WHAT DID KIDS LEARN ABOUT ARCHITECTURE AND CULTURE?
Pre-Post Questionnaires, Final Presentations, Video Responses, Pre & Post Test Drawings.
What else did students learn that we missed?
What other questions can we ask?
Students learned a great deal about culture and architecture that is revealed from four major sources: written pre and post questionnaires, final group presentations of studio work, group reports on culture (Ritter's class) everyday talk (video transcripts & teacher observations), and added post test drawings. When asked questions about architecture at the end of their experience, students reported structural, material, as well as cultural aspects (sports, food, etched shells, and pottery) during their final presentations. Not surprisingly, they had a hard time remembering all these details on their post tests. Students did better on fill-in-the-blank tests with alternative answers. At the end, we added the following assessments: draw what shelter you think they lived in; list the stages of building a house, and art criticism (Write a story about this place). The assignment "Draw a Picture of an Ancient Southwest Culture House" revealed remarkable results. Due to limited space, this section includes examples of learning from various sites.
Post Questionnaire Learning. In response to the question "What is architecture?" 60% of the students from Woodson's class indicated that architecture was something you build (14/23 or 60%) or the design of a structure (11/23 or 48%). One student's insightful answer was "a way of expressing a person's life style and what tribe he was in and how he lived." Another student replied, "It's part of a person's culture." Students also learned that culture is different groups' beliefs (17/23 or 74%) or way of life (13/23 or 13%). More specifically, they mentioned, "It showed how the people lived" (6/23 or 26%).
POST QUESTIONNAIRE WITH REVISIONS
What is culture?
Give some examples of culture.
How does art help us relate to the lives of the ancient American tribes? Give an example.
What is architecture?
Is architecture art? Why?
What is a structure?
Tell me a story about this place:
Imagine you are a child who lived here in ancient times. A fire destroys your house and you have to rebuild it. What kind of new house will you make that is fire resistant? What shape floor plan will you make? What materials will you use? How tall will you make it? How do you keep cool? How do you preserve your food?
Name the steps in building this house:
Draw an ancient Southwest Native American House. Add artifacts that you will put inside it. Draw the surrounding landscape.
Group Final Presentations. Students mostly responded to materials during their group final presentations. For example, one team mentioned, "We think that they used stones because they probably lived near a mountain." Another student added, "...the house was near a forest because there is a lots of wood in the roof construction." In their final review of this experience, most students enjoyed it. Another student mentioned, "The construction was easy compared to the roof. Crisscrossing and connecting were ten times harder than the basic structure." One student nicely summarized, "The house was hard to build but it was fun at the same time" (Woodson's Class).
During the final presentation. Students named themselves after the Ancient People whom they studied. The Hohokam Team of several students introduced themselves as "the People who lived in Phoenix a long time ago." They reported that they made an adobe style house rather than the ancient pit house. When I asked what the small structures were, they answered fence, "[container] for rain, fireplace, and an oven." S1 continued, "We created the first irrigation system to grow our crops." S2 mentioned that "it [the canals] was about 160 miles long and that houses faced the river to get water." S3 pointed to "the tiny pots that stored their crops such as "beans, squash, corn, and cotton." S4 reported that their pots also had geometric designs on them. Another student pointed to their reproduction of a Hohokam style roof "with crisscrossed layers" [See final result in Figure ]. A fifth student explained. A final student suggested how they etched shells for pendants. He said, "We used fermented cactus juice to etch the design on shells, 400 years before the process was discovered in Europe. [We gathered the fruit off the [saguaro] cactus with a long pole boiled and aged it]. A fifth team member reported on Hohokam sports, such as "playing with hoops and a ball game similar to soccer." During the presentation, an Anglo boy helped a Mexican-American classmate read his final report. He announced their biggest problem was that half of them spoke Spanish and the other did not. and that they had personality conflicts but finally pullet it together." A final student confessed to having a lot of problems "with personality conflicts" and added "we solved our problems and finally pulled it together." [Students were shy in reporting and it was hard to hear their soft voices on the tape " (Ritter's Class, 2/21/97).
