Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a trip to Peru with Yianna and Helios

The adventure of 'traveling' with these two friends continues!  In our last adventure, Yianna and Helios sent us an email from the 'Forgotten City'.  Thankfully, it is no longer forgotten.  

One of my most favorite grades (don't tell the others) is 3rd grade.  Third grade students still have that wonder and amazement that makes teaching them exciting.  They also start to 'know stuff'--just enough stuff to have really great discussions about art, history and just a little mystery.  

Well, back in November, as the sunshine seemed to disappear over Chicago, 'our friends', Yianna and Helios shared their exploration of a very sunny place...Peru.  This was a very exciting country for me, as a life long dream is to visit the ancient ruins of the Incas and imagine to be Indiana Jones exploring Machu Picchu.
Our focus for this adventure was to investigate the meaning and symbolism of the sun, as represented, not only in Inca artifacts, but celebrated once a year in this ancient city. 
video introduction to Peru

I first developed this art unit while on sabbatical in Argentina on a Fulbright.  I connected with an Argentinean classroom teacher and focused on integrating art into a social studies unit.  Luckily, they were studying their ancient histories and landed me, well on my way to developing a lesson that has crossed curricula and grade levels.
Something I call fabulous.

This time, I did things a little different.  With the talk, trend and evolution of teaching kids, assessing kids and developing creative peoples, I thought to give my students an opportunity to take the reins.  After reading them the email from Yianna and Helios, exploring Peru, taking notes in our passports and spinning the globes (literally-they love it), I gave them one direction:  You have 10 minutes to make the sun.
And I left the room.
There was a sense of panic.
Students scrambling around the room, and asking each other questions.
I listened from outside.
How the students monitored each other, helped with problems and stayed focused made me proud.
This was their formative assessment.  WoW- the big "F" word.:)
preliminary drawing: 10 minute sun

This art adventure slowly evolved to 'just making' something to learning about different beliefs, diversities in cultures, artistic variations and the joy of yoga:)

student group analysis of two different images

We had a few connecting goals, relating to "the sun".  

First, each student was commissioned by the king of Machu Picchu to design a great pendant, made from the finest clay in the art room:)

Second, the CBS program "Sunday Morning" sent notice that they are in need of some new and creative representations of 'the sun'.

students doing some "sun salutations"

We sketched, we designed, we constructed, we fixed, we painted...we evaluated...
we did a lot.

My students enthusiasm for discovering new places and faces has increased.  They simply can't wait for their next message from 

Yianna and Helios.

I learned that 3rd grade students are not as flexible as I thought.
We are still doing sun salutations until we can touch our toes.

students taking a gallery tour of preliminary drawing

Check out the snapshots!

And click here for
 power point and lesson plan.

Here are some additional resources: (cartoon of boy in the Andes) (cartoon, cultural video of Peru)
My students analyzing:

xoxo, SMocK you.