Saturday, October 22, 2016

Presidential Campaign Designs

Ever since I took the Visual Culture & Studio Practice class from UNK as part of my Master's program, I've been thinking about assignments that could come up in election seasons. With this year's presidential election generating crazy amounts of animosity, I thought it would be good to try to avoid drama in my classroom and get students to think about the actual qualities they would want in their ideal candidate, instead of their name or political party. My computer graphics class seemed like a good place to tackle presidential campaign designs.

Besides the big ideas of reading images and thinking about political issues and character traits instead of labels, I also wanted students to see the difference between logos and posters, because a lot of people tend to make logos that have way too much going on in the design! We did a critique toward the end of the assignment and gave suggestions to several students on how to correct that mistake.
Is Harambe a "thing" at your school like he is at mine?
The lesson plan is below, and you can also "keep" it on the smARTteacher. The slides presentation, planning sheet, and rubric are linked at the very bottom.

Katie Morris
Jackson Heights High School

Lesson Title: Presidential Campaign Design Package

Rationale: This lesson is intended to teach students graphic design principles, how to visually communicate a message, and how to “read” images in our visual culture.

Essential Questions: How do images affect us? How do you read an image? What is the goal of a campaign poster? How can we design images to communicate a message?

  1. The students will discuss a variety of campaign posters from the past & present.
  2. The students will evaluate the effectiveness of campaign package designs- logos, posters, and websites.
  3. The students will brainstorm qualities they would want in an ideal presidential candidate and the opposites.
  4. The students will create a campaign package including a logo and poster that communicates the qualities they would want in a president.
  5. The students will participate in peer critiques about their work.
  6. The students will write an artist statement explaining their idea and purposes for their design choices.
  7. Optional: The students will work in groups to plan, direct, act in, and edit a campaign ad for a made up presidential candidate.

Procedure: This lesson is estimated to take 10 class periods, or more if the students create a video.
Day 1: The teacher will start with a disclaimer that though we will be discussing political ads, we will focus on the design choices and what they communicate, not making negative comments about politicians we don’t agree with. Discussions should be respectful and on-topic.
The class will view a slides presentation featuring different campaign ads, historic and modern. They will discuss design elements and what/how they communicate. What do the designs communicate about what kind of president they would be?
Next, students will brainstorm a list of qualities they look for or would want in an ideal candidate, as well as their opposites. The class will share their thoughts and discuss. The teacher will explain the assignment: design a campaign package- logo, poster, possibly a website (blog), and video- for someone who is NOT currently a politician. The idea is to focus more on the ideas about what would make a good president instead of on a real person. The poster designs could be sincere or satirical- using the opposite of the good qualities to poke fun or make a point.  The teacher will remind students of the differences between a logo and a poster. A logo is much simpler and more versatile. The logo could be used on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, website, poster, anything that will brand the campaign. The logo should be incorporated into the poster design.
The students will brainstorm ideas using the planning sheet, sketch, and begin.
Days 2-6: Student work time. The teacher will circulate to check progress and help troubleshoot.
Day 7: The students will participate in a peer critique. Each student will share their progress and consider the feedback of others in the class.
Days 8 & 9: Student work time.
Day 10: When the students are finished they will self-assess with a rubric and write an artist statement.
Later: The teacher will set up a display of the printed posters. The class will view and discuss the exhibit. The teacher will ask how the display could affect the students in school who see it.

National Visual Arts Standards

I can use contemporary practices to plan and make art or design about an aspect of present-day life.

I can examine, reflect on, and plan revisions for works of art and design in progress by applying relevant criteria.

I can discuss how an exhibition can impact awareness of social, cultural, and political beliefs and understandings.

I can analyze how visual imagery can affect understanding of the world.

Assessment: The students will self assess using a rubric. Their scores will be combined with the teacher’s scores for the final grade.

Slides presentation:

Planning sheet:


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chopped: Art

I love watching Food Network, especially the shows where chefs use their creativity and think outside the box (or basket?). I always thought that there were a lot of possibilities to bring some of those competitions into the art room. My 8th graders recently participated in a "Chopped" challenge on their 3rd day of school to get them used to the idea of collaboration and problem solving, and to introduce them to the location of supplies I moved around in the art room over the summer.
To familiarize the students with the concept of "Chopped", I played a video of a round of Chopped. I recommend some of the Chopped: Junior videos. I explained the concept to them: work with your partner to make art out of the "mystery ingredients" that I had prepared ahead of time. I tried to talk like the Chopped host "also available to you are the tools and supplies in the art room". 

