The Grade 3 students have embarked upon their first unit “Who We Are” and are addressing the central idea “exploring different learning styles helps individuals understand each other better”. In art class we also look at the related idea that “collaboration can lead to new learning, unforeseen creativity, and better understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.”
Before beginning their first project — collaborative sculptures — the students learned a variety of paper manipulation skills (folding, curling, fringing, looping, and spiraling) and created unique sculptures by combining their different creations together. Students had the opportunity to approach these exercises in different ways: listening, observing, exploring, trial-and-error, and peer-coaching.
Next they spent some time in art class identifying their own strengths and weaknesses as individuals in the areas of drawing, painting, building, measuring, and ideating (thinking up ideas), as well as discussing how they can teach and learn from one another to improve in certain of these areas. Next, each child identified three — or four — personal passions.
Now they are working in small groups — of their own choosing — to create large sculptures which are essentially self-portraits (although they won’t actually be creating their own faces). These artworks are 3-dimensional paper constructions which describe and reflect the personalities and interests of these Grade 3 students, as decided by each group working collaboratively and based on each child’s passions and interests. The challenge for each group is to determine: How do we communicate ourselves visually through our sculptures?
The kindergarten art students have begun the year with a focus on themselves — as learners and as creators! It is part of their current unit in which they focus on the central idea that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.”
Falling under the transdisciplinary theme Where We Are In Place And Time, the kindergarteners begin by constructing self-portraits in the form — not of faces but — of crowns. We’ve discussed what kind of creative work the children did last year in ELC and about the new artwork they will create this year in kindergarten. Students are being challenged to turn a long piece of white paper into a 3-dimensional crown and to transform it into something that represents themselves, their interests, their abilities. At the same time, the crown is a physical space on and with which the children can explore and experiment. Additionally, learning about this new art studio environment — the many different materials and tools, where they are stored, how we work together to make and to clean up our projects — is a big part of this early part of the new school year.
The learning objectives of the unit have the children strive to enjoy experiencing artworks, to show curiosity and ask questions about artworks, and to realize that their artwork has meaning. As young artists, we are focused on the notion that artistic development reflects people’s personal histories and is a dynamic creative process. Much of our time thus far has been spent talking about the children’s own experiences thus far in creating artwork and projects (at home, in ELC, with Ms. Brown or Ms. May), reading and discussing storybooks and illustrations, and exploring a wide variety of skills, processes, materials, and tools.
Already, the similarities, differences, preferences, strengths, and unique qualities of the kindergarten students are becoming evident in this first visual art project of 2014-15.
The elementary students are a few weeks into their art classes now and beginning their first unit projects. Students are learning — little by little — about themselves as creators, about how to communicate and take risks and reflect on their work, and about how to be independent, responsible art students.
Kindergarten – We’ve started by looking at how personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities. These young artists have observed and discussed a variety of other artists’ self-portraits, then drawn their own self-portraits from observation (black ink on paper) and also experimented with watercolor paints as they developed their faces in whichever manner they chose. At the same time, the students are becoming familiar with the elementary school art studio, learning what and where our materials and tools are and practicing being responsible, cooperative classmates in storing their artwork properly and cleaning up their workspaces.
Grade 1 – Living creatures (animals, fish, birds, insects, and the like) are our focus at the moment. The young students are practicing how to draw living things realistically, both by observation — using photographs of the creatures — and with a step-by-step drawing process — from simple shapes and lines to more complex details. We will soon be discussing how people have an impact on the environment and will look at how the places where living things exist can be affected by the actions of humans. Later, the young artists will create large sculptures of their chosen creatures as a way to communicate their feelings about these issues.
Grade 2 – These young artists are focusing on how people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives. In art class, they have been practicing various modeling techniques with play dough in creating realistic human heads — using their hands and a variety of tools. Soon, the students will focus on a particular person in each of their lives, someone with whom each student celebrates a certain, significant cultural event. And the students will later create original sculptures of these people using clay and colored glazes.
Grade 3 – Three-dimensional sculpture is the current focus for these students, along with the overarching notion that exploring different learning styles helps individuals understand each other better. Thus far the young artists have made 7 practice sculptures, experimenting with different methods of manipulating paper. Soon they will be working collaboratively in small groups to create large sculptures, in a variety of media, which reveal something about themselves and their interests, individual strengths, and desires.
Grade 4 – Currently focused on the idea that organisms rely on one another, these students are also beginning to realize how the natural world is a rich source for imaginative artistic creation. We have looked at many artists and their artworks who use nature as inspiration for imagery. These young artists are now practicing drawing nature from observation and are also attempting to transform these realistic sketches into very imaginative pictures of whatever fantasies their minds create. Soon the students will create a final version of these nature-inspired drawings of fantasy.
Grade 5 – In their homeroom classes, the students have been focusing on the idea of conflict and how conflict affects lives. In art class at the moment, we have been looking at, discussing, and practicing how to create self-portraits. The students are also learning that portraits can be either realistic or abstract, that faces need not look “perfect” to represent someone or their feelings or personality. Soon the students will reflect on a situation of conflict in their own lives and attempt to communicate it through a self-portrait, and they will have elements in their portraits which are both realistic and abstract.