Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Collaboration Actualized - Murals at our Middle School

By Michelle Turner, BVP Art Director and Middle School 1 Art Teacher.

Collaboration: "working with others to do a task and achieve shared goals."
Seems to be a pretty straightforward definition, right?

As an adult, how often do you collaborate with others? Were you prepared to work with others in the “real world?”  For many of us, we didn't have many (or any) opportunities in school to learn how to work with others, leaving us to figure it out as working adults. Collaboration, or group work, plays such a large role in today’s workplace that it is essential we teach it in school, even in kindergarten. Here at BVP, we focus a fair amount of teaching and learning on collaboration as part of our mission to prepare scholars for college and the workplace.

Perhaps author Terri Tempest Williams pushes our thinking about the true benefits of collaboration best by saying, “Imaginations shared create collaboration, and collaboration creates community, and community inspires social change.”

So if through a connected chain of events, collaboration can lead to social change, then it takes on an even more important role for our BVP community! If our scholars are taught how to work together, what’s to stop them from changing the world, one imaginative, collaborative idea at a time?

Recently, sixth grade scholars at Middle School 1 demonstrated this very idea through a collaborative art-making journey. Under the direction of Rhode Island College student teacher in art, Kayleigh Smith, they were introduced to Street Art, which is art created for public spaces that typically convey a social message or idea. Their task was to design and create a set of murals that express an idea, message or a life event.  Scholars worked in small groups to generate and combine ideas, plan details of their mural, and choose media that best helped communicate their message.

The most powerful piece of this task, however, was giving them the autonomy to create goals and Artistic Habits of Mind. Scholars discussed next steps, decided who should own each piece of the work, and participated in small and whole group critiques.
Middle School Art Teacher and BVP Art Director, Michelle
Turner and Student Art Teacher, Kayleigh Smith with
BVP Middle School scholars and their murals. 

We saw them make mistakes, disagree, and get frustrated, but we also saw them eventually figure it out, make revisions to their plan when necessary, and keep each other focused and engaged. This was collaboration at its purest and finest, resulting in truly one-of-a-kind murals that will soon adorn the transoms over our classroom doors, inviting viewers to pause and think about the visual messages that collaboration actualized.  

If you ever needed an excuse to visit, here's your chance! I would be happy to show you our scholar's artwork myself.

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