Art students begin their first units of inquiry

The elementary students are a few weeks into their art classes now, working on their first unit projects. Students are learning — little by little — about themselves as creators, about how to communicate, to take risks, to reflect on their work, and about how to be independent, responsible art students.

Kindergarten  –  In our first unit of inquiry, we’ve started by looking at the concept of Change and 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, have drawn their own self-portraits from observation, have experimented with a variety of materials as they developed their drawings, and explored different lines, shapes, and colors in creating 3-D crowns. 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  –  Families, family history, and the concept of Reflection are our focus at the moment, in our unit about Where We Are In Place And Time. The young students are practicing how to draw people realistically, both by observation — using mirrors — and with a step-by-step drawing process, from simple shapes and lines to more complex details. We will soon be reflecting on our own family histories. Later, each young artist will create a large family portrait as a way to communicate his or her unique family history.

Grade 2 – These young artists are focusing on the concept of Connection and how people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives, in this first unit about Where We Are In Place And Time. In art class, they have been practicing various modeling techniques with playdough 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 then create original sculptures of these people using clay and colored glazes.

Grade 3 – Three-dimensional sculpture and the concept of Reflection are the current focus for these students, along with the overarching notion that exploring and creating collaboratively helps individuals understand themselves and each other better. Thus far in this unit looking at Who We Are, these young artists made several practice sculptures, experimenting with different methods of manipulating paper. Now they are beginning to work 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 – The Grade 4 students are currently learning about organisms in this Sharing The Planet unit, focusing on the concept of Connection. In art class they are beginning to see how the natural world can be a rich source for imaginative artistic creation. We are looking at several artists who use nature as inspiration for imaginative, fantastical imagery. The students are now practicing drawing nature from observation and will soon attempt to transform these realistic sketches into imaginative pictures of whatever fantasies their minds create — all with a focus on the connections between the world outside us and the world we create inside our minds.

Grade 5 – In their homeroom classes, these students have been focusing on the idea of conflict, on how conflict affects lives, and on the concept of Perspective, in this first Sharing The Planet unit. In art class, 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.

Grade 3: Can Comic Strips Save The Environment?

In their homeroom classes, Grade 3 students focused on the environment in Unit 4, learning about some critical global & local issues by focusing on the central idea that the choices people make as they buy and consume things can lead to the creation of waste. And so in art class, we extended that idea into the visual world, looking at how artists combine images and text to convey understandings and beliefs about important societal issues through the key concept of responsibility.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Having examined the comic strips and graphic novels of a variety of artists, the students began by sketching characters and drawing styles which are appealing to them. Later they identified a theme or aspect of the unit — waste, litter, recycling, reusing, and so on — which each student found important from his or her work in the homeroom class. From there, students created a simple plot, original characters, and decided what genre of comic strip they would try to create: humor, adventure, mystery, scary, science fiction, or romance.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

After making rough drafts, students moved on to the final draft, incorporating the drawing process (1. simple shapes & lines, 2. refine the shapes, 3. add the details), text (with speech-bubbles and thought-bubbles), black ink, and color, along with the concept of balance. Lastly, each young artist created a name for his/her new comic strip, labeling it at the top of their creations in whatever font or style they choose.

The students’ finished comic strips are now being exhibited in the stairwell of the K-1 building, along with their original notes of their plans. Throughout the unit, students focused on using appropriate terminology to discuss artwork and on creating an artwork for a specific audience, all while looking at the role of the artist as a contributing member of society.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Grade 3’s collaborative creativity & self-portrait sculptures

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

With a brief interruption to design and create props, scenery, and costumes for their Unit 3 plays, the Grade 3 students have finally finished their Unit 1 sculptures which — as the students now realize — spell out WHO WE ARE IN GRADE 3 when strung together, as seen above hanging in the windows. At the beginning of our unit, there was much discussion about what these letters would spell!

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015


Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

The central idea of this visual art unit is that collaboration can lead to learning, creativity, and an understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses. At the outset of this inquiry, each team of two or three students practiced the various aspects of this sculpture’s process (ideating, drawing, painting, building, measuring) and then assessed their own strengths and weaknesses on each one. Students also reflected on their own interests, desires, and favorite activities and made notes in their sketchbooks accordingly for later use.

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Over the course of the unit, the students taught and learned from one another and all contributed in different ways to the development of the unique projects. The collaborative aspects of the project — making decisions, solving problems, and working/teaching/learning together — was quite challenging for some, but most teams came to appreciate the advantage of a collaborative effort. And throughout the unit, the students also practiced learning to identify stages of their own and others’ creative process.

VIEW THE STUDENTS AT WORK — AND THEIR FINISHED ARTWORKS — HERE:

Teams were assigned a letter of the alphabet to construct in three dimensions (using paper, rulers, scissors, tape, and papier-mâché). Each team then was challenged to transform the 3-D letter into an imaginative, sculptural self-portrait by showing their interests and personalities in, on, and around the sculpture (via drawing, painting, sculpting or collaging). Grade 3’s three-dimensional letters are now exhibited together (in the windows of the upstairs K-1 building hallway), visual, three-dimensional representations of the images, ideas, thoughts, fantasies, and passions particular to these 3rd grade students.

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Come view the finished artwork both from the vantage point of the basketball court, looking up to the 2nd floor display, and from a much closer viewpoint upstairs in the hallway where the sculptures hang — where you can also read each student’s written reflection about their work (about how “the sculpture is a reflection of me” and why “collaboration is important”).

