Pinney Elementary School students will have an opportunity to showcase the results of a yearlong lesson at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Pinney Elementary School students will have an opportunity to showcase the results of a yearlong lesson at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Nearly 50 fourth- and fifth-graders participated in the Identity Project, and their work will be displayed at the Columbus Museum of Art from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3.

The project, led by teachers Matt DeMatteis, Jason Blair, Dan Lowe and Sandy Connors, had students use 21st-century learning skills to learn about how identities are formed.

“Personal identity is something we are all born with, but investigating our true identity is often left out of the equation,” DeMatteis said. “Our students benefit deeply from taking time to learn who they are, what shapes their identity and how their identities impact the way they view the world around them.”

According to Blair, students looked into external factors and events that shape identity and asked questions to find out who they are and what they value.

“Our goal was to have students explore each of the three driving questions for the project: Who am I? Who are you? And where do we go?” Lowe said. “We asked students to critically think about what influences helped create who they were and what they thought. We then wanted students to think about their own identities in relation to how they interacted with others. In other words, how does my identity affect how I interact with you?”

Students and teachers collaborated on the project that crossed different disciplines. Students interviewed people, took pictures and conducted research on identity.

“For instance, for one part of the ‘Who am I’ question, we had students take home a digital camera and take pictures of their environment,” Lowe said. “They brought these pictures to school and created a slideshow of their lives in pictures on keynote, (and) then other students got to view the pictures and give feedback. For the most part, many aspects of these projects tap many different resources. The collaborative piece is a very strong driving force in all that we do.”

The exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art will give the public a view of the learning process.

“On display will be the journey,” Blair said. “The focus of the exhibit moves away from just a final product that we are all so used to seeing to a more process-oriented exhibit. The students’ thinking will be on display. There will be journals, artifact reviews, personal narratives, photo essays, research, interviews, planning documents, poetry, student-created presentations, identity maps and, of course, amazing artwork.”

Lowe said he was amazed by what students had discovered during the project.

“When I leave this profession, I want to know that my students are working toward being compassionate people who think critically about the world around them, are big-picture thinkers and can embrace who they are as individuals,” DeMatteis said.

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