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Peter Max  was inspired by a variety of people in many cultures.   The fifth graders read the Scholastic Arts Magazine celebrating his life and work.  There were truly excited to see what he did and how colorful his work was.The assignment for the next class was to use the style of Peter Max  to create their own piece of work.  Usually I would have lots of questions like “Can I do…….?.”.   My answer was , it is your piece off work, you are in charge.  This year I have tried to generate s’more lessons that increase the student’s own production of new ideas.  This has always been the area where my students are the weakest.   As I walked around the room, the children embraced the creative side of Peter Max.  Stay tuned to see the final outcomes of this lesson.

During our final cig day we truly wrestled with the idea of inquiry.  We went from no structure in our final presentation to a defined time frame for specific indivual projects.  I was very  eager to finally set up a concept to work within for the final spotlight.  Angela and Chelsie kept the day rolling by taking notes and repeat what she thought was relevant.  As thing progressed, I decided that my interactive project would be the third grade weaving project.  I will bring shuttles, yarn, the loom, and some finished pieces done by the students.  We have also decided  create a slideshow of student work that reflects the idea inquiry.  Our name is the Balancing Act to which we have followed all day.  Each of us adds so much individually to the project that agreeing on a flow for the day was a bit interesting.   Since we are all professional, we can see the other point of view with respect.  Finally, we settled on the intro, recorded our voices, and took our pictures.   Our group truly collaborated all day to make the preparations for the final day.

In the past my 5th grade ceramic lesson an pottery would be sequenced as follows: Acoma pottery video, next week use the coiling technique to make a bowl, glaze the pottery during the next two classes. Since the lesson takes a long time, I would hurry them and give them one week to make the pottery. This year I wanted to give them more time to create. I purposely referred to the video and did not do a demo. The students took their clay and got started. Many questions ensued. How do you roll the coil? How do you keep it from caving in? Can it get bigger? Can I be done? I refused to make a pot for any student, as the class drew to a close some of the students realized that their pottery was caving. To their amazement I said that it was fine and that they could start over next week. Some of the pots keep growing and were shaped very nicely. As the pots dried, the larger heavier ones cracked so they have to start again. They were very excited to come in at recess to make a new pot. Time for this lesson is so valuable. They let me know that they all needed different time to gain the skill need to do this pottery.
When I look back at the construction process, the students really gained a great perspective by watching Lucy Lewis in the video. Their comments and attentiveness to the video impressed me. Next week they will glaze their de

Folding and cutting to create symmetrical shapes are skills that need to be mastered. Math  anchors refer constantly to symmetry so I am using the art room as a place to implement and encourage the student’s basic knowledge of symmetry.  This year kindergarten and first grade students made a simple Christmas tree using some of the math words.  Folding a small square for some kindergarten children is in itself a struggle, so when they fold and cut a symmetrical tree, wow do we have new skill.  I start the lesson by asking them to fold the paper and draw a diagonal line from the top corner to the bottom. We all learned diagonal that day.  They cut the triangle and from there they were given another square and told to repeat the shape.  One would assume that they could easily repeat this.  I molded all of this using my document camera so the fold and the diagonal line was larger than life.  In all they made 4 trees and most got it.  They recognized here symmetry of the shape and knew why the fold worked.  The next lesson I gave them the same size square in multiple colors and asked them to make a symmetrical shape.  Most of them began by folding the paper but were waiting for me to instruct.  I stayed quiet and said hold the fold and use their scissors to make the lines .  Again some of them took the scissors and enjoyed the practice.  Practice using the scissors while their little minds are creating is  fun to watch.  After a few minutes, I modeled the cutting to create simple shapes.  The students were a little worried that it did not look like something they knew.  I told them that all it need be is symmetrical.  Just getting the students to use the correct side of the paper can be a challenge.  Once they figured out the freedom of using the scissors on the fold, they were excited to cut lots of shapes.   Meanwhile back in the classroom, the students are focused on symmetry and their teachers were so excited that they knew these words!  I just smiled.  This week we continued on the symmetrical shapes to make a heart.  I showed them the heart and asked how to do this.   They all responded that you had to fold the paper.  I let them try to make the heart shape on their own.  At this point, they have gained some confidence with their scissors and they eagerly dove in.  Walking around the room, I find some success and some struggles with the shape of the heart.  I model the shape of the heart using the document camera.  Seeing the large heart shape on the screen, they can easily see what they need to draw.  Repetition and practice make these students very skilled. I was so excited to send these super hearts home  for their parents to see what they are able to do.  They walked out of the art room with a new skill!  I armed them with extra paper to make more hearts.

The fourth graders began their lesson on masks by looking at prints from many different cultures.  Typically, I would have them draw from these prints.  With inquiry in mind, I changed the lesson a little and started a list on the board of what the mask might tell you. The students generated a list of 5 questions that could tell them all about the masks.   Each table used their set of prints to compile their answers.  About 15 minutes before the class ended, we had a discussion of all of the questions.  This approach made the students really search for the answers in the prints, at first they wanted to know where do we get the answers.  Once they realized that they had to look to find the answers, they got busy and were very successful.  The next week when I asked them to draw their own mask,  I was so happy to see more detailed and varied ideas for their clay masks.  The inquiry approach for the beginning of the lesson really improved the outcome.  They will glaze the masks next week.

In response to Attempting to Balance, miss capuzo and I have the same concerns. Do we start with a question and let them find the answer?
Today, I started a lesson about dogs. I showed the students a slideshow of real dog in various situations and examples of student work from last year. We discussed shapes and sizes of the parts of a dog. They were able to identify the shapes so I let them try on their own to make the shapes with scissors and construction paper. Frustration was rampant. They made their shapes too small to even cut out. The first graders need to learn fine motor skills so I encourage large ovals and circle. I stopped the class and did a quick demo of a large oval for the body and a smaller shape for the head. You could feel the tension disappearing. Maybe since they need my input, they may listen a little more carefully. In first grade they need the structure that I give at the beginning of each lesson. As the dogs take shape, the individual ideas begin to surface. While they are thinking about the type of dogs that they want, they will need to develop a sentence to add to the picture. The slideshow had sentences that enhanced the pictures. Next week when they come in, they will develop a sentence to complete the picture. Inquiry comes in to play with the sentences. I want them to pose a question about their dog. Taking time to write these questions plays a vital role in our district’s writing philosophy.

As I endeavor to stimulate my kindergarten students, I know that I first have to know what they are capable of drawing. The writer does some extensive dialogue with the students before she even gets a pencil out. My classroom has 24 students, no aides, or third grade helpers so I decided that to see what they can draw first would be a great place to start. The dialogue we started with centered on a subject that they were familiar with; I read the story Have You Seen My Cat? By the end of they story the cat is found and along the way the author shows us very famous cats for the students to think about. Their assignment was to choose a cat that they would like to have. Step one. As they draw their cat, the questions start, Can I draw a place for the cat? Even these young students know that the cat needs more on the page. We all stop and question where the lions, pumas, barn cats would live. I encouraged them to develop the background. They were very engaging with the drawings of their cats and it’s home.

Once I can see how they can visualize the concepts, we can build on blocks. The simple concepts of pets are near and dear to most children,s heart.

September 2020

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