Sunday, August 9, 2015

Artology Final Days

Day 4 Nature Play

Wow! Time flies when you're having fun. The last couple of days took us outside to explore nature and create art inspired by the artist Andy Goldsworthy. The kids reaped bales of grass cuttings and piles of sticks and pebbles and used clay as an adhesive to connect construct their ideas. Everything from intricately built stick sculptures and squirrel schools to a fairy fort built with clay pinch pots for houses and pools. As it turned out there was a chance for rain that evening and questions of whether their creations would withstand the elements opened discussion about site, balance, patterns, form, and function.

Continuing the theme of nature we used Okra from the school garden to create a "flower stamp" and some latex leaf molds to create a border for some sun prints created with oak, pine and other leaves from around the school. Kids took their love for building inside and worked with Kapla Blocks and stitching bags. Others painted or created money which is being traded for blocks or artwork.

Day 5 Wearable Art Etc.

What does melting beads, braiding, twisting, wrapping and wearing having in common? You could call it wearable art, sun catchers, sweat bands, crowns, kaleidoscopes or Jewelry. Give students some fun materials, a few easy skills and the unexpected surprises will come up. I demonstrated printmaking with found objects and etching and soon money was being printed again for trade. I overheard students discussing how there needed to be gold for the money to be worth anything so I challenged them to try and make their money more colorful and add designs that might make someone want them more. Kids found that they could use the yarn cones to make kaleidoscopes and decorated them with prints made from color diffusion paper.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Artology Day 3-The Spirit of Play

The spirit of play was alive in the art studio today. Our theme which was rhythm and movement adapted into one of collaboration and story telling. Children at play is something I pay close attention to because their conversations are pathways into discussing their artwork and their stories are often rich with imagination and creativity. An old wood frame becomes a TV to trade for someone else's art, birthday presents are made, fun parks, magic wands and treasure chests  are created and children get lost in world all their own.

Im reminded of a Picasso saying, "every child is an artist, the problem is staying one as we grow up."
As adults we often just worry about the  finished project and don't hear how they come together or what the hardest part was or how something works.

Asking questions to a child during and after creative play lend the most answers and opportunities to discuss artistic behaviors and techniques. A happy child is an engaged child and engaged children will often share what's on their mind. 

These two students collaborated and tried different variations of block stacking to make it as tall as possible. After a few crashing towers they found a pattern that worked and a way to stack the blocks that gave them more support and height. It drew a lot of interest when it got as tall as Mr. S and the chairs came out. 
A young artist paints a flower. 
Creating our tile landscapes with sharpee and rubbing alcholo

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Artology- Paint Magic

Day two was a day full of color and suspense as we explored painting through the lens of science. Everyone was excited to try and paint without the use of brushes. We experimented making paint explosions using paint, water, alka seltzer and film canisters. Students enjoyed finding the right mixture to make the cap blow off and the paint spray out. Even if it didn't explore the bubbling paint was fun to move around.


We also tried using the hot sun and sidewalk to paint using watercolor ice cubes. Students chose analagous colors and let them melt on the water color paper making some beautiful combinations. We found that sliding the ice cubes around on the try made fun marks too. Day three will find us cutting up these painting and making new works from them.

Watercolor Ice Painting
 Students in the second group made foil relief sculptures using cardboard, yarn and foil. A bas-relief sculpture is a sculpture that raises up off a flat surface. We colored over the foil using sharpee. Tomorrow we will explore rhythm in art and create some sculptures. I've been so pleased with the enthusiasm and story telling that this group of young artists display. They've been working in and out of their comfort zone and having fun doing it.
Foil relief sculpture

Friday, October 24, 2014

Quotes from the Artists and Assessments.

Im opening stations slower this year to build familiarity with materials and how to care for them and so far it's working well despite the question of when some favorite stations like sculpture or clay will be open. It's important to build good working habits early on . Most of the Wonderfully Original Works that have been created so far have been from 3rd grade.
My 5th graders just completed a logo design assignment for our school and are chomping at the bit to start CHOICE. 
I thought it would be fun to post some pics with quotes from the artist statements. I believe artist statements are a critical element in the art making process and get to the hear of what's on kids minds and their process. 
A lesson in symmetry evolved into this project. The artist statement says he was inspired by the color wheel and wanted to make a collage with lots of color. 

This piece evolved from a demo on positive and negative space. It was inspired by an example of the Apple logo that had Steve Jobs profile in it that an artist created after Mr.Jobs passing. 

