Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I love the last week of school before the Winter break. The joy of the approaching holidays and the kids' enthusiasm is soothing the soul.
Harry Callahan's lakeside trees in snow to find value and horizon lines. The first graders drew 3 different horizon lines across a page, then painted each of the four sections a different value of blue. I gave them cups of white, then came around with a "squirt" of blue to change the value for each step.
The following week I reminded them that far away things looked teeny-tiny, and close-up things looked really big. We talked about all the things we might see in a winter landscape and they drew in oil pastel. Of course, some kids are super excited for Christmas and there were Christmas trees and Santa's sleigh flying through some pictures. Mostly there were bare-branched trees, snowflakes, cardinals, and snowmen. They are really adorable pictures, and I can't wait to hang them in the halls. We have a holiday luncheon on Friday, but part of me would like to skip it and just totally refresh all my hallway displays! Oh well, one more full day and a half day till break!
Friday, December 14, 2012
This week has been overwhelming with great highs and deep lows. On Tuesday I pulled together final details for the holiday concert decorations, and on Wednesday we put them all up and had an amazing concert. My artclub made all the elements for our backdrop panels and made origami stars to hang about.I know teachers are all proud of their students, but as a specialist teacher I get to know the entire student body. At first I thought having to go to the concert might be a bit of a drag (It's a school night and I taught all day, put up the decorations all afternoon, and helped manage the kiddos as they lined up for the concert), but then seeing all of "my kids" up there made my heart swell up with joy and pride.
It's also been a week of finishing projects. My 2nd, 3rd, and 5th graders have been working for weeks on paintings, mosaics, and sculptures. We FINALLY got them finished! It's simultaneously satisfying and frustrating to call "Time's UP" on a project. Not everybody works at the same pace. Some are done on time and do well, others could really use another week to make it even better, and still others think they're done when really they could push further.
My 5th graders completed their letter sculptures and worked in groups to plan displays. Some were able to create words to display together, others made acrostic poems. Here's a word I pulled together from a variety of 5th graders:
I offer this word because of the deepest low of this week. After teaching all day and staying after late to hang artwork etc, I got in the car and heard the news on NPR about the shooting in the elementary school in Connecticut. When such tragedies occurred in the past, I felt sympathy as a parent for those who lost their children. But now as a teacher, I imagine what it must be like to be in the shoes of the teachers who had to respond to such an emergency, trying to stay calm and strong for their students while feeling panic and fear. They are heroic. I pray for the children and teachers and parents of Sandy Hook. I hope they find calm and comfort again soon.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I owe this one to Jessica at "The Art of Education" blog. She posted a year ago about a way to do observational drawing with Kindergartners, which stuck in my memory. She focused on architecture with this lesson, but I wanted to apply it to a different genre. I'm working through units on Genre in art with my K-3rd grades, and introduced my Kinders to still-life this week. I have a bulletin board up right now with various pictures showing different genres, so we did a kinesthetic learning activity where the students showed me with a hand gesture whether a picture showed a person (portrait), place (landscape), or thing (still-life). This made a literacy connection to nouns as well. For the portraits they pointed to their faces, for landscapes they folded hands, and for still-life they pointed to an open hand. I really like these gesture activities as it allows the entire class to show me what they know, instead of just the few who like to raise their hands.
I have a lot of classes finishing projects this week, so I'll have more to share soon. The Kinders get shorter projects, so I feel like I'm writing more about them than the other grades!
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I'm a big fan of collaborative art-making as well as the visual of lots of little things making a big thing. So here are 3 ways I've incorporated those ideas in projects my students have made recently.
The art club finished their "Dale Chihuly" inspired "chandelier" by combining all the tissue-paper papier-mached "snakes" into one splayed mass. I hung it in the stairwell, and have heard all kinds of comments. Usually it's, "WHAT is THAT?!" The only trouble with this kind of collaborative work is that the individual pieces can't be redistributed back to the students to take home.
I think collaboration is a vital part of learning about art. Students feel more connected as a class because they are working toward a greater goal. Every person's contribution is valuable. Contemporary artists often work in a collaborative mode, and therefore students get to experience working methods of artists today in an authentic way. As a teaching artist, I also feel that my own artistic voice is expressed with that of the children, which is very fulfilling.
Friday, November 23, 2012
After looking at Eric Carle's ABC animal book, Kindergartners learned how to make painted textured papers with spots, stripes, and scratches to prepare for an animal collage project. Then we talked about all the different places animals can live. The kids thought about forests, jungles, grasslands, zoos, oceans, ponds, farms, and even in our houses! They drew a background habitat for their animal first. Then we practiced tearing paper and using our imaginations to make animal shapes from torn paper.Finally, we tore our good painted texture paper to create an animal collage a la Eric Carle.
This project had great diversity in the finished pictures. The kids had a lot of choice, and were really able to envision animal shapes from their torn paper. It was remarkable to see how much they already knew about animals and habitat as they did this project. Animal drawings seem more developed at this age than people drawings. I wonder why that is. All four of my Kindergarten classes went at this in different ways. Some felt anxious about trying to tear a specific shape and wasted a lot of time, while another class finished the background and collage zippity-zip in one session. Our next project is going to build off the shapes idea for a quick "still-life" drawing.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
The picture above is a piece that one of my 5th graders brought in to show me and have me photograph for Artsonia. (I let them bring in independent work to display in our online gallery). It's one of those word sculptures you can get in craft stores which she decorated with patterns. I loved it because the 5th graders are doing letter sculptures, and will hopefully create words with them for our display. It's great when kids connect their school and home experiences.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Today was the best art club afternoon so far! We looked at Dale Chihuly's glass installations for inspiration. It was fun hearing the kids guess what materials his chandelier was made out of (MACARONI?). Then we created our own twisty colorful elements out of aluminum foil and papier-mached tissue paper. The thin paper allows light show through, as well as some of the sparkle of the foil.
