Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Forgotten Second Grade Lesson

I came across something that jogged my memory (an example? actual lesson plan? I don't even remember now) about this second grade lesson:

I hadn't done this lesson since my older children were in second grade (and they're high school juniors, so it's been a while).  I ordered two buckets of foam letters (actually, letters + numbers) and used up all the burlap I had, then went to the many, many yards of felt that I got when a local clothing maker went out of buisness.  It's their first fibers project, and they do really well after they figure out how to cut felt with scissors.

Brown burlap on brown table= not the best photo.
This student did a great job overlapping her felt
to add interest.

We started by planning out our wall hanging in our skechbooks--I told them not to worry about drawing their letters perfectly, but just to get the general idea down.  I wanted them to have their name and things made out of felt that they enjoy doing or just like.  I was very happy with the results, and so were the students!

The red spider-looking thing is fireworks!

The ones above the water are dolphins.

On this one, I left the paper underneath for the photo.
We used the paper to keep them from getting glued to
the tables, and it made them easier to put in the
drying rack.

Bunny and bird cuteness.

I thought about adding other things for the students to glue on (lace, yarn, etc) but in the end I just really liked the layering and the look and feel of the felt.

Astroids and lava!  I find it so interesting
that even with the formed letters being given to them,
some students still put them on backwards.

He and I had many discussions about layering:
would the yellow look better over the windows?
Could there be yellow over the black "stars"?

This student was initially upset over my lack of brown felt,
but she came up with her own solution for her ice cream cone.

This student is an "outside the box" thinker, and her work
is usually the envy of the class.

Close up of Angelina's cat.

Students are taking these home this week.  When my older two were in second grade, they were so very proud to hang them on their bedroom doors at home, and couldn't wait to show Dad when he got home.  I'm hoping for that reaction for my students (I usually hear about it all later).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

To be PERFECT, what does that mean, exactly?

Tonight I read this post by my friend, Jenny.  She's not an art teacher, and, thus, it's not an art teacher blog, but it got me thinking. Specifically, I was thinking back to an incident that happened sometime in my first several years of teaching.  We had some concerns about a student, and were calling the parents in to discuss the child's [lack of] progress.  I'd brought some of her work samples to the meeting and when I showed the mother, she cried.  Not out of worry or concern--out of love and adoration.  I quickly realized several things: #1, always bring "benchmark" work to parent meetings (artistically gifted/talented student work, average work . . .), #2, you never really know what goes on at home--a child with it all together may not have a great home life, and conversely, a struggling student very well could be the center of a parent's universe (as the all should be), and #3, I [was] a lot more of an uppity b&^$% than I realized. I was young.  I'd gone to a top-rated private art school AND had gone on to get a whole other bachelor's in art education after that and had probably started on my master's.  I thought I knew exactly what I was talking about and the parents would just be bowled over by my knowledge, prestige and confidence. Ummmm, not so much.  I can only speak from my own experience, but I know I learned a heck of a lot teaching those first seven and a half years in a brand-new urban elementary school with changing administration, revolving staff and no playground or discipline plan until well into the second year.  And I learned it on my feet, and quickly, if I didn't want to get ran over.  I had a child to feed, clothe and house, so failure was never an option.
That parent meeting sealed some things I'd followed but had no real reason why prior to that day.  Things like: I hang up everyone's work.  Period.  Not finished? Still hanging it up.  Not that pretty/really sloppy/looks-like-you-were-riding-an-outer-space-pony-while-the-directions-were-being-given? Still hanging it up. Life skills/multi-handicapped student mainstreamed into the class? Definately hanging it up with all the others, and proudly,too.  Watching that mother tear and up and say "ooohhhh, it's so beautiful" over the very artwork I'd looked at scornfully just before made me stop and realize I had no right to think that I knew what was going on with her daughter when she worked on her art.  I also realized perfection isn't the goal, thinking is.  When I first became a teacher (one where I had my own classroom and my own plan) I said "I want them to think" but I didn't really dwell on it.  Thinking was the forefront of what I taught, it drove my instruction for many years.  And then, well, I don't know what happened.  Maybe it was just something that got a little lost in the shuffle, maybe it's all those conferences I go to, blogs I read where everyone's stuff looks so great and I think "Oh, my kids can do that!" without even thinking WHY should they do that? Is it important? Will it help them become better thinkers? Better artists?
There's so much we deal with as teachers (in my district right now, it's learning targets, and I've got to be honest and say--I forget all about them all the time.  Sometimes I post them, I never read them to the students, I don't even think they know where to look for them. . . SIGH, I really suck at this) and it's easy to get caught up in this or that (latest educational trends, juicy workplace gossip, oh-my-goodness-I'm-probably-a-step-or-two-away-from-being-featured-on-Hoarders: Buried Alive-based-on-the-state-of-my-classroom) and just LIFE.  I want to remember my goal: to educate them to think about a variety of solutions to problems, not to strive for "perfection."  'Cause I'm not sure I even know what that is, but if we achieve it, what else is left?  Now to go prepare some PERFECT lessons to foster thinking. . .

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fifth Grade and Lady Liberty

We've been working on patriotic symbols in fifth grade, and I got this lesson several years ago at my state's fall conference (at "Drag 'N Brag", as it were).  Someone in my district said it was in an art education magazine (Arts & Activities, maybe?) but I didn't see it there.  I love this lesson because it covers the 5th-graders-learning-about-patriotic-symbols Grade Level Expectation from my state and they learn/re-learn all about monochromatic colors.

We drew with pencil, outlined with black tempera block,
and painted with tempera.

Love this one!  This student is a "detail" sort of girl.
 We started out with a SmartNotebook lesson (that you can download here), where we brainstormed symbols that remind us of America, and looked at some (like the Liberty Bell, the American flag, etc).  The last slide in the presentation is just photographs of the Statue of Liberty.  They choose one (there's six to choose from) and draw it.  I put the slide up every time they're there--drawing or painting.

Some of them on display in the hallway--
I love the one with the extra-long neck (second from the left).

More of our display.

They always want to fill in pupils in her eyes.
This student went back and covered them.

I love how "painterly" this one is, it has personality!
These are always so lovely, and no two are ever alike.  I let them choose to have a light blue background or an American flag in the background.
God Bless America! Land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her . . .
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