Bulb Archived: Peirce Collaboration Laboratory 2016-2017: Baumgarten, Bencel, Rhyme & Saenz

2016-2017 Collaboration Laboratory

1) Big Idea:

Showing Personal Narratives through dramatic expression and movement2) Inquiry:

How can we use performance art – sound, movement, and storytelling – to express ourselves and others?

3) Academic Content:

The academic component of this project focused on writing.  Students worked to write pieces that they either created themselves or interviewed other people about.  The students then went through the writing process until ultimately they were ready to publish their piece to be portrayed through movement.

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A piece written by a student that became the basis for the project in Geri’s class.

4) Artistic Discipline(s):

Movement, storytelling, video, sound, visual art. The students explored telling stories with their bodies by creating movements and sounds that show a piece of their story. They practiced creating movement by observing and interpreting movement in their everyday environments, and using movement that they see around them (movements of people, nature, and machines) to inspire performance. They explored different ways of connecting movements and adding sounds and movement into a movement sculpture. They wrote and drew pictures about stories from their lives. They explored storytelling elements such as beg/middle/end, adding details to the story, and themes of the story, and used these elements to help create the order and content of the whole class project.

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We created a movement sculpture for each piece of the story. 

5) Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):

National Core Arts: Anchor Standard #1 (Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work), Anchor Standard #10 (Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experience to make art)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.3Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.5 Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

6) What is the context of your school, school neighborhood, or classroom that led you to do this project? (100 words or less)

Helen C Peirce is a Chicago Public School located in the Andersonville area. Peirce is currently going through IB certification for the primary years this month. Due to the fact that we are an IB school we work across transdisciplinary themes. For the purposes of this project we wanted the students to show the journeys or stories that they wrote through performance.

7) How many years have you worked together as partners?

Caitlin Bencel, Megan Rhyme and Geri Baumgarten have worked together for 2 years.

This is our first year working with Laura Saenz.

8) What surprised you during the project?

The students’ willingness to share their personal experiences was surprising. They were very open and reflective about experiences that were both positive and negative. Their creativity and imaginations really showed through their movement sculptures and sound effects.

9) What worked in this project and why?

This project worked well because it drew from students’ own experiences. It was also directly linked to personal narrative writing activities in our curriculum, so there were many opportunities to reference the work.

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Class discussion about why we share stories.

10) What didn’t work and why?

In Caitlin’s class, there was initially some difficulty in connecting the various personal stories and creating a flow between the positive and negative experiences that the students wanted to share. However, we created a theme of good versus bad and made the connection that there are ups and downs in life, but we persevere through them. In the end, the students had a great creative exploration as a class to decide how to weave a larger narrative out of the many smaller stories. 

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 Storyboard from Caitlin’s class as we were deciding the order of stories for our project.

11) What was your approach to assessment?

We wanted the students to express themselves and portray their stories with more focus on body language as opposed to spoken language. We often had the students perform for each other during class as the project was developing by sharing out the movement they had worked on that day. These smaller performances of group work allowed the students to better reflect on the work they did and to understand for themselves what did or didn’t work.

12) Think back to what you each hoped to learn from this collaboration. What did you learn and how? Discuss how you supported each other’s goals.

Geri and Caitlin hoped to learn how to better incorporate art into the core curriculum. We were able to take away many ideas for extending the writing curriculum into visual arts and movement. Megan and Laura were instrumental in helping us make this connection.

Megan and Laura hoped to work on themes of identity, difference, and change during this project. We learned a lot about how to translate those complex concepts into language that is accessible for 2nd graders – for example, our inquiry question of “Why is awareness of ourselves and others important?” became the questions “What’s something that you think makes you different from the other students in your class?” and “Why is it important to know things about other people’s lives?” Geri and Caitlin were instrumental in helping us find ways to connect to the students and their life experiences, and helping the students understand how to bring their experiences into the work we were creating. 

A behind-the-scenes video that shows our process.
Final Video for Caitlin’s class – named by students “The Good, The Bad and The Movement”

13) How did the collaboration challenge your understanding of teaching, learning, and art-making?

Typically teachers must follow a relatively strict pacing guide for curriculums and Geri and Caitlin initially had concerns about arts partnerships affecting instruction. However, this was a very organic way of extending and not interrupting the content of instruction, and it provided an opportunity for student choice and voice in their learning. Having a team of 4 people could at times be a challenge because there were more perspectives and ideas about where to go next. We learned a lot about how to balance an organic, artistic process with a logistical, structured plan.