Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to School

I only see my 4th-6th grade students every other week.  Needless to say, we won't have finished artwork to display in the hallway for another 3 weeks!  I didn't want to walk through empty hallways until then and we needed an activity for the second half of the first Art class (first half= introductions, seating chart, rules, procedures) so this is what I came up with!  I went through all my Art History posters and pulled a whooooole bunch, looking for diversity in time periods, styles, media, cultures, etc. and hung posters in the hall.  We discussed how to act in a museum (don't touch, be quiet and respectful, act like ladies and gentlemen) and went on a tour in the hallway.  I gave each student a die cut shape, a sharpie, and a piece of masking tape.  Their instructions were to look at EVERY poster hanging, then pick a favorite and 
"Stop, Look, and Think" about WHY it was their favorite, then write a sentence about it on their piece of paper.  After writing, the students stuck their shape on the wall close to the poster.

I gave much clearer instructions after the first class when I got sentences like "It's my favorite because it's awesome" and "I like it because it's pretty."  I started reviewing the elements and principles and asking the students to be more descriptive and specific.  I also modeled a detailed, specific sentence for an imaginary art work.  The writing really improved after that.  I guess next year I'll have to add that the sentences should be something positive.  I did not read each sentence, I trusted the students enough not to.  I did have students point out that somebody "wrote something inappropriate" so when I checked under Grant Wood's "American Gothic", I read "I like it because it looks like he's going to stabe (stab) her with the pitchfork."  I put the original and a blank die cut shape in his teacher's box with a note asking him to write a different sentence.  I was back at that school yesterday and students had found another, almost identical sentence written by someone else.  Did the same thing with requesting a re-write.  Found yet ANOTHER almost identical sentence, this time with no name.  Moving on...

If I were really smart, I would have chosen one color for each grade level.  My reason: the shapes created a strong visual that showed what the students are most interested in.  It would have been nice to know if there were trends based on age.  I think it will give me some guidance when I plan for later lessons.  The two most popular posters were an Op Art painting and a FSA Landscape painting.

Scroll down to see some more pictures of our hallway "museum"!

Written about a Jackson Pollock painting


  1. neat idea! It is interesting to see what ones got the most comments. The kids appear to really like op-art!

  2. I forgot to say that I invited the staff to rite a sentence too!

  3. I really like this idea. You found a way to involve the entire class in a discussion about art. Not only did every student have a voice (on paper) but the conversation was left open for others to see. This is a really great way to get students involved!