North-Grand High School: Kristina Bowlus & Jennifer Mannebach

Negotiating Boundaries

How can we figure out the boundaries of a community?

Words by North-Grand High School Teacher ,Kristina Bowlus, and Teaching Artist, Jennifer Mannebach.

We talked about the nature of boundaries, definitions, examples. We looked at a map of the surrounding community. We decided that we would visit a few establishments and interview people who worked in the community as a way to research boundaries. Through group discussion and voting, the class decided which stores to visit.

The project developed by the students talking about different kinds of jobs they were aware of, the students came up with some great questions, which we collected and explored through practicing with peers.

Questions included: “How do you feel about wearing a uniform?” “How safe is your job?” “How far do you have to travel?” “What kind of training did you need for your job?”


We mapped out an area in the classroom

that would simulate a plan view of the school and surrounding locations we visited. Using the template of a museum as a model for display, we began to organize and arrange objects we found, painting pedestals and surfaces to create an installation. Some students responded by drawing representations of the people they interviewed, and we talked about how this would be displayed with the interview results in our “museum.”

How did the project end, and how was inquiry a part of the reflection stage of the project? What new questions came out of this project from you and the students? We had further discussions about boundaries and community that were more psychological (for example, How do you bring your own family’s idea of ‘community’ with you when you visit a friend?) .

In discussing museums, the idea of institutional critique came up, how things are represented and displayed. We discovered that many of the students had never been to a museum, and for those who had, their experiences were limited. We decided that we would visit the Field Museum as part of our unit.

We did not have a chance to finalize curation, although we did talk about possibilities; I was able to stage objects and materials in my home studio to demonstrate options for presentation.

We also met via Google classroom to catch up personally, and work on digital collages.