Student Teacher Blog
On the very last two days of my time at the school I worked on hanging artwork on the bulletin boards in the hallway. I decided to go ahead and pull the work that I would like to see in the exhibit and figured that keeping them hung would be as safe a place as any. I was initially worried about sticky little hands brushing against the artwork as classes walked down the hall, but thankfully tables are actually placed in front of each board to discourage that.
As I was hanging up work and teachers were walking by I got many compliments on the artwork. Next to each group of work I hung a poster with a short sentence of what the project was, as well as what it was inspired by. Many of the staff and administrators said they never knew that art class incorporated so much history and other disciplines. I consider that realization on their part a win for me. Many of the teachers were especially impressed with the 4th and 5th grade work (and rightfully so). Those students worked so incredibly hard. Next to some of the 4th graders’ finished works I also hung their preliminary sketches so that teachers/students could see where they started from and where their piece ended up. I think that visual was a clear indicator of the learning that was happening during my time in the classroom.
One thing I should comment on is my cooperating teacher’s tremendous amount of support and resources. It was amazing. Even mounting work was a snap due to a nifty little double-sided-tape-gun-thingy-majig. I don’t know the name of it so the picture will just have to do. I really am going to miss this school and the relationships I’ve made.
3rd grade weavings on display
Kindergarten Aboriginal inspired dot paintings
My new favorite toy
So now that our pinch pot planters have been fired and glazed (2nd grade), this week we focused on potting soil and planting. Boy oh boy, this was certainly a learning curve for me. With the first class, I tried walking around to every student and pouring dirt on their table for them to use on their own. The problem was that as I was with one student, the rest of the class didn’t have anything to do to keep them engaged. Total disaster.
So with the NEXT class I tried having the students use markers and draw different types of flowers while I was working with each table and potting. Still, the students quickly became off task and the class atmosphere started to erupt. I decided that something STILL had to change before trying this again with the last two lasses, so finally after racking my brain I did what every professor has always discouraged; I put in a movie. Bingo.
My cooperating teacher has a DVD player connected to her Smartboard so I put in a movie about Dale Chihuly and his hot shop. As the students came into the classroom I explained that they would be watching a movie about a famous glass artist while I was working with students in the back of the room. I told them that I myself loved to blow glass and enticed them with stories of life in the hot shop. I connected the glasswork to vessel making and how it relates to our pinch pots. The kids were very enamored with the movie and it allowed me to call a few students at a time to pot/plant while the rest watched the film. It worked wonderfully.
Watching Dale Chihuly
We’re about two weeks into our weavings now (3rd graders) and it’s taking a lot longer to complete than expected. I’m just now running into the problem of some students finishing a lot earlier than others while some (honestly most) are having a difficult time. I wonder if this unit would be better suited for a 4th grade class or else a higher achieving 3rd grade class. I am a little worried that some of the students may tire of the unit.
One child was very frustrated because as he was weaving I kept reminding him to push up his weaving (as to rid his weaving from any gaps). He forgot to do this, so after I pushed up his weaving, what he thought was nearly complete was actually only a 4th of the way done. He had a bit of a meltdown but my cooperating teacher and I were able to handle it and redirect him.
As for the rest of the students, they seem very engaged. The yarn is for some reason a very valued thing to the students and so I’ve been letting students take a couple pieces with them as they leave the class. I’m actually a little enamored with how excited they are to keep the pieces of yarn. I’ve used the yarn as a bit of incentive to have them working diligently. Some students have even expressed that they made their own looms at home out of cereal boxes. Pretty cool.
First grade learned about an artist named Peter Reginato.
He creates sculptures that use an assortment of shapes and colors. Reginato takes two-dimensional materials and creates three-dimensional sculptures out of them using a slit method. The first graders used this method in creating their sculptures.
I chose this project for first grade because there is really no wrong way to go about creating a Reginato-inspired sculpture. Every student was successful. The point of the lesson was to learn about and practice collaboration. The students began by painting cardboard with patterns and shapes of different colors. Then, they switched the cardboard with the person next to them to paint on their cardboard. We talked about how the cardboard that they were painting on would not be only theirs; it would be everybody’s, so they had to work as hard as they could to make patterns that everyone would want to use.
Then the pieces were cut into different shapes and slits were added. The students learned how to apply the slit method and went to work! The trick was that there were two people per class to one sculpture. They had to make every decision together, from which piece they wanted to where they would put it. The partners that figured this out quickly created large and exciting sculptures!
After one class was finished with it, the next first grade class got to add onto their sculptures!
When they were all finished, the students got the opportunity to see their hard work displayed in the school library.
The fifth graders have been learning about Expressionism and communication in art. They got inspired by Edvard Munch’s comical painting, “The Scream.” We talked about the difference between spoken language and visual language. Then they got to practice making different expressions with their faces, and drawing them as a form of making practice sketches. They were told not to worry about perfect proportions and to focus on the expression of the face.
Then we transferred our favorite expressive sketch that shows the most emotion to a larger black paper. We did a glue-line contour portrait drawing. We reviewed the meaning of a portrait and a contour drawing.
The next class, we talked about using chalk pastels. They are easier to use when contained between things, like the glue lines that they made before. I demonstrated how to apply the chalk pastel and blend colors together.
We also talked about how colors can be a part of the visual language of a work of art. We talked about the meanings behind colors. The students had to think about this while adding color to their portraits.
