Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reflecting on new National Art Standards

The NAEA has rolled out the new National Art Standards to align with common core, and so far I'm very intrigued with the ways it can help me get a big picture of my curriculum and what I want my students to learn in each grade. I haven't explored them totally in-depth yet. I'm following along with the series of webinars the NAEA is hosting over the summer as my personal professional development. Tonight I downloaded the "at-a-glance" standards charts. It's a lot of information to absorb at once. So, being an artist and visual learner I thought I would play with some imagery to help myself understand all the concepts.
 First of all, there are 4 main activities students should be doing in art class: responding,creating,connecting, and presenting. These 4 activities are interdependent and cyclical, which is why I arranged them in the frame above. I selected the images on purpose For "CREATE", my Kinder Thankful hands image has a picture of the artist inside her hand on an abstract background- a project that involved painting, coloring, cutting, and collage, plus the HAND is essential for creating in my perspective. For "CONNECT" I used one of my 5th grader's self-portrait monoprints because the artist's eyes connect with the viewer and in that project students were connecting the history of self-portraiture with contemporary social media practice of taking selfies. For "PRESENT" I used an image of the first collaborative project I did with my students- a self-portrait mural in rainbow colors that took something small and individual and became huge and inclusive once they were all put together for display. For "RESPOND" I used a collage and embellishment image my 5th graders did last year which involved using someone else's artwork as a resource and which involved a successful group critique to determine best approaches for creating unity and emphasis.  So, these images have personal meaning for the context of the 4 aspects of art class.
 I went through the entire at-a-glance standards chart, which shows anchor standards for each of the 4 concepts. Each anchor has an "Enduring understanding", a big idea. I'm trying to see the big picture of my curriculum- what should my students understand and be able to do? What's the point of all these projects we do? How is it relevant? Why does your average individual in today's society need art education? What does it do for our society? Ok.. a little overboard there. But the enduring understandings are helpful. and not overwhelming. I took the enduring understandings under the category of "CREATE" and made some more collages. I like the 2 ideas in the one above- which basically come down to 1-people make stuff and that's an awesome part of being human and 2- you CAN and should learn how to be creative.
Then there were 4 more understandings under CREATE that seemed more concrete. When we make art we 1- play with materials, ideas, and the elements & principles of art, 2- we refer to and are part of flexible artistic traditions, 3-it's not just fun, and 4-you have to practice to get better.

I think I'll make more of these, maybe make them a little more aesthetically pleasing and turn them into a bulletin board for my room. It will help me internalize these ideas if I see them in my environment every day.
Sometimes the things I put on the walls in my classroom are for my kids, but a lot of times they are for me as a reminder to reflect on whether I'm following procedures and achieving the goals I set out to meet.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This year in 5th grade

Well, I know what I have to work on for next year. 5th grade.....
Whereas most of my grades completed 8 or more projects over the year, it looks like 5th only got through 6, and I only have pictures here of 4 of them...
Almost all of the projects focused on some part of identity. My major problems with 5th stem from them being soooooooooooooooooo talkative and not working enough, and me planning projects that were too long and drawn out for them to sustain focus on. Add into that my interns usually want to experiment with this group because they are the only class that I see twice in one day, giving an opportunity for practice with one group before being observed with the second group.
So here's a look at some things we did in 5th grade this year:

We learned how to use rulers and compasses to make non-objective art. We also learned about analogous color harmonies:
 We learned how to make a tessellation and ho to shade values in colored pencil:
 We learned one point perspective and how to creat a sense of space through color, size, and placement in a still-life:
 We learned how to make a monoprint and use color for expressive purposes in a "selfie":
We also learned how to sew and applique a quilt square, but sadly I have no pictures of this.

Up for next year:
-more routines
-shorter/smaller projects!!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

This year in fourth grade

I had a huge range of characters in my fourth grade classes this year- some amazing artists, some chatterboxes, and some kids who just didn't like art. I tried to persuade them that art was awesome and even if you don't think you can make art, you can! We go into more in-depth projects in 4th grade, and it seems like some of them drag on forever. So my 4th graders didn't complete as many projects as my lower grades. We did elements and principles of art, a huge unit on Medieval art, American art and landscapes, and finally figurative art. There's a lot I want to change for next year, but here's what we learned about this year:

We learned about the elements of art (line, shape, color, value, pattern/texture, and space):
 We learned about op art and geometric forms, but alas I have NO pictures of our awesome paper sculptures...
We learned about Medieval art and craft, the guild system, and the patronage of the church and did projects including manuscripts and armor:
 and stained glass:
 We learned about American artist Jasper Johns and focused on stte symbols and emphasis:
 We learned about the Impressionist art movement and pointilism to create landscapes:
 We learned about proportion in figures and how to create movement in an artwork:
We also made figure sculptures which I also failed to photograph....
I'm considering switching up how I do things in my upper grades to involve more choice to hopefully engage the range of interests. Maybe using choice boards- like do 2 out of these 3 options to show you know the material. I also want to build in more feedback and reflection into my assessment of the upper grades. It may involve using sketchbooks with 4th grade as well as 5th. Or building in more routines... I have to think some more.....

