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.

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xoxo, SMocK you.