The students in Art 3/4 at George Wythe High School, which is a combined class with about seven students, work independently on projects that they conceive and complete on their own based on what they are interested in learning. My cooperating teacher and myself help students one-on-one with technical skills and suggest resources, images, and artists to inspire and inform their work. Most of the students are working on portraiture. Here are some examples:
Student Teacher Blog
I wanted to share some visuals I created for the collage lesson we just began in the Art I classes. I made three different examples that feature different techniques of cutting, ripping, and fitting together the images of the collage. The class will be taking “selfies” which I will then print several copies of for students to cut and manipulate and integrate into their collage.
I created a checklist to refer students to when they have questions. I often get asked, “What do I do next?” and have been trying to get students to be more self-sufficient so I suggest that they look at the checklist for their next step. This is also part of their assessment and it is posted on the wall.
Lastly I made a vocab list so that when students say “What do you mean ‘manipulate”? I can refer them to it if I feel I have been repeating myself all class. These vocab words may be part of a quiz at the end of our collage unit.
At George Wythe High School there are two art rooms that share a large supply space. The Art I space has a feeling of an old science classroom as there are microscopes, skeletons, rocks, and an assortment of still life objects scattered around the room. Student work is often posted in a specific area; my cooperating teacher says he chooses the best examples and those who finish the project first, and successfully without rushing through it. There is a bulletin board that includes the bell schedule (we run on an odd/even day block schedule), calendar, grading scale, discipline plan, the school’s mission statement, maps of the school, alert codes, and any other relevant information.
The room is set out in such a way that there is a table tucked away where students can work if they prefer quiet, and longer tables that fit more people if students prefer to chat while they work. The tables are also spread out to prevent potential behavior issues because students are not packed together in a small space. The room could fit 40+ students but our classes are currently approximately 20, so students have a lot of space to lay out their materials and work on the tables.
When I first joined the art classroom at George Wythe High School, the Art I assignment was to create two colored pencil sketches and then choose one to re-create in acrylic paint. The students were able to select any subject matter that was school appropriate and some used still life props or objects to trace circles and other geometric shapes. The canvases are double-ply cardboard that we repurposed by cutting with an exact-o blade and painting over with gesso. My cooperating teach suggested I take over this lesson in the second week, so I showed students some paint application techniques, how to mix colors, and how to add washes. Students worked with only red, yellow, blue, white, and black and had to mix all of their own colors.
During student teaching, I taught lessons where there were certain steps that the students had to follow to complete their projects. Although I demonstrated and gave instructions step-by-step at the beginning of the class, students tended to forget what was supposed to come next after each step. So, I started writing steps up on the board where the students could easily see them. It was important to tell the students that they could look up on the board to make sure they followed all the steps.
Writing the steps in detail took up too much space on the board so I started writing them in a simple and concise form. Steps on the board were just reminders, not to take the place of full instruction. This strategy worked way better for 2nd graders and up than for kindergarteners and 1st graders because of their reading ability. For those who were too little, I drew images (without text) as reminders.
I taught clay lessons for the first time in my life, and I struggled through parts of the process. However, I learned a great tip from my cooperating teacher about storing clay pieces. Because I had about eight different classes doing clay at the same time, I had hundreds of pieces that I needed to find a space for. In the art classroom, there was only one window where clay pieces from one or two classes could be placed on for air drying.
That was when my cooperating teacher pulled out these Coca Cola containers. These containers were great for storing clay pieces and multiples of these containers could be stacked together without taking up anymore floor or table space.
A great tool that my cooperating teacher uses is putting name tags on the tables before students walk in.
I found this tool very helpful in an elementary art classroom setting where there are more than five hundred students coming and going. Each class has more than twenty students at a time and remembering all of their names seems impossible. However, this name tag strategy really helps to interact with students by using their names.
These name tags also tell them where they should sit. Their seating always changes depending on how the teacher sets them on the table. Based on the previous classes, the teacher can consider where the students should be seated, and this can minimize trouble caused by possible tension between students.
On the first day of school, students make their own name tags which are kept for the whole school year. My cooperating teacher wrote the names on the tags for the kindergarteners because many of them cannot write their names yet.
The first lesson that I taught third grade was a self-portrait lesson.
The big idea for this lesson was identity and the objectives were:
1. to know the different shapes used to draw faces,
2. to draw faces in correct proportion and
3. to color them in either cool or warm colors.
It was a two-day lesson and each period was 50 minutes.
As part of my instruction, I showed a PowerPoint presentation of Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits as examples of drawn faces. I also showed another PowerPoint presentation of self portraits that were colored in either cool or warm colors as examples of painting with liquid watercolor.
The liquid watercolor itself was too dark and strong for this application, so I added a lot of water to make the colors lighter.
The key words that I used were geometric shape, organic shape, and symmetry. One thing I noticed was that the students were confusing geometric shapes with three-dimensional shapes during the discussion.
For the first time, I tried to go step-by-step with students to draw a facial figure, but it was hard to refocus their attention after they had already started working. So later, I changed my instruction style to giving all of the directions at the beginning of class and letting them work independently for the rest of the class period.
My school just started clay, and we are having a blast! However, managing materials, tools, and projects can be quite a feat, especially with delicate clay projects. For this project, we are making crazy face jugs inspired by the folk art tradition stemming from Appalachia. I wanted students to have a solidly made coil vessel that they would add facial features to later on. The big problem I faced was how to keep nearly 100 pots plastic to leather-hard for the coming weeks. My solution was to purchase 5 under-the-bed storage containers. I only needed 4, but bought an extra just in case of absences or large classes. These containers are long and thin, making them easy to store and stack. Since our pots were only going to be 4 – 5″ maximum, this size was perfect. The length of these containers also allowed us to fit all of our pots inside snugly. I made sure to spray the pots with water and then placed thick, black garbage bags (courtesy of our custodian) over the top of the pots, tucking the bag into any open crevices. I did this because while these containers are good at keeping clay moist, they are not air-tight. The trash bag provides added protection and ensures the clay will still be workable. Then, all that I needed was labels for the top and side of the containers. After using this method for a few days, I began seeing some pros and cons of using these containers. Here they are below:
1. These containers are EXPENSIVE – nearly $10 for just 1. Luckily, they are pretty tough and should last practically forever, but the start-up cost can be high unless you get them for free or borrow them. A lot of people tend to have some so it’s worth asking around first before buying.
2. They can be fairly heavy, but even a wimp like me had few issues toting them around full of pots. I would wager they are around 20 to 30 pounds with clay inside, maybe less. Students would not be able to help you carry them unless they were in high school, so if carrying weight yourself is an issue and you teach younger grades, you may need to find another solution.
3. They are very easy to maintain, and it’s simple to check an entire class/grade of work in one glance. The only maintenance needed after making them is just peeling off the trash bag, glancing at the pots, spraying with water, and putting the container back together.
4. Lastly, where you store them is important. Obviously, storing them in direct sunlight isn’t going to work. Luckily, these containers are easy to store as they stack on each other and can easily fit under/on top of tables or be stored on a classroom counter-top when in use. When not in use, the containers easy stack into one another and can be stored practically anywhere. They don’t take up much space at all.
This photo was taken after a few hours had passed with the trash bag over top and the lid shut. No water evaporation found.