Thursday, December 22, 2011
This school year my students are more diverse in terms of economy, skin color, culture, philosophy, and in variety of other, more specific, manners. Last year, I tried to bring more diverse projects into my classroom; I attempted to incorporate multi-cultural artists and artworks. . .But, honestly, I didn’t truly try as hard as I might have.
When I look back to this first semester, I am floored by just how many multi-cultural projects my students have completed. The odd thing is that I haven’t made any whole-hearted attempts to incorporate diversity. Instead, I’ve been trying to devise lessons and projects that incorporate the standards. I noticed, early-on, that when my students were interested in the project, their behavior was much improved. It just happened by coincidence that the projects for which my students have the most interest are primarily multi-cultural.
In my free time, I’m obsessed with fashion and the art of dressing. . .It sounds like a tangent; but trust me, it all comes together. Using my RSS reader, I follow about 400 different fashion blogs that talk about high, low, and costume dressing. One of my favorites is I Spy DIY wherein the author uses high fashion inspiration for low-budget DIY projects. A few weeks ago I came across the tribal necklace design based on the runway designs of fashion designer Mara Hoffman’s SS 2012 line. The moment I saw the project, I knew I’d find a way for my students to do something similar.
Cut to the last week of school before the holidays. I easily “sold” my students on the idea of a project wherein they’d have a product they could gift to friends and family. I tied the project to fine arts standards, and my personal artistic experience, by incorporating the art of the Maasai tribe of East Africa (I have Kenyan friends who are Maasai). I also was fortunate enough to have a few beads my Mom brought back from a recent trip to Kenya from Kazuri bead to share with the students. And, whaddyaknow, I had a great, authentic, multi-cultural, and “standards-excellent” lesson plan.
View all of the pictures I took of students working and modeling their necklaces:
You can view (and download!) my PPT presentation about this project below:
Enjoy! And, if you decide to try this project and feature it on your blog please cite I Spy DIY and Artful Artsy Amy as inspiration sources.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Okay, I'm not one to re-direct to other projects often. . .
But have you SEEN these great mugs by Mrs. Heller's 8th graders?!
I know what I'm going to do when my next clay shipment arrives.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Art History is vital to creating multi-tiered art lessons that reach beyond just product. Yet, as educators who do not see students on a regular, daily basis how do we develop lessons that reach beyond a product and are inclusionary of diversity? Several years ago, I began incorporating more Japanese and Chinese art into my classroom in an attempt to bridge the gap left in Western education when it comes to the Far East. What I found was my students loved learning about these cultures and far more students than I thought have backgrounds inclusionary of Eastern cultures.
As art educators we all know in late elementary and early middle school the student schema develops a need to draw “realistically” in order to feel success. But, it is difficult for students to curate such skills when such little time is devoted to art. I began to incorporate projects into larger lessons wherein students make a copy a fine artwork. There are varied views on student copying, especially when it comes to creativity, but what I have learned is it is easier to discover how to create when you are walking the path of another, master, artist. From the concept of copying and including relevance and diversity, I developed the lesson “Remixing The Great Wave off Kanagawa.”
A copy of the original on top, and the student "remix" below
The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai represents one of the great appropriated images of Eastern art. I show the image to my students and many have seen it previously; in this way, we are able to bridge upon existing knowledge. As a class, we discuss the series that includes The Great Wave off Kanagawa; Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji. Students are encouraged to identify the importance of the artwork as relevant to the natural history of Japan and to the importance of art history. Each student is given a full-color copy of The Great Wave off Kanagawa and are instructed to copy and color it in colored pencil.
Upon near completion of the copies, the class discovers the appropriation of The Great Wave off Kanagawa. As a class, we define the concept of appropriation and homage as it relates to the use of pre-existing images. Appropriation of visual imagery can be an abstract concept for middle school students. Students are, however, familiar with the concept of sampling parts of songs for a new, original, musical composition. Recognizing this, I am able to make the concept of appropriation relevant, and thus tangible, when I compare it to “remixing” a song or track. We view a series of images that re-appropriate The Great Wave off Kanagawa from fashion, to functional art, to humor, to composition, to situational, to material, to color. Students are instructed to create 4-5 thumbnails that “remix” or appropriate The Great Wave off Kanagawa according to their own creativity using pencil and colored pencil. After a brief teacher conference, each student begins their final draft of the remix. Upon completion of both the copy and the remix, students mount their compositions side by side for display.
