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During our final CIG meeting, the inquiring hearts really cracked down to figure out how we were going to express what we were all about. We’re all passionate about conveying how the arts can give a person a sense of belongingness and showing how the arts can connect you to the world in so many ways. How do we show this in a physical sense? Each of us chose one project that we did within our classroom. A project where there were “world connectors” within them. We also decided to have a heart photo booth. Within this, we would ask those who come to see our work to answer the question how art connects them to the world? What art does for your life? I unfortunately wasn’t able to come to the final day because I ..fortunately, had my first little baby on Mother’s day. ha :) I loved seeing the video that my cig members made for my new guy Foster  and all the other babies of the world/people of the world. Just because we’re not fresh to the world doesn’t mean our minds are full. Let’s always strive to learn new things. The arts are a gate way to new adventures, new experience, happiness. 
 
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During one of our CIG meetings, we left early as a group to go on a CIG field trip! We went to Uniontown high school because Becky invited the Invisible children roadies to give a presentation to the students. There are many different opinions on the invisible children and what they do. Bottom line for me is that they make people aware of what life could be like, and IS like for some in the world. It gets people thinking about their place in this world and what they can be doing to make it better. I’ve heard opinions say that it’s just a “trend” to post about/be a supporter of the invisible children. What is wrong with a trend where people are helping other people? Perhaps I’m ignorant to EVERYTHING that it is, behind the scenes stuff, what the culture really is like in Africa, Joseph Kony and what he does, but from what I experienced from the roadies, they’re missionaries with hearts to help.

Photograph taken from the website link below.  It’s also located in “Let’s Create Peace, An Educational Resource for 4-12th Grade Teachers, By Ross Holzman, Laurie Marshall, and Amanda Morrison.”

http://www.createpeaceproject.org/our-story/

“Create Peace Project (CPP) was founded in May of 2008 by Ross Holzman in San Francisco, CA.  CPP was formed in response to the overwhelming amount of violence in the world, the violence and negativity streaming through the mass media, coupled with the severe lack of creative arts in people’s lives, the deterioration of arts-programing in U.S. public schools, and the suffering people are experiencing as a result.  Create Peace Project is responding to growing need to strengthen human connection, cultivate self-awareness, spread hope and create peace in people’s lives.” (Taken from link above.)

HOW WHAT I’M DOING IS REALTING TO AE 2.0?

How this relates to our AE.2.o inquiry you may ask? Well, the whole reason why I”m in the group that I am is because we’re all like-minded in the sense that our greatest goal as educators is to open the eyes of our students so that they can see a greater purpose beyond the visual art/music terms that we’re teaching them. Hense the name “Inquiring HeARTs”.

A problem I find is how do I measure whether or not what I’m teaching and HOW I’m teaching is having this impact? This is what I’m wondering as I’m blogging, or when I’m contemplating on how do I blog about the successes I’m having towards our inquiry. I suppose the student’s art speaks and answers this question. I’m at a mental block with where I’m going here, so I’ll just tell you about some of the lessons that I’m doing and tell you about the “Peace Project”.

IN THE CLASSROOM…

I try to take a lesson and give it an “Inquiring HeARTS” stamp of approval. In other words, am I just just teaching them how to do something, or am I teaching them how to do something along with helping them to explore the qualities that make them different/special and to look for those qualities in others as well.  A lesson on self-portraits. Appreciating the differences in ourselves and others.  Fifth grade students are passing mirrors around their tables and noticing what makes them physically different from one another. I make students aware of proportions of a human face, yet I instruct them to draw themselves how THEY see themselves. People ended up blue, some were massive, some were super skinny, some had crazy eyes. haha After they were finished drawing the physical part. I had students come up with adjectives that describe themselves and the other students at their table. These adjectives had to be written in an artful way and then attached to your self-portrait. Self-portraits were displayed in the hallway with a sign that read “Appreciating Differences.” ***I HAVE PICTURES!!! Just not here at the IU…WILL POST THESE! 🙂

PEACE PROJECT

Laurie Marshall spoke at an Act 80 day last year for the UASD. She totally fits into the mission of the “Inquiring Hearts”. She co-wrote the educational resource “Let’s Create Peace.” The book is an instructional guide for teachers seeking to promote and create peace within themselves, their classrooms, and ultimately their world. The book begins by giving exercizes called “daily peace practices”. These exercizes focus on self-reflection, remembering to just take a deep breath and carry on, focus on the positives. I’ve been trying to do more of this in my own life. “Practice what you preach” right? Although I don’t have every student sitting on a yoga mat doing breathing exercizes, I have been trying to approach disruptive students differently,by asking them to first off, take a deep breath and just THINK about what it is that they’re doing right now and what good is becoming of it? I’m still developing and learning how to be the teacher I want to be… I like this outlook.

The physical aspect of the peace project is that as a school wide project, I, along with a group of selected students with inquiring hearts will paint a mural displaying what school-wide, world-wide peace looks like. (I was told I need to wait until after PSSA’s to get started on this.) Yet that’s good, I need time to still think about how I’m going about it. The painting will be done, then every individual student will have a small square to illustrate what peace looks like to them as well. All of the squares will be encorperated into the mural. The mural will symbolize our goal to create a peaceful place for learning. “Take your candle and go light your world.”

