Saturday, October 29, 2011

Artome: Best Fundraiser EVER.

This year, per suggestion by my principal, I tried a different art fundraiser.  In the past I've used OriginalWorks, and wasn't at all happy with it.  It was so much work for me to trim the pieces (they all had to be 8 x 10.5 or somesuch, a non-standard size) because invariably I'd run out of the paper they sent, or need to use a different piece of paper for the project, or I'd want to do a square or circle project that didn't fit the format...  It was also a pain to collect orders myself and handle all of the logistics.

Artome was infinitely better, because it turned the fundraiser into an event.  The kids were able to attend an art show in the evening with their parents, and see every child's work displayed in a beautiful frame with a double mat.  The company charges $18 per frame, and I elected to charge $25 on my end so that we made a pretty significant amount from each sale.  (More than yearbook!)  Parents are able to order the framed work, and even reproductions of the pieces for gifts, even if they cannot attend the show.

The best part of all was that Artome came to my school and set the whole thing up, took it apart, and handled the reproduction orders, and last minute frame jobs onsite.  I had many parents telling me they loved this idea, and that they definitely wanted me to do it again next year.

For once, everybody is happy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yoshimi Battle, Warhol Portraits, Oaxaca Animals, Keith Haring

Alright, the kiddos are finishing things now, and I am so excited about how this first round of big projects are turning out!  I had a deadline for my upcoming fundraiser, and the work all has to be finished by Wednesday of next week...this fundraiser is a blog entry in itself...more later.

5th Grade:
Yoshimi has battled the Pink Robots and her "ninja skillz" have paid off!  Objectives for this project included demonstrating knowledge of various types of balance, experimenting with lettering, figure proportions, and interpreting inspiration in a unique way.  Here are some of the finished works:

4th Grade:  I can't post a photo of the examples from the Warhol project here, since they include actual photos of the students.  But I'll do my best to describe what they did.  I took a photo of each kid standing in front of a white background.   Then I uploaded the pictures and bumped up the contrast and converted them all to black and white.  This project was all about CONTRAST!  I printed the photos out, two of the same picture on each page, and gave them to the kids.  They chose complementary colors from my treasure trove of Mr. Sketch markers.  (I recently acquired the 18 color packs which have tints of many of the colors.!  :D ) 

 They colored over their pictures, one in each complementary color.  Then they cut out their faces and bodies from the background, and glued them to another paper, which was already colored in the same complementary pair.  Finally, using darker values of the same two colors, they added Pop Art style lettering, and Ben Day Dots to the backgrounds.  So this was really more of a Lichtenstein/Warhol inspiration than just Warhol alone.  Anyhow they turned out pretty neat, and for a quick marker project, I was happy!  Lesson objectives included: analyzing color and contrast by choosing complements, and identifying and organizing colors by value. I figure you could also do this in primary colors, and teach a little about color mixing and Value...

3rd Grade:  Inspired by the Oaxaca Folk Art carvings of animals, we set out to compare organic and geometric shapes, and create patterns using shapes.    I had the kids find an image of an animal they liked, and draw it large on a white piece of paper.  Then, using thin-tipped markers (Mr. Sketch, of course!) they created patterns using EITHER organic OR geometric shapes.  I made sure I had them choose only one or the other, and stick to that theme, so that I could tell they could compare the shapes.  For this project I deliberately asked them not to draw any kind of background.  I think they are much more interesting without a fake "habitat" for the animals.

I've been impressed with this grade level so far.  I have one student who is so dedicated to finishing this project that she has come in EVERY DAY during recess the past week or so to work on it.  And we are having gorgeous weather.  I'm not talking about rainy days here.  This is the same group of kids I did Chihuly with last year, and they are just a super-creative group, with very sweet personalities and a lot of good character. 

