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!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

PreK Explorations

In my last post I shared one of the few PreK lessons I did where I asked them to make something specific- a self-portrait. Tonight I wanted to show what my PreK students' artwork was like most often.
Since I have PreK-12 in the same classroom and the majority of my courses are high school, I could never really figure out how to set up centers. Instead I usually put out 2-3 different media for the students to choose from. Sometimes it was just one medium at the beginning of class, like paint or clay, and then the students who finished early could either choose to build with blocks or draw with crayons.
Some PreK students like to paint objects that are important to them while many are more interested in just exploring colors and brush strokes creating nonobjective paintings.
Collage was always a fun option for my students. I have tall tables and counters so for something like collage where I have LOTS of materials, I usually put boxes or trays on the floor for the younger students.

Some students would start with one medium and switch to another part way through and there is nothing wrong with that.
Here are some of the national standards for PreK under "create". A play-based choice-based approach works perfectly.
Engage in self-directed play with materials.
VA:Cr1.2.PkEngage in self-directed, creative making.
VA:Cr2.1.PkUse a variety of art-making tools
VA:Cr2.2.PkShare materials with others.
VA:Cr2.3.PkCreate and tell about art that communicates a story about a familiar place or object.VA:Cr3.1.Pk
Share and talk about personal artwork.