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I am struck by the differences from class to class, 9 weeks to 9 weeks, period to period, semester to semester. I wonder how much it is related to the time of year. It could be the mix of the group. It could be me.

The 2 sections of art 1 that I had first semester were so creative and self-motivated. Posing the big inquiry question to them “How can you influence the story of our school through your art?” felt risky, I guess because I had never done anything like it before, but the response was unequivocally powerful and prolific. Although there were some days of confusion as they sorted out whether to work in groups or alone and then began their planning, soon the classroom was a buzz of art making, problem solving, and collaboration.

Fast forward to second semester and a new group. A big one-30 students, same as first semester period 1, but now it is period 4, the last one of the day. The group was not cohesive, very cliquish, some students who just downright do not care to be there, and filled with early dismissals and other disruptions. All factors that played into the general ennui. Was I less enthusiastic? Possibly, but certainly not consciously. The end result? I did not pose a “big” inquiry question to them, like I did to the others. We did make lots of cool art, all my lessons, units, projects, are posed in the form of inquiry now, and even the “too cool for school kids” were somewhat won over in the end (they love the altered book project). I can’t help feeling like I failed somehow with this bunch by not giving them the same experience the others had.

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As stated before, inquiry keeps presenting itself in my classroom. One project opens up another set of questions dealing with so many different things. It is truly amazing to see and watch this process taking place in my student body.

As I was mentioning before, some students did not want to participate in stained glass because it was not something that was interesting to them. This usually is not an issue since art III students usually work on things that they find to be most appealing to them anyway. But the money issue has made it more interesting to other students. The could not believe that you can make money with art. This has opened many discussions of “what do you think art is”, and has created many intetesting ideas from my students as to how to get their artwork into the public eye.

Several students are still working on making ceiling tiles for other teachers in the district. They are painting things based on the subjet of the teacher, and have now branched out to personalize each teachers room with things that the teacher themselves want to have on their tiles. For example: some might be Penn State alumni and wish to have things dealing with that in their rooms. This type of work has made soem very interesting things happn in Brownsville. Since the students are asking for things from teachers, teachers themselves have become more interested in what is going on in the art room. They have brough me materials from their homes and have talked to people in the community. One moment that stuck out in my head was I was approached from a lady i have never met before. She came into my class during a lesson and asked to speak with me. When our conversation started she said she was a local artist and wished to help my class. She then proceeded to be followed by a couple students carrying materials she no longer used in her studios. She said she wanted to keep the arts alive in our district and wanted to help in any way she could. She came back one additional time bringing more supplies she had laying around. It was a small step in gaining materials for the school, but would have never transpired without the talking of people in our community about what was happening in our class.

The students working on stained glass are still pluggin away at making picture frames and different things which they feel can sell. They have now decided to try to sell their things at a local flee market on one of their aunts tables. They have brainstormed about what projects to make to sell, and also have tried to make a business type card for future orders. As the teacher, I am facilitating things to help the students make the best decisions yet am letting them just run with their ideas. I have had to comment on things such has “dont get too big that you can not finish what you start”. This is one concepe I am trying to instill in them since they see it as a money making process, yet also need to be able to meet the orders without failure.

I started this trying to show students that there are ways that art is still important, and that they can use skills that others may not have or just dont want to use to make themselves money for their efforts. It has also been able to turn into a business type class on how to start their own company, how to dictate authority in that business. The students have learned how to manage time, supplies, workload and money all in one lesson. The talk has even got the attention of our principal and superintendant. They say they would like to come to the art room to see the projects and also order things from the class.

Several of the students that did not want to complete stained glass decided that were able to assist anyway. They wanted to do some of the labor in the stained glass creation. As a teacher this involvement is wonderful. The funny thing is that it can also cause conflicts. Those students that are doing simple things such as burnishing the copper foil around the glass also look for a profit share. This made the students have to organize leadership qualities and administrative aspects. They had to decide what was fair for what job. All this was done with little assistance from me as the teacher.  I hope this continues to grow in my class from year to year.

