t artistically sophisticated or highly polished. Most of the students approached their pieces with great sincerity and a lot of thought. Our assessments of the work led me to feel that students do not need to have advanced art skills to tell moving illustrated personal stories that will resonate with viewers. Most of the students did an extraordinary job with this project that surpassed my expectations.
In individual feedback, some of the students needed help figuring out what images to use to tell their stories, or how the images and their placement might work in service to the writing. We also developed tactics for how to make sure their texts would fit on the page when they handwrote them. Watching the students navigate the challenges of making these pieces and assessing their finished works taught me a lot about what is possible, even when art skills are limited. I was extremely impressed by the effectiveness of their finished pieces—particularly considering the short amount of time we had for each stage of the project.
Illinois Arts Learning Standards Addressed:
VA:Cr1.2.I: a. Shape an artistic investigation of an aspect of presentday life using a contemporary practice of art or design.
VA:Cr2.3.8: a. Select, organize, and design images and words to make visually clear and compelling presentations.
VA:Re7.2.I: a. Analyze how one’s understanding of the world is affected by experiencing visual imagery.
VA:Cr3.1.III: a. Reflect on, reengage, revise, and refine works of art or design considering relevant traditional and contemporary criteria as well as personal artistic vision.
VA:Cr2.1.IIIa. Experiment, plan, and make multiple works of art and design that explore a personally meaningful theme, idea, or concept.
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.)
Both formative and summative assessments were used during the course of the project. Marc and I read the first draft of every student’s text, gave suggestions for improvement, and then I assigned a grade to the text alone. I would call this a formative assessment because it was only one half of the completed work – i.e., the image-process had not yet been started. We then gave lots of feedback during the nest stage, as students were beginning to think of images and plot how the images and text would interact and complement each other. Finally, we used a set rubric to assess their overall piece which was definitely summative in nature.
What were the results of the assessment? What did students learn in your class/project?
Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, SEL, Etc.): CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3— Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.