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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.

Our group set a date and time for an open skype night where we could all address issues we were having dealing with our inquiry topic. James attended this meeting and added many interesting viewpoints, which we all appreciated greatly.

During our session, we were able to talk about what lessons we were doing in our individual classrooms.  Amanda recorded the session and sent an email to everyone in our group.  Angela typed up a couple pages and also emailed everyone notes from the meeting.

During the discussion, the topics almost created themselves. Amanda was discussing how she was going to do stop motion photography with her class, but didnt know if her lesson was truly inquiry based.  James was able to give great information on a better definition for inquiry vs. direct instruction.  The group was struggling with the idea that an entire lesson should be totally inquiry.  Meaning that you would not give directions or instruction.  He also discussed how “action research” was considered a type of study.

Our job during the time away from the group was to teach a lesson with direct instruction and one more inquiry based. Our group was having the issue that teaching one group was going to be different  since each class has a different dynamic and different students.  James pointed out that this issue was not really an issue, since we were not evaluating how differnet classes interacted, but rather how the information was being processed by students as a whole.

We also decided that during the remining time between our skype meeting and the next meeting at the IU we would bring in documentation or examples of our work with the students and have a sharing moment.  We were able to talk for over an hour, and discussed how to contact each other again if we had questions.

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.

In a performance based class, preparation for public presentation requires sequential, planned rehearsals that build concentration and focus as well as the stamina to sustain both the physical and the mental challenges. With the High School Orchestra performance coming up next week, class time has had to be carefully used to insure that the students have that necessary “reserve” to be able to not only perform but to also be able to identify, analyze and to make on the spot adjustments to mishaps that may occur. Through the years there have been groups that had everything on edge right up until the moment of performance because they were inconsistent with home preparation and practice, making class preparation more repetitive. However, this semester we have been focusing more on the composer’s intentions rather than on obvious notations on the document. It seems that some of the technical issues have been addressed using less class time. Placing more emphasis on the phrase than on the components of the phrase has yielded more meaningful presentation, which seems to have promoted increased progress. When asked how the composer may have intended the phrase, one senior stated that “a phrase needed to be thought of holistically in itself.” This discussion continued and another responded that “the phrase needed to be expressed as a part of the greater idea of the piece, rather than by just spelling out the notes.” This particular class is a group of string players in grades 9-12, with abilities ranging from those who study privately to those who practice only when they fear embarrassment. In addition to increased focus on expression this semester, we have also looked at the back story of the music being played by using our Fiddle File wiki to post and discuss. One of the selections being performed on Monday is titled The Idylls of Pegasus. Some of the students discussed the myth on the wiki and one posted a picture of the constellation. This prompted two of the students to produce some art work depicting the tale. Another student suggested that those drawings could be projected during the concert and a product is near completion for use at the concert. This morning before rehearsing the piece, the draft of the presentation was projected for all of the students to be able to see the visual representation of the work. Imagery has been a focus of classroom discussion to improve phrasing delivery and the sample performance that followed the viewing of the art seemed to take things to a new level. It was really helpful to hear the critique that followed the rehearsal of the piece this morning and even better to hear the students making suggestions about improving their articulation and dynamics. I am eager to see how things progress on Friday and Monday at the final two rehearsals. The momentum has become much stronger as we approach the performance on Monday. More to follow in review of the concert…

November sketchbooks are due tomorrow, December 2, 2011 for my Drawing 1 students…

looking over the survey that M and D created at our last meeting and thinking about the questions in the survey  that are proposed to the students such as what motivates them in the art classes to do well and turn in sketchbooks- grades, the ability to become better, etc? Rewards seem to be the feeder in motivation. Right now there are opportunities for the students to earn money for contests and I have offered them bonus points and gift cards in addition to the recognition and that is not even working. Is it the time of year?

Adolescent Themes and Contemporary Art Practice  Hafeli, Mary      Art Education; Mar 2008; 61, 2; ProQuest Education Journals
pg. 59

Shifting the Curriculum: Decentralization in the Art Education Experience   May, Heidi
ART EDUCATION May 2011; 64, 3  pg.33

As I reflect on my classroom experiences since my first post, I am struck by the shift that has taken place. The statement that Heidi May makes in her article on page 39 might have been made by any observer in my classroom this week.

“There is potential for the art teacher to become a facilitator of critical inquiry among active participants, encouraging multiple viewpoints, within a curricular model that invites self-reflective practices.”

