Friday, April 27, 2012

2nd Grade Cats in Hats

2nd grade students made Cats in Hats. No, not that Cat in the Hat, but inspired by him. For a fun one-class period project near Dr.Seuss' birthday, I pulled out some calendar and magazine pictures of cats for the students to choose from. They carefully trimmed their cats using good craftsmanship (<---one of my favorite words) then used scrap papers and construction paper crayons to complete the scene. 
Before beginning, we brainstormed different kinds of hats and reasons people wear hats.
  • They like how it looks (fashion)
  • Part of a uniform (sports, military, crown, etc.)
  • Support a cause/show interest (their favorite team, organizations, political campaigns)
  • For protection (from the sun, helmets)
  • To celebrate (party hats!)
The students could pick any kind of hat or reason they wanted their cat to wear it. They could use regular construction paper scraps or papers left from the 1st graders' balloon project

Detective Cat
Christmas cats
Cat the cowboy
There was some big story here about a party with fireworks.
Scuba/submarine cat

I saw this pin 24 weeks ago according to Pinterest and made a note to myself 
"I love this idea for Dr.Seuss's birthday- draw a DIFFERENT cat in a hat!"
I may do this again next year with 2 class periods and paint. The students had lots of fun and I was cracking up at their artwork. There were some pretty creative cats in hats!

3rd Grade Seuss Architecture

An "extra" class period when my schedule was off a bit back in March was spent working on Dr.Seuss-inspired architecture. We talked about how Dr.Seuss was an artist as well as an author. We looked at buildings from Dr.Seuss' illustrations and brainstormed a list of common features (organic shapes, stairs, towers, signs, unusual colors) then I gave a super simple introduction to perspective. I knew that most students wouldn't be able to complete a drawing in just one 40-minute class period so I told them it was just to practice. The students were very excited about this and about half finished their drawings at home and brought them back to show me. They're not perfect, but I was proud of what they learned in one session.
I photocopied buildings from book pages and also pulled up Seussville for more examples.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Teaching for Artistic Behavior- Do you TAB?

To ensure that students are given the opportunity to learn about art by working as artists, they must be given choices. If a student makes “cookie cutter Art” without being allowed choices, they may be learning something about art, such as a skill or new concept, but they are not authentically making Art. Giving students choices does not mean that the teacher is absent. The Teaching for Artistic Behaviors (TAB) approach to Art Education is a child-centered choice-based approach, making the student totally responsible for the decisions of what to make, how to make it, what materials to use, and how long to work on it.

I’m attracted by the idea of TAB- students being real artists instead of making what they think I want them to make (no cookie cutters!), but I do have a few reservations. My reservations are more practical than theoretical, such as
  • If students are responsible for what materials they use, how do you order adequate supplies with a limited budget? 
  • How do you ensure students experiment with different media and encourage them to try new things if they are content to use the same materials each class period? (I know I have some students who want to do nothing but paint, or use clay for the whole year.)
  • Students are obviously responsible for their learning and designing their assignments, but how do you make sure they are pushing themselves and not coasting when they are allowed to work at their own pace? (Sadly, when I have 6th graders who chose to make a snake for their project because they think it will be easy but "can't" roll a coil and want me to do it for them, this is a concern.)
If you use TAB in your classroom, I would love to hear about your experience with it. I'm not ready to totally jump to the TAB ship, but I am interested in incorporating more aspects of it in my classroom. I've read that demos and introductions are used to cover the standards and that makes sense, I just wonder how the rest of it works in practice, rather than in theory.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

5th grade Venn Diagram Projects

 This project is similar to the 4th grade Description lesson I posted a couple days ago. Instead of using descriptors of one piece of Art for their inspiration, the students compared 2 different works, then drew their inspiration from the similarities. The students did not know what they would be using the Venn Diagram for in the beginning. I thought it would get too complicated if they knew ahead of time. I just encouraged the students to choose different artwork than their friends. 

As far as the similarities go, I didn't tell them a minimum number of similarities they had to use and the similarities could have been anything from a symmetrical composition to a certain color scheme or type of shape. The first class period was for filling out the Venn Diagram and then planning their idea, and getting it approved by me. The next 2 class periods were spent completing their work.

I REALLY wish this student hadn't missed a class period because I would have LOVED to see this finished. One of her inspiration pieces was an Aboriginal print my friends brought me from Australia.

Once again, prints featuring geometric shapes and patterns were popular. I think these 2 students chose an Op Art painting and an Amish Quilt to compare.

One of the artworks this student described was by Remedios Varo.

