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