Bulb Archived: Swift ATLAS 2015-2018: Gamble (Year 2, 2016-2017)

School Name: George B. Swift

Teacher Name:  Samantha Gamble


Below are questions that will help you to complete your Project ATLAS Digital Portfolios.

Directions: Please answer the questions based on a project completed during the 2016-2017 school year.

For each question, please include your written reflections. You are also encouraged to provide other multimedia to deepen your written reflections and exemplify your analysis. Multimedia can include images, sound files, and video clips.

Please annotate your multimedia, describing why you have chosen these particular artifacts, what you are interested in your audience knowing about them, and why they are important to share.

Section I: Arts Integration – Documentation.

Please upload documentation from your project. Please include a variety of media forms for your documentation.

1. Documentation should not only provide a narrative, or story, of your project, but should also provide evidence of students’ engagement in the unit inquiry.

  • The students at Swift spent the winter of 2017 working on “The Identity Project.”  Students explored themselves (we are a very diverse school, with an immigrant/refugee population that accounts for 50% of body, resulting in 65 languages spoken by our families) through a variety of activities, as a few are listed below:  
  • Creating a greeting card about their homes, and installing on a giant world map that expands an entire wall of our school.
  • Photographing and writing about their favorite physical feature.
  • Creating Haiku about their homes, and accompanying on classroom instruments.
  • Creating a “thumbprint” of words and pictures to describe themselves.
  • Photographing specific body parts that students strongly identified with.
  • Teachers took photographs and video (on phones) and submitted to the editing committee.  From there, the committee sifted through the media submitted, and narrowed down to 4 minutes per grade band.  We worked with a visiting artist, who specialized in video production, to help us assemble the parts of the video.  Our culminating activity resulted in premiering the video at Swift’s Fine and Performing Arts Night.

2. Through your documentation, please provide student artifacts that depict the range of work completed. For example, what were the various ways in which students responded to various aspects of the project?

  • Question 1 addressed a few of the activities that students worked on.  Students were excited, and proud, to talk and share about themselves, and their families.  Some of the older students understood that in the current political environment, their diversity was a negative, were frightful of being “purged,” yet were defiant in their art and words.  Overall, it was a very positive experience, not just for the kids, but for their families, as well.

Section I: Arts Integration – Inquiry

3. What is your Inquiry Question for your ATLAS curriculum unit? What big ideas does this inquiry question address, and why do you think the question successfully addresses these?

  • How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and the lives of their communities through artmaking?

4. How did student research help them to engage more deeply with the unit inquiry question? Explain how your students conducted research for their ATLAS project, and how that research opened up avenues for further inquiry.

  • Student research came in the form of speaking with/interviewing parents and family members, in order to help form their own identities.  
  • Students worked in a studio setting to explore various art forms, in which to create their individual projects that reflected their identities.

5. Describe how the unit inquiry opens up avenues for interdisciplinary connections between the arts and academic content. How did arts processes and/or research practices facilitate students’ understanding of the academic topics addressed in the inquiry question?

  • Interdisciplinary connections were very evident in student writing and the art works they chose.  One way in which students were more engaged and thoughtful was through their exploratory writing.  For example, our first grade students took photographs of their favorite body part.  Their teachers printed the pictures in black and white.  Using those images, students were able to study the image to describe what they saw, allowing them to not only reflect on the physical, but how that physical attribute connected to their personalities, characteristics, their self, etc..

6. How did the curriculum evolve based on the unit inquiry process?

  • The concept of identity was expanded. 

Section I: Arts Integration – Create Works

7. How did students self-direct while creating their artistic work during the ATLAS project? Please provide any examples for the ways in which students made their own aesthetic choices and direction for creating their artwork. Examples might include but are not limited to: how did students make choices about the use of materials, how did they decide what they wanted to communicate, how did they make decisions about how to present work?

  • The visual arts studio, Ms. Hoyun knew she wanted to incorporate a wall-sized world-map mural that is located in the hallway, therefore, making the art work public.  With those parameters in mind, students decided to create greeting cards from their family’s place of origin, as well as how it would be curated.  They pinned their greeting cards to that place, attached to a string that connected to Chicago.  It became a powerful, unifying piece for the entire project!  Each class participated in a gallery walk and discussion after the work was completed.
  • Fifth grade students were working on a poetry unit in their language arts classes, and spirituals in music class.  When questioned with how to reflect our identities, with music as an art form, students decided to create haiku to reflect what ‘home’ meant to them, as this was a prominent piece of their identity.  They made a conscience choic to use the accompaniment to “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” as an audio track for their recitation of their haiku.  Their reasoning stemmed in the fact that so many spirituals spoke to the idea of ‘home.’  Students watched the original video, and discussed what would make them more interesting/visually aesthetic.  They decided to add movement to reflect a home structure.