Part of creating lessons that provide profound learning is allowing students to share their discoveries and struggles. To conclude this lesson, we host a mini-critique session wherein students are encouraged to share their creations and the personal choices that aided in the development of final drafts. During this portion of the lesson, many students choose to share about their personal heritage as it relates to their creation. The success of this lesson is not dependent upon drawing ability, although it does include that, but rather creative concept. My experience has shown a lesson that bridges the gap to student relevance while incorporating diversity, art history, and a basis for stronger execution skills leads to deeper learning and understanding.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I'm now midway through my first rotation of Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) based lesson plans. Currently, four of my classes (the 6th and 7th grades) are working on TAB rotations. I thought it would be good to share my thoughts on this process.
For one, choice based arts education? The phrase alone sounds tricky, and trust me, when I first mentioned it to my administration I could see the "oh no the Art Teacher is a crazed hippy" look pass across their faces. It can be difficult to help your administration bridge the gap between thinking the students "do whatever they choose" and the students are guided carefully through a structured environment that provides for positive, creative, informative, choice making.
Secondly, giving students choices takes a lot of planning. TAB is no joke. You need to plan and anticipate certain questions, theories, and ensure the materials are available as well as the distribution. And, TAB encourages working in centers. There is no way that would work in my educational environment. The kids would treat it like recess. Which means I had to build kits etc. for different tables/materials so the media was accessible to all.
Thirdly, TAB ain't for sissies. While it does provide for some AH-MAZING authentic engagement, you better have some amazing classroom management plans. Because, a lot of TAB depends upon students being able to task themselves. On being personally responsible. In middle school. in elementary school. in high school.
So, when one of my mentors, way back when, encouraged me to explore TAB, I just nodded and walked away.
Also, I'm insane and willing to do anything to make this happen. I also, (insanely) want to be the best Art Teacher in the World. Ha! It is nuts. It is super crazy. But, when I think about lesson plans, projects, classroom management etc. I'm always thinking: "Is this the best for my students? Is this the best, period.?
Yeah, I'm crazy. Let's just establish that.
If you are interested, here is how I'm structuring the "unpacking" of TAB right now:
1. I present a topic -usually based on Art History
2. We discuss as a class
3. I introduce a question/statement. I explain this is like an essay question that I expect the students to answer by creating artwork instead of writing. For instance, for the Pop Art project the statement is: "Your work should recognize that Pop Art refers to creating art from everyday objects."
4. I present 2-3 "five minute or less" demos on 2-3 different projects
5. Students can pick a project OR opt to design their own (but must meet with me first)
6. Students get materials and work
7. I keep a projection up with the overall question/statement along with a "To-Do" list and an "Expectation" list. Both lists have less than 5 items.
8. I circulate and aid as needed.
9. My grading rubric etc. refers back to the overall question/statement
What about you? Would you try TAB in your classroom? Are you doing TAB now? What do you think? DO you think your students learn better? Are they more engaged? Do you see more creative expression and exploration? I know my answers are emphatic "yes's."
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
This is the Part II aspect to my utilizing the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) philosophy to teach a Pop Art unit.
In case you missed the first post, here's a quick review: TAB recognizes all students are creative and artistic to some degree, and that all engage in creative activities in different manners. Ultimately, the point of TAB is to authentically engage students is to engage in such a manner that they are expressing ideas and concepts of their own choosing that still meet the required expectations of an assignment.
My students are learning about Pop Art. I expect them to be able to express the foundational idea that Pop Art celebrates everyday, commercial, imagery. They have a choice of two projects: a Lichtenstein portrait or a Thiebaud cake. Students will have two packets about each project with step by step written and visual directions, examples, and special references.
Baby steps y'all.
Okay, back to this specific project. I love Thiebaud, and you know, in my experience students really get him too. Students will learn about Thiebaud during our Pop Art intro and will use an in-class packet to help them follow the directions to create their own Thiebaud-inspired project.
