Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mayan Codices Results

Fifth grade is completing their Mayan codices art project: accordion books that used symbol systems to portray each student's "story". Here's a photo of a Mayan codex (the Dresden codex) made from Amate (bark) paper:
The "Timeglider" introduction via Smartboard worked well, and I left the fine artist connection (Beatrice Coron) until the following week so students did not confuse the social studies standard with the art standard (and the past with the present). Thank goodness my students had a good grounding in the concept of "positive space" vs. "negative space", because cutting paper to create symbols (like the Mayans, symbols told the story, without words or drawing) turned out to be a skill some students still need practice with (linguistic learners had the most trouble, spatial learners the least). Also, although all the fifth grade was supposed to start the social studies portion of the unit as soon as we got back from break, about a third of the homerooms were behind. This left the discussion of the Mayans to "art", which took up some of the studio time, but we managed nonetheless (synchronization of integration pacing is always something to allow extra time for). The very good news is that students really liked doing something that related to a topic they were learning about in another area. Some things I adjusted to support learning as we progressed: 1) how to take complex images, like Wii remotes or a downhill skier and simplify for a paper cut-out; 2)cutting larger, symmetrical pieces, before cutting out details--for example a softball or football; 3) using current logos as examples of simplifying complex concepts. Here is an example of a cut paper accordion book from 2011 (prior to the Mayan theme being introduced):
One of the interesting aspects of the Mayan accordion books, is that students are trading them and "translating" the images, which is a lovely synectic activity, I've greatly enjoyed the stories my students have shared with me from their codices. Fourth grade is done with their "plot mountains" and "narrative planning sheets" for the cartooning unit, and we are (finally) moving into the cartooning portion. We covered Language Arts concepts including: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution (ending), protagonist, antagonist. Chunking the plot mountain first, then using that to fill in the first column of the narrative planning sheet was definitely a great Smartboard activity. Based on class polling, about 1/3 of third grade covers this material, slightly more in 4th, and in fifth grade they all do (but at different times). Lots of 1:1 conferencing on storylines. The main resources I used are at Read/Write/Think. Finally, the animations (thaumatropes and flips-video below) with third grade were very successful and students loved them! Such a simple way to demonstrate "tension" (3rd science standard) and "persistence of vision". I only wish we had done them on paper plates (larger) instead of index cards.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More Thoughts on Design Thinking & Reverse Instruction

Lots has happened since the new year started which kept me from blogging, but I am caught up on grades, comments, and display work (for now). Also, the Master Teacher Portfolio is done and submitted (over 60 hours of work went into that, but I found it to be very reflective). So, now I can finally write about how my "design thinking" unit with the fourth graders ("The Wallet Project") went, here's some observations: a) in a nutshell, very successful based on engagement and student feedback; b) I need to give myself some time to photograph these projects, because as soon as they were done and assessed, students wanted their wallets back because they either wanted to use them or give them as presents; c) letting the students do multiple prototypes and the mindmaps, although time-consuming, really was a very successful pacing strategy. I only have one picture to show from the project, but the variety of media choices definitely inspired this artist to get very creative (duct tape over cardboard with puff paint and scrap fabric bow ties):
Here is a great site for educators with a downloadable resource foe "design thinking": http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/ Very recently, districts nationwide have been adopting "common core content" standards, and the idea is that we need to go deeper with knowledge aquisition, promote argument and interaction with developing the knowledge, and "design thinking" is all about that!
Isn't that what robotics competitions, science fairs, debate clubs, etc. are all about? I am trying to bring that "vibe" to the everyday classroom, for all of my students (all 700+ of them). Experiential, investigative learning should be for every student, especially the ones who might not learn via "standard" classroom practices (e.g. auditory/linguistic). This brings me to reverse/flip instruction. I've been able to implement some front-loaded videos and instruction via my school website, www.lgirbino.com. Fifth graders watched a class tutorial on shading in class, plus watched the video on their own, and this year was the year shading using values was most successful! Furthermore, students asked for the website that the shading examples I put up on the Smartboard was from (a first), and wanted to do more exercises (another first). Here's the link from "artyfactory": http://www.artyfactory.com/portraits/drawing_techniques/pencil_shading.htm Additionally, third & fourth graders accessed cartooning exercises on their own for several weeks before we jumped in with whole-group instruction. Of course, I cannot expect a lot of students to be doing "art homework", but I do try to plant the idea that expertise comes from practice, and that fun resources for practice are available---"here's some to try from sites that are safe and kid-friendly." Recently, students are starting to ask me, "Mrs. Girbino--are you putting that link on your website?" And that's how I know the strategies I've implemented this year are taking hold. (During second semester, I hope to have more videos uploaded that are student-directed).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 & Beyond

If there is a theme to the first week back in art, it would be "integration". Third grade just finished some adorable 3D cartoons I call "critter cubes" (see below, plus 1 clay piece from 5th) based on the Apex HS art guru, Ian Sands' "Zonkey Street". This necessitated some discussions about "word bubbles", spelling, and other LA issues I had not anticipated (note for next year :). Then, 4th grade is moving into our big Anime/Marvel cartooning unit, which involves cartooning (of course), but also, planning narrative and the "plot mountain". Bonus--cartooning involves using PROPORTIONS ! Then, as noted in a prior post, we are doing accordion books in 5th grade again, but looking at the Mayan codices for our inspiration. Additionally, I'm almost ready to post a few more reverse instruction tutorials on Vimeo. Interesting aside, as we were beginning cartooning practice this week, a 4th grade student specifically asked me if I could post the cartooning source on my webpage, wwww.lgirbino.com, so before the next class, I did. Took half a minute. Then, I reinforced the resource via Smartboard the rest of the day. For some students, this is no big deal, but for others, they really do want extension information. This was a good way to end my week...So in 2012 & beyond, I envision more overlapping of core and complimentary content in a very organic, yet specific way.

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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