Archive for the ‘Fall 2014’ Category

Pre and Post Test: Kindergarten and Color Theory

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

Experimentation, hypothesizing, and scientific inquiry are all encouraged and practiced in the arts classroom. For my scientific inquiry, I selected kindergarten to implement a test on color theory. I was notified that many of my kindergarten students had been unable to attend preschool due to financial difficulties. Also, many of my students are ESL (English as Second Language) students. Therefore, culturally, the majority of them have caregivers who are part of the aging community and may not know English. These variables were the first thing to consider when creating a test for this particular group of students to take.

Also, some issues to consider before actualizing the study were: a. Students most likely did not know how to read; b. Students most likely had not ever taken a test before; and c. Students most likely would have a difficult time following oral directions if English was not their primary language. After considering these difficulties, I decided to make the pretest and posttest primarily visual and oral based, using both English and Spanish languages. As a future educator, I believe using your resources to help students with areas of need is important. When students are constantly in an environment where English is the only language spoken or read, integrating their own language into the classroom can beneficial and helpful.

Below are the results of my pretest:

Following the pretest, I read two books on color mixing and theory: Color Dance by Ann Jonas and Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. I believe that students should have an abundance of hands-on experience to reinforce what they hear or observe; therefore, after reading the books, students “danced” on their paper with “mouse feet” (corks and paint). Kindergartners learned the “magic” of when two certain colors are mixed it can create an alternative. Below are the posttest Results:


I was happily surprised at the exponential increase in students learning their primary and secondary colors. Scientific inquiry is an exercise that I will continue to utilize in my career. It is great way to document and study the success of a lesson or where students need additional help. We finished the lesson by singing and dancing to the band OK GO and their stop motion version of color mixing (thank you, Sesame Street):


Provided below is the test I implemented:

1 2


The Art Teacher Toolbelt

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

During my Middle School placement, I noticed students that would complete their work at dramatically different times. Sometimes students would finish days ahead of the timeline. Therefore, as an art teacher, it is important to have a repertoire of different artistic activities on hand.
Since my school provides each student with their own computer, students would immediately get out their computers and play video games when they finished an art project. Although I am a supporter of technology, the games were not educational. To counteract their tendency to gravitate towards the digital realm, two activities I tried that were successful and kept their interest were:
1. The Exquisite Corpse
2. Blind Contour Drawing

The Exquisite Corpse was a game invented by artists and poets in the 1920s. Marcel Duchamp, who created The Readymade, and other fine and literary artists, gathered around a table and would draw Exquisite Corpses. With my middle school students, there were a lot of giggles. However, everyone was engaged. Below are the instructions (this is a modified version that is strictly visual – other versions contain a writing element).



The second successful activity was Blind Contour drawing. Students were assigned a partner and drew them in a blind contour style. To disable cheating, I poked a hole into the center of a paper plate (for the drawing implement to go through) and placed the plate on top of the student’s hand. An important factor is that students are not allowed to pick up their pencil from the paper. Also, note that this is a rather quick activity. Some solutions to lengthen blind contour drawings are rotating partners and having students draw multiple people. Or, if the drawing is in crayon, after the drawing is completed, students can watercolor different areas for a crayon-resist effect. Instructions below:



Here are some of the results from my students!




Seventh Grade Culture Jammers

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

Seventh grade students were introduced to the artistic practice of culture jamming, specifically gender stereotypes.

Culture jamming is:
A form of art which disrupts (jams) media advertising and questionable imagery.

After learning this definition, we unpacked the huge and complicated idea of consumerism. To bring a little humor into the classroom, I showed the students this clip from Wayne’s World: and asked what the actors were mocking.

We discussed how consumerism not only impacts our own surrounding environment but also areas all over the world — we even looked at a variety of images from dumps located in China. Seventh graders realized that as people continually consume brand new technology every year (e.g. computers, iPhones, cameras, etc.), even if their old versions are recycled, they travel to China’s vast digital landscapes where people are forced to not only organize but to live in these dangerous areas filled with chemicals and waste.

Following this discussion, we played an activity of categorizing video game characters as either male or female and as either passive or aggressive. Passive characters are primarily unplayable side kicks, while aggressive characters are the main characters. All besides one character in the Active category were male, while there were no male characters in the passive category, and the majority were female. We contemplated what this meant and how different characters are essentially outdated caricatures of gender. However, in reality, gender is a spectrum and can be represented in a variety of ways.