Here is the packet my students will be using:
Monday, November 7, 2011
Pop Art is an exciting genre to teach. I find that my students are easily are excited about any kind of art that they perceive as heavily referencing their culture. . . i.e. "pop" culture. And, even though the Pop Art you and I think of is not really our students' current culture (it is more the 1960's), there are residual elements of that culture still around today.
I love to teach Pop Art, but I'm really over all of the Warhol projects. Honestly, they bore me to death. A lot of this stems from the fact that I'm not exactly a huge fan of Warhol or his art. Was the guy a genius? Absolutely? Did he turn the art world on its head? For sure. Was he a huge jerk who used his subjects cruelly? Yeah. I know the whole "that artist was a jerk" philosophy can be applied to a lot of artists (Schiele, Degas, Michelangelo just to name a few). The issue I have is that Warhol is so contemporary, and when his artwork is filtered down to a student project, I fail to see my (note I say "my" 'cause it might be how I teach to them) students get authentically engaged. Jerkiness + boring = no good for me.
They get bored. REAL bored. They tire of copying the same thing over and over. They "putt" out in the last portions and I'm left with one or two pieces that are truly phenomenal and the rest are just kind of "meh."
Instead, I focus on the still highly famous, but less talked about in the classroom, artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Wayne Thiebaud, and Claes Oldenburg.
I'm trying to incorporate more and more of the "Teaching to Artistic Behavior" philosophy into my classroom. And, as such, my students will have two product choices for our Pop Art Unit: a Roy Lichtenstein inspired portrait and a Wayne Thiebaud cake design. I've seen similar versions of this Lichtenstein project done elsewhere online. This is the version I've been doing for a few years now. I prefer to only do the facial tones in the dot matrix and leave the rest fully painted.
Here is the Power-Point we will use in class. I've modified a great PPT I found online. You'll find the original cited on the front page of the presentation:
Here is my how-to steps for students:
I can't wait to post what the students' products look like!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Here are some images from one class. I wish you could see their faces! I loved editing and looking at these pictures. Sometimes it is hard to assess in the moment -when you are trying to keep everyone on-task and safe- how much fun the kids are having. Based on the pictures, my kids are having a blast!
I, however, may have earned a few gray hairs. ;)
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I have this game I play whenever I’m testing students around Halloween. It’s called “Halloween or Emotional Disturbance?”* Around this time of year, when I ask students to draw for me, I often get some pretty disturbing stuff—zombies eating people, ghosts, headless horsemen—and it begs the question, “Is the child emotionally disturbed or just thinking about Halloween?” I was reminded of this problem in assessment when a friend of mine posted this picture on her Facebook and asked, “Should I be concerned?!?”
She of course was not concerned because she knew her little treasure was going to be a vampire for Halloween. Yes, yes, that makes a difference in context. Now if her kiddo made that drawing on a random Tuesday in March, it would be a different story, no?
I have a memorable assessment from last Halloween time to illustrate the point…I was walking this kiddo to the testing room, when I spotted a huge spider web and a spider was chilling in the middle. I am not a huge spider fan, but I do anthropomorphize every spider into being that nice spider from Charlotte’s Web, so I said, “Oh look! That spider made us a web for Halloween!” The child turned to look at the spider’s web and then started spitting on the spider, yelling “Die! Die! Die you mother*#(%#@!” Whoa. I did not see that coming. Later, when I asked him to draw a picture of a person, he drew a vampire with a machine gun, blasting all the spiders in the world. Soooooo, you’re not a fan of spiders, eh?
Kids’ drawings are awesome. They are one of my favorite parts of the assessment process. Aside from the comorbidity of creepy drawings and Halloween, drawings can reveal a lot about our students. I especially love the Kinetic School Drawing, which is basically a way to see how the kid feels about school. You just ask them to draw a picture of themselves at school at any time of day and see what they come up with. I wish I had kept this drawing of this 10th grade student I was assessing for ADHD (who later cornered me on the streets of SF with his pack of friends yelling, “Hey, that’s the lady that put me in special ed! Thanks lady, special ed is way easier!”). His drawing was a cartoon-style sequence of him getting in trouble (“Here’s where my pencil accidently flies out the window, then here is me getting kicked out, and here’s me going down the stairs to the dean’s office, and here’s the dean saying to get a pass, and here’s me going back up the stairs, and here’s the teacher saying I can’t go back to class without a pass, and here’s me going back to the dean’s office…”).
Another kiddo who I was assessing for Asperger’s syndrome drew the most literal interpretation of the drawing I’ve ever seen. He started drawing every facet of the school building, including the irrigation system out front. When I asked him to draw a picture of himself in the drawing, as if I had a camera and took a picture of him at school, he drew a picture of me jumping out of a locker with a camera, taking his picture. HA! I love it.
My absolute favorite drawing was actually of me (not a Me-Monster story, I promise). The kid was 6 years old and in a school for students with emotional disturbance. The kid hated testing so much, it was torture to get anything done. After daaaaaays of trying to get something out of the guy, I finally asked him to draw a picture and tell me a story. He drew this monsterously fat and ugly person and said, “This is Dr. Fat, no I mean, Dr. B. She was a horrible fat person who made kids do stuff. She has a timer and her pencils and a monster ate her.” Soooooo, how do you feel about testing, little buddy?
So, as you go forth and test students on Monday on Halloween, look out for ghosts, goblins, spiders, and creepy drawings! You might also want to look out for REDRUM as the answer on a spelling test. Now that's a scary reversal...
*My friends and I also played a related game around Halloween when we were in grad school at Berkeley called “Normal dress or Halloween costume?” So, when a cloaked man entered the “Games of Berkeley” store, was he normally dressed for his fantasy board game club, or was it a Halloween costume? Is that a hippie costume or an actual hippie?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Here is the (fantastic!) presentation:
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
But I just wanted to share some great news. . . I have over 50 kids interested in Art Club! I'm SOOOO excited.
And, students are moaning about the end of art class. . .Which means they are so happy to be here that the end of it is "sad." Which, wow! That makes me so proud. :)
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Nothing like having new students, new rules, new portfolio, new, new, new to make the day go by quickly.
As you all know, I've been writing a lot about engagement. As art teachers, I think we really strive to create learning environments that encourage authentic engagement. Honestly, I want my classroom to be an exciting, fun, and special place to be.
Today, to begin my 2nd 9 weeks I decided to ask my students to write about themselves. I gave everyone a notecard and instructed them to answer the three following questions:
1. Are you excited to be in Art?
2. List three things you hope you get to do in Art. (I told them to think of the wildest things!)
3. What is your dream? (I kept it general because I wanted to see how they would respond)
I explained to students that I wanted them to be honest, and that I wouldn't be upset or hold it against them if they weren't happy to be in Art class. I told them it was important to be honest, because I do want them to be excited in class. So, if I learn their dream is to be an NBA star, then I'll try to work basketball into the projects. The kids really, really, really loved this, and they were so honest.
And, wowza! I got some great responses and some amazing ideas for how to change my lessons to better suit my student's interests.
Here are some of the most popular "things" my students want to do in Art class:
-sculpting. EVERYONE wants to sculpt
-sewing. A lot of students want to learn to stitch
-computer art. Quite a few kiddos are into technology and/or are interested in game design.
-art with bubblegum. What a cool idea!
-go outside. YES!
-Jewelry. LOTS of requests for this.
-Play-Doh. I had a lot of mentions of play-doh. Interesting.
As for the dream question; I was pretty much humbled by their dreams. They range from being lawyers, veterinarians, artists, comic writers, doctors, ob/gyn's, Navy SEALs, Engineers, to being wealthy, living a good life, and helping others.
I was touched by so many of their dreams but this one left me teary. I leave you with this great response to "What is your dream?"
"I want to go and graduate from Emory University, become an orthodontist, and give my dad his dream of going around the world."
I hope your week is off to a great start!
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
This next week my 7th graders are going to be doing tessellations. I do a tessellation project based on an equilateral triangle. There are tons of great tessellelation ideas online!! Tessellations is a great cross-curricular math-based art project. . .So, if you're in need of something like that, this is a good one for the "lesson plan arsenal."
The only rubs with this assignment are students forgetting to put names on triangles and then they get "stolen" (i.e. lost!) and students cutting off the black lines of the triangle. It is important to have the black lines of the triangle so students can have the most accurate cut when assembling their tessellations.
Or, you can download this version here:
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011