8. Please explain what opportunities the students had to reflect on their experiences and react to the work of their peers.

  • Visual arts classes participated in a gallery walk and discussion after the work was completed.
  • Music classes were able to watch the video from the other two fifth grade classrooms, and participate in a discussion about what they saw and heard. 
  • Each class that participated had their own classroom presentations and discussions around their work.

9. How did the students’ artifacts from various stages of the ATLAS Unit impact your teaching practice? Please provide artifacts that exemplify your points. What did you learn about your teaching practice from looking at these artifacts?

10. Describe how the students’ work was shared in the school or publicly. Why was this an important part of this unit?

Our students’ work was shared in a variety of public ways:

  • They shared with their individual classes.
  • Student work was displayed throughout the halls of our building.
  • Student work was displayed in various businesses throughout the Edgewater community (library, coffee shops, Whole Foods).
  • We created the Identity Project Film, and premiered it for our school/parent community.

Section I: Arts Integration – Collaboration

11. How did students collaborate at different stages of the project? Examples might include but are not limited to: did the students research together, did they create together, did they critique together, did they present together?

  • research was conducted individually, for the most part, simply because it focused on identity of each student.
  • In creating, collaboration was done in a variety of ways.  Some were full class works, such as within music, while others were more individual, as with writing.  In the visual arts project, students created individually, but the installation was collaborative.
  • Presentation was definitely done as a schooled community.  We premiered a video that showed the process, through the final projects, during our Fine Arts Night.  Student work that had been completed was on display, as well.

12. In what ways did you collaborate with the students for this unit. How did the students impact the way in which the curriculum was implemented? For example, how did students help you plan, develop, and/or implement the curriculum?


13. How did you collaborate with other teachers in your school to plan and/or implement the unit?

  • The project began with two teachers.  They invited one person each to the first formal meeting, and the group expanded with each meeting, until we had a core group designing and structuring the process.  It was then rolled out to the entire staff.

Section II: Technology Integration

14. What was your process for selecting this form of digital media technology? Why did you think this form of digital media technology would be ideal for student learning?

  • Almost 50% of our student body are English Language Learners, and we thought a video, that documented the process through product, would be a great way to show students the various stages of learning. 

15. How did students use digital media technology to direct their own learning? Provide artifacts to show evidence of how students used the technology to direct their own learning. Examples might include but are not limited to: making choices about technologies to use, using technology to facilitate experimentation, using technology as a research tool, to express themselves artistically, and/or to make meaning of their experiences.

16. How did you use technology to enhance the learning environment for both you as a teacher and for the students?

  • So much of my discipline (music) is in the moment.  The use of video, pictures, and audio recordings allows me to further reflect on what my students are creating and performing, to take a closer look.
  • The use of technology always seems to formalize what the students are doing.  I find they think performances are more real, when they are documented.  It seems to step up their game.

17. In what ways do your chosen technology resources align with your goals and outcomes for student learning? Looking back at the unit, how did the technology meet, not meet or exceed your expectations for facilitating student outcomes.

  • For my particular expectations, I feel the video really helped facilitate student goals, in that it helped enhance their overall product.  They watched, analyzed, and made adjustments to what they were trying to convey to their audience.

18. How did the use of technology contribute to students’ application of higher order thinking skills? Examples of student higher order thinking skills include metacognition, self-reflection, analysis, and application of knowledge or skills.

  • Again, I think performance is so fleeting, that it’s good to have work documented in order to really analyze what they are doing.  They move past just saying a performance is good, or bad.  It allows them the time to be more reflective.

19. How did the use of technology drive student creative artistic expression? Please provide student artifacts that exemplify how technology supported their artistic expression.


20. How did the integration of digital media technology impact your teaching practice?

  • As I’ve stated before, it allows be the forum to take a closer look at student work, to help guide my instruction in a more thoughtful way.