Lastly, students were shown example of contemporary culture jammers:


During the following weeks, students layered and worked on their final composition. They researched and selected a gendered image, character, or advertisement (some students selected another relative current event – the environment or animals rights – to jam). The image was printed out and they jammed through the use of adhesive stickers. Students used markers and water color on the stickers to counteract the offensive imagery.

Below are some examples:

Jam1 Jam2

Eighth Graders: Translating Symbolism in Literature through Art

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

Advanced eighth grade students explored how to deconstruct text and reassemble the phrase into a visual diorama. They selected a portion of literature that is personally significant and built a visual representation of the words. Because students were building dioramas, they needed to understand that foreground objects are larger and background objects are smaller. This lesson was designed to strengthen the students’ ability to unpack literature as a means for individual meaning and expression, as well as to provide students the opportunity to experiment with a variety of 3-D materials.

Integrated within this lesson is the importance of how to deconstruct symbolism in literature and art. Students were provided with planning worksheets, and after selecting a quote they found meaningful, they were asked the simple, yet powerful question of “what does it mean”? This encouraged critical analysis. After writing down their explanation of what the quote meant (deviating away from the literal words) and why it was selected, eighth graders were required to come up with a background and different objects to be placed in the middle and foreground. I was impressed at the amount of depth and understanding the students showed. Most (if not all) of the translations were metaphorical and not literal.

Below are some examples of final dioramas:

01baca546b8221a59b089f0477560afc3b85c43aca 01d0146eeaabee2474de3664b1a85d6d5e94ac276d 010ef631a33e8e5ce973e9b737758a1b3a401b496f 01620eb9383d85ab030826792cbe01ce2f19a911f0 014158b7a4176cdd7f21b966f6b6900683eb47e864

Rubrics To Inspire Creative Excellence

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

For my pre-assessment reflection I focused on my non-objective monoprinting unit for my Art 3 class. I started the unit with some contextual art history information about abstract expressionist artists and non-objective art. During this part of the lesson, I introduced the three things we would be focused on in our own non-objective artworks: color, composition, and artistic process. I made sure to direct conversation and discussion to cover those three topics when looking at the ‘famous’ ab-ex artworks. Following the art history introduction, I did a guided practice with the students in the creation of a monoprint. This was kind of like a collaborative demo – I started the process and then handed the next step off to another student. This way, students were more involved in the how-to-make-a-monoprint demonstration. The next class, students got to work making their own monoprints. I did not provide them with any new information besides encouraging them to experiment with the monoprinting processes. The resulting monoprints from this day were overall basic and simple. This is my pre-assessment. See pictures below!


Although these prints are not spectacular, it was important to have the students first learn how to make a print and not be overwhelmed with lesson expectations all on the first two days. From this day, students learned how to actually a make monoprint and practice with the processes that I showed them.  I have been creating a ton of assessment rubrics to ‘grade’ student work. Last week I was super frustrated with the idea of having to do this, but after our seminar class I saw how rubrics can actually promote and inspire creative thinking rather than only function as a checklist of expectations. My plan for next time was to have them make intentional decisions about color scheme, composition and arrangement, and to explore the multitude of ways one can experiment with the printing process. To do this I decided to introduce a rubric to them… This rubric was meant to inspire creativity, very similarly to the rubric that was presented in our seminar class. The rubric appears below:


As you can see this rubric leaves the ‘excellent’ section up to the students. I asked them to consider what they think excellence can be in these categories based on the ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ sections. They seems confused at first, but when we started printing they responded to this creative challenge in humorous and exciting ways!

Before we printed, I showed them more examples of ab-ex artworks and how process, color, and compositional arrangement was used. I then assigned a critique writing homework to have them independently research a non-objective artwork and artist to have them practice describing, analyzing, interpreting, and judging a work of art. I also told them to write about the color, composition, and process in this homework assignment too. That day and the following days, the students started exploring monoprintmaking processes of their own, rather than sticking to the ones I showed them. They layered prints together and explored color schemes and compositions with more intention and thoughtfulness. Below are the post-assessment pictures!


I walked around the room and checked in with each student to make sure that everyone understood what we were doing. As I did this, students would ask ‘is this good?’ And I would respond ‘I want you to tell me.’ This conversation would then lead them to reflect on their print and guided them to make their own creative decisions. I make sure to have them consider the elements and principles of design in the creation of a non-objective composition as well. This seemed to help them understand what really can make excellent non-objective composition. I think the most exciting part about this lesson was the handful of students that started to really experiment with the process and possibilities that their prints had. Some students began collaging prints together, another incorporated leaves and sticks, and another student even began folding the paper into 3-d shapes. This was very unexpected, but I was super excited by their creative decisions. In the the long-run the pre-assessment prints improved so much after my instruction and implementation of the creative rubric challenge. The students are creating things with more intention and are really exploring color, composition, and process in ways that I did not even consider!


