Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pinned ImageMy 6h grade African-inspired Art lesson was based on kangas, a garment popular in part of Eastern Africa. I read something that compared kangas to t-shirts because they can express lots of different ideas. The kanga information website that seemed the most authentic is Swahili Language and Culture. From my research, I found that the basics to a kanga design are a wide, even border (1), a central design (2), and some sort of saying (3). I showed the students images of kangas from SLC and my favorite is below. Some of the sayings would probably be easier to get the true meaning of if we were part of that culture, though I've read that they can have many different interpretations.

After discussing some of the kangas we saw, the students brainstormed idioms that they were familiar with. I was really impressed with how many different idioms they thought of! -I love idioms, so many possibilities for Art and Writing connections! The idea was basically to start with some sort of idiom or other saying, think of a simple illustration that could be drawn to illustrate the saying, and then design a pattern in the border. 

My example at completion of the pencil/Sharpie step.
I planned for the first class to be introduction and drawing and the second class to be painting. Almost all of the students could have used another class period to work on these. Several came in during recess or finished at home using other media. My planning problem? I forgot about the ruler quandary that makes simple tasks take twice as long as you think they should. Even though I showed the students how to just line the edge of the ruler up with the edge of the paper then use the straight edge, there were still major problems! I have written about this before and I still just can't understand what the problem is. It took some students most of the first class just to get the border lines drawn on their paper. But, I was being stubborn and didn't add any time because these are the students I only see for 40 minutes (more like 30 when there is no pass time built into the schedule and we have to clean up at the end) every other week) and the students who said they would rather do more projects and work quicker than fewer projects with more work time. I sent any artwork that was not finished home and I maybe ended up with half of the projects for the grade finished. I'm not sure how successful the visual was, but I think this lesson has potential. If I teach it again, I will probably use different media. I could probably have given the students a template to work on but really, if they don't already know how to use a ruler to make a straight line, someone's gotta make them learn! Anyway, here are some of the finished paintings so take a look!

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