In my last post, I described how my 5th grade students were choosing an area of Fibers to explore (Choose Your Own Adventure). The options were weaving, quilting, and clothing/textile design. There were many options within each of the three categories. Weaving was by far the most popular choice, but I did have quite a few takers on clothing and textile design.
One option, was the clothesline project I've taught a few times. Students paint a sky background then learn to cut and manipulate real fabric to design miniature clothes. You can read about the project on previous blog posts here and here or read the article I wrote for Arts & Activities magazine last December here.
You'll notice a couple differences between this batch of clothes on a clothesline and those from previous years. First, there is a lot more variety in the skies. When I taught the lesson before, I demonstrated how I like to paint clouds and put out the same paint colors at each table. This year since the students had more choices, those working on similar projects sat near each other and together asked me for the certain colors they wanted. It didn't take too long to dispense the paint, and if my pumps weren't prone to clogging and spraying, I would have let the students get their own paint. The second difference is that the overall level of craftsmanship might have been a little lower. Partly because a few, not all, of the girls were more interested in talking and partly because the students were working more independently and making their own choices.
Another option within clothing and textile design was to create a fabric design on paper, with the idea that it would be pushed further. This option was a little disappointing. I think about 5 students chose this option and they had no sense of urgency. The stamps were created by cutting out foam shapes and gluing on to small pieces of cardboard. I told them that their stamps needed to be finished in the first class period so they would be able to print in the second. Only one student finished creating her stamps the first day and I think she forgot where she put them and had to start over! The other students didn't finish gluing until half way through the second class so they used their extra time to create a second stamp so that they could print in a pattern on the third day. I think what was most frustrating to me is that I know the students were capable of more. I did a stamp making lesson with 2nd grade and even with my Kindergarten students at the same time and the younger students seemed to work harder. I did feel a little better on the last day to see the 5th graders who made stamps at least adding interest with multiple colors. The stamped pattern above is the only one I ended up with a photo of. There were a couple girls adding multiple colors to one stamp to highlight certain shapes and if they had finished, it would have been really cool.
The Choose Your Own Adventure lesson was an experiment. I'm wanting to transition to Teaching for Artistic Behavior but I may have to use a modified approach. I won't know for sure until I get a chance to talk to my principals and until we get our new district standards written. I'm thinking that CYOA could be a happy medium. If it would be a requirement that, for example, students at a certain grade level complete a weaving project, I could whip out menus and the students could still have several choices within that requirement.