Earlier this week, I ran a short feature on our art gallery inspired by student research. In the video below, Teagan takes a few minutes to discuss her work and the importance of choice in igniting student passion in research/inquiry projects.
This fall, The Unquiet Library has hosted a unique art installation inspired by student research this past spring. Some of you may remember Teagan from this past winter and her unique approach to creating mindmaps. Teagan and her partner Kristiena (whom you may remember as one of my co-authors from this fall for a Knowledge Quest article) created a digital multigenre research composition on veterans and PTSD. Both Teagan and Kristiena were part of a group of students who generously shared their insights and reflections on being immersed in a participatory culture of learning. In their words, they set out to explore “…PTSD, the effects it has on veterans, and how veterans can receive help from this mental illness. It is very important to understand the severity of this undermined illness because without knowing about the organizations that help these veterans, the specific treatments these organizations use, and what we can do as a community to help, we are letting our country’s veterans down.” Their inquiry was inspired by their readings of All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac, and Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson.
Teagan, who is a gifted photographer, decided to create her own original images to depict some of the key ideas and findings from their research and integrate them into the multigenre digital text. I was so struck by the artistry of her work that this fall, I asked her if she would consider letting the library create prints of her work and have a research inspired art gallery. She graciously gave me permission and used excerpts of her research to create informational placards for each print. After we mounted the prints and placards on art easels, we arranged Teagan’s artwork in the sequence she outlined for us so that viewers could follow the narrative of her artistic creations. Students and teachers alike have been impressed not only with her moving and striking photography, but they have also been pleasantly surprised to learn that it was sparked by the information she discovered in her research and that the gallery is an alternative representation of those findings. Not only did Teagan photograph and process the photographs, but she and her father both served as models for the prints.
The research inspired art gallery has not only helped others learn about PTSD and its impact on veterans, but it has also nudged people to see research as something more than an assignment and that it is a mode of learning that can far beyond a class assignment. I am hopeful that future galleries featuring inquiry inspired creative works will be commonplace and can incorporate additional participatory mediums for interacting with the gallery with a feature like panels coated in IdeaPaint where people can respond to the art and ideas. On behalf of the library and our learning community, I would like to thank Teagan for generously sharing her talent and wisdom with us.
Today is a bittersweet day as my teaching partner, mentor, and cherished friend Susan Lester retires. It is truly a rare gift to have had the honor to teach and learn side by side with someone whose spirit of inquiry, collaboration, innovation, passion, and teamwork.
We made each other better teachers, and consequently, our students were the ones who benefited from our collaborative efforts. What a journey of learning we have shared together. I have been incredibly blessed to team with such a lovely person and talented teacher, and I hope somehow, our career paths will intertwine again. We have experienced some magical and powerful moments together the last few years, and I feel damn lucky to have been part of it.
We always joked we wanted to go out of Creekview together, and I’m glad we are now actually ending our time there together. While I am feeling weepy that our time as we’ve known it together is ending, I am also happy and excited for both of us as kindred spirits embark on new paths that will hopefully intersect as teachers once more down the road. Congratulations on your retirement, Susan–you are a teacher and friend for the ages.
Last week, we held a large group share/think/brain dump/reflect session with our Media 21 students over a series of four days after students completed initial written self-assessment and summative reflections. This video is the first of a series of conversations in which students share their summative reflections about their experiences in a collaboratively taught English course by Susan Lester, English teacher, and Buffy Hamilton, school librarian in 2011-2012. I’d like to thank our students for their willingness and permission to share with a global audience as well as their participation in these conversations. While these are lengthy conversations, I hope the thoughts and insights they share will be helpful to other teachers, librarians, students, administrators, and community members in thinking about the possibilities of learning and libraries and the potential of the collaborative partnerships we can forge. I’ll be following up this series of video conversations with a written post highlighting the insights, reflections, and self-assessments shared by our students.
In this discussion, Ella and Cynda discuss information literacy standards they’ve mastered, how participatory learning has built their confidence as students, and the decisions behind their multigenre, transmedia learning products. You can see Ella and Cynda’s work by clicking here.