I love the rays of light this student added to her work. "Mermaids have been on my mind lately and pencil is my favorite way to make art."

 Evil Alien- A collaborative effort that also stemmed from the positive and negative space demo. "Trip was cutting green paper and Davis said, " you should make that into an evil alien." Voila!
After a demo on Radial Symmetry this student created a mandala/compass after "watching a nun named Ani Tyndall create a sand painting, this mandala was made for finding your way through life." This is a great example of how a prior experience became a piece of art. 

This picture was created in 1st grade where they have modified Choice. They were learning about texture and shapes.

This is an example of a performance assessment and 3rd demo on radial symmetry. All 3rd graders had to do this project. I keep these kinds of assignments short so there's more room for CHOICE. 

Students learn how to ask each other questions about their art during one of our first sharing times. They pyramid has questions students can refer to through each stage of the art making process. 

 Students are using the active board to sign up for stations and keep track of where they work. I put smiley faces next to names of people who will be special helpers during clean up time.
Another Performance Assessment with a rubric for 4th grade students who are learning to mix tints and shades with the color blue. This is an art SOL and this assignment took only one class. Now they can use this technique for a variety of things. Fortunately we have the Blue Ridge Mountains right outside our window for inspiration. 

21st Century Learners

As educators we are tasked with envisioning a future for our students that has not been created yet. What kind of jobs will our students have, what kinds of skills and abilities will students need to prosper and succeed in the workplace of the future? Creativity, collaboration and critical thinking are timeless skills that are at the top of the list of requirements employers will seek out in future candidates. The arts have always been poised a model for teaching the above skills but the arts in educational settings have been sidelined either by budget cuts or being seen merely as a special, instead of a pathway for teaching students how to seek out educational opportunities and be creators of their education rather than just recipients, that's the job of the robot.
Some of the wonderful skills I've observed that are a byproduct of creating art with the TAB model aren't merely just educational but are also a human necessity and include the following.

Self Worth & Learning to value their own thinking- When lessons are "pre-packaged" and students know the results they're supposed to get the problems have already been solved by the teacher there's nothing left for the student to but copy and follow the steps the teacher has laid out for them. At MLS techniques are taught with the idea that students will use them in a variety of ways to create art. We value and practice a more inquiry based approach to creating art and students are encouraged to make are the connects to aspects of their life. The TAB model rests on the idea that the students are the artist.

Resilience- This is one of the hardest things to teach young kids. You know this if you've ever taken a long trip with them and the constant question "are we there yet." is played over and over. Patience is something kids need to learn and it's my belief that in an age of instant gratification and entertainment, students should learn to value the skills of refining, editing and taking their time. Scientists do this when they construct a hypothesis and analyze it. Artists are some of the best editors, revising, editing and in some cases starting all over again throwing out a body of work.
At MLS this takes form in two ways. Experimenting and practicing are highly valued and students can work on projects as long as they feel like it. There are seldom due dates and artwork is shared in group settings and peer to peer conversations where valuable feedback is received.

Empathy- In traditional art rooms teachers often assign students the same work so you have 20 VanGogh Sunflowers that are all relatively similar. In this scenario students compare their abilities to that of others and can easily be turned off by feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up.  At MLS students work in mediums they are interested in and on topics that interest them. Students recognize these individual skills in each other and in some cases teach each other skills. Collaboration is a big part of our art studio environment and a benefit of the TAB practice.

Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking- When the student knows the questions and steps are predetermined students become passive participants rather than active learners. Critical thinking is defined as the process we use to reflect on, assess and judge the assumption underlying our own and others ideas and efforts. Creative thinking is the process we use to develop our critical thinking ideas and elaborate on them. This is a natural part of the learning and is inextricably linked to the arts. At MLS this is kind of thinking is fostered simply by giving them the chance to think, providing themes and inquiry based questions that challenge students and shift their minds into high gear. CEO's don't want a work force of "children" who don't have an original thought in their heads and can't think for themselves.

There are many more skills to discuss but that would take a while. Look here for other 21st century skills that TAB promotes.

