12 November 2005

Next Steps

Two weeks ago, I opened the Fiber Center and I have some students from each class who are working on producing a stitchery piece. I began by telling students they could sew a picture and then put a backing piece on and stuff it to make a pillow. I don't think they understood the process as well as I wanted them to. One girl actually put both piece together and THEN tried to sew her picture! Needless to say, she didn't understand why she ended up with two pieces of burlap sewn together with no room left for the stuffing. The next day, I posted a new menu listing the steps for making a stitchery picture and I will re-introduce the concept of making a pillow later. The hallways at school are filled with examples of drawings, paintings and collage works but it will be great to be able to put up some stitchery projects. Soon, I will offer weaving on cardboard looms for the upper grades and tongue depressor looms for the lower grades. Maybe it's time to start showing students how to weave paper looms first so they can get the hang of the over-under process.

This week, I posted a menu on the many ways for making paper three dimensional. Many students were thrilled with the idea of making a sculpture out of paper - I even have a group of 5th grade girls who are working on making a model of New York City. They completed the Empire State Building yesterday and are now trying to figure out how to make a representation of the Statue of Liberty to put in their model. The younger grades seemed happy to work on what they called an amusement park, complete with stretched out spirals of paper for the roller coasters. I let them take their first attempts home -- can't figure out how to house the 3-D artwork yet. I'm thinking of going to Target next week to buy a plastic 5 shelf unit to put along one wall in the art room. Maybe that will solve my problem. It will be interesting to see the direction my sculptors take as the quarter progresses. I want to move on to cardboard sculpture but I don't have enough recycled material yet to make the center work. Guess it's time to make up a wish list to send home! Then I will have to make a menu on the different ways to attach things together -- I have plenty of glue guns but I want to stop at Hobby Lobby and stock up on Tacky Glue as well.

After Thanksgiving, I'm going to place an order for low fire clay. I have a handful of students who have been working with oil clay and I know they would like to try making their ideas in real clay that we can fire, so I'd better get on that ASAP. It seems that the more centers I open, the more smoothly the classrooms are running. Of course, the flip side of that is that I seem to be busier and busier with each class! The school day passes in the blink of an eye and I'm worn out by the end of the day -- but the kids are happy and loving art more and more...

27 October 2005

Now that the first quarter is over, I am able to sit back and look at how this new pedagogy is working. Being an art teacher for 20 years, I've been known for having great displays of student art work in the hallways but all the products came from teacher driven projects and the displays showed many different variations of MY concept. A great example of that was the unit I did last year when I had the 5th graders do value studies of a still life I constructed -- the display consisted of 15+ drawings of that same still life. Granted, the art work was beautiful but the display was repetitive and led the viewer to pick out which student possessed the greatest skill at reproducing said still life. This year, I have seen many people actually stopping to read the artist's statement while viewing the Art Gallery in the hallway and I have overheard comments like, "This is like going to an art museum!" In the art room, I have been amazed by how much thought my students are putting into their work. Even my kindergarten students catch me by surprise -- a number of times, I have thought, "Now what the heck is this all about?" , only to have my eyes opened as I transcribe their thoughts on the artist's statement form. Scroll down and look at the collage with all the holes in it -- when the little girl brought this to me, I couldn't imagine that she would be able to say what her thought was behind this work (other than that she had discovered the holepuncher in the Collage Center!!). Now, as I pass her work in the hallway, all I can see is rain and a flower - from the mouths of babes...

26 October 2005

The Park Lane Art Gallery

"Whales are my favorite..." and this whale is being friends with the other creatures in the sea.

This collage was made by a 5th grade girl who is worried about the way people are trashing the earth. It consists of crumpled scraps of paper glued onto the earth, which is spinning through a charcoal drawn universe.

"This painting represents the two parts of myself -- the good side and the bad side"
This 4th grade student is working on a series of work reflecting the duality of his personality ... now *that'* deep!

A kindergarten girl described her collage this way:
"It's raining and I added a flower"... the white button on her collage looks like a flower!

This creation was made by a girl who loves the mountains.

"I made this collage because it reminds me of my grandmother's house."

This student spent 3 classtimes working with markers to create his dragon.

a first grader's view of sunset...

This is a first grade girl who has just discovered the book on how to draw portraits.
Notice the intense concentration!

1st graders working

I always get grand construction projects from my younger students.

25 October 2005

"It's the school! It's red and yellow and black and there are two doors.."

These kindergarten girls didn't even notice me snapping the picture!

The Art Room

This room is full of kindergarteners, on task and engrossed in their work.

Kindergarten builders

Last week, I opened the sculpture center with oil clay, blocks and legos.

10 September 2005

Choice has begun!!

Over the past 3 weeks, I have opened my choice based art room at Park Lane Elementary in Aurora, Colorado. I began with the Drawing Station -- I put all the various drawing mediums out on the tables and let students experiment with them. Some of my kids were surprised at how much they liked working with new mediums - ie. soft pastels. I have to remember to buy fixative for them to use when their works are completed.

Next, I opened the Collage Station and that was a big hit! I had trays of "Beautiful Stuff" on 5 on my tables and construction paper and magazines on 2 others. The kids were told to only pick 3 things from the Beautiful Stuff trays but they could use as much construction paper and magazine pictures as they wanted to round out their creations.

Finally this past week, I opened the Paint Station with watercolor sets and block tempera cakes. I spent time with the opening of each center, showing kids how to clean up and put supplies back in order, warning them that if a center was ever left in chaos, then that center would be closed the next week. That seemed to motivate them to clean up well when the art period was over! Even though paint is always a favorite thing for elementary, I had some students at the Drawing Station and the Collage Station in most of my classes - kids who weren't interested in painting. They are really responding to being able to pick a center of their choice to work in.

I must say I was amazed at the lack of discipline problems -- all the classrooms just hummed along with students engaged in art making. Next week, I am going to put off opening another center and will instead concentrate on how their art work will be graded and how each student needs to prepare for the 1st quarter Art Show.