Student Teacher Blog
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 »
As part of a figure drawing unit, 8th grade Art art studnts looked at the art of Giacometti. We discussed how gesture can show the movement and mood of a figure.
In addition to students looking at gesture, they have also been studying proportion. They were challenged to create tin foil figures, similar to those of Giacometti, that were in proportion and only used 18 inches of tin foil. Figuring out math and figuring out how to sculpt with foil proved to be a challenging task for out 8th graders, but they rose to the occasion.
Some studene found ways to plann out strategic cuts in their tinfoil to create a figure shape.
They also learne dhow to roll foil into legs and arms. Some students rolled their body parts seperatly and then joined them together.
The tricky part was measuring the bodies to make sure they were really in porportion. They did a very impressive job of getting them right!
In the end the students reflected on their experience and talked about what helped their figures be successful and in proportion.
For my second placement I designed a unit plan on the big idea of “alteration.” This unit explored the history of altering books and how this process has transformed into a recycled art form. The students viewed and discussed several different types of book altering processes including: Ink Jet transfer, word blocking, image extension and assemblage. For this unit the students were responsible for creating their own altered book using all of the discussed processes.
The project of creating an altered book really lends itself to the idea of a unit plan, because each page is a new opportunity for a lesson. If you treat each page like a blank canvas the opportunities can be endless! For my unit, because the idea of altering a book can be quite intimidating for some students, we started with simple alterations. We focused on changing the cover and personalizing the book!
Then through the following lessons, I introduced some significant alteration methods. For my lessons we focused on manipulating both image and text. First we learned about process of ink jet tape transfer. Then the altered book artist, Tom Philips, inspired us and through his work we learned the process of “word blocking”. With this lesson we learned how to manipulate the text to form “a new story”.
Both of these lessons helped us build up our alteration skills and led us to our final project. For the final lesson we practice the complex alteration process of building an assemblage. This unit started off learning simple skills and then intensified with complexity. Thus building a sculpture into our altered books was the ideal finale!
I’ll end with this last tip…. If you decide to try out an altered book lesson or unit check your local thrift stores. Not only that but talk to the managers at those stores, you never know that might be willing to strike up a deal! For example, I was able to get over 50 books for just $2!
A good teacher always looks for ways to help support his/her school and colleagues. One way to do this is to help promote your school’s smart goals. At my second placement one of the school’s goal for the year is to improve the language art scores. To do so, the school has encouraged the other departments to incorporate the review of English terms into their lessons.
Inspired by this goal, I designed a lesson into my “Altered Book” unit that concentrated on sentence structure. The lesson focused on the altering technique called “word blocking” inspired by the artist: Tom Phillips.
Tom Phillips spent 15 years transforming the text found in an old Victorian book into a “new story”.
For my “word blocking” lesson, the students were responsible for altering the original text found in their recycle books and creating new sentences. After reading over the text, the first step of the project is to select “interesting” words—In order to form a new sentence. To help navigate this step of the project we reviewed key text terms such as: headline, body, bold, and italics.
After selecting interesting words, the students had to piece together the words to form a new complete sentence. To help direct this step, we had a class review on key English terms such as: noun, verb, subject, and adjective More importantly, we discussed key elements of sentence structure. It was important that the student’s new sentence included a: subject matter, an action, and additional descriptive words.
The last step of the project was to illustrate the new sentence. The objective for this project was that all parts of the sentence should be properly illustrated. A good tip for this step was: “If you included it in this sentence than it must be important!”
This project was a great way to get the students to reflect on and practice sentence building while creating art!
One particular 6th grade class struggled to get through one-point perspective. Several of the students refused to try, or insisted their way of making things look 3 dimensional worked better. Problem behaviors proliferated in the face of frustration and boredom.
