Saturday, 24 August 2013

#artinquiry: week 4: the Project: Image mediated dialogue: B&W documentary style photographs from the sixties to seed art as inquiry: what is successful peer mentoring?

Your Final Project for this course is to take the concepts we have explored each week and create a resource that you can incorporate into your teaching. The project outline has been structured to allow you to tailor the content to the context in which you teach so that it can be most useful.  The goal of this final project assignment is to give you an opportunity to practice with the concepts from the class in a forum where you can share ideas and get feedback from your peers.  The required peer assessment process will also give you the opportunity to see the ideas that others come up with.  Be creative!  This is your chance to apply the course concepts to real-world situations.

The brief itself was buried somewhere in the site – I did not find it – but fortunately Kelcy Allwein did and shared it in our FB site.

I know that there will be many great projects that harness the brief much more successfully than I – for example Dave Barr’s lesson and resources – on a Roman bust:

But, here are the questions – and my answers to them. I’ve left the Peer Review questions in…

Your assignment is to select an artwork that you would like to use as the starting point for an inquiry based lesson in your classroom. 

1. Subject Area: Peer Mentor Training – lesson *Art as Inquiry*
Class size – 12 students expected - Journalism students.

2. Intended grade level range: 
Third/Second year University students (UK).

3. Artwork Selection: 
For this activity I would not use one artwork – what I will use are a range of A4 photographs that I have and that have been printed on to ordinary office paper. The photographs were taken in the 1960s, they are Black and White and documentary in type. The images in the photographs include railway tracks, loaded carts pushed by struggling ‘peasants, young people walking hand in hand, a young girl smoking, footprints in the sand, goods on a market stall, African masks, a tree in a desert, an old woman cradling a baby, a sculpture in the distance – possibly an African sculpture, puppets, head dresses, a man cycling carrying an overloaded basket… The ‘point’ is to have a completely diverse range of images that in no way obviously pertain to the question that I set the students.

4. Artwork Title: the artworks are various
I will be using a selection of A4 photographs – I cannot upload the pictures of them here because I am currently on vacation and they are in my office at work… BUT – the images here are not the point – they could be pictures of *any* artwork – the point is to use them as a launching point for student inquiry into another topic. That is – I am using art as inquiry into student expectations, hopes, fears and beliefs about peer mentoring.

5. Artist – various
The artist is not the point, neither really is the picture or the pictures… the point is the student inquiry into why they have chosen a picture and what it might mean to them in the context of the field of study…

6. Date – 1960s
I have a collection of black and white photographs from the 1960’s they are documentary in nature and capture the flavour of a different time to this one. This is useful for this means that today’s students will have no obvious links to the pictures and will be able to use them to explore their own thought processes.

7. Materials:
  • The A4 photographs – a whole collection of them – there are many more photographs than students.
  • ‘Reflections’ sheet – with questions: ‘What is successful peer mentoring? What photograph did you choose? Look again at your photograph – what do you see? How does this photograph answer the question, ‘What is successful peer mentoring?’?

Evaluation Phase: Is the artwork developmentally appropriate?

Theme/Connection to Curriculum: Briefly describe the theme or connection to the curriculum:
I will be training students to mentor other students. I do not want the students to teach the other students – nor to tell them what to do or not to do… I want the mentors to support inquiry in their mentees – and to give their mentees space to ask questions – but then to think about the answers for themselves. I want this process to help the potential mentors realise the power of inquiry – and the power of the open-ended question. I want them to see that there are many answers to one question – and many different ways of seeing the world. I want the mentors to use art as inquiry – and to think about using art to seed their own thought processes – both in the training session and in their future practice as mentors, as students and as journalists.

As they interrogate their own picture choice – literally exploring in more detail what is in a picture – then considering how it answers the question that I have set them – I am hoping they go on a journey of discovery.