Sunday, July 6, 2014

This year in 3rd grade

I had a great time with my 3rd graders this year. They have art first thing in the morning, and it's such a great time of day for focused creativity. They are also a good group of kids who haven't lost their sense of curiosity. I'm also generally pleased with the scope of projects we did together and how successful the kids were in each media.
So here's what we did in 3rd grade art this year:
We learned about symmetry. We practiced cutting and collage skills, and created a mask-like monster using the letters of our names to create unique shapes.
 We learned about different types of lines and about negative and positive space. However our cutting skills were not as advanced as our line-drawing skills, and many of the kids struggled with this project. Although the results look interesting, there was not enough content to the imagery in this project to engage the kids well. This needs to be adapted for next year.
 We learned how to create a sense of movement in a picture by using lines. This was a great one day project.
 We learned about self-portraits and how artists express emotions through expression and emotional color. Although I love this project, and it as an improvement over last year's "conversation" portrait project, I feel like I'm missing something. The kids take so long to paint it! But I think painting a smaller picture would be difficult too. Invariably they struggle with noses too...
We learned about how to create a sense of space in a picture through warm and cool color, scale, overlap, and placement on the picture plane. This year we made our own scratchart and then drew an outer space landscape. But I miss the variety of the pop-up landscapes I did last year. I might switch the scratchart project to an abstract project instead. It would also work on positive and negative space.

 We learned about complementary colors, tints, and shades and ho to blend oil pastels. We also learned about the still-life genre and drew healthy and unhealthy things.Finally we used mosaic squares to make a patterned border. I love how these turned out, but I think I would go smaller next year. One kid who missed several classes did just as good a job on a smaller piece of paper and was able to complete the border in half the time. The border really took way too long, and since the kids generally draw small anyway, their still-life objects were lost in a sea of negative space.
 We learned about Gyotaku fish printing from Japan. We learned how to make a relief print from an object, but also by drawing into styrofoam. These were beautiful and the kids really enjoyed printing.
 The last quarter was dedicated to craft. We learned about traditional American embroidery samplers by school-age children in the 18th century. We learned how to stitch running and whip stitches and how to sew on a button. This was many students' favorite project of the year.
 We learned how to create a coiled vessel in clay. We saw both traditional and contemporary craftspeople have used this form in their work. We also made a painting in response to the completed bowls to "camouflage" it.
I'm excited to work with 3rd grade again next year. One of the teachers asked me to integrate with their science curriculum and create a project that uses "simple machines". I love to integrate with other core curriculum and collaborate with my colleagues!

Monday, June 30, 2014

This year in 2nd grade

My second graders have a lot of energy and curiosity. They seem to get really engrossed in details. Some of them already have a serious interest in drawing certain styles or genres of things, and they love to share their independent artwork with me. But it's also an age when I start to see a lack of confidence in artistic ability, so we have a lot of conversations about how important it is to try your best, and that practice makes you grow, and that you need to experiment and try new things. The first half of the year we work on elements and principles of art and genre, and the second half we focus on art around the world.
Here's what we learned in second grade this year:
We learned how to turn lines into shapes and use patterns:
somebody really liked stripes!
 We learned how to use a compass and ruler to draw geometric shapes,and our imaginations to make organic shapes. We learned how to blend oil pastels to mix colors and create tints and shades:
Kandinsky-inspired non-objective art project
 We learned how to draw forms like cylinders and prisms. We learned how to shade in colored pencil. We tried to make a realistic still-life by looking at the light and shadows of our objects:
 We learned how to make values in paint. We learned about background and foreground to create space in a landscape:
poor little lost bunny in the big city
 We learned about illustrations and how pictures help us understand a story. We also made a self-portrait that showed what we like to read:
 We learned about folk-art traditions in Mexico.We learned how forms can be combined to make a sculpture and how to make it strong and stable:
 We learned about fiber art traditions in Central America. We learned about concentric lines and shapes, contrast and repetition:
 We learned about art and animals in Mali, Africa. We learned how to make a stamp and how to print a pattern. We learned about prey and predator animals and how to blend oil pastels:
 We learned about architecture from around the world, and drew dream buildings inspired by famous works of architecture.
I hope my second graders keep their creative spirit and open minds as they enter third grade!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