Finishing Projects and Documenting Work

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

This last week at my middle school placement is all about finishing up the units that I started and documenting student work.

In some classes, students are documenting the work themselves, although this has a range of success rates. Students at my school all have Chrome Books (laptops), and they have been using these to take photos of and edit their images. This is a great habit to encourage in developing artists, as documenting your work is a very important professional skill. In my ideal classroom, students would have a dedicated “documenting work” station – where there was a camera and tripod set up for taking high-quality photos of their work.

For students who are not taking their own images, I have been working hard to document their work. Lighting and editing play a major role in this job.

The students all have their work on Artsonia, and my cooperating teacher has been helping me to get their work on the site.

This is a great learning experience, and I’m figuring out that it’s important to document student work throughout the unit, so that there isn’t a huge crunch time at the end of the unit.

As far as finishing up lessons go, there is a lot of grading to be done as well as hanging work. The final student teacher show is happening on Thursday evening this week, so things are crazy in the Art Ed world!

I think we’re all looking forward to celebrating the success of our students and moving on to the “real world”!

Here are some images of my student’s final work.

DSCN0614 DSCN0623 DSCN0637 DSCN0638 DSCN0642 DSCN0644 DSCN0645 DSCN0646

Graphics 2 and 3: Conceptual Transformation

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

My Graphics 2 and 3 classes are a unique bunch, both motivated and also very receptive to feedback. They are very hard working students, and I am glad to be able to give them fun projects. The first project was to create an environment from scratch using Photoshop. My students took on roles as conceptual illustrators in the environmental field. They began this process by writing, brainstorming, and creating thumbnails.

IMG_6558  IMG_6556

After writing a narrative about what earth would be like 500 years in the future, my students composed thumbnails. The guidelines were to use images to establish foreground, middle-ground and background through value separation using image adjustments in Photoshop. The last step of this project would be to unify all the shadows and lights of the separate elements to create a convincing image.

Concept_DanielAlvarez Concept_SkyG Concept_DarrellLyons

The project I am currently working to finish with these students builds on the narrative lesson but incorporates clay also. The idea is to alter or transform a virtual space with a handmade object to create a surrealistic image. Through alteration, transformation, dislocation, or levitation of the object and space, the students explored different narratives in their thumbnails.


The project is still on-going but you can see the progress below. This picture below is of the clay demonstration I did to start the project.


Below are some examples of the sculptures in progress. I am having the students use oil-based clay, so it never dries or hardens and remains very squishy and easy to mold.

IMG_6586 IMG_6597 IMG_6600

After finishing the objects, my students used black construction paper to act as a backdrop for these photos. With the black in the background, the objects became much easier to manipulate with the tools in Photoshop.


Technology and Organization in a Graphics Lab

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

For my high school placement, I was placed in a high school graphics lab. Although it might be difficult for some people to be in a technology class because of little to no experience in teaching digital classes, I found myself at an advantage, having just finished my degree in Communication Arts. I thought back on all the digital classes I took in Communication Arts and made a list of the lessons my professors had taught me in Photoshop. I had never thought I could create such unique and conceptual projects using only one program. For each class, we focused on different aspects of design, and I was able to really build up the meat of these lessons without worrying about materials too much. The material factor was taken out for the most part, and so I was allowed that much more time to focus on the conceptual planning and direction of the project with my students.

For all my projects, each class consisted of in-depth demonstrations and a very heavy planning process. For all the projects, my students were required to write statements, create thumbnails, and conceptualize the meaning behind their projects. This was new for the students, but now these exercises are even being carried into the projects they will complete after I leave.

I also have quite a bit of time in this classroom setting to walk around. I spent every second of the class face-to-face with students furthering their understanding of the project and their individual mission for the project.




