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.

HyperDocs and Project Design

Have y’all heard of HyperDocs?  They have revolutionized the way I prepare and facilitate curriculum and instruction in my classroom.  For me personally, I feel that HyperDocs and blended learning make me a more efficient teacher.  Also, it enables me to better accommodate my students and their needs as learners and embed more choice in the art room.  It creates autonomy in my classroom and allows more time for enrichment.

You can learn more about HyperDocs here.  Simply put, they are interactive documents with hyperlinks to various forms of content relevant to a given lesson or unit curated to engage the learner in an inquiry-based manner.

Here are some ways that my students have explored art through HyperDocs this year:

Digital Self-Portraits

Word PortraitThis is a lesson that can be done with upper elementary all the way to high school art.  As a group, we studied portraiture, specifically self-portraits.  Students are asked to take a photograph of themselves and convert it to a black and white digital image.  This can be done with any basic software that comes with your computer’s operating system, in addition to photo-editing apps available on smart phones and tablets.

  • As a class, we discussed character and character traits.
  • What character traits best described them?
  • If you made a portrait solely based on your character traits, which words would you want to include?

Then, the students made a bubble map of approximately 5-10 words of their character traits.  Similar to a Wordle, the most important character traits were repeated most often.  We also discussed value and form and how artists used value to create form with shades and tints.

Depending on the availability of software in your school, there are a couple of ways to go about this – students can use a presentation tool (like PowerPoint or Keynote) or they can use more software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator (although since text is involved, Illustrator is more ideal).  The reason I do not recommend a drawing program is largely because at the completion of their portrait, they will no longer need their photograph.

Students first placed their image onto their canvas.  Next, focusing only on the dark values and shadows, the students added their characteristics in the font of their choice, paying attention to size and rotating as needed.  To accommodate students in middle and high school, I would recommend having students using the value scale to add words in the mid-range values as well, to show more modelling and form.  After they finished, students would remove their photograph, choose a color for the background, and print.

Kindergarten: Rockin’ Robots

Rockin' RobotsSince we meet for just a handful of times during the year, I like to make sure each lesson is jam-packed with different techniques and media.   One of my favorite lessons to teach to Kindergarten is on robots.  We discuss robots and their purposes and function in society.  This project is great for exploring collage, texture, printmaking, and splatter painting.

When creating their robots, students first use metallic paint to imitate the texture of metal.  They organize and lay out their pieces to form their robot.  On the second day, students assemble and glue their robot to a brightly colored pieced of construction paper.  Then they add more texture, using splattered paint.  Then, they use small pieces of cardboard, wood, and marker lids to add details like they eyes, buttons, mouth, and other details.

Magazine Bowls

IMG_2695I saw this done at a TAEA conference a few years back.  It is a great way to explore sculpture and recycled art.  As we begin we discuss artists Louise Nevelson and Mark Dion, as well as discussing possibilities for everyday items we use that aren’t easily recycled.  This is a great lesson for upper elementary, middle school, and high school.  For my 5th grade students I give them an inch-wide 14-16 inch long piece of poster board to uses as a folding strip.  With older students, I would recommend using a half-inch wide strip.  This helps them create uniform pieces to combine.  They begin by placing their folding strips lengthwise along the paper (landscape style).  I have the students folding, wrapping the paper around two times before the add a bead of glue.  Then they continue to repeat folding and adding a bead of glue until it is complete.  To build the base, students continue to create their folded strips and then when they have three or four of them, the begin creating the base of the bowl.  I have students create the base 10-20 strips thick in order to give the bowl a substantial base.  Then, the students continue the process, but instead of going directly around, they spiral the strips up to create the sides and edges of the bowl.  The resulting bowl is rather beautiful.  As an enrichment to the lesson, I have the advanced students create a color scheme for their bowl, or make the bowl transform into a vase.

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.