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Art students begin their first units of inquiry

The elementary students are a few weeks into their art classes now, working on their first unit projects. Students are learning — little by little — about themselves as creators, about how to communicate, to take risks, to 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, have drawn their own self-portraits from observation, have experimented with watercolor paints as they developed their drawing, and explored different lines, shapes, and colors in creating 3-D crowns. 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  –  Families and family history are our focus at the moment. The young students are practicing how to draw people realistically, both by observation — using mirrors — and with a step-by-step drawing process, from simple shapes and lines to more complex details. We will soon be reflecting on our own family histories. Later, each young artist will create a large family portrait as a way to communicate his or her unique family history.

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 playdough 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 then 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 and creating collaboratively helps individuals understand themselves and each other better. Thus far the young artists have made several practice sculptures, experimenting with different methods of manipulating paper. Now they are beginning to work 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 – As the Grade 4 students are currently learning about organisms, in art class they are beginning to see how the natural world can be a rich source for imaginative artistic creation. We have looked at several artists who use nature as inspiration for imaginative, fantastical imagery. The students are now practicing drawing nature from observation and will soon attempt to transform these realistic sketches into imaginative pictures of whatever fantasies their minds create — all with a focus on the connections between the world outside us and the world we create inside our minds.

Grade 5 – In their homeroom classes, these students have been focusing on the idea of conflict and how conflict affects lives. In art class, 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.

Welcome to Art Class 2015-16

AReed profile pic

Hello students and parents,

It’s Mr. Reed here, getting ready to begin learning and working and creating with the Kindergarten and Grade 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 students in Art Class!

I wish you a warm welcome back to school for those of you who are returning, and for those of you new to Y.I.S. and/or to Japan, I hope you are finding your way around well (please don’t hesitate to ask questions).

We’re soon to begin our ES art classes, to reacquaint ourselves with one another, to welcome our new classmates, and to dive right into our first art projects. As you know, the ES art classes follow the Primary Years Program (PYP) and are well integrated into the work the children are doing across their various classes and subjects. It’s an exciting place to learn and grow and push new boundaries.

I look forward to meeting you at the upcoming Back To School Night on Wednesday, September 9. Please do feel free to drop into my classroom — room E-203, upper floor, K-1 building — at anytime to ask questions or simply to say ‘hello’.

Best to you all in 2015-16,

Aaron Reed

Grade 3’s collaborative creativity & sculptures

After completing their Explorer Unit play productions earlier in the year the Grade 3 students at long last returned to their group “self-portrait” sculpture projects.

The central idea of this unit is that collaboration can lead to new learning, unforeseen creativity, and better understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses. At the outset of this project, each team of three students had to practice the various aspects of this sculpture’s process — ideating, drawing, painting, building, measuring — and then divide up the tasks according to each’s strengths.  Over time, the students have learned from one another and, for the most part, have all contributed in many ways to the development of their projects.

Their challenge has been to transform their letters into objects which display their imagination and represent their interests and personalities.  In the end, Grade 3’s three-dimensional letters have been combined — and all hung from the ceiling in the upstairs K-1 building hallway — to create a phrase focused on the central idea of their first unit (WHO WE ARE IN GRADE 3) and to be visually reflective of those images, ideas, thoughts, fantasies, and passions particular to these 3rd graders. Throughout the unit, the students have learned to identify stages of their own and others’ creative process.

Come view the finished artwork both from the vantage point of the basketball court, looking up to the 2nd floor of the K-1 building, and from a much closer viewpoint upstairs in the hallway where the sculptures hang.

The 2015 YAMATE ART EXHIBITION

The annual Yamate Art Exhibition has begun!

The exhibition runs from Saturday February 14 to Monday February 23 at Bluff No. 115-3, The British House — link here — across the street from Y.I.S. (横浜市中区山手町115-3) from 9:30-17:00 daily, 9:30-12:00 on Feb 23.

This art show is part of the Yokohama Yamate Art Festival and includes the artwork of students from several schools in the Yamate area, each exhibited at a different residence on The Bluff.

There are 114 elementary school artists in this year’s show, so do come visit the Y.I.S. student gallery and see the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of our Kindergarten through Grade 5 students!

 

Grade 3 plans, constructs, and creates a performance

Grade 3 students (and their teachers) have been collaborating intensively for several weeks with a focus on the central idea that performance engages an audience and invites a response.

Having brainstormed ideas for their drama performances — by pondering the questions: “What do you need to plan a performance?” and “Visually, what best communicates your story to the audience?” — the students worked in small groups and as a whole class to discuss, plan, and build the primary props, set pieces, and backdrop imagery for their plays. The ideas and the execution of their plans were theirs alone, as they took complete responsibility for their artwork and their performances, as well as for planning how to get their materials to the auditorium for the day of the play.

Two plays — one by 3L and another by 3M — were presented in December before the Winter Break, to great acclaim and applause. Congratulations, Grade 3 artists and designers, on your excellent collaborative work, on your risk-taking in creating objects you had never made before, and on your reflective and open-minded approach to your planning and your construction!

Grade 3 jumps into sculpture and their own passions

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.

Grade 3 practice sculptures (1) by Aaron Reed

Grade 3 practice sculptures (2) by Aaron Reed

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.

Student list (1) by Aaron Reed  Student list (2) by Aaron Reed

Student list (3) by Aaron Reed

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?