Following my experiences at the Teacher Institute this past summer, I have begun to re-evaluate my planning to incorporate art lessons that are more meaningful and personal for my students while still integrating curriculum and honing students observational skills. Fifth graders have just completed a drawing unit comparing schema drawings to observational drawings of their shoes. Next, students added appropriate details along with a related background to communicate about themselves. Artist mentor- Vincent Van Gogh.
Third graders learn about Maryland, Baltimore, and protecting the environment, so we began painting our own Chesapeake Bay. After discussions and journaling about experiences on or near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, students began to communicate about the weather and time of day. Following that, we will examine photos of the bridge and add various types of boats that may be seen as we suggest depth.
Fourth graders observed a still life of various types of sporting equipment that reflected their interests, including a football, jump rope, soccer ball, lacrosse stick, skate board, jerseys, hats, and the most popular....wii remotes.
Currently, I am beginning a lesson with my Advanced Art students (fifth graders)based on the PTA Reflections Contest with the theme, Beauty is.... I offered students the opportunity to find a relaxing place in the room and write about the most beautiful person, place, and thing to them, while we listened to soft music. Their responses were so heartfelt that I had to hold back tears. Some responses included, "hearing my baby brother laugh for the first time", "Seeing dolphins jump out of the water at the beach", "The look on my grandmother's face when we gave her a surprise party", "Seeing and hearing a waterfall". As students anxiously began their sketches, I realized that one disadvantage to this teaching is that I may not have enough resources available to students to help them feel successful, since their ideas were so varied.
I am in week two of our "Beauty is.." unit. I am incorporating a few of Duane's approaches (Say "Yes") by allowing students to choose their materials based on the subject and size of their work. Additionally, I did not demonstrate. Students were free to express themselves freely. Students were engaged in their work and there was a feeling in the room that this work meant something to them. One student even requested some relaxing classical music. The disadvantage to this format is that the quality of the work has suffered. Students reverted back to their schema and portrayed faces/figures with a cartoonish quality, even though I provided some artist mentors such as Mary Cassatt.