Monday, April 9, 2012

4th Grade Description Projects

I love to see variety in the hallway!
This lesson has a fairly simple idea, but I am so proud of the result. Since I've been thinking and reading about different theories/philosophies in Art Ed this semester, I think this is more of a TAB-ish approach than what I usually do. I struggle with finding what I feel is an appropriate balance between teacher and student-directed learning and I like the way this lesson was balanced.
This lesson takes 2-3 40-minute class periods. In the first class, I gave the students a description worksheet. Before class, I hung prints and posters all over my classroom. More than usual. I tried to select prints with a lot of variety in technique, time period, subject matter, etc. I made small, brightly colored number labels for each to make identification easier. Each 4th grade student was to choose a print to observe, and use the worksheet to help them think about what they were seeing. I modeled observing a print that was not an option for them, making sure to use "Art words" in my description. After most students were done, I stopped and explained what the studio portion of the assignment would be: Use some elements of your description to design your own Art project. It should have some common elements but definitely not be a copy. 
So, the inspiration could come from the content, style, or just about any element of the artwork. The students' idea either had to be described in words or in a sketch on the back of their worksheet. They waited in line to have a very quick conference with me so I could help them figure out which materials would help them best communicate their idea, and give them the right kind of paper. With the exception of a few students who "couldn't" think of anything, everybody got their assignment idea approved by the end of the first class.

The worksheet above goes with the artwork immediately below. The left half of the photo shows the inspiration piece, a mailer from a contemporary Art museum. The student said that the shapes at the top reminded her of a whale and the shapes below reminded her of picture frames. So she thought of a whale about to overtake a ship in a sort of tromp l'oeil picture frame. The only suggestion I made was that she add a shadow under the frame. 
This painting was one of the artworks I chose to display in the Kansas YAM show at the Capitol.
 Some classes only had 2 periods to work, but most had, and needed 3. I gave choices of watercolor, tempera, colored pencil, marker, crayon, collage, or any combination (including the ever-popular wax-resist.) If the students had another idea that I did not mention, I just asked them to talk to me about it. I would have ok'd anything but clay since our supplies there are limited. I hope you enjoy looking at the results as much as I have. While they are not all as technically proficient as others, the idea was totally that of the student, and I loved seeing them take responsibility for their work!
Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

Is anybody else loving that you can put Animoto videos on your school's Artsonia webpage now? I'm considering getting a real membership to make longer videos but I don't know if it'd be worth the money or not.
Inspiration: American Gothic
Each of these students was inspired by bright colors and geometric shapes, interpreted in different ways.
Inspiration: an Op Art painting featuring cubes 

Inspiration: Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night
Inspiration: Picasso's ink drawing of Don Quixote
This student wants to be an architect. He's awesome at drawing in perspective even though I've never taught him how!
Inspired by a painting based on a grid. She created a grid first then made her drawing on top.
Inspiration: A folk art porcupine sculpture from somewhere in South America.
Inspiration: Op Art painting of cubes. I helped make a template for the cube and she designed and constructed it.
Inspiration: Sandy Skoglund's the Greenhouse. Student wanted to make the "opposite" which he said was cats instead of dogs, outside instead of inside, blue house and green cats instead of blue dogs and a green house.
Inspiration: Escher tessellation of fish

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bottle Cap Artwork

The last 2 weeks have been dedicated to bottle cap artwork with my 4th-6th grade students. The students were, overall, very engaged and excited. I only had a couple panels planned out ahead of time, the rest were designed by small groups of students. The students designed the panels by arranging caps on the boards (a few were large cardboard pieces, most were foam core panels the daughter-in-law of a teacher pulled out of the trash bin at her office) to see if it would work. When they were "done", I checked and made suggestions. If it passed inspection, I moved the panel from a table to a "gluing station". We used glue guns, which went very well considering it was the first time some of the students used a glue gun. I know that hot glue is not going to be a permanent fixative for these panels, but it was cheaper than buying boards and screws. I'm hoping they'll last at least a couple years if handled with care. I have no idea how many glue sticks we used, but it was a lot! I think we went through 100 mini glue sticks just yesterday and today (9 classes).

We ran out of a few colors today and had to improvise a bit. One panel, that because a little unrecognizable after the gluing, was disassembled so we could use the caps again. Purple seemed to be the least common color. We still have tons of red caps that our wonderful lunch room workers saved, and even washed for me!
This was definitely a team effort. Some students were painting backgrounds while others were arranging, and still more were gluing. The next class picked up where the previous class left off. I told the students if they were being responsible, respectful, and working quietly, I would let them choose how to contribute. I really only had to redirect a few! The bad part of this process, was that a small group might have worked really hard to make an awesome design, and had to trust someone else to finish it. It was fine most of the time, but not all my students put as much work into good craftsmanship. The baseball, pictured above, did not so much resemble a baseball in the end. It kept getting more and more lopsided when students were not putting the cap back exactly where it came from.
This was a problem solving opportunity. At first the "create" sign was in all red letters. Nobody could read it, so we changed to a rainbow color scheme and filled the background with white, which just so happened to be our most plentiful color.

When I looked at the end of the day, I was so impressed with what my students accomplished! 
 Only a couple of these were my ideas. I said no KU or KSU signs, and it obviously had to be school-appropriate. Some ideas didn't come together and were not glued. These were the panels that ended up being finished!
Gold Fish
American Flag
Golf Ball
Moon and Stars
Red Flower
Cat (it became a little disfigured when glued)
Pac Man
Breast Cancer Ribbon
Yin Yang