For our very first PYP unit in 5th grade this year I wanted to provide students with a foundation of generating ideas that could be referenced back throughout the year. In this unit we focused on Where Do Artists Get Ideas? and explored a range of activities leading to the development of unique, original ideas for their own artwork.
Curriculum (PYP Talk)
Our very first class we spent time making a whole class mind map/web showing where ideas come from. Each table discussed it with themselves first and then shared their ideas while I wrote them on the board. This gave us a great jumping off point.
Then we played one of my favorite idea generating games: Quantity of Quality. The idea is to generate as many ideas as possible without worrying about if they are "good or bad." Each table got a few art books, while flipping through them students stopped at images they found interesting and then translated that image into a short phrase, ie man eating fruit, colorful mountains, mom and baby in tall field. The phrase was written on a small paper and placed in a pile in the center of the table. After about 15 minutes I collected all the papers - or idea cards as we called them - in a paper bag. Each student then drew two cards out of the bag and created an artwork in response.
For homework I asked the students to bring in three pictures:
1. An artwork that inspires you
2. A quote that inspires you
3. A photo of something that is your favorite.
With the photos that students brought in for homework, we arranged them onto a bulletin board in class as our class Inspiration Board. I love that this is 100% student generated and that it fills the room with so much inspiration.
On day two I played them this quick video as a refresher from what we discussed last week. Video by fellow Art teacher, YouTube channel: Panthers Palette
Inspiration Around the Room
The purpose of the Around the Room activities, originally developed by Cynthia Gaub, is to provide students with short exploration of media as an introduction to skills and techniques. I thought this would be a perfect set up to use as a short exploration into various sources of inspiration. I created six different "centers," each with a title and a prompt/task for students to complete. They had access to the basic drawing materials. I asked them to label each page with "Artists get inspiration from . . . " I gave them 25 minutes to complete each center and they did marvelously! Here is the break down for each center:
Prompt: Choose an object out of the box. Look at it carefully. Try to draw it as realistically as you can.
*Supply center with a box of still-life objects.
Prompt: Choose a card from the pile and create an artwork that expresses that emotion using only lines, shapes, and colors.
*Supply center with pastels and THESE EMOTIONAL PRINTABLE FLASH CARDS
Prompt: What if your life was a book or a movie? What event would be on the cover or the advertisement poster? Create a book cover or movie poster for your life.
Prompt: Choose a news article that interests you. Create an artwork in response that that article.
*I printed off 10 very short, easy to read, current news articles from Time for Kids. You can find your own or use these
Place your pen on your paper. Close your eyes and scribble for 3 seconds. Open your eyes and think of something you could turn that scribble in to. Create something new from the scribble.
Find an artwork that inspires you, create a new artwork of what it makes you think of (don’t copy it).
* Supply center with a handful of art books
My post-center plan for when the students finish all the activities is to have them choose one of their artworks they made and bring it into a WOW - or finished piece. If finished in time (we will take a few weeks to work on them) the students will present them to the community at their end of unit share day.
Teacher Take Away
I am blown away with the engagement the students are showing during these centers and the artwork that is resulting from these activities. Their creativity is booming! I'm glad we are taking our time to work through them. Some students have been finishing around 20 minutes so I may shorten the time a bit. Overall I am very happy with how this unit is shaping up and am excited to use this as a launching point for the rest of the year.
Thanks to inspiration from my time at the Teaching for Artistic Behaviors Summer Institute and the workshops hosted by Cynthia Gaub, I decided to start my middle school students (grades 6-8) off this year with a Draw Around the Room. The intention of this was to provide them time to explore drawing media, some familiar and some less so, in new and playful ways while laying the groundwork for them to feel comfortable experimenting with these media. This was my set-up:
Objective: I can explore and experiment with different drawing tools and techniques to learn more about them and develop my craft.
Warm-Up: (Every class I have a warm-up on the board for the students to start on when they enter) With your table group create a KWL chart for Drawing Media (ie colored pencils, markers, charcoal, pastels, pencils, pens). Fill out the K - what do you know already, and W - what do you want to learn, sections. *I quickly learned that having the students make the chart themselves took too much time so I made a blank template and printed it out for them so they could get right to the heart of the discussion. I've attached this chart below:
Set-Up: After explaining the activity, each table collected a medium and accompanying menu. It was important for me to have them do this themselves instead of having it already on the table because I want them to know where to find the media for future classes.
Media: I have six tables in my room so I chose six different media: Drawing Pencils (Set of 12), Markers (variety of thicknesses), Colored Pencils, Pastels (chalk, soft, and oil), Drawing Pens (Set of 5), and Charcoal (vine, pressed, pencil, with erasers).
Menus: On the menus I included the media name, definition, and some small examples. In addition there were a few questions on each for the students to think about as they were exploring. On the back side of the menus are nine different drawing techniques for the students to try out. I've included the menus here for you to download. One file is the front sides and one file is the back. I never laminate things but I did laminate these to make sure they survived all my classes. The menus and drawing techniques were inspired by Frankie Fisher.
Task: Students were asked to create one page in their sketchbooks for each medium. It should include the name and definition of the medium and then a variety of experimentations made while exploring that medium. To aid them, each menu had a back side of different drawing techniques for them to try. I encouraged them to consider themselves as explorers and this as their field notebook, reminding them to take note, label marks, and write observations.
Teacher Take-Aways: Starting the year out with play and exploration feels so freeing and . . . right, even if I did have a lot of underlying structure. Some students struggled with the idea of further exploring media that they have used for years, the charcoal and pastels were definitely the most entertaining of all the medias. Overall I feel that the two classes will be very useful in the student artists' development. I am still debating on what to do next. I was considering moving on to a Paint Around the Room but I feel like this Draw Around the Room should have a larger conclusion, perhaps choosing one or more mediums to continue exploring for a week or two. All in all, the year is starting out well and I already see improvements on the choice-based curriculum I have been developing through student engagement and growth.
The writings and happenings of What's Going On In The Art Room, written by Ms. Alisa Blundon in Istanbul, Turkey
Guiding Students to Independence through the Artistic Thinking Process
Class Art Kits | Student Responsibility of Supples
Inspiration Around the Room
Draw Around the Room