For the next project, I determined to introduce a lesson with strong intrinsic motivation and a lower level of frustration. However, I did tie in the knowledge gained from practicing one point perspective so the students would perceive the value of sticking through a tough lesson. We sketched and designed landscapes using horizon lines, diminishing scale and detail, and some orthogonal lines to create a sense of depth. I then gave the student embossing tin for their final landscape. They were enthralled by the novel medium. All ears listened attentively, and all minds fully engaged in differentiating repousse’ (pushing metal back from the front) and chasing (pushing metal forward from behind). The students combined their two techniques to transform their drawing into a relief sculpture. Finally, we used colored permanent markers to cover the sculptures in appealing jewel tones.
Throughout the process, behavior stayed in check for the whole class. They worked on task for several class periods and earned a party of Krispy Kreme Donuts. Their attitude toward art changed drastically when they found the joy of experimenting with exciting media.
Here are a few other instances where the project enchanted the class into perfect behavior:
8th grade “Zentangling”
6th grade with clay
8th grade with ipads
Leaving students can be so hard. At my elementary placement, I am a rockstar. When I go back to take down displays or scrounge materials, children run to me for hugs. I also saw this wonderful essay one student wrote about one of my lessons:
Middle school students have more complicated feelings about their teachers, but they can be truly adorable too. I said goodbye to my 7th block today. These are my sweethearts. When I think of the student’s I’ll profoundly miss, many of them are in this class. We have ongoing inside jokes and talk freely about all sorts of things. I noticed Kaziah (name changed for privacy) was writing a poem in class that seemed like it might be for me, so I gave her privacy to compose. She wrote a draft with lines crossed out and new words inserted before copying the final version onto a clean sheet of paper. 15 minutes before the end of class, she asked to go to the bathroom. She did not come back. After a while, I asked the girls at her table if they knew where she’d gone. They told me she’d actually gone to guidance, but was embarrassed to say so. I was sad to miss saying goodbye to her, but knew I’d see her at the show of student work on Sunday.
After I packed up my possessions and got the room in order, I stepped into the hallway to go home. There was Kaziah opening her locker. I told her I was happy to see her back, and that I would have liked to have known if she was going to guidance. She came in the room to get her things, handed me the poem and broke into tears. I thought something was seriously wrong, but she said it was because she was sad I was leaving. I hugged her and told her I would still be in Richmond, and she could rely on me for anything she needed. We walked out together. As I drove away, I thought of my time with Kaziah. How she’d asked me about becoming an artist, and about sitting down to chat and work alongside her during class. I cried then too. But they were happy tears. Despite the short duration of my tenure at at the school, I made a difference to at least one child. That is all I want.
The week before Thanksgiving, I was involved in an accident that created a setback for me during my last week of student teaching. I ended up missing a Monday, which was very important for me because it would be one of the last days I could wrap up my lessons. I felt panicked, frustrated and very behind. I didn’t know what I was going to do and afraid that I would not be able to pick up where I left off.
Upon returning, I came into the classroom to find a giant “Get Well Soon” card waiting for me. My students from 2nd, 4th, 6th all signed the card with personal messages wishing me to get better and thanking me for my time there. Knowing how much I had meant to my students in such a short period of time really helped me regain my confidence for my final week of student teaching. Throughout the day, students from my even days were checking in to see how I was feeling and if I was ok. From that moment, the rest of my week just seemed to flow by. My focus on relationship-building within this placement really paid off because I had created students who cared not only about me, but the work they were creating as well. Within my last few days, the students had produced incredibly thoughtful work, were thinking deeply about their projects and asking for feedback. Even when I had finished teaching my lessons and my cooperating teacher took back over, the students asked me for advice, which made me feel like I had genuinely established my place in the classroom.
When my last day rolled around, I was presented with a small package bound by a ribbon titles “Advice for being an Art Teacher”. On each card, all my students wrote advice they felt was really important for being an art teacher. It is the most meaningful thing I have been presented with. I have learned that out of everything I did during student teaching, being able to build relationships was the most important.