Each unit that goes by I try to get closer to my philosophy of choice based art education through the Teaching for Artistic Behaviours Model while still finding creative solutions to teach class wide skills and hack required exams. The closest I've come to my ideal is through the Independent Projects that I end the year with for every class. This comes after the students have already settled into the routines and expectations of the class and have their creative juices flowing from a year of creating. This year however, I'm shaking things up and offering a BIG Independent Project in quarter 2. I want to offer students more independence and choice right from the start and this is getting closer to where my curriculum needs to be to best serve them.
"So we can make whatever we want?"
This is the main question I get asked when I present the idea of an independent project to them. And the answer is yes - mostly. Just as in other creative classes, like writing for example, I ask that students support their idea, whatever it may be, with thoughtfulness and engagement. A handful of students are excited right off the bat and furiously start scribbling down a plan, a good majority however is overcome with the Blank Canvas fear. That all encompassing whiteness that appears when too much choice is offered. This year to help guide my students in creating a major artwork I introduced the Artistic Thinking Process (#2).
Created by Melissa Purtee, this is the second version of the Artistic Thinking Process that was inspired by the Design Thinking Process. Read more about her development of this on her blog Thoughts On Arting.
30 Min Intro Activity
To first present this to the students I wanted a quick activity where they would demonstrate all of the steps of the process without even knowing it. So I set them to this task:
With your table create an artwork under the theme “happiness.” You may use your ipads for research if you need. You have 30 minutes
I thought of a few different themes to use but at the last minute I changed to "happiness" and I'm glad I did because it was very approachable to the students but also yielded interesting results. While they were creating I walked around spying trying to overhear or see them in different stages in the Artistic Thinking Process. When I caught them in the act I gave them a slip of paper in which they wrote down exactly what they were doing at that moment.
The papers were actually color coded to match the Artistic Thinking Process stages. When the 30 minutes had finished I introduced the Process by passing out a small copy to everyone (to put in their sketchbooks) and read through it together. After each stage I would ask who had a specific color paper, the table would read out what they had written and we would talk as a class on why it was an example of that particular stage. Here are some examples of what students wrote:
Now that they had a foundation of the process, they were ready to jump into it. We used the rest of the class time that day to focus on finding inspiration (encouraging sharing and reflecting). I asked them to have the following three questions answered when they returned next class:
What do you plan to make?
Why do you want to make this?
How will you make this (with what materials)?
This year we are using SeeSaw as our Process Journals to record our progress after each class. Here are a few from the development stage:
These two students are working together to create digital fantastical drawings of their classmates. They used the development stage to create and send out a survey and start sketching some ideas.
As we head into the creation stage next I feel that my students are already set up for success by having an vision of the overall artistic process. I plan to add some small reflection and sharing activities along the way and will try to put them in here after I'm done. We have an exhibition coming in December and I am excited to see the diversity of artwork, subject matter, and media expand with each show. Lastly, although the 30 Min Intro Activity was not really about making an artwork I did enjoy seeing what they came up with under the theme "happiness."
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.
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