I knew there was a long road ahead of me when I adopted the TAB pedagogy, it shifted everything I was taught as an art education major and it even shook the roots of my own education and learning style. TAB makes me work harder as a teacher because the neat little pre-planned package that used to be an art lesson is gone and I am now the facilitator, the questioner, the coach, the expert, the historian and connector of ideas faced with the challenge of keeping up with 20 something individuals who are all working on different projects and require different motivation and connections. Im not complaining, it's the most alive I've ever felt in the classroom and it's what keeps me going. I may only teach elementary age students but I am inspired daily by the creative thoughts and ideas that they come up with. Im a small part of their day but I hope that the skills TAB offers will stick with them and help them grow into self motivated, curious learners who aren't afraid to wonder, dream and act on their intuitions. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Artology: Summer Art Experience

Today was the first day of Artology Camp at MLS and we had a blast exploring the theme of nature and talking about the kinds of things in nature that might inspire an artist. To jumpstart the session we looked at images of rivers and tributaries from space and admired the painterly quality of the images and the way the lines of the river flowed and moved.

 We also talked about Andy Goldsworthy and the way he makes beautiful art with natural materials that sometime fall apart after being outdoors for a while. This conversation inspired us to go out and make temporary art on the trees using natural materials we found.

Check out our creations below in Photo Peach.

Artology: Nature Art on PhotoPeach

Day 2 & 3

The last two day saw Artologists learning about sculpture and armatures as we made our lanterns using balloons and tissue paper and then designing a kite/windsock inspired by Japanese Koi Kites. We learned that the Japanese and other Asian countries believe that the Koi is a symbol of strengths and hang the Koi Kites to represent members of their families, particularly children. Lanterns have always been used in a variety of ceremonies in Asian countries.

Day 2 & 3 on PhotoPeach
DAY2 & 3 on PhotoPeach

On day three we learned about wet felting and used dyed wool roving to make felted snakes. Kids had fun shaping the wool adding colors and soaking it in squishy warm soapy water then rolling it on the mat to make a snake. Our second half of the day was split into various activities from making animals from modeling clay, drawing and painting or glazing some ceramics.


Each day we start class adding finishing touches to work or trying something from one of the stations. While it may be called a camp the students learn new techniques, try something new and work with materials that excite and engage.
Today we glazed our nature prints in clay, tried a style of printmaking called stamping and hunted for interesting leaf shapes to make leaf prints and did some of our own work in one of the stations. Check out all the activities below.

Day:4 on PhotoPeach

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fine Arts Festival

Our annual Fine Arts Festival is currently on display at Fashion Square Mall. I always love visiting the work and seeing the growth our students go through artistically from elementary to middle to high. Below is the MLS panel display our K-5 artists work. All of the work except for two K-1 pieces are CHOICE, student driven, passion based works of art backed by teacher demonstrations and lessons in art history.

This year I added QR codes on artist statements that led viewers to Youtube interviews of students talking about why they like choice and collaboration in art class.  I continued adding student quotes about art to our display.  Students put the joys of making art so simply you can't help but see the power art adds to an educational setting. Whether it's an interview or an artist statement there's an added layer of information about the artists intention that helps viewers relate on a different level to the artwork and see it beyond something pretty to look at.
This personal relevance and connection to art history and other content areas starts in the classroom where students make real decisions about the kind of work they want to create and the materials they are going to make it with. They have the support of their teacher to raise questions, make connections to other artists and techniques. At the end of the day they are the artists and are making what matters to them.
A 3rd grader experimenting with making faces
from pipe cleaners sees example of Alexander Calder's
wire faces and makes connection.

5th grade 4H member builds clay horse eye using the diagram
to use as a display for a speech she's giving to 4H on a disease that affect horses eyes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Performance Tasks

One of the questions asked as a choice teacher is how I assess a students knowledge of a state standards or important art skills and one way is a performance task. While I think of the word task as a chore, in art they can become inspiration and good practice for learning different techniques. If they are interested they may decide to use it in a project that they're working on or one they might want to start. Below are some 4th grade examples of learning to mix shades and tints and creating value with blue paint.
I try to keep the tasks small so they can be done in a shorter about of time, about 15 min. Below are some 5th grade examples of an attachment test that challenged 5th grade students to create a sculpture without the use of glue or tape. Students learned to notch, fold, insert, wedge and balance with just a piece of paper.


Fine Motor Mornings

I've continued visiting with the different kindergarten classes doing art projects that focus on developing fine motor skills and are fun. For a 1/2 hour kindergarten exercised their pinching muscles using chopsticks with a fulcrum and wrapped with rubber bands to make them springy and easier to learn. The students had to use the chopsticks to pick up colored foam packing peanuts and glue them to a piece of paper with a fish template on it. Kind of inspired by sushi...
This project gave students the chance to exercise the important pinching muscle between their forefinger and thumb and also a chance to practice control while moving the foam into place.

Some of the other Fine Motor Mornings include drawing exercises and origami. These exercises improve on pencil grip and writing skills while developing control and making art.