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)