Sorry for my lack of bLoGs. The wheels have been turning…just needed a swift kick by Mara, headphones, and a clear mind to get going… 🙂

Reading 2 Assignment

Creativity and imagination: tools for teaching artistic inquiry

By Karen Heid

Reflection by Amy Gartley

“The use of synectics and surrealism may assist children in generating symbols and metaphor in order to promote creative and imaginative ideas for art making.” Karen Heid This article has opened an entirely new perspective on my teaching and has caused me to once again, think about thinking. (This is what I have been introduced to since joining arts educator.) I’ll admit that I find this challenging. Perhaps this is why I procrastinated on this assignment. After all, as educators we know that when students fail to do the work that is expected of them, there is usually one of the following problems. Some may say they’re lazy. I usually assume that they honestly just don’t get it. Their mind is at a stand still because they’ve never been asked to think in such a way. This ties in with the article I chose to read and reflect upon. As an educator of the arts, am I just teaching art terms, or am I making true artists out of my students? In college we learn how to teach the doing, but do we learn how to teaching the thought process of what we’re doing?

This leads me to more questions. Is your imagination something you’re naturally born with? Do you develop a creative imagination as a result of the environment you grow up in? Is it up to us art educators to teach imaginative thinking to those who just look at you like you’re nutso when you say “okay Suzy, I want you to draw a world that has yet to be discovered by any human being.””Ready, go!”It comes as a surprise to me that I get this blank stare more often than not from my students. Obviously imagination is not something that always comes naturally to everybody. How does one teach something to someone else when it’s something that comes so easily for them? I’m often stuck thinking about this.

I don’t want my students artwork to be cookie cutter. I went to an elementary school where I didn’t have an art teacher, so this is often what the artwork in the hallways looked like. If you went though the same situation, I’m sure you can relate to the fact that your cut and paste penguin stuck out like a Picasso amongst black and white composite sketches. “Torrence and Safter (1999) described four levels of creative thinking skills: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.” In the article, these four levels are broken down. Creativity does have to be taught, otherwise people will end up like the artwork in my little mountain school. Black and white.

So let’s talk about these 4 levels. The first one was fluency. First off, I think it’s important in an art classroom to create an environment where students can ultimately just be themselves. This idea sometimes gets negative results. Example, an art room can easily become gossip, I do nothing, time. This is bad. There needs to be creative freedom in our classrooms. How do we do this? Maybe start class with a creative thinking exercise. Yes you may get some totally off the wall results, but NEW ideas are what artists are made of. The problem lies when students don’t know how to brainstorm. This is what we need to promote. The first step to becoming a creative thinker is to be able to be fluent with your thinking. Side note. ( I may be a bit too fluent.)

Level number dos. Flexibility. Don’t just think of one idea, think of many! Possibilities are endless when you’re using your imagination. Don’t limit your thinking.

Number 3. Originality. I stress originality a lot if my classroom. If it’s not someone trying to incorporate sponge bob into their art work, it’s someone trying to do the exact same thing as the student next to them. Encourage students once again to be flexible and to think of many ideas, so that amongst them all, they can choose at least one solution.

Lastly, elaboration. Ask your students questions about what it is that they’re thinking about. In other words, dig even deeper into that imagination of theirs.

This particular article gives the example of using surrealism to feed and jump-start imaginative thinking. It also talked about the use of metaphors. I know that I encourage creative thinking in my classroom, but hopefully now with the 4 levels in mind, I’ll at least know where to begin when I get those blank stares.

Assignment 1… Personal Reflection.

KEY IDEAS ABOUT INQUIRY

The word inquiry and the first quote given to read and reflect upon automatically made me think of the well-known Dr.Suess quote. ” you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Through our post-it extravaganza that took place at our first year four meeting, we were asked to think about what “problem” we face with our students that could make a stellar inquiry quest. When asked such questions, my gut response that I say to myself is always  very “Miss America” so I always try to think of something more instructional. This never works because then I just go completely blank.

Anyways, the response I gave echoed from why I even became an educator  of the arts in the first place. I have the creativity bug and I wanted to use it in the most beneficial way for others and myself.  I’ve always been taught that when you give, you get so much more in return. Yes I want to teach art. Yet how can I be the art teacher that leaves a mark on my students lives? Through teaching art, I want students to gain a sense of self-awareness and self-respect. The earlier in life you discover this, the much easier and enjoyable life is. I’m still learning about myself and plan to learn and discover just as much as I hope for my students to.

In a nutshell, I’ve already discovered that there are other Miss America’s who believe in making their contribution towards world peace, and when our combined thoughts and experiences I’m excited to see positive changes in my students, classroom atmosphere, and my teaching. Our group consists of 3 art teachers and 2 music teachers. I know that for me personally, I became a much more confident teacher by being a part of arts educator 2.0 project. Last year was my first year teaching so I had a LOT to learn!!! EXPERIENCE OVERLOAD! Fellow art professionals who have been on the battlefield far longer than I have are now my greatest resource. I don’t have to feel that I’m the lone ranger art teacher at the end of the hallway and no one understands or appreciates what I do.

Exploration. Quoted by Becky Gartley, “ I didn’t have to change my lessons, I just changed the way I taught them, example, instead of saying, draw this, I would propose a question, how could this be done, how could we go about a different way or doing such and such…etc” I can think back to times when my lessons were very instructional, step, 1, 2, 3, and other times when they were engaging, and I had students showing me what they’re doing, instead of just creating a factory product. I’m still working on making this my permanent style of teaching, I can’t say that I’m there yet, but I like to think that doing all of this “thinking about thinking” is steering me in that direction.

Our groups inquiry quest?

“How can we help our students discover who they are and their connection to the world through the arts.”

December 2017
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