As we build on the initial photograph choice and discussions – I hope they appreciate the value of listening – and of considering what other people have to say. I hope they experience and understand the nature of listening…

Thus the point of this activity is the way they interact with their artwork – and then the way they discuss their artwork with others. This PROCESS of art as inquiry is designed to model the mentoring relationship that I am trying to prepare them for…

The B&W documentary style pictures that I will use will feel perhaps familiar in that these are journalism students and the photographs are documentary in nature – at the same time, they are distanciated from the students’ own experiences and I hope this strangeness enables them to see differently – and frees them to discuss with less certainty…

Evaluation Phase: Does the artwork that was chosen clearly relate to the theme/curriculum connection

Include three open-ended questions related to the artwork in the sequence they would be presented: 
  1. Please choose a picture that answers the question: What is successful peer mentoring? NB: This is not a trick – I have not buried the one ‘right’ picture in the pile. The point is to find the picture that speaks to you – that answers the question for you. Please take your time to look at all the pictures – and NO you cannot choose more than one picture!
  2. Now that you have chosen your picture – please look at it again. Take time to really *see* your picture. What literally is in there? Describe your picture in no more than 45 words.
  3. Now look again at your picture. How does it answer the question: What is successful peer mentoring?  If you wish – make a few notes on your Reflection sheet…

Evaluation Phase: Are the questions open-ended? Do the questions support the theme? Do the questions invite multiple responses?

Include 3 bullet points of information about the artwork that is related to the theme/curriculum connection:
    • They are all B&W documentary style pictures
    • They are pictures taken in the 1960s – they are not of immediate meaning to my young, multicultural students
    • They are on a range of subjects – again they are not immediately relevant to the life experiences of the students that I expect to engage in this activity. They are not on the topic of peer mentoring. Thus for them the meanings are in fact open ended – even if when they first engage in the activity they may think that the meanings are closed and obvious.

Evaluation Phase: Does the information support the exploration of the object? Is the information relevant to a conversation about the object?

Include an activity (multi-modal approach) for this artwork and include the following:
1. Brief description of activity: What will the students do? (i.e. writing, drawing,
* Looking – thinking – brief writing
First the students will be invited to choose a picture that to them answers the question: What is successful peer mentoring? They will then be invited to look again at their picture and really *see* it – they will be invited to write a description of their picture in no more than 45 words. After that – they will be asked to consider how their picture answers the question – and make notes if they wish.

* Pairs – discussion – comparison – thinking
After this phase – students will be asked to pair up and share their pictures and their readings and the meanings they are drawing from the pictures.

* Pairs – writing two six word essays together
Following this they will be asked to answer the following questions – in writing – six words only per topic:
I hope peer mentoring is:
I hope peer mentoring is NOT:

* Plenary1: Sharing the writing
In pairs – show your pictures and read out your two six word essays… Discuss.

* Plenary2: Reflecting on this process of art as inquiry: discussion
What have we/you learned about peer mentoring through this very open-ended process? How do you think this will help you in the peer mentoring that is to come?

2. Directions: How will you introduce this activity and what directions will you give your students?
I would say:
To start our day of peer mentor training, we are first going to engage in an art activity. I am going to ask you to explore the photographs over there – and for each of you to choose the *one* picture that for you answers the question: What is successful peer mentoring?  This is not a trick – there is no one right answer picture buried in there. The point is for you to find and explore a picture that answers the question for you… Once you have all chosen your pictures – I will ask you to think about your individual choice in some depth – and with some writing – and then ask you to discuss them in pairs – and to engage in some very concise writing about them. We will move on to two final reflections in a plenary – pulling the activities together to help us think about being successful peer mentors.

3. Goals: What are your goals for including the activity in the conversation?
The goal is for students to explore peer mentoring from a completely fresh perspective. The artwork that each student chooses will help them inquire into their own preconceptions about peer mentoring – at the same time they will be invited to extend their original thoughts – first by describing the artwork in more detail, which should help them see it afresh… Then in thinking about how their picture does answer the question…
As they engage in pair work on the artworks chosen – first in discussion – then in really condensed writing – they are modelling successful peer mentoring practice as they articulate that practice.
The two plenaries should help draw the whole session together – one being a ‘lessons learned about peer mentoring’ – and the other a meta-reflection on the activity as a whole in relation to peer mentoring…

I think this whole activity models art as inquiry in a creative way!

Evaluation Phase: Does the activity relate to the artwork? Are the instructions/prompts clear? Is the activity developmentally appropriate?

*** Acknowledgements: I have not invented the idea of using images to start a conversation about a topic to be studied. I was introduced to the practice by a colleague at work, Dave Griffiths; I was given my B&W documentary style photographs by another colleague, David Jacques. What I have done here is to really think about how to use the 'close looking and seeing' part of #artinquiry to bring new life this this 'image mediated dialogue' process... I have also utilised the very short writing activity from the course - but adapted it so that my students will be writing two six-word essays seeded by their reflections on their artworks - and answering questions on the topic we are starting to study. ***

Next - peer review!

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