Monday, April 18, 2016

Transitioning my New School to Choice- General Art Class 1st Semester

As the end of the school year draws close, I've been reflecting on the last 9 months. I feel like I've kind of stumbled at times trying to find middle ground between what I think the students were used to and where I eventually want to go with the program. Here's what I did in "graphic design", our general art class*, in the first semester of this year and what I want to try next year.

*In this class I have everyone from seniors who are in multiple classes and have taken art every single year to freshmen who haven't had art since 6th grade.

1. I've never been a huge fan of the Elements of Art when isolated, but the curriculum for my general art class featured the elements. For the first assignment, I tried to give students choices about how to show they knew the elements- ATCs, drawn document, photographic poster, etc. (Link to the assignment). There was not a lot of enthusiasm from any of us and it ended up taking longer than I hoped. 
Next year: Instead of dragging it out, I will probably review the elements and let students work with a partner to take photos to represent each element. Goal- one class period.

2. Observational drawing- students practiced observational drawing with some drawing on the right side of the brain practices- drawing hands with continuous line, wrong hand, and blind contour- and then by drawing simple still life objects and rendering them with graphite. These are good skills and will probably be part of my drawing boot camp again next year, though I will probably encourage students to bring an object from home that has meaning to them.

3. Ink compositions- stole this idea from my cooperating teacher during student teaching. Each class brainstorms a list of objects that every student has to include in their drawings. Students plan in pencil then finish with ink, using various techniques including hatching, cross hatching, contour hatching, stippling, and scumbling. We tried to avoid objects that are too specific so that students would have flexibility. I thought this would be a fairly quick and portable assignment students could work on when I was supervising school pictures and they would have to move to a different classroom across the hall from the photo room. It ended up taking a LOT longer than expected and students burned out on it. If school pictures happen the same way next year and I feel like ink (sharpies and drawing pens) are the best option, I will probably demonstrate the same techniques but give more options on what they can make.

4. Colored pencil practice- No pictures of this, but students filled out a practice guide with colored pencil layering, color mixing, etc. We also did a lesson on color theory with a pre-test so I could collect data that I didn't end up having to turn in. The post-test was part of the final for the semester.

5. Painting Boot Camp- In our painting "boot camp" the idea was to quickly let students try out the media and get a feel for it so that they could choose the right medium for their ideas later. We did a team color mixing challenge where students mixed tempera to try to match paint samples, a one class period (some took longer) acrylic painting of fruit that I brought in for them to observe, and a one class period watercolor painting. I gave them paper that was about 5x7 inches for the quick paintings.

Next year: I will probably do something similar to this next year, but spend more time on watercolor techniques instead of a composition. Hardly any students wanted to try out watercolor so I think I need to "sell" it more next year.

6. Collage & Monoprint Boot Camp- Each student made a small torn paper collage and did at least one day of mono printing with our gelli arts gelli plates. I will keep this as part of the 2D boot camp next year.
7. Idea Generation- After students had tried out most 2D media we offer, they worked on generating deas using any of the media we'd already used.

Next year: I think I will do something similar. This is a very TAB lesson in that it's pretty wide open in medium and theme, the students just document the process. Next year I will work on better ways to document since that part wasn't given full effort. I got some good ideas at NAEA16 to help with this.

8. Collaborative Drawing- Each student drew at least one section of a photo showing a district employee and Vietnam veteran on the Honor Flight. There won't be a Honor Flight next year, but I would do another community service kind of project if something comes up.

9. Portrait, Still Life, Landscape- Trying to hit one of the standards about different categories of art. Students could use any medium to create a portrait, still life, or landscape.

Next year: I will probably just have students categorize their own art or others' to hit this standard instead of doing the lesson the same way. I think this lesson limited their ideas instead of expanding them.

10. Jr. Duck Stamp Program or State Fish Art Contest- Students chose between making a picture of a fish or waterfowl in their habitat. JDS and SFA are both excellent programs to teach about conservation through art and draw parallels between scientists and artists. One of my high school students even got 2nd place in Kansas for her age group with her duck drawing.

Next year: I may still keep this as a required project because there are so many skills practiced and it's cross curricular.

11. Glass and Ceramic Tiles- This technique was super popular so I will probably demonstrate it again next year, though maybe not make it a requirement. This was introduced at the end of the semester when I had weird timing with students finishing up and others being ahead. All the details are in the linked post.

Up next, 2nd semester!