I only have 6 students in my 8th grade class so I drew names to put them in three partner pairs. I presented the bags, which some also used as "ingredients", set a timer, and let the students start. The groups that had the best communication did the best in the competition. The first team to be chopped became judges with me in the next round. I tried to get them to commentate with me and they were feeling a little shy, but they did help me to choose the chopped champions. 
Maybe you're thinking, ok, but what if I have more than six students? (I know that my class is tiny!) Well, I have some suggestions. You could make bigger teams, set the timer for shorter rounds, or stretch the completion to more than one day. My students asked to do it again the next day but I didn't have mystery ingredients prepared so I might do it again toward the end of the semester.

 I used paper bags to hold the ingredients. I honestly just pulled stuff out of cabinets in the classroom, things that didn't necessarily go together so the students would have to think a little more. Some that I used were donated rolls of receipt paper, tongue depressors, clothespins, safety pins, pipe cleaners, a ball of yarn, rubber bands, and toothpicks. I wish I would have thought to plug in the hot glue guns ahead of time so they would have been warm.

I think this game was a hit. It had a little more structure than a task party (which sounds super fun but I don't think my students are ready for it yet) but it still got the students active and their creative juices flowing. I will definitely do this again, even with high school or upper elementary.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Choice Ceramics Projects

In my last post I shared what we tried last school year for the ceramics boot camp. After students had sampled each of the basic hand building techniques we covered, they proposed a plan for an independent ceramics project. Here are some of the results. It was really fun to see all the different directions it went. A few students chose to learn to throw on the wheel but I will have to add those pictures later. I didn't make wheel throwing a requirement as we only have three wheels.
I had two students make tromp l'oeil food sculptures. They used plates as slab molds to make the base and then used several techniques to create the look of the food. There was SO much detail put into these two projects. The curly fries were made by cutting a slab into skinny strips and curling them so they would maintain the square edges. The fries were fired separately so they could be dipped into glaze and fuse in the last fire. The cheeseburger was made from slabs and coils. I saw a lot of thought go into which glazes to combine to create the desired effects.
The stack of pancakes was originally going to be a box with the berries acting as a handle. There was a little blowout in the bottom during the bisque fire so the student glazed it together to just be a hollow form and I found some felt with a sticky back to add to the bottom to disguise the chips.
One of the most fun parts was figuring out how to make bacon! We rolled coils of red and white clay, stuck them together, flattened them, and crimped.
 The football below is a bank made by a freshman. The mask was made with a mold I got for a project through Donors Choose. The student achieved a really cool texture by applying and wiping away glazes.
 The next project was made by a senior who joined art second semester. It was inspired by Skyrim. I don't think the student had ever taken art before and I thought he did a really nice job. He layered multiple glazes and the blue eyes were made by melting stained glass into a depression.

 I received some underglaze pencils for Christmas so I tested them futon a plate. I learned that they can smudge a bit from brushing on a clear glaze so I'm trying to work around that but I think there are a lot of possibilities and I'm looking forward to offering it as an option in the coming school year.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ceramics Boot Camp

Before my students had a full choice ceramics project, I wanted them to try out several different techniques so we had a "boot camp".
1. Pinch pots with sgraffito- Students used red clay to make a pinch pot then coated part of it with white slip. We found that it worked best to use a fan brush to apply the slip and to do one stroke with each dip in the slip so that it wouldn't mix with the red clay underneath. When the slip had set up, students scratched or carved designs to reveal the contrasting color underneath. We finished with a clear glaze.
2. Simple Slabs- Students learned the basics of slab construction and slump molds and chose one to try. We found a suggestion on measurements for mugs so those were very popular. 
 One of my advanced students wanted to test image transfer so we round a tutorial that involves painting slip over a laser print. The slip resists the ink. When it dries you can wet the back of the paper with the sponge and use a rib to transfer. It can be a little tricky to get the slip to the right consistency. I'm looking forward to testing this out more next year.
3. Coils. We had a contest to see who could roll the longest coil and I demonstrated how to build with coils. Some left the coils visible and some smoothed the surface.
My advanced students didn't have a boot camp but I asked each of them to make a slab teapot. We followed the steps for a 30 minute slab teapot from Ceramic Arts Daily, but ours took longer than 30 minutes. Most were finished in 2-3 class periods. 

In my next post, I'll share some of the choice projects!