In January, 1st and 2nd grades held their Celebrations of Learning, and they were fantastic! The events showcased student achievement and the learning process of Expedition. It was wonderful to see students taking pride in their work and sharing with an audience that included peers, staff, families, and other community members. The opportunity to present their work and communicate about their learning to an authentic audience was part of the driving force in creating high quality products. These products incorporated work from many subject areas, including art!
In art, first graders created illustrations of the snake they were researching and second graders drew portraits of the Detroit heroes that they interviewed. Rather than simply being told what would be required, students created their own criteria for success by viewing finished exemplars and picking out those features that made them accomplished, as well as coming up with ideas for what might make them even more so. These criteria were displayed for reference throughout the time spent on the illustrations. It was helpful in terms of scaffolding learning to be able to focus on one criteria or learning target at a time.
One important aspect of the process was feedback and revision. Each student created multiple drafts and received peer and teacher feedback to aid with the revision process. Their classroom work helped to support this. With fieldwork, expert guests, and classroom research, students were able to connect their work to a clear purpose, helping them to understand and be invested in the revision process. First graders were eager to share their knowledge through their drawing, telling me information about their snake’s pattern and habits as we went. In second grade, we went over strategies for drawing a face in the general sense before moving on to portraits of specific people. With the knowledge that their heroes would be receiving a copy of the final product book with the portraits in it, they were very excited to work on creating a likeness! In all aspects of Expedition, process and learning are valued as much as product. For instance, at the first grade Celebration of Learning, the drafts were displayed prominently alongside the final snake illustrations in a hallway gallery. I’m very proud of the work that students did and the thinking behind it. I’m looking forward to the arts integration for the next Expeditions!