Since my last post was an actual practice about to take place in my classroom, it only seems righ to follow up with what has transpired since. A timeline might be the most expedient method to describe what has taken place.

October 20-23 I attended the Keynote address: “Dedicated to an Unfinished Artmaking Practice” by Sidney Walker at the PAEA in Gettysburg. In this presentation I saw student artists re-telling the story of the newly renovated Library on their campus. This gave me an idea for my Art 1 classes. It seemed most timely, since our school is under going renovations right now.

Week of October 24-28

  • Watched with students the “Identity” episode on Art 21 (PBS)
  • Facilitated brainstorming session on the “story of our school”
    • What stories we tell
    • What stories others tell
    • What is the “official story?
    • What story would you re-tell? would your imaginary/mythical self image be a part of it?
  • Full choice of media, collaborative partners, installation spaces (with administrative permission), etc…
  • Each group/individual shared their ideas with the whole group-other students asked questions and offered suggestions and ideas began taking more shape. Many students were encouraged by Kerry James Marshall (from Art 21) and his description of an artwork going through its ugly phase before it became the final product.
  • Studio Bulletin board Collaboration-this idea came from another keynote at PAEA “Classrooms Dedicated to Conveying Pedagogy” by James Rees where he showed us the classrooms of many highly effective art teachers.

Week of 1October 31-11/4 Media exploration

  • Facilitated an exploration of creative videos, PowerPoints, slideshows, stop motion, etc from the internet, including Boyerstown”s Art is My Life Advocacy video (also seen at the PAEA)
  • Use of technologies such as projectors’, cameras and various editing software made available thanks to ArtsEducator 2.0
  • Plaster craft for sculpting
  • Some projects beginning to take shape
  • Also, some students felt inspired by the plaster craft and began making sculptures of their choosing not related to the “re-telling” project.

Week of  November 7-11

  • Midterm essay (in PSSA format) each student given a passage about one of the 4 Art 21 artists with the following prompt: Read the passage provided. Explain ways in which an artist may attempt to re-tell the story of a place, an idea, an everyday object or interaction. Use at least two examples from the passage to support your explanation. overall, I was pleased with the paragraphs, they demonstrated an understanding of the concept.
  • I, as studio facilitator brought in an artwork I had done which was similar to the last work that they had created (A likeness of themselves as an imaginary mythical creature-see previous post). I then told the mythology behind my artwork (in a bit of a dramatic fashion). Art students then created a Spark page, which was the story of their mythological self. I explained their mythological self and its story needed to be in a form ready for exhibition by November 14, as artists always have deadlines and usually they are related to an exhibition.
  • Began creating invitations to the “The Untold Story of Us” Art 1 Art exhibit which will take place in our art space during parent/teacher conferences (November 14). At this exhibit all the re-telling projects will be presented in whatever state of readiness they may be. As well as other works that student artists have created during the 1st 9 weeks.

This week coming up we will be busy preparing for the show, which will include refreshments and musical entertainment. I hope a few parents come. We get notoriously few who attend at our school.

I have a sense of awe about the re-telling stories in general. I purposely did not steer them to take a positive spin on our situation at our school, which can be quite negative. But, all their projects do have a positive leaning. To say to a kid, “If you could have people start to think of your school in a new way, what would it be? If you could re-tell the story of this place in some small way, how would you?” and they take it seriously. I don’t think they even doubted that it would be possible. I am very inspired by them!

As I reflect on what has been happening I am struck by the way the art space has become exciting and  collaborative. The periods go by quickly with students questioning, trying, failing, trying again. Asking me questions, and I encouraging or asking questions right back. Any “downtime” also seems to be productive as it involves conversations with their groups, or sketching, or working on a side project completely student directed.

I so related to Hafeli’s statement  on page 11 of her article, that we need to “direct our gaze more locally to focus on our own art worlds going on in our art classrooms.” Sometimes I doubt myself, that maybe I am giving the student artist too much credit. After all, some of them are only 14 and this is the first high school art class they have ever had. Yet, they truly are sophisticated beyond what I was at 14, surely due to this visual culture all around us. Where every other TV commercial is a work of art. And Youtube videos are watched for hours and admired for their message, absurdity, or technical skill. Yet, I am  I feeling a sense of comfort in this role. After all, I have been teaching for 12 years under the philosophy borrowed from Picasso, that all children are artists, and my job is to help them not forget this when they grow up.

This is a test post. Welcome to the new ArtsEducator2.0 blog for year four of the project!

More information coming soon…


January 2020
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