Bulb Archived: North Grand SCALE 2017-2018: Holsten & Malmed

School Name: North Grand High School

Teacher Name: Mackenzie Holsten

Teaching Artist Name: Jesse Malmed

Big Idea: Are our hours ours?

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Inquiry: What are the patterns and time signatures of our lives, our cities, our cultures? Are our hours ours? How do we image infinity? How do we consider instantaneity? How does time feel? What does shared time feel like? Is time really spent? How can time be shared?

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1. Planning: What interests and curiosities were brought to the planning by each of you? 

Teacher response: I am interested in the different ways we spend our time and why. Why does time feel long or short? What do we know about time and what is there yet to discover? Time is different for everyone so how do we interpret it?

Teaching Artist response: As they relate to this course, I am interested in how we spend our time, how we consider time, how we image time, how we experience time, how time relates to labor, how time relates to agency, whether time can be “spent” and what the various metaphors we employ to describe temporal experiences and relationships mean. The work I make that unfurls in time (not that everything doesn’t, but those with which I have more control of the flow of time) considers these ideas carefully and critically.

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2. The Project: Tell the story of your project. What happened in the classroom? 

Experiment in time: We have used video, pictures, and clocks to tell the story of our project. We discovered new ways to make the faces for clocks and new systems of time. We drew and wrote down ideas for new ways to tell time. Students each got a clock to design in their own way. Multiple drafts were created to make sure the final product was what the students wanted for their project.

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3. How did you check in throughout the project to plan and adjust plans as the project unfolded? 

We checked in with each other over text and in person on several accounts to make sure we were on the same page about timelines. We would also collaborate during club time in response to our students’ needs and pacing. We also asked students what materials they needed or wanted for their project and we made runs to target to get the materials in addition to using materials provided in the classroom.

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4. What are the conflicts, contradictions or challenges of your teacher/artist collaboration? 

Teacher response: One challenge of the collaboration is on days when one of us is not able to attend club for some reason. It definitely makes it harder to hold club when one person is present because I feel like it works better when we are both present. This has only been the case a couple times if one of us has been sick but it definitely makes it harder to get things done or to have students be interested in what we are doing. Some of the hard things about planning depends on how many students actually show up so when we get together to discuss what we want to happen in the classroom and no one shows up, or one person shows up, it is harder to have that one student focus the whole time by themselves and frustrating that we are not able to carry out what was planned for that day, so we have had to change plans on the spot a few times or push plans back to a day or two later on.

Teaching Artist response: Our biggest challenge is attendance. Inconsistent attendance by students makes momentum in projects and research difficult. Otherwise, I think that we have worked well together. The classroom environment is jovial, our students get along with each other (and us) and we’ve been slowly but surely making interesting work and instigating and investigating innovative ways of thinking about time, space and their (and our) interactions.

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5. What are you learning as a result of collaborating with one another in terms of teaching and art making? 

Teacher response: I have learned that the presence of two teachers in the room at one time has a positive effect on the projects students are creating. There are two of us to go around to help students think deeper about their projects or to help with logistics. Before this, I was not very informed on video production or editing but have learned a lot through the use of Premiere and by using video cameras and the students have even taught me things I did not know before about video making. I also noticed that each teacher has a different teaching style but we’re both on the same page about students staying focused and engaged during club time.

Teaching Artist response: Even though we aren’t necessarily forefront math in each of our projects, it’s been really fascinating to watch that integration come so easily. Mackenzie is an able and adroit teacher—and of course the decor in the room and subject matter help—so it’s been really wonderful to see students want to take on the problems of the projects and the room in a light, invested way. While we have different approaches, our primary interest continues to be that our students are thinking critically, interacting safely and kindly, working diligently and investigating their lives in expansive and new ways.

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6. How has the community-focused component of the project contributed to or challenged your teacher/artist collaboration? 

Teacher response: We have asked that our students recruit other students they think may be interested in our club to come join us and see what we have been working on and to even join in on the project we have been focusing on. We have had more students join the club and come work on clocks with us throughout the course of the project which impacts our club in a positive way. We have had more student input on the project and have asked students to think more about how the want their projects projected or displayed so that the community outside of  Hairpin are able to view and experience it.

Teaching Artist response: Our focus on community—through a continual remembering and focusing on experiences both individual and communal—has allowed for some exciting moment. In recasting the role of NGHS as, alternately, a dance academy, the internet and other strange spaces, the place we share was able to take on new and imaginative capabilities. Similarly, our conversations and work surrounding “objects of time” featured many objects that connected the students to their personal histories and familial and communal notions of time, community, transformation and culture.