Constance Cummings

BPS Clap Elementary, Boston MA

Participate in The Creativity Workshop's Barcelona experience, followed by an individual study of Moorish architecture in southern Spain, to inspire new learning that integrates pattern, math and art.

Where I've Been

  • Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, Grenada, Spain

My Fellowship in Images

I was fortunate to share my experience at the Creativity Workshop in Barcelona with several other educators from around the United States.
Throughout the week we worked on a multitude of exercises in our sketchbook designed to help us think outside the box.
One challenging exercise was to draw " a map of the continent of my heart".
I had free-time in Barcelona to explore many of the architectural gems of Anton Gaud, including the magnificent Sagreda Familia Cathedral.
Just one of the many open ironwork windows incorporating Arabic calligraphy in the Real Alcaczar in Seville Spain.
One of the countless Islamic tiles I saw in Andalusia and will use to inspire my students on our study of pattern in architecture.

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

I learned exercises to build creative thinking, both in my personal work and in my teaching practice. As a result, I am using a sketchbook on a regular basis and am less concerned with the end product and more interested in the creative process. Through my independent travels and immersing myself in another culture, I have seen first hand how Islam has influenced the secular and religious spaces in Southern Spain. My content knowledge on pattern and architecture have grown tremendously.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

I returned with so many new ideas about art and creativity that I can't wait to share with my students. I will incorporate the mindfulness and meditation techniques that I was taught. Students in upper grades keep a sketchbook. My art lessons on pattern will include connections to the exquisite architecture I saw in Southern Spain. My teaching will broaden as I introduce students to the ways in which one culture can influence the artistic styles of another culture.

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

This was an experience of a lifetime. One of the biggest take-aways from the workshop is realizing that creativity is a muscle which needs to be exercised or it will atrophy .Creativity builds upon itself. Throughout the workshop, we learned that you must allow yourself to "fail, fail again and fail better" and learn from the missteps. Through my independent travels, I was able to see in person cultural art and architecture that I had only seen small scale reproductions of.

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

I will use exercises that I learned to encourage my students to have their " hands move faster than their brains", and move out of their comfort zone. I will share my travels to Moorish Spain when I teach my unit on "Pattern in Art" introducing my students to the variety of Islamic patterns that I saw during my travels. They will learn how to recreate these patterns using geometric shapes. As a result, they will connect their work to another culture and strengthen their math skills.

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

I would like to present some of the writing exercises I learned at the Workshop in Barcelona during one of our school-wide professional developments. I will work with our classroom teachers to include the study of geometric pattern in their math curriculum. I would also like to collaborate with other arts teachers who have attended the Creativity Workshop to explore presenting our experiences to arts teachers in the Boston Public School District.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

We have an annual "Arts Night" at our school. It is the biggest family event at my school. I will celebrate my students art work with a "Pattern Around the World" exhibit featuring their artwork inspired by my travels in Andalusia.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

I think it is important for students to learn about cultures which are very different from theirs. Many problems in the world are due to misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge of different people. When students learn about another culture and their artistic traditions, they begin to understand that there are different approaches to life. Hopefully when students learn about artistic traditions from another country, they will enrich and expand their knowledge and art-making.

How would you describe to a friend or a grant funder the most fundamental ways in which your fellowship has changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

The fellowship to Spain provided an opportunity to embark on two distinctive journeys ; the Creativity Workshop taught me techniques to ignite my own creativity and those of my students, and my travels to Andalucia provided a window into the unique artistic and cultural traditions of Moorish Spain. I will use this travel experience to inspire my teaching. My knowledge of the visual element of pattern and architecture is now broader and my teaching techniques are more diverse.