The kindergarteners are learning the very basics now. They had just finished a project about primary colors, Mondrian, and his painting, “Boogie Woogie.” I connected that into my first lesson of the unit. I read them a book called, “Mouse Paint,” and we talked about how these primary colors make other colors. Then I did a magic trick with “magic cups,” and food coloring to make the primary and then secondary colors. And the magic words were of course Boogie Woogie. They will never forget Mondrian’s painting now. They also think I am magical, which is always great.
The next class we made rainbow pizzas. The students were able to make a pizza with six equal slices. Then we painted together, the primary and then secondary colors. They also added textures to them as well the next class. We talked about the importance of textures, and that they are everywhere around us!
Even one little student decided to make me smile by creating a “VCU” on his pizza with the textures.
The other part of the unit is about creating from simple shapes. So I read to the students, “Go Away, Big Green Monster.” The monster in the book is made from all simple shapes. The students colored shapes and cut them out. Then they got to design their own monster, who is the owner of the rainbow pizza!
I could tell that the students had fun with this. They were confident because they were working with concepts that were simple, but this also allowed them lots of room to be as creative as possible.
This unit was initially inspired by a prior unit taught to the first grade at GAES. The students created drawings based off of the book,, Tar Beach, by Faith Ringgold. the drawings came out very nicely, showing the students flying above the outdoor location of their choice. I particularly appreciated how the students were creating slightly stylized buildings and environments and I wanted to expand on all of that. When researching fun and relatable artists that created landscapes mixed with cityscapes, I stumbled upon the work of Romero Britto. I loved how graphic and unconventional his landscapes were and thought that the bold blackout lines and colorful patterns would be interesting. The Pop Art/Cubism style of his work projects love and positive sensations, similar to the attitudes of the 6 year olds at my cooperating school. His work is also very stylized and is easy for the children to look at and relate to. First, the students created the composition using pencil, then black permanent marker. There was a lot of freedom when it came to the location. Some students chose to draw the beach, meadows with sunsets, the city (the student below said it was richmond). Once the students added objects the the background and the horizon line, they added fun patterns of their choice to the everything besides the sky, similar to Britto’s work. The students weren’t required to work in local color, and the ones who used unusual colors came out equally effective. The decision making process of what colors to use what important due to the fact that the students used the same crayon color the complete the landscapes. The students were very proud of their work, so I decided to display the work of one particular first grade class in the main office.
The students added different patterns to their landscape compositions, inspired by the work of Romero Britto. I absolutely love how this first grader added yellow hearts in the sun.
The students added solid color using crayons based on their color marker choices.
After discussing the meaning of stylization and looking at Britto’s work, the students could draw their landscape objects in their own style. I wanted to celebrate what different students brought to the class.
This student chose to draw richmond as a cityscape, as well as employ arbitrary color.
The students’ work was so lovely and they were so proud that I decided to display one particular class in the main office.
Although the Chinese New Year was on January 31st, I thought it would be really fun and relevant to look into the symbolism behind the dragons used in the Chinese New Year Parade. Since the second graders were learning about the Country of China, I decided to tie in a creative twist on Chinese culture. As a class we read and looked at a book that discusses the visual characteristics of the dragons in the Chinese New year Parade, as well as the the symbolism behind each of the features (legs of a tiger, antlers of a deer, scales of a carp, body of a serpent, etc.) We also discussed the cultural significance and perception of dragons in China compared to that of Western Culture. Countries such as The United States often portray dragons as threatening and scary monsters, whereas dragons represent strength and good luck in China-part of the reason they are included in the parade. The students constructed the head using construction paper and glue, followed by creating the body of a serpent and scales of a carp. Finally, the students were able to add features such as a tail, eyelashes, legs of a tiger, and a handle to hold the dragon up. Overall, this unit took a lot of elbow grease and dedicated clean up time, but the students seemed to be very proud of the dragons they created once everything came together on the last day of the unit.
The students began construction with the head. There was a lot of folding and gluing involved, but the students were able to make the head, nose, eyes, and teeth and still put it all together in 40 minutes.
After making the heads to the dragons, the students designed the “body of a serpent” using the “scales of a carp.” The students were shown different simple examples of dragon bodies in the Chinese New Year parade, and were set free to create their own. The students were encouraged to use colors that emphasized the positive image and strength associated with dragons in Chinese culture, as well as create accordion folds to suggest movement.
The second graders gave their dragons a little flare of personality by adding a couple of finishing touches including eyelashes, “fur”, legs, and/or tissue paper tails.
Don’t forget about the handle! The students constructed sturdy handles using leftover construction paper. Adding the handles brought the finished pieces full circle and made another connection to the dragon’s function in the Chinese New Year parade. The students seemed to enjoy making their dragons soar!
The third graders had been finishing up a project about space-scapes when I arrived. I could tell they were very into the project. I decided to create a unit that connects with that imaginative, space-themed idea. The students created clay alien creatures that could live on the space-scape that they just created. They were told that they had to create their creatures from only coils. And so, we talked about how coils are made, and that they have been used to create functional things for centuries.
Then we talked about how character animators at animation studios like Pixar don’t just make things. They have to really think about all of it’s characteristics, how it interacts with other things, its habitat, and other things. We looked at examples of character sketches from Monster’s inc. to really grasp this idea. Then the students were given a “Character Design Worksheet,” where they had to design their character. Then they were given model magic to practice making coils and their potential alien.
The next class was all about clay. We talked about the additive process and subtractive process for clay making. We also went over “Scratch and Attach,” or scoring and slipping. And of course, we went over how to make coils again. Then the students went to work, and had a blast creating from clay!