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Collaborating in the Classroom


Description: This collaborative artwork was created by seventeen G5 Community Preparatory School students, along with Arts Educator, Janine A. Lee and Master Teaching Artist | Industrial Designer | Educator, Amy Leidtke. It represents the culmination of a multiple phase project, developed to activate children’s minds and hands in meaningful academically integrated curriculum that is engaging, fun, and creative. Title: Collaborative Observations of the Ordering Principles of Symmetry, Geometry, and Nature (a Kaleidoscopic Research Investigation, Pilot II) Size: 6’h x 6’w x 2.5” d Materials: acrylic paint, ink, paper, graphite, and wood panel Date: January – February, 2014Community Preparatory School, Providence RI (2014)

As a professional industrial design practitioner, artist, and RISD faculty member, one of my goals is to practice 'community-engaged scholarship(Boyer, 1996). I believe this work, which is focused on researching and designing academically integrated arts curriculum and products, in the pursuit of producing educational ‘gifts’ (Froebel, nineteenth century education pioneer), is an important way to positively impact the lives of young citizens in Rhode Island, and New England.

Children benefit from access to practicing artists and designers, and I am happy that my background, education, faculty position, and research interests make it possible for me to serve in this role.  Children need greater access to opportunities to experience the arts in meaningful and multidisciplinary ways.

Student Reflection: “This experience changed the way I look at the world. You realize how many shapes and details there are everywhere. If you look closer at your surroundings there’s a whole other world of shapes and colors that you can’t imagine. I didn’t know what I was capable of and Ms. Amy and Ms. Lee helped me find what I could do. The geometry that was mixed in help me comprehend shapes more. …(This project) helped me feel like I was doing a great job and (gave) me confidence.” – Maeve, Grade 5
Funding: It is important to note that the experiences created in arts classroom at Community Preparatory School were partially supported by RISCA funding. The funding for this particular project partially covered time and materials. Thank you to RISCA for helping to support this form of work.
Engaged Scholarship: “The term 'scholarship of engagement' is an emergent concept first used by Ernest Boyer in a 1996 article by that title. The term redefines faculty scholarly work from application of academic expertise to community engaged scholarship that involves the faculty member in a reciprocal partnership with the community, is interdisciplinary, and integrates faculty roles of teaching, research, and service. While there is variation in current terminology (public scholarship, scholarship of engagement, community-engaged scholarship), engaged scholarship is defined by the collaboration between academics and individuals outside the academy - knowledge professionals and the lay public (local, regional/state, national, global) - for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The scholarship of engagement includes explicitly democratic dimensions of encouraging the participation of non-academics in ways that enhance and broaden engagement and deliberation about major social issues inside and outside the university. It seeks to facilitate a more active and engaged democracy by bringing affected publics into problem-solving work in ways that advance the public good with and not merely for the public.” Source viewed online, March 26, 2014, New England Resource Center for Higher Education.