Tuesday, July 13, 2010

4th Grade Visual Journaling- Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

When I wrote my first unit plan in an Art Ed class at ESU, my favorite part of the assignment was called Journey into a Work of Art.  We had to imagine being in the work of art (I chose Sandy Skoglund's Raining Popcorn) and write about what we experienced using all 5 senses.  I thought this would be a great way to encourage creative thinking and work on writing skills with my students.

I chose Seurat's A Sunday Aternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-86) for the work of art and taught this lesson in one 40 minute class period (not a regular art class, a rotation set up while the 4th grade teachers collaborate.)  First, I showed the students a PowerPoint with Seurat's stats.  Next, I showed an image I found on Wikipedia, a detail of another of Seurat's Pointilist paintings, to help the students understand the concept of Pointilism.  After learning about Pointilism, I projected a large image of La Grand Jatte and explained visual journaling to the students.

I found a really cool website, http://visualjournaling.com/home.html, that explains visual journaling and has reference images.  We broke the term apart: "visual" tells us that there will be something to look at (doodles, drawings, etc.), and "journaling" tells us that there will be writing.  We listed the 5 senses and the students used their imaginations to complete the visual journaling project.  I told them that visual journaling was very free form and they could write a postcard to someone about their trip, make a list of what they experienced, write a poem, or write a paragraph.  However they wanted to do their journaling was fine.  I gave the students fine point sharpies to write with and told them they could use pencil, sharpie, or colored pencils to add the visual details.

Some students were noticeably more comfortable with the project but I think almost all enjoyed it.  I like to point out the little dog and the monkey by the lady with the umbrella, as well as the man who appears to be playing a trumpet to encourage the students to look for little details to help them.  I did a visual journaling project with my 6th grade students that I will post about next.  I am looking forward to introducing this to other grades and doing more projects in the future.

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