At the start, we introduced the project with a Skype call from the artist in New York. This inspired our 6th grade students to begin planning right away. The only limitations the students had were to create something meaningful to them. It was an entry point for almost ALL students. It’s amazing to see what students create when they are asked to merely show who they are.
The art night took place on May 18th, 2017 and along with the puzzle pieces we were able to display classroom art from all teachers and hold a silent art auction to raise money for future art at Hilltop Elementary. In addition, we had musical performances from our band students as well as our guitar club. It served as a wonderful way to bring our community together. We had well over 100 guests that attended and raised about $700 from our silent art auction pieces. Throughout the night, I had students, teachers, and families all thank me for such a lovely evening.
The Puzzle Project was a huge part of our Cohort Fridays. Students were excited to come to cohorts to have the time to work with paint with little restrictions. At the end of our cohort Fridays, the 6th grade team asked students to write a reflection about what their favorite part about cohort Fridays was, and many wrote, ‘being able to paint what we wanted’, ‘the puzzle project,’ and ‘art’. Cohort Fridays was also a new thing this year.
Overall, students had very positive experiences. It was great for the teachers, too, to be able to interact and get to know other 6th grade students by ‘name, strength, and need.’
In addition, at the art show we had classes donate art to raise money for future art at Hilltop. This inspired a few students to donate their own works of art to the auction (some of our highest bids!).
Not only did this project have a huge impact on our students this year, but the art show itself was a success among our staff. Although it took a lot of preparation, I feel all teachers felt inspired to make this an annual tradition. Because of the puzzle project, the art show was a booming success! I even had a Kindergarten teacher approach me saying that she had a mom that would be interested in helping with future art shows!