The Columbus Museum of Art hosted a reception for its new Creative Classroom Series earlier this month, officially opening an exhibition featuring the work of students at Wickliffe Progressive Community School.

The Columbus Museum of Art hosted a reception for its new Creative Classroom Series earlier this month, officially opening an exhibition featuring the work of students at Wickliffe Progressive Community School.

Maureen Reedy, Wickliffe's elementary instructional specialist, says she's been thinking about the reception ever since.

"I have been thinking about it every day," she said. "I have to say it was one of the highlights of my teaching career."

The students were "just amazed" to see their artwork on the walls of the museum, elevated to the status of a professional artist, Reedy said.

"It was as if they saw themselves in a different light," she said. "They knew the power of their learning, their artwork and their thinking."

Kindergarten teacher Sue Bauchmoyer said there was a "fabulous turnout" at the opening reception, including parents, older siblings and grandparents.

"People were walking around, talking to the children. You could just tell how proud they were of their work," she said.

One of the goals of the Creative Classroom Series is to showcase "the creative process, rather than just showing the finished product," said Susie Underwood, studio program coordinator for CMA.

Wickliffe is the first school to be featured in the series. Underwood said Wickliffe "was sort of the natural first place to go." The CMA was attracted not only to the school's commitment to integrating arts into the curriculum, but also to Wickliffe's emphasis on student reflection throughout the learning process, she said.

Student reflection is a key component of the "Making Learning Visible" (MLV) initiative, Reedy said. For the past six years, Wickliffe staff members have been working with researchers at Harvard University through Project Zero, where the MLV project originated.

"Basically, the idea is to pose problems that relate to your curriculum. We approach it in a way where we open it up to students in an investigative fashion," she said. "We create a culture where we pose questions and seek to find answers."

Underwood said the CMA selected pieces for the exhibit that "show the entire process, from the inception of the idea to the end."

"Design Challenge," a project created by Sarah Oberlin's third- and fourth-graders, serves as a great example of what Wickliffe does so well, Underwood said.

The project actually began as a language arts assignment, Reedy said. The students were writing "I am" poems and planned to represent their words by creating 3-D portraits out of balloons and papier mache.

But the students soon discovered that the papier mache heads wouldn't stand up, Reedy said. Their balloons kept falling over.

That's when Oberlin decided to switch gears, challenging the students to design a better base. She split students into small groups and had each team create a prototype. The students then rated each design on its strength and durability, eventually choosing one to use as a model.

"It's a great example of taking something that you start out with as a teacher and shifting it in an authentic way," Reedy said. "You basically take the thinking and turn it back over to them."

Some of Oberlin's students recorded reflections on what they learned from the project, which visitors can hear through the museum's Guide by Cell program.

Other pieces included in the exhibit began with field trips. Bauchmoyer's kindergarteners returned from a trip to the Franklin Park Conservatory with caterpillars and an opportunity to observe the life cycle.

The students found pictures of butterflies they wanted to represent and completed small drawings, before eventually designing large butterflies to hang in the classroom.

Fifth-graders created art after visiting the National Underground Freedom Center in Cincinnati, including a freedom quilt and a pillar of beads representing the slaves who died on the Middle Passage.

"It stays with you forever when you make an emotional connection," Reedy said.

Underwood said the process of designing the exhibit was a "juggling act." The work needed to be museum presentable and make sense, she said, while also preserving the original student and teacher contributions.

"The students and teachers felt that the work had really been elevated and honored in a way that had never been done before," Underwood said. "I was really happy to hear that."

For Reedy, the exhibit reflects much more than just the everyday learning process at Wickliffe.

"It represents a vision for children's learning that goes beyond standardized tests and assessments. It gets back to the heart of what learning is," she said. "Children represent their knowledge in a way that goes beyond measure."