I believe I am lucky to be placed in a graphics class for many reasons. One of the advantages is that I don’t have to worry about my students cleaning up or throwing supplies across the room. From my previous experiences in basic art classes, students would start playing with supplies or making a mess if they finished the project early. In this class, we rely heavily on technology from the second the class starts. The lesson usually starts with a discussion question on Google classroom, which I post from the teacher laptop at the front of the room. While the students answer on their own computers, I can assess their answers in real-time. I also post assignments on that stream, and students are able to upload the files onto the particular post to which I can also grade and give feedback. It’s great because each assignment I post creates a folder in Google Drive where I can see or download all the files together. Google classroom comes in handy for many reasons. One of the reasons it is so successful is because of the constant direction I am able to provide to the students. For every project, I created a project sheet that I over-viewed at the intro of each lesson and also posted to G0ogle Classroom. The project sheet contained both criteria for grading and also the steps for the project so students constantly could refer back to it.

Despite all of these useful tools often not available in regulars classroom, I still have to manage my time carefully — because all of the grades and projects are fast-paced and online, things tend to pile up quickly.



AP: “I am…” and Concentrations

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

I had very little understanding of what “AP” (Advanced Placement) courses consisted of until I started to teach AP Art this semester. Unlike other classes, students have quite a bit of freedom to create what they want as long as it pertains to their yearly “concentration”.  When I first arrived in this class, I noticed right away that the students were not confident in the direction of their concentrations and had spent almost 2 months on one piece. They are required to finish 12 pieces by the end of the year, and I felt that they really needed to start focus on the planning. I’ve learned through-out my own art making that without a clear artist statement, thumbnails, and thoughtful deliberation, it is quite difficult to find the discipline to follow through and complete a project. Taking my observation from the first week into consideration, I worked to fill the gaps in the students’ work process.

I introduced a lesson on self-portraiture that was based around the student’s concentration. The project tagline was “I am…” and the students would answer it as related to their concentration, illustrating the self-portrait with a combination of photos, textures, and methods in Photoshop.

Below is Hale’s “I am …food” Her concentration focuses on the textures and colors of light deserts such as donuts and pastries. She started out with just a donut in the middle of her body. I said it was okay if she wanted to keep a light mood but also pointed out how she could use the elements and principles of art to really push the idea.


I noticed that the students were relating their portraits to their concentration, but they were not pushing the piece to be thought-provoking. I had more than enough time to change that because of the one-on-one time I spent with each student.


I pushed each student to think about not only what their concentration really meant but what was so important about it and how it related to them and made a difference to humanity. I brought each concentration back to Big Ideas, and through reflections and written assignments, helped the students develop a solid method of planning for each coming project.


Some of my students struggled quite a bit, but in the end, I couldn’t be happier with the results.


Drawing and Painting

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog


I decided to incorporate my action research project into a drawing and painting lesson that I have been teaching to a 3-D design class. Although the class has only worked on sculptures so far this year, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to introduce painting to these students. As my pre-test, without giving my students’ any information about facial anatomy, I asked them to draw a self-portrait using a mirror. The drawings turned out very stylistic and simplified. Some students were terrified of making marks, but others were excited and happy for the chance to show off their skills. It was interesting to see how students chose to begin their drawings without having been given specific goals or examples for the project. Each drawing ending up having its own style.


After this pre-test drawing session, I introduced a lesson on expressionism and also gave the demonstration. I talked about placement of the mirror, paper, and a good pose to start the self-portrait. It’s usually difficult to draw a self-portrait straight on because of the flatness and symmetry of the form, so I suggested a ¾ view. I started my demo by drawing the perimeters of the head on paper first, because I wanted to make sure my whole head made it onto the page. Next, I established a middle of the head, and because my head was turned, the line was off to the side. I also created a line for the eyes going horizontally which is usually halfway down the head. I drew another line between the eyes-line and the chin to establish the bottom of the nose. I split the nose-line and the chin to draw the next line which is the middle of the lips. I explained to the students that each line follows the same angle, and I demonstrated that as I turned my head different angles, all of the lines remained parallel to one another. After figuring out the basic placement of the facial features, I made a line for the eyebrows and another for the hairline. The basic shape for the ear came next, aligning with the brow. As I explained these foundations for facial anatomy, I stressed that it was important to work from macro to micro no matter what the medium. Big shapes always come first both in terms of establishing values in composition and in terms of rendering.



After having established the structure, I started putting in the basic features and refined the outline of the head. By the end of the demo, my students were in awe and were excited to re-attempt the self-portrait using this method. The class worked for the rest of the day and didn’t only draw it once but drew it first in their sketchbooks and then transferred it to canvas paper. It was remarkable that a class with no experience in drawing started coming out with work like this.


Below is my example of the separate steps.



© VCUarts Department of Art Education   Franklin Terrace   |   812 West Franklin Street, Box 843084, Richmond, VA 23284   |   804.828.7154