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Today I asked a student if I could record them explaining how to do stop motion photography.  I told the student that it would be for teachers who have not done stop motion before.  This student reassured me that he had learned the important steps to creating a video.  Originally, I thought I would be in control and tell him what to say- but sure enough we only did one take and I felt what he said was perfect.  I couldn’t have done it better myself, he kept it basic and right to the point.  He did it in a manner that the participants in our spotlight next week will understand what to do.

I feel my students in 4th grade had the most success with stop motion photography this year.  They had the basics taught to them last year when I used a more teacher-directly instructed approach.  This year, I encouraged student collaboration and inquiry.  The students were very successful, however I don’t feel they would have had as much success if they didn’t have the teacher-direct instruction as the ground work.

If the students only had the teacher-direct instruction I don’t feel they owned their work, nor did they enjoy it as much.  On the other hand, if the students went straight into an inquiry approach I feel they may have missed some of the basic steps of how everything is to operate correctly.

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Today we are making sure we are all caught up on blog posts.  I personally will need to do one more post – Group Inquiry 3.  we are the balancing act,  we have different ways of doing things.  Within that we all encompass an umbrella, under that umbrella are our personal things that we juggle.  I used inquiry in …. way and this is what my students did.

We are working on our Material List for our set up of our Spotlight on Day 4.

We are each bringing in objects to show/represent inquiry done with our students.  My possible objects are as follows:

1. Story boards that the students used to plan their portion of the class animation.

2. Example on computer of student animation example using an inquiry approach.

3. Ipad with pictures of student working. On this ipad, I may also need to show the animation so that I can use my computer for the interactive piece.

4. For audience interaction- Clay and possibly a station set up for people to do stop motion.  I would need my lap top, a video camera, all cords and the clay.  I would need to make a sign explaining how to do it.  ” please contribute to this collaborative inquiry animated project.”  Have student create a video on ipod explaining how to do it.  Need lots of tripods!  Need a large piece of paper to put under clay so that we don’t get the table dirty.  Bring blank cd’s to burn a finished collaborative inquiry piece.

5.  Our personal Umbrella- words which encompass what we are as a teacher- words such as role model, therapist, etc..  Rain drop photos

My CIG group planned on updating each other on our classrooms.  We thought we’d blog about it!  Our inquiry question is as follows: When learning necessary art and music skills, where can the balance between inquiry-based and teacher-directed instruction be found? (or which instructional strategies work best).

With Stop Motion photography, I chose for the balance to happen naturally.  I started with the necessary skills using teacher direct instruction and then learned from my students what their needs were.  This project of stop motion photography is a lesson that the students have been working on for about 8 class periods (two months).  I feel things are going slow because of the limited time I have with my students.  Even though it is coming along slowly, seeing my students learning through their own inquiry is very rewarding.

I felt the need to write things out on notebook paper today.  Check out the pictures to see the process of student inquiry based teaching/learning going on as well as the combination of Teacher-directed.

Students discuss how to end their clip so that it will roll into the next group.

The skype meeting that our group held on December 1st was very helpful to me.  I was really unsure about how to start inquiry in my classroom.  Brian suggested that I just go with what I would typically teach at that time of year or what I had planned next.  So next I was going to teach stop motion animation.  James questioned me about how I typically do it and how could I do this differently.  How could a partial video created by one group relate to another?  Below I posted what I did.

Typically when I introduce stop motion animation to my students, I do it a pretty structured format.  I usually give a brief history and then move onto showing how to use the software and give a demonstration of animating.  Next, I may have the kids come up in groups to try it out.  Then, I have the movie structured that they will create.  So I am trying to steer away from this structured format.  This is how it is happening this time around-showed a  3 minute video of a Gumby based claymation.  This claymation did not include detailed characters such as Gumby or Pokey.  My students were to work in groups to create a storyboard of a potential claymation that they may create.  They had to keep in mind that their groups work must relate to each others.  How could we do that?  The students actually really surprised me.  This was exciting!  They came up with ideas for their storyboard.  Next, each group worked with another group to discuss if they felt each storyboard would relate when put all together into one movie.  They also went beyond this “working together”… and actually went on there own to say things like, “how will you angle the camera if you want this piece of clay to look like it is floating in the air”.  They conducted the inquiry on their own.  This was a huge breakthrough for me.

This morning we have gone through and gave time for each group member to talk about where we are in our classroom.  We originally gave ourselves an assignment of teaching a particular lesson using direct instruction methods while also teaching that lesson using inquiry based instruction.  After our skype meeting, we had mixed thoughts about that.  Instead, we decided to focus primarily on inquiry.  Soooo- everyone went through and showed work, videos and spoke about their process and their lessons.

Chelsie shared her tearing paper lesson as well as a water color technique using cool colors in the background and warm colors in the foreground.  The students went through a choice based process when choosing what water color techniques to use.

Brian had a wonderful breakthrough where one student is setting up a “business”.  The student has really flown with this and is taking control of his art as well as dealing with customers, banking and other things that a business must deal with.

Carol is giving her students more flexibility when working with clay.  She is not giving them step by step instructions when creating a bowl.  Instead, she shows them an instructional video and time to work with the clay.  She gives them a ball of clay the next week and they are to create a bowl on their own using their own methods.  I am interested in giving my students more time with clay as well.  It may be sculpy clay this year since my students will be creating a claymation (which they have never done).

