Friday, October 29, 2010

Sketchbooks are Back!

Over the years, I've gone back and forth on the "sketchbook issue" for the elementary level. We've made them and used them, but somehow the results were not as good as I had hoped. This year, though, I resolved to give it another go, but with the fifth grade. Plus, to get them more vested in them, we made them by hand & not just the old "fold & staple". I had the students use paper punches and take their time for one, then we went through a modified "Japanese stab binding" technique. Maybe it was the novelty of using yarn, or the "safety needles", or just the idea of learning an old-fashioned bookbinding technique in a Kindle era, but the students really, really liked making their sketchbooks. I actually heard students say, "I like the idea of my own sketchbook!" YES!!! It was also kind of nice to sit myself down and do a little drawing of my own (we were drawing dragons this week) alongside the students. I found myself more relaxed afterward, wishing I could find sketch time more often during my crazy day. So, we will keep them in the flat file, to sketch in here and there, and hopefully see some nice progress (I had the students date their drawings). The title links to an extensive visual bounty of artist Jim Pollock's sketchbooks, plus I've added the "Sketchbook Project" button at the bottom of my blog (good resources there, too). Just to be fair to my third and fourth graders, their projects are turning out nicely, too (collage and printmaking, respectively), but my mind is on how cool it was to just DRAW.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teacher Portal

I just found the "teacher portal" art teachers' blog listings----see the title link. The expertise of hundreds of teachers (not just art teachers[100+], but ALL subjects and grade levels [1,000+]). This is just about the best thing I've found to extend my PLN ("Personal Learning Network" since "TweetGrid"). And, don't forget about the incredible blogs listed at ArtEd2.0.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pacing and Mock-ups


I had a great early morning;days like today just feed the creative juices! I spent some quality planning time mocking-up a project I decided to transform from a simple "Paper Story" to a more interesting accordion book project based on an integrative conversation I had with a fellow teacher after our staff meeting yesterday. Long story short, I believe in working out the possible kinks with a mock-up of my own, then plan the lesson (reverse designing), yet still giving some open-ends to the creative process. The title link is to Marvin Bartel's wonderful source on planning/pacing, but here's an excerpt: "(Students) need confidence to experiment with expressive approaches. They need to appreciate the learning that comes from mistakes and to see how "happy accidents" happen. Sour lemons make great lemonade with the right additions. Empower them by building their confidence...Do not be tempted to tell them that quality doesn't matter...Say, 'I often make mistakes when I am learning a new thing...'"
"Never do any of the work for the students...Good teaching is making the hard stuff easier and making the easy stuff harder, but a good teacher never does the work and never solves the problem for the student. If you must draw to illustrate a point, do it on your own paper - never on theirs."
Here's a picture of what I worked on, based on the lovely work of Beatrice Coron.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Clay Gargoyles and Dragons


We are having fun, fun, fun in 5th grade art right now! Starting with a Smartboard walk-through of some of the amazing gargoyles on the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (see title link), and a discussion of architecture (the sculptures are actually downspouts!), we moved into making 2 pinch pots. Storing 250 pieces of wet clay is a challenge, but I've been saving those plastic grocery bags forever...Then, this week (week 2, art once a week for 50 minutes in 5th grade), we started adding gargoyle or dragon features. We will finish up next week. I told the students that we have to wait to add long tails or horns until next week so they do not get "smushed" in the bags. Also decided to stuff them with crumpled paper before we adhered the 2 pinch pots together (a good call, as some students are a little heavy-handed with their Score/Slip/Secure method). What a fun, exhausting week! It will be at least Thanksgiving before we start seeing the pieces come out of bisque-firing because I want to air-dry SLOW, fire even SLOWER. Of course, then we will glaze.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Art Story


I just found this resource online called "The Art Story", which succinctly explains Modern Art. The title links to a section on Richard Diebenkorn. We have been comparing and contrasting two Modern art pieces all week in third grade (Rothko's "Orange and Yellow" and Pollock's "Convergence"). First, students watched & discussed the meaning of colors, using the awesome Cortes website animations. We will start painting next week. I am always impressed when we discuss artwork at the elementary level, students have intelligent insights and make the most interesting connections! I love using Socratic method to draw out the conversations, I only wish that we had more time...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drawing Games and Data


"October 2010 is Big Draw month in twenty countries and on five continents. Launched in 2000, this annual initiative has grown from 180 events in the UK to over 1500 worldwide. The Campaign aims to use drawing to connect visitors with museum and gallery collections, urban and rural spaces – and the wider community – in new and enjoyable ways." (cited: The Big Draw website, see title link). As an extension activity to our "Line" activities in art, students who were done with their main projects could do collaborative drawing exercises (see this link for more resources to support drawing in the classroom). Based on the results, students really enjoy a one-day group activity like this!...Then, there is the data conundrum, which has cropped up in the Getty Listserv forum for art teachers. One teacher had students draw scissors from memory and label that drawing "before". Then, another day, they do a whole-group instruction on drawing from true observation (very Betty Edwards-type drawing instruction, which I've found successful at all age groups but be prepared to be on your feet the whole time). Those drawings get labeled "after". The "befores" and "afters" were the VISUAL data of efficacy. I have done similar exercises not so much for my own analysis, but to show students how much they improve with practice.

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

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The journey of process intrigues me and I am always changing it up.

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