Network Initiatives

How can seventh grade students better understand ancient cultures?
Project or Program Summary
Please provide a summary of the project/program as demonstrated in the case study: 
Theatre teaching artist Michael Gunst worked with sixty 7th grade students, who were studying the ancient Aztec, Inca, and Mayan cultures in their social studies class. In order to deepen their knowledge on these cultures, Mr. Gunst completed five workshops with the students to create plaster of Paris god-masks and write and perform monologues or skits with their mask personas.
Portfolio Purpose and Rational
Portfolio Purpose and Rationale: Why has this case study been submitted?: 
This case study was selected, funded and implemented for the MetLife Arts for Learning for Life 2012 grant, and is a great example of fitting visual and performing art into class time and enriching social studies curriculum for middle school students.
Overall Conclusions
What are your overall conclusions regarding the documentation gathered for this case study?: 
After creating the plaster of Paris masks to represent their chosen ancient culture god, students took more ownership in their writing, movement and performance. This ownership increased the students' ability to open up, learn more about the cultures from their own research and from each other.
Assessment Conclusions
What conclusions have you drawn from the responses to the assessment tools you have developed?: 
The residency needs to be completed over the course of a few more days to leave more class time to writing the narratives, learning theatre techniques, and rehearsing the performances. Movement and performing techniques should be done with the masks to decrease the shyness of the middle school students.
Answering the Inquiry Question
Back to the initial inquiry question, can it be answered?: 
Student knowledge on ancient cultures can be enhanced through a visual and performing art project.
Conclusions: What Was Learned
What was learned?: 
Knowledge on adolescent development and behavior can be extremely helpful for teachers and teaching artists when planning program and considering possible issues. The students demonstrated a great deal of ownership of their god personas after their masks were created, and they effectively portrayed their characters in short performances designed for younger students.
Conclusions: What Can Be Done Differently In The Future
What can be done differently in the future?: 
The residency planning did not accurately predict the length of time that the creation of the masks would take. There needed to be more time left between the artist visits so the students could work independently on the project and so they could practice the theatre techniques introduced by the teaching artist.
Conclusions: How Will This Inform The Work Moving Forward
How will this inform the work moving forward?: 
More planning time will be implemented and background knowledge of students will be used in programs moving forward. This residency created a stronger relationship with the school principal and the participating teacher and it motivated them to raise enough money to do a similar program next year.
Core Content Standards
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Range of Writing
Speaking and Listening: 
Comprehension and Collaboration
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Knowledge of Language
Science / Dimension 3: Core Ideas In Four Disciplinary Areas / Earth and Space Sciences: 
Earth and human activity
21st Century Learning Skills
Learning and Innovation / Creativity and Innovation: 
Think Creatively
Learning and Innovation / Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 
Reason Effectively
Make Judgments and Decisions
Learning and Innovation / Communication and Collaboration: 
Communicate Clearly
Information, Media and Technology / Information Literacy: 
Access and Evaluate Information
Use and Manage Information
Life and Career / Flexibility and Adaptability: 
Be Flexible
Life and Career / Initiative and Self-Direction: 
Manage Goals and Time
Work Independently
Be Self-directed Learners
Life and Career / Social and Cross-Cultural : 
Interact Effectively with Others
Life and Career / Leadership and Responsiblity: 
Produce Results
National Core Arts Standards
National Core Arts Standards: 
Local Standards
Describe Any Local Standards Met By The Program: 
This residency met a number of Colorado Academic Standards in Social Studies and in Drama and Theatre Arts for Seventh Grade. Broadly, the program met: SS Standard 1. History SS Standard 2. Geography Theatre Standard 1. Create Theatre Standard 2. Perform Theatre Standard 3. Critically Respond
Project Summary
Visual Arts
Social Studies
Institutional Overview
Think 360 Arts
2250 S. Oneida Street, Suite 301
80224 Denver , CO
United States
Colorado US
School District(s)
Denver Public Schools
900 Grant Street
80203 Denver , CO
United States
Colorado US
Centennial ECE-8 School
4665 Raleigh Street
80212 Denver , CO
United States
Colorado US
Tony Abel-Pype
Subject Taught: 
Social Studies
Teaching Artist(s)
Michael Gunst
Artist Field(s):