3rd Grade Funky Clay Frogs

Funky Clay FrogWhat better way to engage your students in the art room that through the use of clay?!?  Third grade studies and observes frogs and their metamorphosis from a tadpole into an adult frog.  To reinforce their learning in science I thought it would be a great way to explore clay and sculpture in the art room.  Students learn how to score, slip, and hand-build a clay from multiple pieces of clay.  Students also learn about basic glazing techniques once their frog is fired in the kiln.  To create the clay frog, students begin with a ball of clay, roughly the size of their fist.  They then pinch it in half, setting one piece aside.  They take the other half and roll it into a ball to create a basic pinch pot.  This is to draw from their prior knowledge of clay from previous years in art, and create confidence/make them more comfortable with the medium.  Students then take the other piece and pinch it in half again.  Students create the “eye sockets” and eyes and attach them to the pinch pot.  Then, students create coils and attach them to the sides for the legs and feet.  I constantly remind them of the “Four S” rule – Score, Slip, Squish, and Smooth.  Once they combine all the parts they check and make sure everything is attached securely and demonstrates craftsmanship.  I write their names and their class label (ex. M3 for Monday, third grade) and then when they dry they are fired.  Students then glaze their frogs and they are fired again.  My students always come up with fantastic frogs!

2nd Grade Paper Flower Relief Sculptures

Paper Flower Relief SculptureWhat’s a great way to merge science connections into art?  Plant life.  In the early spring, my second grade students explore the characteristics of plants and flowers and the importance of photosynthesis.  Students refine their manipulative skills as they create petals using brightly colored paper to create the petals.  To kick it up a notch, students use gel markers to invent patterns onto their petals.  I encourage the students to used analogous colors.  Students then glue their petals in a radial fashion to the center of another piece of brightly colored construction paper.  Next, student use orange or yellow paper to tear or cut and implement basic quilling techniques to curl and create the part of the flower integral for pollination.  Students also add leaves by created a football shape and creasing the center.   They glue three under the flower.  Finally, student quill and curl the ends of the petals to create depth.

1st Grade Starry Cityscapes

Starry CityscapeThis project is a great way to introduce the principle of design, movement, to First Grade students.  The students  first observed and explored the art of Vincent van Gogh.  A great resource is BrainPOP, Jr.  I use it as motivation to engage and introduce van Gogh and his style of art.  Next, it’s time to create!  They then increased their manipulative skills using tempera paint for the stars combining circles and short, curved lines.  The students created shades and tints of blue to build up the sky background.  After finishing and letting the painting dry, students used a continuous line that employed vertical, horizontal, and diagonal straight lines to create the silhouette of the city onto a black piece of construction paper and then collage it onto their painting.

Here are some student examples from my fabulous first graders.

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Board Objectives in the Art Room.

Board Objectives

Board Objectives

When students first walk into the art room, I always have the lesson objectives on the board.  Since I have grades K-5 every day, I have all grade level objectives posted.  Some of the information is also mirrored on the projection screen as a non-verbal cue as well as an aid for students who may not as easily see the board.

Over the period of a lesson, I have several items that are posted to remind the students (and me!) what we will be covering that day – especially since a project can last several days.  Each lesson plan has a title, vocabulary terms, assessment targets/benchmarks, a finished project example, and the content standard associated with the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy that will be covered that day.

Bloom's Taxonomy in Art

Bloom’s Taxonomy in Art

Sometimes, students will be expected to create graphic organizers that highlight important information about a specific artist, style of art, or art media.

At our school we employ the Daily 5 as one of many literacy strategies.  My students are expected to document their Word Work

Knowledge Rating Chart

Knowledge Rating Chart

onto their Knowledge Rating Charts, which are located on the front of their portfolios.  This activity gets them to self-assess and prepare for the new project, as well as ignite any prior knowledge of the project they are about to explore.  Occasionally, students will also

Read to Self from the Art text and have a small group discussion.  This information is documented on the board as well.

Some more detailing the board objective organization I used in the art room are highlighted here.

Happy art-making!