Who Were the Multiple Participants?
Participants - Focus Group Reactions- Students - Prequestionnaire & Results
Who Were the Participants and What Were Their Contexts?
Larry Woodson has taught at Fees Intermediate School in Tempe, Arizona for eight years, won Arizona's outstanding teacher of the year, and collaborated with me on other studies (Stokrocki, 1996). He has a background as a performance artist and had his own silk screen business. Fees is located in an affluent area of Tempe which serves both affluent children of "The Lakes" and poorer Yaqui Indian students in Guadelupe. His classes are 45 minutes long.
Darlene Ritter, art instructor at Tavan Elementary School in the Scottsdale School District, has been teaching for 36 years and wrote books on multicultural art projects. She was a traveling multicultural art teacher for 15 years in Southern California and worked with ethnically diverse students. Her classes are 40 minutes long.
Barbara Weeks is a former teacher trainer for Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools that were part of the ESEA-Title I Project called The Phoenix Area Fine Arts Team (1972). She has taught for 32 years in inner city Phoenix and raised two children of her own. Classes are 45 minutes long.
Joyce Batchelor is an art teacher for 26 years at the Gila Bend School District, one of the poorest in the state. Many of her students are Tohono O'odham Native Americans. Her classes are 45 minutes long
Mary Stokrocki, Professor at Arizona State University, has taught art education courses here for eight years, 10 years at Cleveland State University, and 10 years as a junior-senior high art teacher in New York and Massachusetts. Her 15 year career as a researcher spans all levels of art education and international contexts.
2. How did the Focus Group React to the Study?
One of the most significant part of this study were the collaboration efforts and findings. The focus group consisted of the 4 participating art teachers. The first focus group meeting examined the teaching video and all participants reported on its high quality. For the second focus group meeting, teaches reported what they were learning and how the experience was meaningful to them.
(See Figure of Wooden videotaping his students in action).
What were their reactions to the teaching video?
The focus group of four participating art teachers responded to Woodson's initial teaching video (3/8/97). They found the quality of the teaching video very good. Their comments included, "relaxing, humorous, appeals to kids, and addresses the audience. Some of the teachers' comments were "I like the music playing in background, nice closeups and contrast with blue sky, love seeing his classroom, and good to see him speak to the camera audience as well. They laughed at his funny examples. Woodson admitted, "Kids love teachers who play dumb." Weeks recognized the pots that she gave to Woodson for art appreciation. They found further connections with other tribal people, such as blue print images in South Africa. The video invited viewers to visit the site on their own. The focus group constantly asked questions, such as "Where is this place?" During the second part of the video, students spoke to the cameraman, Woodson, who happened to be their own teacher. In this way, students appear to speak directly to viewers, who are other kids.
How did we enjoy working together?
Stokrocki: I appreciated working with teachers because I was for ten years among their ranks at this middle school level. Their problems were and continue to be my problems. They make me relax and laugh. Larry is such a funny fellow that he has made me more of a performance teacher. I can now relate and quote local incidences and authorities besides the "great art education heroes and heroines." I became a student too as I sat in the classes. Even though I had lived here for several years and did research on the Navajo, I knew little about the ancient culture right in my own backyard. I went to the museums with the students and learned to experience the information through their eyes (Stokrocki, 10/24/97).
What did we learn?
Woodson admitted that he didn't know any of this material when he started three years ago. This is a new knowledge base for him to explore. He confessed that he learned to do assessment better. He confessed, "I used to 'fly by the seat of my pants.' I'm not done learning. I'm constantly discovering new ways to improve. I would do everything different now."
Batchelor, who lived two hours away in Gila Bend, was not able to come to any of the focus group sessions. She appreciated the learning resources and photographs of students in other settings. She found that her students were most excited about the little tools (e.g.; bows and arrows) that they saw in a motivating picture. She loved having visitors because she gets often lonely and feels that students need to be inspired to go to the university. She reported that they couldn't wait to see videos of themselves. In general, she admitted that this was a worthwhile experience.
Weeks responded, "This multifaceted experience is a luxury. It took me back to my days on the art van [traveling across the various reservations as a teacher. I got to know and work with really great people."
Ritter added, "What I got out of this research experience was problem solving, sharing ideas with enthusiasm, writing an article, and presenting together. Now others will learn from our experience.
Student Teacher, Julie Lawson, shares her findings and experience documenting Ritter's class. She stated, "I learned in this particular research project that students are influenced by so many different aspects that are completely uncontrollable by the art teacher. Such things, as the school itself, the art room (availability of space and supplies), and their background (socioeconomic status, race, and understanding of the English language), affect what they learns. What I appreciated the most was documenting the teaching of the Southwest cultures (Anasazi and Hohokam) and the extent and depth of which these six graders enjoyed and explored them. As part of the research team, I felt like another set of eyes and ears, there to observe and record the efforts of the teacher in her attempt to teach the students about these cultures. I enjoyed watching the students interact with one another and interpret their model village.
3. Who Were The Students?
Woodson's class consisted of 20 sixth graders (11 boys and nine girls) with no previous art education classes. Most students were Caucasian, two were Afro-American, and two were Mexican-American. One Mexican-American boy was non-English speaking.
In Ritter's class at Tavan Elementary, most of the students come from a low economic area. Many of them are Hispanic, from large families, and are eligible for free breakfast and lunch. Many students originate from Mexico and continually visit. About a third of class come from well established homes and about a fifth of the class were gifted.
In Week's class in inner-city Phoenix, 50% of her students are studying English as Second Language [ESL], some are monolingual (speak only Spanish), but 98% of them get free lunches. Most students are Hispanic (75%) and generally poor; others are white; some students come from a higher economic level, and a few students are Native American.
At Gila Bend Elenentary School, many of the students are Tohono O'odham Native Americans. No other information is available.
3. What were Students Preconceptions About Culture, Architecture, and Ancient Houses?
In the past, Woodson informally drilled his classes about Arizona and its inhabitants and found that students had little sense of their local history. He further found that they knew less about culture and architecture. So he decided to offer a class about "Southwest Cultures Through Art." When asked to define architecture on a prequestionnaire, nearly half of the students (10/23) said that they didn't know. Other students mentioned building (6/23) and made of clay (20/23). When asked what we have in common with ancient people, only six students mentioned need for shelter. Then when asked what were the objects on the front table, they answered adobe hut (4/20), house with chimney, shelter with warm fire, storage, place where people eat and sleep, camp place, and an ancient village (Results from Woodson's class). Teachers in the other settings report similar findings. Over half my beginning art education majors at the University also could not tell me what was a structure nor the steps in building a house. Obviously, the need to cover architecture and its related dimensions is great.
In order to ascertain student learning better, we designed a pretest 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. The 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].
An Example of Findings From Sixth Graders' Pretest Drawings of Ancient South West Culture Houses
House Type Shape Floor Plan Both Views Roof Details Wall Details Tools
No name rectangular 0 10/18 0 15/18 front 11 windows pot
No name round 0 4/18 door rug
3 or 5 story pueblo-like 2/18 fireplace, stove
underground 1/18 food
x-ray view bed, table
Tee-pee 1/18 chimney 1
Total schematic elevations 18/18
From Woodson's Class 12/20/98