Friday, December 6, 2013

Keeping the "Flow"

         A book I read a long time ago is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I am embedding his TedTalk on this subject, it is just such a powerful concept for creative people: "flow" -- a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work".

         This past month or so in art, I really thought a lot about "flow,  regarding both myself and my students. Sometimes, there are projects that start out with so much promise, then really get bogged down (I'm talking about you, "Architectural Patterns"). Students loved learning about architecture, loved tracing and repeating designs, then a smallish group of students hated the tedium of coloring them in. One student actually wrote a note on the back of her paper, "This is torture." I sort of laughed when I read it, remembering how this student was totally goofing around and I had to redirect, so I am thinking this is when that got written. But still, message received and my solution will be to shrink down the size of the assignment. That being said, there were still a lot of really great results.

         The cartooning unit for fourth grade was revised from last year because of "flow". I dropped the "plot mountain" and accordion book format because those pieces were real time-suckers that students did not seem to enjoy. Instead, to keep it integrative, the students did descriptive writing first, which I checked, and used that for their Manga cartooning. When everything was done, we compiled the comic book cover, layout pages, descriptive writing, and student self-assessment and stapled it all together. Voila! More cartooning time, still have a book format, still have the Language Arts piece. You know you have the students hooked when they don't want to stop working on their cartoons.
       The fun, fun, fun third graders had a blast with their pop-up cans based on Andy Warhol, they love cutting and gluing! I decided to change up their next lesson, a cartooning experience by making it a two-parter. Easing into the holidays, I really did not want to jump into the more expensive media because I know that with the "Flurry of Gifts" drive, "boots" drive, "Holiday Shop" experience, and holiday parties/holiday concert assemblies, their hearts and minds are on winter break! Plus, my friends who miss "Holiday Shop" or are slow "shoppers" miss art time (yeah, I could go on forever about why students are pulled from Specials to do stuff like this, but I will restrain myself). Solution? An introductory cartooning experience I whipped up called "Art Dogs" and boy, they really are digging it! I found this neat artist who does really creative dog portraits, and used that as the hook for my lesson (hey, hooks are key at this age, as all "Teacher Pirates" know---read the book, How to Teach Like a Pirate). Of course, I whipped up a Pinboard for it-->

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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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