Student Teacher Blog
(Excuse the photos in this post, there is not enough light in my classroom!)
When my cooperating teacher told me that she makes posters for all her units, I felt overwhelmed. Not only was I going to write 6 units, but I had to make posters about them as well!? She explained that her students really like to know what they are doing and they know the position of their grade on this wall of windows. Once I made them, I started to really enjoy the process. They let everyone who come into the room know what the students are working on and when you display the work in the school, you just move the whole laminated(!!) poster to hang next to artworks to explain what they are.
You could really add whatever information you think is necessary or will fit and it’s good practice to try and organize information in a visual manner. Once I made all the necessary posters for my units themselves, I started supplementing them with visual references of techniques:
My sample fabric collage
Another thing that took up a lot of my time at the beginning of this student teaching placement was making my examples. Some grades projects didn’t call for them, but I found them helpful in getting the students excited about what they were going to do especially because most of my projects are not just drawing or painting or other familiar processes.
My sample zine for 1st grade
Something I feared when making these samples was the students would copy me and some of them indeed took some inspiration from my samples at first. I then explained that they were making art about their own lives (as in the zines) and that I had a reason for putting the American flag behind the important person in the community fabric collage (I saw a lot of flags in people’s sketches for this project). Just addressing these things helped students realize that they should make choices based on their own interests and what could add to their own pieces. I can’t wait to see the outcome of both of these projects!
Visiting Feelings: Mindfulness in K-5 Units
For my units, I read the book “Visiting Feelings” to each class of K-5. The book is written by Lauren Rubenstein, a psychologist, and is targeted towards helping children understand ideas of mindfulness. The book focuses on allowing feelings to come in like friends. It describes feelings by comparing them using metaphors and personification. The book talks about what feelings look like (bright like the sun or dark like the rain). It also helps children process and communicate what they’re feeling. The book has been very helpful in introducing mindfulness ideas to children and it helps relate mindfulness practice to the developmental abilities of these students. For each grade level, I focused on a different feeling or component of mindfulness that is relevant to the students at that age.
K-1st grade: We are focusing on ideas of frustration and working through something even when it’s hard. The students are painting monsters with India ink to show how their frustration would look. Afterwards, we are “taming” our frustration monsters by adding a layer of color and focusing on the good feeling that comes when we work through our frustration and find success.
2nd grade: We are focusing on the idea of grounding as a way to cope with unpleasant emotions and help the students stay connected to the present moment. The students are creating visual grounding objects using clay representing something that helps them feel calm and at ease when they are upset.
3rd grade: We are focusing on the transitory nature of thoughts and learning to watch them float through our mind like clouds instead of attaching to them and worrying. The students are designing stamps that show their thoughts as clouds, and printing them onto fabric.
4th grade: We are focusing on ideas of compassion, showing kindness to ourselves and others. Using the meditative practice of circle weaving, the students are creating visual representations of compassion and putting them together to make a collaborative work of compassion.
5th grade: We are focusing on describing the environment of our minds, using words and images. They are writing haikus to describe their feelings and thoughts of the moment and pairing them with nature-inspired mono prints to represent their feelings in a visual manner.
I just started a circle weaving project with my fourth grade classes and I wanted to share some successes I had with warping the loom. This is something I’m always worried about with younger students because I don’t want to take away too much weaving time by having younger students prepare the loom, and usually I prepare them ahead of time. With 4th grade, I wanted them to learn how to do it themselves but I set up a system for them to follow.
My cooperating teacher had A LOT of precut cardboard circles which were the perfect size for weaving. She said she got these at a restaurant supply store because they’re usually used for cakes. Using these saved a lot of time in not having to cut circles from cardboard. Next, I figured out how many notches we would make in the cardboard to create the warp thread and made an example. To set each student up for success with preparing their loom, I cut out notches, numbered the order of how you thread the yarn through the notches, and drew lines on the cardboard to show where the yarn would cross across the front. During class, I still went step by step with them while preparing the loom, but they all did very well, which I think was greatly aided by the prep work I had completed. We completed the project while sitting in a circle on the carpet to create a sense of community and so that I could see each student while we were going along. If someone got lost, I could quickly identify the problem and help. Preparing the loom still took about 30 minutes in class, but by the end the students had knowledge about how to do it the next time and they enjoyed the process!
This week the fourth grade students began working on a glass-fusing project. Last week, we discussed safety procedures for working with glass. After the important information of glass safety was reviewed my fourth graders and I had a group conversation about color meanings and symbols.
The size of the glass we are using was perfect for creating pins! The students had an option for their glass fusion pins: a campaign pin as if the student was running for mayor or a pin for a cause that they support. When the students and I had a group discussion about the meanings in color and symbols, we looked at images of campaign pins. The fourth grade students were able to infer what they knew about a person based on their campaign pin or what cause the pin was supporting because of color meanings and symbols.