This year in First Grade

There are some things that my school curriculum requires for all my grades. For example,learning the elements and principles of design, learning about different genres of art, how to use a variety of materials to make art, etc. In addition to the regular stuff I have to hit, with the first graders I also like to move content from self-family-community-world. As I look at these pictures I realize I might need to move some of those projects around to get the right flow...
This year in first grade we looked at Jasper Johns, and we learned how to identify primary colors and mix them to create secondary colors:
 We read "The Dot" and learned how to control the paint brush to make different sizes of marks. Then we reviewed different lines and drew on top of our dots to make more interesting pictures.
 We learned about the seasons and how trees change. We learned how to draw what we see with our eyes, and how to print from a texture. We also learned how to collage and make a landscape.
 We learned how to make different values in paint. We learned about horizon lines and how to make things look near or far by changing their size.
 We learned how to draw faces in proportion and how to show emotion through expressions.
 We learned about the difference between a portrait and a self-portrait and how to use identifying details to make a drawing look like someone specific. We also practiced our coloring skills- no scribble scrabble!!
 Next we took a trip around the world. We learned about Australian animals and Aboriginal dot painting.We learned how to draw animals using familiar shapes and drew from pictures.
 We learned about the Amazon rainforest and the animals that live there. We learned how to make a monoprint, and reviewed our coloring and collage skills.
 We learned about Ancient Egypt, pyramids, hieroglyphics, and scarab beetles. We learned how to sculpt forms and make actual texture. We learned about symbols.
 We came back home to our backyards to discover what creatures are around us.We learned how to color carefully in colored pencil and how to draw from observation.
And finally, although I was not able to get any pictures, we learned that art can tell a story. We made character puppets and landscape background theatres.
It's been a productive year for first grade. I need to work on some more classroom management techniques for these chatty kids, and maybe find some more books to inspire their lessons. I like to use stories in K and 1st more than artworks because they become more enthralled. Reading stories also breaks up the class period for their short little attention spans. Only one of these projects I kept unaltered from the year before- the family portrait. The name project, tree, snowy landscape, and Australian animals were revamped. I will absolutely keep "The Dot" project. It seems that projects involving paint are best done BIG, and those with drawing and coloring are best kept small for this age group. I should probably work on keeping the 1st grade projects shorter like the Kinder projects, as anything that takes longer than 2 weeks tends to lose their interest. I have 10 projects out of 12 we did shown above. Unless I've forgotten something....
Anyway, great job first graders!!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Before Imove on from my Kindergartner projects completely, I thought I'd FINALLY post a thank you and review. A while back I won a  prize from The Art of Ed when they were doing a giveaway from Roylco. The package arrived at school at just the right time,as I was stuck for a way to finish off my Kinders' Wild Things project. In the box were a variety of Roylco products: some stained glass and koi project templates, some op-art weaving pages, some clay texture rollers, some paint scrapers, a bag full of earth-tone mosaic squares, and a variety of texture plates. While I'm not that excited about the ready-made art project stuff (although my art club liked the op art paper weaving), I did like to see that the mosaic squares came in other colors besides BRIGHT RAINBOW. I'm holding on to the clay rollers for when my school buildings switch and I have access to a kiln finally. The paint scrapers have been added to my collection so now I think I have enough for one per kid in a class. But what I was REALLY excited about were the texture plates!
It's scary how much we love texture!
 They came with 2 textures on a plate about 8x10 in size, which were easily cut in half to immediately double my stock. I ended up with about 12 plates that could be shared 2-3 per table in my room. For this project I had kids draw and color their own wild thing after watching an animated version of "Where the Wild Things Are". We noted all the different shapes and textures on the monsters that Maurice Sendak had drawn, and practiced some shapes on the board that could be put together to make a scary monster.
 We used markers and crayons, noting that markers like to draw LINES and crayons are good for coloring in SHAPES. Once all colored in, I had the kids carefully cut out their monster and put it aside. This was the last project of the year, and was a culmination of all the skills I'd hoped they'd gained in art this year.
 Next I showed them how to make a texture rubbing for their background to make it more interesting. They found the peeled crayon bits leftover in the boxes (so great to do this at the end of the year when all the crayons are broken!!!), placed the plates under their construction paper and rubbed all over, moving the plate to fill in as necessary. Some chose to stick with one texture for an overall pattern. Whereas other chose to use all the patterns that were available at their table. I like how in this one there's a sky and ground feel by combining 2 different patterns for the top and bottom:
 Some switched colors while using the same plate. I couldn't get this kid to STOP rubbing his paper, but it turned out really cool with the two-tone shading that matched the colors of his monster:
After completing their texture backgrounds, students glued their monsters down. I had one Kinder class too far behind to complete this lesson with the cutting and gluing step, so they just filled the blank area around their monsters with the textures, being careful not to scribble over their monsters.
My classroom environment is pretty small and flat- so there's not a lot of possibilities for found texture in my room, nor would I like having all my kids up and wandering around at once searching for textures. So the Roylco texture plates were a great way to give my students a tactile texture experience. Not only did we use them for rubbing texture prints, the plates now reside in my free choice center where students have enjoyed pressing them into the modeling clay. I highly recommend a variety of texture plate sets for the elementary classroom! Thanks Roylco and The Art of Ed!