Video Responses: ESL students responses to their own class video were delightful and insightful. Sixteen ESL [English as a Second Language] students, many of them non-English speaking, in one class [Creighton School] honestly evaluated a videotape of their final presentation. They picked out positive and negative aspects. Their original responses follow with the spelling and grammar problems. One girl liked a house that had "diferend colors and used palm trees for the roof." A second girl noticed, "A lot of people used the basic square shaped houseing." Three students mentioned making small details. They said, "I love the details on group 2; like the pottery and the snake; the house looks better on camra; People made pottery that was pretty neat. It made the house look very realistic and more colorful."
Three groups confessed that they had problems with their houses falling down [due to weak bases or clay drying out]. Most of the students agreed that the recycled house was a poor solution. One student complained, "It was built in 2 minutes...and built with things they didn't have back then;" and one boy on that team announced that their house "was crapy [crappy] or "turdle-ishes [turd-like]".
They also responded to their presentation conditions: "We shoued pratist more." One girl liked "the idea of [reporting in] 2 languages but students have to speak louder and some were rude;" "Sometimes we didn't know waht some of the words meant;" "Some students talked too much asn wern't saying anything interesting;" "They didn't finish because they didn't have time to finish the rowf." Finally, one girl complained that she didn't like being in videos and would make another presentation without the video. She felt that she was shy in front of her friends, "l got emberrass [embarrassed]." Three students wrote that they didn't know what to say or couldn't write it down. Others were absent. Finally, one boy mentioned that "we shyed of done it in another roone [acoustics were bad]. These results show that ESL students are quite capable of evaluating their work orally as their English improves.
Pre and Post Test Drawings: In order to ascertain student learning better, we designed a pretest and post drawing task, called "Draw a Picture of an Ancient Southwest Culture House." Results from this new task with another sixth grade class in the Fall of 1997, revealed significant learning that students (especially bilingual ones) can not always tell but show.
Pretest drawings were rather schematic, rectangular in shape, mostly in elevated view, and with few details (door, window, fireplace, ladder). Students didn't label any styles but their drawings suggested adobe and pueblo style houses. One student drew a teepee that is from the Plains Native American Group [a stereotype that children use for United States tribal peoples]. [Results under section called Participants.]
Post test drawings showed more variety of housing styles that were labeled (red river rock (5/16), pit houses (4/16), and cliff dwellings (4/16). Students learned to draw floor plans (10/16), while four students drew both elevation and floor plans.
Seven out of sixteen students also drew cross sections of cross beam roof construction in correct sequence, and three other students included written directions as well. Five students mentioned calice (mud-covered) walls and four others called it desert cement, revealing that more than half (9/16) understood that this clay was a necessary final covering. I would like to ask them in the future "Why this covering is so important?"
One student explained in detail the Hohokam Jacal wall construction process of using vertical poles crossed with sticks, crossed with sticks again, with an organic filler, and finally covered with mud. He knew that the wall needed to be thicker at the bottom. Two students drew houses for living and labeled them incorrectly as keva (kiva), Kivas were ceremonial places not domestic shelters. They confused a pit house and kiva because they are both in the ground [pit house influenced the kiva construction which is deeper]. One student, however, identified correctly that a pit house is about 2" high [only to sleep in].
Impressive this time were the amount of tools and details that students added to their drawings. They included storage areas and pots, woven beds (crisscross), basket, corn crops, cobs, and grinder, fire pit, digging stick, and ladders.
When compared to written tests, these results show that students can draw more than they can tell. In the future, I also want to show them making little structures out of plasticene clay [oil based and doesn't dry out] to test their individual knowledge growth with a 3-D form. They can also tell us the difference between the two types of clay.
Sixth Graders' Post Test Drawings of Ancient South West Culture Houses
|House Type||Shape||Floor Plan||Elevation||
|Red River Rock||5/16 rectangular||4/16||
|sticks across sticks||
|Pit House||4/16 circular||3/16||2/16||corn crop & cobs||2/16 *storage pot|
|Cliff House||4/16 rectangular||1/16||1/16||7/16 roof cross-section roof||3/16 mat beds|
|Jacal Constuction||1/16 rectangular||1/16||1/16||crossed stick walls w filler||covered with mud||digging stick|
desert cement 5/16;
calice walls 4/16
|2/16 T-shaped door|
|Variety of House Styles||Rectangle Dominant||floor plans dominate||over half knew roof construction||lots of details|
Many knew sequence of building roof (8/16); 1 kid knew pit house =12 inch deep (18" app.)
Other: To test students' knowledge of cultural details, teachers used multiple choice questions, not covered here.