Exploring Choice

Exploring

Do you remember when you learned to swim?  There you were, standing at the waters edge with your “floaties” on with your mom (or dad) gesturing for you to jump in. You shook your head vigorously and chose instead to dip a toe in, and then back in slowly over the edge of pool.  Or, perhaps you chose to ease in one step or ladder rung at a time.  Or maybe you bravely dove in?

I have been testing the waters with TAB, or Teaching for Artistic Behavior, and choice in the art room.  Diving in, exploring choice, and co-constructing learning seemed scary to me.

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via GIPHY

The steps started small.  Still cleaving to my DBAE, or Discipfile_000line-Based Art Education, roots, I offered choice and by variations within a project or having student input when designing a project.  For example, this fifth grade Artist Guitar project:

OR this second grade Britto project.

For this project, student interest and input designed the lesson – we sipped cocoa (sugar-free, of course) and students chose color and patterns.

All well and good, but student choice (and voice) was still limited.  I went to NAEA and took every Choice workshop I could, and started to wrap my head around it and really flesh out my goals.  I love how Anne Bedrick describes her goal in her essay (and book) Choice Without Chaos.  She says:

I teach the way I teach because I am keeping my eye on the end game, the adults that I want to help build… the innovators, the ones who persevere, the ones who ask questions and see possibilities, the ones who are able to be self-directed, organized, and can manage their time.  I want to help them realize that the key to success in anything is their trust in their own judgment.

As an art teacher, I am educating people.  Whether or not my students grow up and continue to make art is not the most important thing to me.  I hope that they will continue to make art, but if they grow up able to recognize problems and see possibilities in situations, then I will feel that I have succeeded as a teacher.

-Anne Bedrick, Choice Without Chaos

I had the chance to meet Anne at the NAEA convention, and I could not help but feel inspired by her passion and experience.   That is my desire – to create an environment that builds a well-rounded person who have the skills for jobs that don’t exist.  Yes, they will learn and develop and build things – and they will be wonderful because they created them – but, I – I am in the business of building up people.

Since then, I have begun swimming in the TAB pool.  I started with the younger students, and deconstructed a project I have done in the past and turned it into a “skill-builder”.  The students explore art materials and after that design a project.  Sometimes it has been more in-depth with art history embedded into the the skill-builders.

Art History and Image Resources (1)I have also begun curating digital resources.  Our district is going 1:1 with devices, so I have begun organizing videos, instructional resources, art history content connections, and image banks to help facilitate blended learning.

Video Art Resources (1)

What I love about this whole experience is seeing the the A-ha! moments – hearing them describe in great depth their thinEdTech Resourcesking and problem-solving behind the framework of their composition, their design choices, and choice of art materials.

Technology in the Art Room

It can be a challenge to implement technology, but it is essential to be a 21st century teacher and create and equip 21st century learners.  I have spent the last few years coming up with strategies to implement technology as instructional tools, as well as implementing free and low cost web-based programs and apps for art production.  Keep in mind that this is a working knowledge of resources.  I am building up my arsenal of technology tools and strategies every year to streamline my classroom and be a more effective teacher.  These strategies and instruments help broaden the perspective of my students on what exactly is considered “art media”.  That being said, here are a few resources for you to explore and try in your art room.

The “Re-teaching” Document Camera

One of my most essential instructional tools in my document camera.  I use this tool to demonstrate a technique, a step in a project, or Document Cameraeven to set up a still life for students to observe.  I have found it especially useful as a re-teaching tool.  Even after I have verbally given instructions, demonstrated the instructions, and written them out, there is still canDocument Camera 2 be that one student who may have been distracted.  (Gasp)  Here is where the document camera comes into play.  For example, say I am teaching my second grade students how to make the paper relief sculpture, and we are starting to make our petals.  I set the camera to record as I am demonstrating, and when I finish that step, I stop the recording.  It saves the file and there is a digital video of me teaching.  (I try to keep these short and sweet).  I open them to play (in a program like Windows Media Player or QuickTime) and set them at “Fast” and loop.  This plays (on mute!) on the projector, freeing me up to monitor and teach students one-on-one or in small groups while the other students may catch a step that might have missed or are confused about.

(FREE!) Web-based Media

Here are some fantastic websites for students to create art on the computer.  I have used these time and again as stand-alone projects or to incorporate into a mixed-media lesson.

Mr. Picasso Head – a great program for an artist study!  Students create portraits in the style of Picasso!Sea-Saws Student Example - 5th Grade

Brushster – A program on the National Gallery of Art’s Art Zone page.  This program allows for students to explore different brushes and styles of art.  Versatile and fun, this program is great for upper elementary and middle school.

Collage Machine – Also on the National Gallery of Art’s Art Zone page.  This program allows students to use shapes or textures to create digital collages.

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas – Allows you to paint fractals like Pollock.  This is a great program for younger elementary as it is simple but creates colorful works of art – mess free!

Sea-Saws – This National Gallery of Art – Art Zone program allows students to create collages/found object “relief” sculptures using a variety of textures.  It even has an added animation capability.

Brushster 5th Grade Student Example - Insect StudyArt Pad – This web-based program is similar to Brushster.  You “paint” with a brush and can even add a frame.  As an added bonus you can “replay” your painting, and it demonstrates the brushstrokes step-by-step.

Others include: Jungle, Still Life, Flow, Photo Op, and many more found on the National Gallery of Art website under Education.

This is just part one of Technology in the Art Room.  Next time I will be discussing apps in the art room for instructional use and art-making!

4th Grade Cubist Cat Collage

Cubist Cat CollageI have always been inspired by the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  Even more, still, in the illustrations of Sir John Tenniel within this whimsical tale.  This inspiration led me to the whimsy of another great artist, Pablo Picasso.  After seeing the Picasso Monsters created in Mrs. Picasso’s Art Room, I jumped on the opportunity with my fourth grade students.  BrainPOP, as I have mentioned a few times, is a great resource to introduce an artist, art technique, or even make an interdisciplinary connection.  These fabulous people have created a short video on Cubism and its origins.

After my students explore Cubism, they compare, contrast, and analyze the work of Picasso and Tenniel.  We also discuss distortion, point of view, proportion, analogous colors, and portraiture.  The students begin their collage by creating the cat face.  We chose a set of analogous colors, and start on our way.  The majority of the first day is spent on the construction of the head.  On day two and three we create the body and tail, and add details (eyes, nose, etc).  Finally, students use similar colors of gel markers to add patterns onto their collage.  The last day is when they students weave paper to create their background and assemble their collage.  To add a bit of “flash” I have students weave using metallic paper.  This project is a wonderful chance to delve into literature and math through the lens of the visual arts.

Spring Art Show

Every school year it is my goal to hang each students art once.  At our school we have six art shows to display and honor their hard work and creativity in the art room. Twice a year our students have their artwork showcased at the local Art Gallery for a district-wide art show.  The reception for the Spring Art Show was held Thursday, March 8th.   Here are some snapshots of the show, where close to a hundred works of art were on display among the thousands from the elementary schools in the district.

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