My 8th grade students are learning about artists. They needed to break up into groups of 4. They needed to build a cube to start the project our of matt board or cardboard. I assigned them an artist. I gave them the requirement guide sheet. Side: 1. They had to draw/write/paint/color their artist name in the style that, that artist was identified with. 2. Short info page about the artist.  The other 4 sides of the cube they need to reflect on different times in the artist life. Examples: birth, death, family, or struggles.

After that the students are quite on their own. They are provided with computers to look up information and a printer to print of pictures if needed. Students are allowed to use crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, glitter, or any other media.

This lesson/project makes my students think independently as individuals and as a group. The students have to work togwther, in some groups students have elected a leader to keep everything moving and everyone stays on task and is completed by the given due date.

I am only there for tech. needs. Students had to learn how to make mistakes and fix them as a group. How to bounce ideas off each other to come up with the best solution.

I’ve been moving through art history recently in my teaching, we’ve dreamed with Rousseau blending with oil pastels, Now we have been looking at self portraits while discovering facial proportions… trying to teach a child to draw what they see is a much harder then it sounds. I was pretty impressed with the results of many of my students. Students in grades k-2 created their self portraits in one class period and colored with skin tone crayons as well as regular crayons. I will be finishing up self portraits next week for grades 3-5, I wanted to hit value and shading with my students…If anyone has any effective way of teaching this I would like your input…These self portraits are jumping off points for more student centered inqury in which I would like to highlight Picasso, cubism, and possibly collage. Creativity with the younger students (k-2) seems to escape me and by the end of this CIG meeting or at least this weekend I would like to plan/frame my lesson . I’m looking for resources and ideas and I am welcoming suggestions.

I wanted to share with my fellow AE these 2 videos made by a group of students in Art 1. These are the responses of this particular group to the inquiry question; How can we re-tell the story of our school?

I would appreciate your feedback, especially any help with editing out the sound noise on the final rap video.

 

Preview of Sunshine video:

http://vimeo.com/33917005

 

THE Sunshine Video:

http://vimeo.com/33917437

 

 

 

I found quote #1 the most relevant to myself at this point. I
actually wrote out a couple other responses but in reviewing what I wrote I
found that my response had more in common with the first quote. What “problems” do you encounter with your
students that could stimulate a shared inquiry as an active quest?

I have an inquiry question that is
growing out of a problem. The problem is one that I see; though I don’t think
that my students would share my view. I believe that my students are
comfortable being complacent.

This year, I asked my students, “What
would happen if I put the sectional learning of parts into your hands? What
else might happen if you were to take over all the managerial parts of putting
together a show/concert?” They said things like, “just tell what you want me to
do or say.” and “Well that’s your job.” My students were, are comfortable
showing up doing their thing and being able to say it was all out of their
control. They like the comfort of down time during rehearsals. You know the time I am talking about, the
unaccountable time when another section is working parts.
So when I sent
each section to computers to work/learn their parts with their group they
grumbled and groaned. BUT… within the first couple minutes they were working
out part issues and learning together, solving problems. I only have 2
computers but I have 2 pianos and another student in each class that plays
piano and plays parts for their section. I now have a 3rd computer
and that means that I can rotate my students through the computers and have
each group perform what they have worked on for me. I can record them for them
to hear or for the class to hear. When we know a section we come together and
sing it as a group. This is allowing us to work on dynamics while they are
learning parts so when we put a section together it feels like it means
something. They have a taste of success doing this but still they are
comfortable with the “old way” and they are used to being not in control and if
something doesn’t go well… “It wasn’t their fault.”

As I have taken my inquiry into my
classroom over the last couple of years, I have asked my students to be
participators in the teaching as well as the learning. They resisted at first
but as they became comfortable with being uncomfortable (the old ways being
used less, and technology being used more) they grow excited about the learning
that is actually happening for themselves and their classmates. However, at the
beginning of the year; I mention turning more control on their learning to them
and they get frustrated, because it is dressed as work. They are afraid of
work, of maybe failing and being accountable. They have forgotten how fun the
journey was/can be.

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