For the papier mache adhesive I've been using Elmer's art paste, which is basically methyl cellulose- seriously slimy stuff! The kids were all grossed out by the texture, and it's a little hard to clean up. However, it's easier to mix up than wheatpaste and is way cheaper than using white glue. I'm doing papier-mache with my 5th graders too, so my hands are in the stuff all the time. Ick!
I can't wait till next week when we'll wire these up and decide where to hang our "chandelier". Maybe we'll make some plastic bottle "glass" sculptures too.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I've had a 4th grade class with lots of social issues that keep interrupting art class. I thought maybe a quickie one-day lesson that involved more physical activity, and required students to work together might help improve the social stuff. So last week I introduced them to the abstract paintings of Alma Thomas.
They had a great time. We didn't get toooooo messy. There weren't any arguments because everyone was focused and engaged. Perfect end to a crazy week (2 days off due to hurricane and another off for teacher PD!).
Sunday, October 28, 2012
So I asked, "What species is your fish? How long would it be in real life? What did you like or dislike about this project?" Their responses are really funny (like 6000 feet long eels), but thoughtful. We even had time for critique and sharing at the end. (Nothing makes me a happier art teacher than actual closure and reflective thinking at the end of a lesson! That and a perfectly timed and organized clean-up!)
Great moment number 2: My 4th graders went on a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art through their "Art Speaks" program. Prior to them going we had a whole lesson on museum expectations, and I had warned them that I expected a good report from my friends at the museum. On their way to the bus I stood in the hall and gave them a little "I got my eyes on you" stare. I'm not sure how many of them believed me that I had friends at the museum. Turns out one group actually had a friend of mine, and when I facebooked her later, she said they were great! They also returned really excited about their experience, and wrote wonderfully detailed thank you notes for the museum.
Number 3: I had a lot of "presents" this week. My students are applying what they're learning on their own independent work and bringing back things to show me. I love it!
Number 4: I've been hearing some feedback from the other classroom teachers- many of whom have students in our school. Apparently the kids have said some good things about art class and me as their teacher (wheww!). Kids can be pretty tough critics, so I'm glad I pass muster!
Number 5: Normally on Saturdays I spend the whole day down in the basement silkscreen studio at Fleisher teaching my adult and teen classes. This past Saturday, I happened to make it around the building a bit more than usual and was really surprised at how many familiar faces I saw in the studios. There are a lot more of my school students taking Saturday Art Classes at Fleisher than I thought!
I'm a very proud art teacher!
Friday, October 26, 2012
My first graders have just finished a mixed media sea life scene that focused on types of lines. They drew a sea creature, filling it with lots of different lines. Then they made paste paper and dragged combs through it to texturize the background. Finally they collaged all the bits together to make their sea creature hide among some seaweed.
Their collages look great and all very different. These 2 were my favorites!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
To finish up our lesson we played "compliment tag" where one student is "IT" and has to pay a compliment about another student's artwork, making them the new "IT". They made great, focused comments about specific things they saw in each other's artworks. Next we'll be working on a paper mosaic project to extend the pattern concept to another medium. Our mosaics will have a food theme to align with harvest and Thanksgiving ideas.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I'm not sure if this ties in directly with their current math lessons, but it sure doesn't hurt to make explicit cross-curricular connections whenever possible.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I just can't get enough of these symmetry name monsters. I managed to work through my pile of work to photograph a little bit this afternoon. Considering that Tuesday is my toughest day with 6 classes, no prep, and after school art club, that's an accomplishment!
I always see my 3rd graders first thing in the morning- and they arrive so fresh and ready for their day. I wish there was some way to see every class first thing- before their days are bogged down by tests, and squabbles, and trooping all over our 3 story building to get to classes. I'm fresher first thing too- no chaos has occurred in the room, no children have broken any rules yet, no projects have gone wrong. It's hard to not let the events that occur in one class spill over into how I deal with the next class. Painting with my Kinders and first graders the last 2 weeks has been rather stressful, as there's always another class ready to walk in the door as soon as I've got them cleaned up. What I wouldn't give for 5 minutes between classes! We'll get into new routines soon. But next year I might hold off on the paint till I know my little ones better, and they get accustomed to art room expectations.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
A little Jasper Johns inspiration led to the first graders' name repetition project. It's fun looking at art with kids and seeing what they notice. They could see the differences in color, and the way Jasper Johns repeated his numbers in a pattern in his big number grids. We started by folding our papers to create a 4x4 grid and traced over the fold lines to make boxes. Next we repeated the letters of our names in the boxes making them big and fat. We also tried to make a warm/cool pattern with the colors of the letters.
All of my classes, except 5th grade have now completed their second project of the year. I've been busy grading work. I'd hoped to get more pictures taken too, but forgot my camera this week. It's a feat to grade, photograph, upload work to Artsonia, and try to hang artwork around the building. Oh yeah, and teach! But I won't complain about a thing- I talked with a middle school art teacher this week from another school and realized how wonderful my school and teaching situation is!!
Friday, October 5, 2012
It's exciting to see some projects get completed! The 3rd graders have been learning about symmetry in a collage project. They wrote their names on a folded piece of paper, then cut around the name to create a unique symmetrical shape. The same process was repeated to make the features. The final touch was adding patterns with crayons around the face and even a background.
With all these classes completing projects I've got some lesson planning to do!!!