task party

Welcome to a new school year here at New City!

We recently started a sixth grade tradition on the first day of school- the TASK Party! I first experienced a TASK Party at the Art21 summer teacher institute where we got to meet the creator, Oliver Herring (who by the way couldn't be more thoughtful and kindhearted). 

What is a TASK Party? It's a collaborative creative playground that helps us understand ourselves and others as creative social beings. And it's lots of fun! 

The rules are simple: Take a task from the box, complete the task, write a new task for the box, repeat. Simple materials are available to use: newspaper, markers, tape, yarn, scissors, foil, etc. 

I start by introducing Oliver Herring as an artist who doesn't work with traditional materials like pencils or paint. He uses people to explore relationships and boundaries. We share this video after our TASK Party before the writing reflection:

I love the TASK Party for several reasons. It's a great way to explore process, limitations, perspective, empathy, trust, community, and creativity. 

Collect Time.

Make a flower.

Tear a piece of paper and tape it back together.

Make a city.

Make a birthday cake for someone and sing happy birthday.

Make a computer.

This was an example from my art21 task party!

You can see some of the tasks were performance based and others purely visual, they could be social or solo, some tasks were very detailed and others beautifully simple. I appreciate the open-ended aspect of the tasks. Each one is a brave adventure, completely open to interpretation and approach.

Here are a few hints to help make the TASK Party fun for everyone. As an introvert/observer, I notice it's important to have a large space with a quieter spot for those who need a little break from the high energy party. We also discuss the importance of putting in positive tasks to create a positive community and not to name anyone specific in their task. And, we always start our TASK Party with a box of ready-to-go tasks to get the party started. Tasks made by the kids beforehand are often more thoughtful while tasks made during the party may connect to or flow from other tasks with a wonderful spontaneity.

We've also connected their TASK Party to a writing reflection. Linda, 6th grade teacher and my art21 partner, wrote the following questions they answered in her class.

1. What are your general thoughts, observations, and reactions to the Task Party? List 5 words or phrases:
2. Did you see anyone perform/do any of your tasks? If so, what did you think? If not, which task of yours do you wish you'd seen completed?
3. Did you spend your time interpersonally or more intrapersonally while tasking?
4. What task do you take the most pride in having completed?
5. Is there a task that pushed you out of your comfort zone?
6. Would you call the Task Party art?
7. Closing thoughts/reflections:
8. Blank space to fill with whatever they wanted.

My favorite response I've read is for question #6 from Dylan.
Would you call the Task Party art?
I would call it an art, just like the technique of packing a suitcase is an art. It's the art of breaking boundaries. 
I think Oliver Herring would be tickled with that response!


Amie Plumley said...

Love love this idea! Do you think it's possible to do a simple version for say, 2nd graders? This is just the kind of creative thinking that I want to practice with my students. Glad you're back! Looking forward to seeing what you make/do this school year!

Shannah said...

Thank you Amie:)
Yes, I think this would be lots of fun for 2nd graders! I've seen teachers do this with their kinders too, just using teacher generated tasks.