The work that the students are making with the glass fusion is really beautiful and impressive!
Many students felt strongly about protecting our Earth and made their pins about that passion.
With glass fusing, the students created their work using glue to temporarily hold their images together, but the instructor fires the glasswork in the kiln. Be sure to check the cone that your glass needs to be fired at and that your glass is compatible with the glass added to create the images. Glass fusing can not be fired directly onto the kiln shelf so it is important to purchase kiln shelf paper for glass fusing, otherwise your students’ work will be stuck to your kiln!
Final tips for working with glass: give your students plenty of time for clean up (especially if you don’t have time in between classes) Allowing your students to be in charge of their cleanup can teach responsibility but if the materials aren’t put away properly it can be potentially dangerous to your students. And lastly, take the time to discuss color meaning with your students, it was an easy way to develop deeper meaning in their artwork!
I am going to post again with updates on what our pins look like and to post about the next part of this unit!
After completing a couple weeks work of patiently and intricately designing, outlining and water-coloring mandalas on paper, my 8th grade students were rewarded with a fun one-day mosaics lesson. They used 3” mirrors, broken glass, tiles and marbles first, then we poured stone cement a top of them. I loved how excited they were about creating an object for use or a present.
- Grab a pie tin, a square of contact paper, scissors and a circular template
- Prepare contact paper circle, peel off the backing and place sticky side UP on the bottom of the pie tin. Tape the contact paper down.
- Place your mirror in the center of your tin, mirror side DOWN.
- Choose your glass/ tile/ marble pieces and arrange in a pattern around your mirror.
- Take tape off.
- Pour cement over so that it covers all of your pieces and a little more (1/2” – 1”)
- When mixing cement – start by adding cement to water, slowly sifting it in until there is a small lump of cement coming out of the water. Mix until smooth.
- Once cement is putty-like, you can add paper clips or string as a hanging device.
THIS STEP CAN BE DONE JUST BY THE TEACHER!!!
- Let dry for one day
- Pop out of tin and flip over. Take contact paper off.
- Using ceramics carving tools, scrape any leftover cement off of tiles.
7th grade students learnt how to make stop-motion animation using construction paper, whiteboards, cameras and tripods.
After being introduced to movies made through stop-motion imagery and watching The Robot and The Butterfly, winner of Iowa Indie Film Fest 2012 as the Best Student Film, students in Computer Art worked in groups of four to create their own movies about an unlikely pair.
First, in pairs, they decided upon a character of choice and they were then randomly put with another pair. They were to introduce their characters, decide upon a conflict and solution in which both characters became friends and assign a song to go along with their movie.
They used construction paper and whiteboards to create their scenes and characters, and then used tripods to position their cameras to take pictures.
They uploaded their images into Moviemaker to make edits and finalize.
For a fun creative day, 6th grade students played a game involving an envelope of geometric paper shapes on each table. They got into groups at their table (around 3-4 people) and whichever color their shapes in their envelope were was the color of their group. My coordinating teacher and I would come up with phrases and write them up on the board. Each group had 3 minutes to illustrate the phrase using ALL of their paper shapes. Whoever did the best job, all of the group members won a piece of candy.
Examples of phrases:
- A night at the circus
- Transportation from the future
- Your worst nightmare
Students in 6th grade learnt about the abstract zoomed-in flower paintings of Georgia O’Keefe.
They then found their own images online of nature and zoomed in on a part that they wished to replicate. They made sketches first on paper in pencil. Then, they drew their favorite sketch onto black 12 x 18” paper and outlined in glue. They let this dry and then colored their drawing with high-contrasting complimentary colors using oil pastels.
They were encouraged to use at least 3 shades of a color to emphasize highlights and shadows.
This past week I observed another art teacher. She was teaching an advanced level 3-D Design course. They were challenged to use ten 5” x 5” squares of tagboard to create a freestanding sculpture. Here’s the catch—they could only use scissors to cut the pieces up and put them together. No glue or other adhesives allowed! It was such a neat way to introduce limitations and incorporate critical thinking in this advanced class.
The teacher was very encouraging throughout the art challenge. She visited with each table of students and was very attentive to their questions. Many students asked her if they were allowed to make the pieces smaller or use different sized pieces, and she was very flexible with her advanced level students. She made sure that they each adhered to the set limitations including: the sculpture must withstand a person blowing air on to the sculpture, the sculpture had to use all ten pieces of tag board, and the students could only use scissors and the squares to create their sculptures.
Afterwards, this teacher shared with students a sheet about Frank Stella and his sculptures that he referred to as “paintings”. I enjoyed being in this class because of her vibrant energy and attentiveness to her students. She creates a warm environment, but manages her class in a way that it kind and encouraging. It was so neat to see the students work through challenges and find success with their teacher’s guidance. It was awesome!