Tag Archives: Not-A-Box

As part of our discussion on visual culture, the grad students in my Elementary Methods class at BU were challenged to create a memorial or monument dedicated to someone or something important to them.

To begin the conversation, I showed students a few videos about the current debate over the removal of confederate monuments and a public art monument initiative in Philadelphia. The first videos I showed were from a lesson created by The Choices Program at Brown University called History in Dispute: Charlottesville and Confederate Monuments. I showed my students three of the videos and they answered a question about the content of each video after each one was over. Next, I showed students a six-minute video from the PBS New Hour about a city-wide public art project in Philadelphia called Monumental Lab.

I also showed students monuments created by contemporary artists including: Free at Last, by Sergio Castillo, Monument in Trafalgar Square, by Rachel Whiteread, Pedestal for Strangers and Pedestal for a Little Girl, by Miranda July and Public Figures by Do-Ho Suh.


Then I taught students how to create a pop-up box out of oak tag (inspired by my Not-a-Box lesson) and students brainstormed ideas for what they would create. My goal was to show my grad students how a lesson could be adapted for different age groups. This is a lesson I think would be amazing to teach middle school students right now.

After creating their monuments, my students also wrote a brief artist statement about their work. Here are a few pictures of their finished monuments…



Additional Links & Resources:

What the Removal of New Orleans’s White Supremacist Monuments Means to My Students

Spark Lab: Design Your Own Monument

Teaching for Big Ideas: Art Education for the 21st Century



This is one of my all-time favorite projects. I love watching students problem solve the challenges that arise with 3D paper construction. Here’s a sampling of this year’s results. 🙂


I got the idea for this project from a colleague in my district. On the first day, I read Not-A-Box, by Antoinette Portis and students thought of different ways they could transform an ordinary box into something new. On the first day, students covered the background sides of their pop-up with paper. On the second and third day, students used paper to transform their box into something new and add details. I showed students how to make and attach tabs and many of them used tabs to add more 3D elements to their collage.