Sunday, October 20, 2013

Me in the Middle....second grade

targeting who we are

  My second grade students began their journey of self discovery with some pretty awesome self-portraits.  Their exploration began with a little bit of homework, in which they had to complete a couple of activities about themselves.

We started our slow drawing process, focusing on the details that make us unique and, of course, looking very carefully into a mirror.  

We often work in a mixed medium process, combining a few drawing and painting techniques to achieve the best results.  In this project, we had to keep in mind that we are not made from paint, or crayons, or oil pastels but the combination of these materials help our self-portraits look "Me-ish".

 To Do:
1.  Draw self-portrait with pencil
2.  Choose the most appropriate skin tone (various and several pre-mixed tones)
3.  Paint skin tone, being careful around the facial features
4.  Paint one background color
5.  Trace the entire painting with a black crayon (pressing hard, "coloring on the line")
6.  Choosing the most appropriate colors for the hair, from oil pastels
7.  Fill in eyebrow color, eye color and lip color (demonstrating different color combinations to achieve a realistic effect)
8.  Matte on black construction paper
9.  Write an "I AM" poem

      The results were amazing and truly captured the unique personalities of each student, through their self-portraits and the honest thoughts they expressed in their poems.

xoxo, SMocK you.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apple Trees.....

I love this season...

Aside from the pumpkin cravings, apples sing the song of fall and school.  
In the MILE art class, fall looks like a little bit of tearing, a little bit of gluing, 
a little bit of sponging and a shake of glitter.

purple construction paper
brown construction paper
yellow construction paper
green tissue paper
red tempera paint
sponges cut into circles
glue sticks
liquid glue
gold glitter
scissors (for special needs)

To Do:
*tear long strips from brown construction paper
*use glue sticks to adhere to purple construction paper

*tear pieces of green tissue paper into short pieces
*use glue sticks to adhere to 'tree branches'
*cut yellow circle for sun or moon
*use glue stick to adhere to purple paper
*use sponges and red paint to press 'apples' on the tree branches
*swirl a little glue in the yellow circle
*shake some gold glitter

In the end, these simple steps help my students build their fine motor skills and follow a sequence, creating one good looking apple dusk...or possibly dawn.:)

xoxo, SMocK you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

School Inspiration....

A quote a day makes your frown go away....

"I really like learning."--Saith, 1st grade

Friday, October 4, 2013

Crime Scene Investigators on the job....4th grade

Magnifying observations.....
"This was fun!"~Edward

Encouraging students to sit and look at art can be daunting, at times.  What do we ask?  How do we encourage?  How do we build a lively discussion about a painting?  Questions like these probably reflect a lot of art teachers and classroom teachers sentiments.  You are not alone!
What needs to be remembered is the acts of observation, investigation, reflection and evaluation are skills that students need time to learn, practice and develop....and the younger the better!

Prior to the year starting, I developed a set of cards (that I have yet to name properly), each focusing on the set skills for the development of visual literacy across all grade levels.  These cards can be used numerous different ways.  My brainstorming led to a modification of an idea I found on Pintrest that suggested ways students can investigate informational text.  I have to be honest, I didn't go any further than looking at the picture, but it did sparked an idea of another way to encourage my students to look  and respond to an artwork.

from converstations in literacy blog
There is a big buzz right now about getting kids to think more.  Common Core State Standards says so. (jk-but only a little) This is a great idea but how do we get them to think more (and just think, in the art room), without losing their interest and attention?  In answering this question, I experimented a little bit with my colorful cards and the art wheel to see just how much it would take for 4th grade students to independently investigate various paintings.  It really didn't take much.  I gave each 'investigator' his own magnifying glass for "reminding you to look closer at the little details" and the spinner on the Art Wheel was encouragement enough!

example: The Surrender at Breda--Velasquez

Here's what I did:
 I selected paintings that had action.  As I was searching through dozens of images, I focused on paintings that expressed "something happening".  Six different paintings were distributed to my six groups.  Along with the art reproductions, I distributed the necessary materials (see below).

