Finally, the last project for the Insect Inquiry . . . on the Insect Inquiry map (click here to view map), notice that this section is labeled "Synthesize the Inquiry." A central objective of the Observation Unit was that by the end of the third inquiry, students would be familiar with how to conduct artistic research so that they would be able to make predictions on future learning experiences in my class and know how to conduct artistic research on their own . . . in other words, that the students would have experience practicing some of the things they might do on their own to get better at art.
What I wondered: after doing the leaf and insect inquiries, would the students remember the basic research steps? And, would the students remember and understand which art from their portfolios matched the steps of the inquiries? With these questions in mind, I decided to experiment with half of the third and fourth grade classes. I set the students the task of creating posters showing the steps they took in the inquiry matched with the art they created. Students could work with a partner or by themselves--most choose to work with a partner. I gave them a large piece of white paper, a worksheet with the steps to cut apart into separate slips, masking tape (to facilitate repositioning pieces), construction paper slips and their portfolios and set them loose. It was fascinating walking around the room listening in on conversations and lending a hand where it was needed. I could see right away that matching the art work to the steps was a challenge and also, that the making of the poster helped students to reflect and think about the connection with what they made to why they made it. Since I left the design of the poster completely up to the students, it was pretty much wide open for students to make their own aesthetic and organizational decisions and engage in conversations with their partners on how to place the pieces and what works of art to attach to the poster.
Below are examples of posters students made: