Student Teacher Blog
The Kindergarten classes began their second unit two weeks ago. They are creating cupcakes inspired by Wayne Thiebaud’s cupcake paintings. We discussed what popular culture means in terms of mass culture, or “things that most people like.” I was inspired by the concept of pop art being more about the connection and attitude that gives pop art a purpose. I decided to use Wayne Thiebaud as a visual and cultural reference for the Kindergarten because it is highly representational and easy for kids to relate and be hooked to. Cupcakes also make pop-art relatable for small children. After transforming the base into a “cupcake” liner, the students chose between “chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry” paper frosting. The students employed their fine motor skills by ripping four strips of paper. The students used the various types of lines that they learned about in the last unit in order to make the “folds” in their cupcake liners. The students were also able to problem solve by adding extra paper if they ripped a piece too short. With Kindergarten, I only get 30 minutes, so I try to maximize our class-time by encouraging students to work around anticipated issues such as that. Overall, the Kindergarteners are really enjoying the process of pop-art cupcake creation!
The students used primary colored construction paper to create a cupcake liner. The students had to cut the trapezoid shape out of a rectangle piece of paper as reinforcement from one of their previous assignments.
From there, the Kindergarteners drew different types of lines using oil pastels. It was important for the students to glue their paper on the bottom of the paper. No floating cupcakes!
The students had to glue the liner on the bottom to leave room for the frosting. The chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry paper was ripped into pieces of decreasing length- great for problem solving! They will also be able to add bright sprinkles using oil pastels, and/or a round construction paper cherry as the finishing touches.
The third graders have been working on collaboration through weaving. They each have their own weaving, but there is also a Friendly Loom, where students have a chance to contribute ten minutes of working together. They learned about weaving history in relation to ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, etc, as well as contemporary uses. Their final individual products will be tied together to be hung side by side with their Friendly Loom weaving.
This series of lesson has been going on for four weeks, so the students have been learning patience and how to persevere. It is exciting to see that moment where students are finally getting it and offer to help their classmates! When choosing a collaboration theme for this project, I didn’t think they would be collaborating on more than just the Friendly Loom. In teaching, the importance of working together to make something special, they took it further to making it take over all aspects of the projects.
I had to consider how to accommodate some students with disabilities for this lesson. There is a student who has more difficulty with fine motor skills, so I allowed them to use dowel rods instead of yarn to weave through the warp strings. I found another student who was having trouble as well, and once I gave him the dowel rods, he was beginning to understand how to weave. There is another student who learns more effectively through reading directions, so I broke the process of weaving down into descriptive steps. I found that another student had use for the written steps as well! After he received the paper, he became so speedy with his weaving.
Students began this unit discussing primary, secondary, and tertiary colors by looking at the color wheel. After this discussion, they made prints with watered down tempera of only primary colors, seeing which secondary and tertiary colors they could make. After they covered their card stock with paint, students laid Saranwrap on top of the papers and let them dry.
The next class students had the Saran wrap peeled off to reveal their prints! They then followed the lines in the prints with black glue (50/50 black tempera and Elmer’s glue) to create various abstracted shapes and lines, solely determined by the lines created by the prints.
Students then examined how stained glass windows were made with various shapes of colored glass placed between metal strips. They took this mentality in creating their final pieces by filling in certain areas of the outlined print with oil pastels. The color wheel discussion was opened up again during this portion of the project.
Some students may find images within the work, and others will simply be inspired by the decorative design of the lines and colors. Students definitely understand color mixing on the color wheel by the end of the unit.
This Wednesday I asked a lot of my fifth grade students. They not only met my expectations but exceeded them in many ways. It was a very rewarding experience to watch them work and see their reactions.
Last week I asked them to draw self-portraits from observation. We looked at self portraits by Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt Van Rijn. We talked about how artists draw self-portraits to practice. I told them we were going to use their drawings for something else the following week but did not elaborate.
This week we looked at the art of Paul Wandless, a contemporary artist who uses a variety of methods to print on clay slabs. Then I gave the students reduced photocopies of their self-portraits that they would transfer on to clay slabs. I set up a slab rolling table in the middle of the room and called up groups to come roll slabs. While the others were waiting they could add finishing details to their portraits.
Graffiti Boy by Paul Wandless
When they got their slab they laid their photocopy on it and traced over the lines to incise the image into the clay. After they traced all the lines they could remove the picture and go back over their lines to make them deeper and add any details the wanted.
student using wooden stylus to trace over the lines of her portrait
Dried out fine point sharpies make great clay tools!
student work ready to be fired
Many students said they enjoyed the challenge, a few said it was too hard. It was a lot to get done in one day, yet everyone finished.
I’m excited to see how they color them. I am also excited to see what they think when they can compare the clay portraits to their original sketches.