Amber is giving the students the task of arranging musical notes in order of steps or stairs.  They are given tubes called boom whackers which play a tone when hit.  The students are working together to form a series of notes of a short song.  They are going through problem solving as well as working successfully during collaboration.

Angie is tying in her work for the Mattress Factory project with inquiry.  The students are coming up with and showing ownership towards their own pieces of installation art.

Typically when I introduce stop motion animation to my students, I do it a pretty structured format.  I usually give a brief history and then move onto showing how to use the software and give a demonstration of animating.  Next, I may have the kids come up in groups to try it out.  Then, I have the movie structured that they will create.  So I am trying to steer away from this structured format.  This is how it is happening this time around-showed a  3 minute video of a Gumby based claymation.  This claymation did not include detailed characters such as Gumby or Pokey.  My students were to work in groups to create a storyboard of a potential claymation that they may create.  They had to keep in mind that their groups work must relate to each others.  How could we do that?  The students actually really surprised me.  This was exciting!  They came up with ideas for their storyboard.  Next, each group worked with another group to discuss if they felt each storyboard would relate when put all together into one movie.  They also went beyond this “working together”… and actually went on there own to say things like, “how will you angle the camera if you want this piece of clay to look like it is floating in the air”.  They conducted the inquiry on their own.  This was a huge breakthrough for me.

This afternoon we have talked a bit about what else we can do with our students.  Carol and I have been worrying a little bit to much on individual lessons.  Instead- tie it into each lesson that you are already teaching.  Brian showed us a great example of face proportion that his student teacher conducted in high school art.  The students drew the guide lines on the board and then were able to laugh and learn from their mistakes.  This was a simple way to tie in inquiry and let the students learn from their mistakes rather than just telling them exactly what they would need to do.

 

 

The Balancing Act came up with a task for ourselves in the exploration of our inquiry question.  This task involves trying out an inquiry based approach to a lesson as well as a direct instruction approach to the same lesson.  I’m sure we all teach with inquiry in mind and it is usually included at some point in a lesson.  However, I have not focused on completely changing over and letting go in my classroom.  Some of the my group members are going through the opposite situation in which they need to learn when to pull back the reigns.  At our last meeting, I was all ears in wanting to know things that they have done to let their students experience inquiry. 

When I saw the article “Creativity and Imagination: Tools for Teaching Artistic Inquiry,”  I thought this would be a great starting point for me.  Karen Heid, the author of the article is saying that artists  make decisions by “perceiving  conceiving, expressing and reflecting.”  This model could be helpful when planning art lessons which include inquiry.  Karen’s study of the idea involved Kindergarten students being paired with third grade students.  She used synectics as an approach to teach surrealism.  When she spoke in the “Background” of how many art teachers usually introduce the topic of surrealism – I could identify with this because it has been an approach that I have taken.  I much prefer the process that Karen took…1.  beginning with brainstorming of organic and inorganic objects and “perceiving” how they could be combined into one.  2.  Next the students come up with a “concept”  from the two objects which turned into a singular drawing.  3.  The students had to create an “expression” of how these two objects could believably be turned into one.  4.  Finally the students “reflected” on the work as well as the process and what was learned along the way. 

This model was a good example for me to read.  I saw a great combination of control and release of control to the students.  I think of one of my group members (Carol), when I think of these four steps.   At our last meeting, Carol was discussing her elementary students mixing color.  Instead of giving the students direct instructions on what colors they were to mix, she let them have some time to experiment on their own.  I think these four steps were there Carol.  I’m not sure what my first lesson teaching with an inquiry based approach as well as a direct approach is going to be at this point.  However, I feel more confident keeping these steps in mind as well as having the opportunity to listen to ideas from my CIG members.

Problems are always changing from year to year and with each individual class.  As an elementary arts educator and teaching an estimated 40 different classes per week, various problems arise.  However, what one problem seems to always be there???  Day after day, week after week my students and I struggle with time.  We see each other for what is supposed to be 35 minutes, however this number begins to dwindle as you put into consideration many logistics – that we work bell to bell so there is no time to let one class out and the other in (we are down to 33 minutes), or if a teacher brings their class late (we are down to 31 minutes), or if students are making great connections with their thoughts or works and just can’t seem to get out of the door (we are down to 29 minutes), or taking attendance and getting the students calm (we are down to 28 minutes), or giving instruction – you get the picture.  Time- an ongoing “problem” that I’m not sure could be created into an inquiry idea for exploration.

With the limited time that we share, how can we open up inquiry based learning to young students and when do you use a more direct instruction based approach?  This is a common thread that “The Balancing Act” CIG will be exploring.  It will be interesting to see what the differences are between the elementary and high school levels.  Many people in my CIG have been inquiring a similar question to this in the past, they will be a great resource as I make hypothesis on what will and will not work in the elementary art room.

I feel that I am often inspired and/or learning from my students.  They make me want to take a new approach at techniques and ideas.  However, with inquiry in their hands it will take on a whole new level of learning for the “educator”.  Who is learning from who?  This changes the entire dynamics of a classroom and seems that it will create a high level of engaged learning for all.

In response to Quote #6 I would say that collecting relevant data to make instructional decisions is something that I have experience with.  Last year my CIG conducted an activity to get student input so that we would have an understanding of their overall thoughts on the project.  After the activity we averaged the scores and came up with our findings.

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