Sunday, October 19, 2014


   The school year started off strong in LES Art. Third graders did cartooning, flip books, and clay pinch pots already. Fourth and fifth graders played the collaborative drawing game, "Exquisite Corpse" (except I called it "360 Degree Doodles"). Some people call it "Picture Consequences". Really, it is basically a cooperative drawing, which makes for a great opening week activity. Fourth graders made radial prints from collograph plates (mainly because the linoleum blocks were not in yet, but I also had an abundance of cardboard and glue), did negative space tree drawings, and are starting an abstract art painting unit. I found a lot of people pulling collograph plates as if they were intaglio (i.e. using a printing press), but we just inked and printed. This website is pretty good about the simpler method:  Fifth grade has done radial art with colored pencil, done computer rotations for digital mandalas using Adobe Illustrator, and are now starting a huge graphic design unit. All grades completed their sketchbook SLO's (Student Learning Objectives). I have nearly 300 pieces of artwork on our digital gallery, Artsonia. I admit, I have been working some long days!
   I used to like to ease into the schedule, but experience has taught me that holidays, testing schedules, concert practices and field trips start taking my students away from art class as early as November. So now, we dive into media and techniques by the second week.
  I am also starting a Sketchnoting push in my classroom with a dual purpose: to help students make better connections about art concepts and also, to help them learn better outside the art room. No one really teaches kids how to take notes. I thought this video summed it up:
My students cracked up at how fast the narrator spoke, but seemed pretty interested otherwise. I would have loved to learn about using text, image, and hierarchy to make sense on my notes when I was in elementary school. We drilled on the Roman numeral method, mostly in English class to outline for papers. "Note that the standard order of an outline is:
I. Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V, etc.)
A. Capital letters (A, B, C, etc.)
1. Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.)
a. Small letters (a, b, c, etc.)
i. Small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.)"
I used that skill set for note taking in college, but ended up being a big doodler on my notes (especially in Biology classes, back when I thought I was going to be a medical illustrator). At any rate, I was doing visual note taking a LONG time ago. I always worried that I would get busted by a professor for not doing notes the right way. Fast forward to now--I think this method is good for many students, especially by helping them make connections. It is better than "mind-mapping", in my opinion.
    Recently, Wall StreetJournal wrote an article about the power of doodling and memory:

"Michiko Maruyama, a medical-school student, says she writes down key words during class lectures and later draws "daily doodles" that bring together what she learned. Ms. Maruyama, who attends the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says she fills gaps in her understanding while she draws images of gastric secretions, hernias and other subjects of study.
"It's not until I doodle that I think about how everything comes together. I find out what I know and what I don't know," she says. When she stopped doodling for a week, her grades went down.

Doodles by Elizabeth Bales of Seattle 

 citation (from website): The Power of the Doodle: Improve Your Focus and Memory, Research Shows That Doodling Helps People Stay Focused, Grasp New Concepts and Retain Information

The appearance of a doodle can stimulate ideas for improvement, according to a 2014 study by Gabriela Goldschmidt, a professor emeritus of architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a researcher on learning techniques of design. A doodle can spark a "dialog between the mind and the hand holding a pencil and the eyes that perceive the marks on paper," the study says."

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The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

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