The students' first job was to scan the art work from top to bottom, side to side and corner to corner for one minute. Then, each student took a turn spinning the red arrow on the Art Wheel and stopping on one of the four colors.  Each color notes a different category in quadrant of the circle, prompting each student in the group to answer a different question.  The varying questions opened lively and often loud conversations among all groups.  It was really great to see the students make strong statements and defend their thoughts with passion and conviction.  As each student was answering the question, they wrote their answers with a marker of the same color from their category.  Eventually the laminated poster board filled with thoughts and reflections, but also with criticisms and suggestions from other responses.
AWESOME! Everyone had something to say.  The biggest challenge....stopping them.

art reproductions
laminated white poster board
water soluble markets (Fiddle Stixs: pink, purple, green, light blue)
Visual Literacy Cards (I named them:))
 Visual Literacy Cards-- get yours here!
Art Wheel
Magnifying glasses (optional--but totally worth it)

Toward the end of the hour, we stopped to re-group as a class and discuss what we discovered about our responses and the responses of our peers.  The students found it insightful and said it was 'neat' being able to add to other peoples answers.  In the end...."This was fun".  I guess, I didn't lose their attention.

A quick favor, if you reading this post and have enjoyed other posts please follow's just one little click.  Thanks!

xoxo, SMocK you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thinking Ish-ly...1st grade

I found the caption above as I was researching information on author Peter Reynolds and it started me thinking about why I love his whimsical and meaningful books.  It was only after my first graders completed their Ish journey that I can try to answer.

One of my primary goals for first graders at the beginning of the year, is to have them adjust and find the rhythm of the art room.  I feel it is super important that students have an understanding of rules and routines through an instructional sequence that creates a pattern in their learning process.  In turn, this understanding instills a learned behavior that travels with them to 6th grade (making my job a little easier).  Along with directions, demonstrations and discussions comes the fine balance of encouraging risk-taking, while supporting their young creative spirits.  After all....they are 6 years old....and 12 :)

After introducing the 1st graders to The Dot, I continue with its sequel, ISH.  The wonderful story of Ramon who just couldn't draw a vase of flowers.  Until one day, his sister Marisol made him look at this drawings in a new way....  
This book erases all my students inhibitions and frees their creativity, comforted by the security that we are all learning and it may not look exactly like a vase with flowers....but it will definitely be VASE-ISH.

I started the lessons with a "To Do" List on the board.  With a keen observatory eye, my students exclaimed, "Now we have to do 11 things!"

draw vase with pencil
To Do List
1.  Read Book: ISH
2.  DRAW vase with pencil
3.  DRAW 3 flowers with pencil
4.  TRACE with sharpie
5.  ERASE pencil lines
6.  COLOR with chalk pastels
7.  SIGN IT!
8.  crumple drawing
9.  throw drawing out the door :)
10.  work on ISH worksheet
11.  CLEAN UP.
The capitalized words are the repeated verbs that are consistently echoed throughout all projects.  

draw 3 flowers w

trace with sharpie

trace with sharpie

trace with sharpie
erase pencil lines
color in with chalk pastels

One reason I really love introducing this book to first graders is to emphasize to them, that the act of making art should be natural.  It's natural to make mistakes, and it's natural, as little peanut heads, to not be perfect.  

And...they get it.  They get that "thinking ish-ly" allows you to be yourself, allows you to say "it's ok, we can fix it", and allows you to feel good about what you have done.

smudge with one finger

crumple drawing
throw out the door

our crumpled mess

We left a bit of a crumpled mess in the school hallway but in the process felt really good!
I collected all of the crumpled drawings and surprised all the first grade classes by creating a crumpled gallery along the walls of our school TV studio.  
Just like little Ramon, they found something special that they had not seen before.

Ish is a story that demonstrates how a little nurturing, a little pat on the back, a little encouragement can lift a students spirits and propel them towards greatness.  Ish is a story that tells me that even I, as a teacher, need to be a little easier on myself and see what I do a little differently.  Nothing is perfect. Nothing is exact. But everything is almost right.  As teachers, we may always have haunting criticisms of what we do and feel defeated, at times, even throw our plan book across the room.  It's sometimes hard to see all the accomplishments we made in 6 hours.....until someone tells us. 

Teach ish-fully ever after....

xoxo, SMocK you. (story with spanish translation)