2nd Grade:  The Keith Haring-Inspired line designs with movement are beautiful as I knew they would be.  Kids love Sharpies.  Heck, I LOVE SHARPIES.  When I told the kids we were going to have a fundraiser their response was, "So we can buy MORE SHARPIES!!?!?!?"  Yeah, baby.  So I posted the lesson for this Last Year, in September.  But this year I pushed the movement aspect of it more, and the kids seemed to understand the amount of lines I was asking for.   Objectives included: Creating pattern and movement using line, and being able to talk about Keith Haring.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monochromatic Collages

 So this is a project from ages ago, but I was recently organizing my iPhoto, and it appeared.  I was very happy with the way they look displayed.  Ah the good old days when I actually had time to hang up artwork in the halls!  Ha! 
I showed slides of Mark Rothko (not one of my favorite artists, but the kids really responded well to the idea of color invoking mood.)  After a lesson on value, tints, shades, and all that, the kids chose one piece of construction paper.  This would be their HUE.  

Then they simply cut things from magazines that were in different values of that same hue.  Finally I had them cut letters out (ransom note style) and add them to their collage, making a sentence that pertained somehow to the mood of their artwork.  These turned out even better the next year when I ran out of construction paper, and instead gave the kids a half sheet of regular drawing paper and instructed them to color it entirely one hue, using the MR. SKETCH scented markers.  This not only made the kids ecstatic, but it also filled my classroom with a lovely fruity aroma.  I am a believer in aromatherapy, just as a side note.  And it may sound hokey but I really think scent has an effect on mood as well.  This was something I didn't think to point out to the kiddos at the time, but it would tie in well with Rothko.

After they all finished gluing, I had them coat their collages with watered-down elmer's glue.  The year that we started with white drawing paper and markers, the final glue coat liquified the marker a little bit, resulting in an all over subtle color wash.  Neither I nor the kids were expecting this, and they were overjoyed.  They were tinting their collages themselves.  What a nice surprise!  This also made the work feel more handmade, as the construction paper backgrounds tended to look a little flat.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Assessment Rubrics

Yes, assessment.  How do we assess students in the elementary art room?  I give conduct grades, and most of the time it's a default S unless I have documentation that the kid has been particularly poorly behaved in class.  I have 790 kids.  They each do about 8 projects a year, so if I sit down and grade each one of them that totals 6320 grades per year.  Uh no.  Not doin' it.  My solution was to create a generic rubric for ALL projects, and then let the kids self-assess.  These assessments do NOT affect their conduct grades, but it is a good indication for me of who doesn't get the project objectives, and how they each feel about their work.  The first part of the rubric says "I CAN statements."  This is a district wide buzz word for "lesson objectives."  I have the lesson objectives posted on the board and I ask students to look at those and decide whether they honestly "CAN" do all those things.  For example, the statement might be "I CAN create patterns using lines."  If they have completed all the objectives, they get a 3 or in the case of the littles, they could get a :). 

BIG KID (Grades 3 and up) Assessment Rubric:

The kids are having their first experience with these self assessments this week, and so far it's going fairly well.  I have to talk it through with the littles, and probably I'll have to do that with the bigs as they finish up their project.  Since this is a new thing, I expect them to be a little weirded out at first.  But assessment was something I kept getting low marks for on my evaluations, so I've attempted to cover it this way, without making myself nuts trying to give individual grades.

LITTLE KID (K-2) Assessment Rubric:

After attending TN Arts Academy this summer and having a long conversation with an Arts educator about assessment in the Arts, I decided that it is very important, but it must be treated differently than assessment models for academic subjects.  After all, if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life feeling like a failure.

I am having mixed feelings about the whole initiative to perhaps include the related arts on standardized tests eventually.  Yes, thank you, powers that be, for finally concluding that the Arts are important enough to be measured....but...please don't make me teach to a test...because I have a feeling that's what it'll come to.  We are already crunched for time and I am cramming as much material into my lessons as possible, but seeing the kids once a week (or less in some cases) for 45 minutes means that they have a hard time retaining much.

Anyway just a thought.  At least self-assessment is helpful feedback for me, and it holds the kid somewhat accountable.