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  • Writer's pictureMakalla Shernick

Collaborative Artmaking.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

To get things started in the morning, we engaged in a gallery walk of their Zine projects. This prompted one student to nervously ask, “Are these supposed to be done today?” Since the Zine project has been given less structured studio time, some students are farther behind on the project while others are nearly finished. This simple activity gave students the opportunity to see what their peers have been working on, and simultaneously serve as a ‘refocusing’ for those who need to revisit their work.

After our gallery walk, we went directly into our collaborative fantasy panels. To facilitate productive collaboration, we first grouped the students into pairs. For the first 15 minutes, the pair would come up with an idea and start working together on creating something for the panels. It was interesting to observe how each pair of students decided to collaborate on planning and making. Some groups started in their sketchbooks first to sketch out their ideas. Others began by looking at the materials we had before jumping into creation.

After the short period of 15 minutes, students were very offended when I interrupted them just as they were really getting somewhere with their ideas. However, that was very much intentional on my part, and they were randomly split into two groups. Each group was tasked with mapping out plans for a single panel. During this process, I noticed that many of them were comfortable communicating their ideas in the larger group setting because they had spent time already developing them.

To a great extent, the students were completely comfortable guiding themselves in the planning. My role very much became that of a facilitator. I listened to what each group was planning and eventually made the suggestion to put the panels together. Once the panels were together, we transitioned into a full class discussion and planning period. As noted by my co-teacher Caroline, the students were using many “what if” or “I wonder” statements as they were planning.

Interestingly, after they had planned together as a group, much of their practice creating changed. For one, students now understood the full scope and size of their panels. Their work grew drastically in scale. Additionally, new groups formed and were responsible for various aspects of the panels. My role, again, was primarily as facilitator. I walked around the room, asked them about what they were working on, and suggested additional materials they could use. Many of the students were drawn to working in media they were familiar with, but once introduced to new materials would engage in a lot of play. This was one unexpected outcome of this particular collaborative work. In my experience, it’s less common to see students of this age range engaging in experimental play with materials. I believe they were inspired by the large variety of materials that they were able to use.

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