During my first week of observation at the school, I was inspired immediately by the 5th graders. They have an air about them, obviously more mature than the rest of the school. They almost seem like different beings. Their attention to detail and ability to grasp larger concepts really gave me the push I needed in bringing the unit I had planned for them to light.
When I was younger, I became incredibly inspired by different cultures, philosophies, and religions, and specifically became quite infatuated with creating mandalas and the idea of mediation. Though I know it might be a challenge, I knew that these 5th graders were up for it and could handle a unit based on these ideas. So, this week we forged ahead with the first lesson in the Mandalas and Meditation unit.
Having a Promethean Board in the classroom has been a blessing, and I was able to create a presentation on the historical and spiritual significance mandalas hold in varying cultures. Specifically, I focused the learning on Tibetan sand paintings and the meditative qualities that creating such a mandala can have. I also talked about the creating and destroying of a sand mandala being a metaphor for the impermanence of life. It was humorous to see the students’ reactions when I told them these incredibly large and detailed works of art were then destroyed after completion. When the unit is over, I’ve been toying with the idea to see if any students would actually be willing to rip/tear up their finished pieces…hmm…we will see.
Anyways, after the presentation and introduction of the unit, I demonstrated how to find the center of a piece of paper (incorporating math!) and then how to use a compass to create their initial circles that will be housing their designs. We talked as a class about radial balance and the elements and symbolism that symmetry/balance holds for these creations. One student asked if she could fill her mandala with food (which I will admit I wasn’t envisioning the project that way), to which I said “of course” and encouraged her to try anything, as long as it demonstrated the radial balance we talked about.
After the initial circles were drawn, students has the opportunity to practice different designs for next class. I passed out examples of different mandala designs to give inspiration of ways they could take them.
When they come see me next week, we will incorporate the meditation aspect. I have come across some meditative music to play while the class works on building their details and designs.
The long term goals are to then sharpie over their finished piece and lastly watercolor, and like stated before, perhaps I can convince some brave souls to participate in destroying their finished pieces.
All in due time!
Mapping out initial circles
Looking at examples of mandala designs for inspiration
Mapping out initial circles
Practicing designs for next class
These third grade artists learned how to build a “bowl” using coil and slab construction.
The students used their new knowledge of coil and slab construction to add 3 coil feet, as well as one slab base to complete the form.
After learning about one of the most famous pieces of pottery from the ancient culture of Mali, Africa, these footed bowls took on a life of their own, yet the students still stayed true to a similar aesthetic and function as the Footed Bowl from Mali.
After all of the work this semester, it was extremely gratifying to put up the final show. I was very excited to see everyone else’s student work, and I was really looking forward to seeing some of my students again. They seemed thrilled to see their work on display, and I was lucky enough to grab some photos of them.
Some tips for putting up your own display of student work:
1) Consider the space that you have. It is never good to pull too much student work and not have enough room for it. Likewise, if you have a lot of sculpture, you need to consider how you can display that appropriately. Do you have pedestals? Do you have shelving? Can you make shelving?
2) Begin keeping a list of students’ first and last names from the beginning. It is very difficult to try and get a hold of these right before your show, and it is much easier if you already know most of them.
3) Get your invitations out ahead of time. If possible, call some of your parents. More people are likely to show up to your exhibition if you take the time to make it feel like their child’s contribution is important.
4) Include wall text. People like to see your projects, but they also like to know what the project is about and what inspired it.
5) Don’t overcrowd your walls. It can be difficult to look at artwork when there is absolutely no breathing room between pieces, and you want to make sure everyone who comes to see your show truly appreciates the work that you have up.
I was a little bit worried about doing a clay unit with my seventh grade students; they were my largest class and had the least self-control. But I really wanted to do clay, and I was hoping that using such a hands-on medium would keep the students busy making art and not busy making trouble. My plan worked (for the most part). I had three basic rules: no throwing, no pounding, and no moving around the classroom without permission. Using and enforcing these basic rules seemed to work really well, and the students had a great time learning about various hand-building techniques.
We started the unit by looking at different covered vessels from around the world, and we talked about how artists honor and protects ideas through these artworks. Using Zen Chinese wishing vessels as the main inspiration, students built their own covered vessels, thinking about things that were meaningful to them. I encouraged them to use symbols on their vessels that were personally significant.
After building the vessels, students learned about typography and had to use this knowledge to write a positive wish to go inside of their vessel. Some of the students who did not love working with clay excelled in this portion of the unit, putting their drawing skills to good use.
My 7th grade students have been busy studying about the Italian Renaissance and everyone’s favorite crime-fighting artists, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo!
A big part of this unit has been getting the students to learn about art history and the historical context of the Renaissance. That begs the question: how do you get a middle school student to pay attention to you as you lecture on art history? The answer is: by making Renaissance paper! Read More »