Friday, September 4, 2015

Lines of Observation

The second week of school is now over. Time to create my first classroom post. With all of the craziness of the first few weeks of school I am trying to take it a little easy on the students and give them assignments that are challenging but not full of pressure. 

Art Journals

Last year I started having my students make an art journal. This is where we keep all of our "bell work." When the students come into the room and find there seat, we start off class with a 5 to 10 minute assignment to introduce what we are doing for the day. This is usually where they learn vocabulary, and have an opportunity to describe, analyze, interpret, or judge. So, for the first day in class this year we created our first journals by folding in half a 9x12 sheet of manila drawing paper for our cover, and 5 sheets of 9x12 newsprint for the inside pages. Students learned the procedure for their art heading by putting it on the front of their journal, and then were given the task of being a cover artist and designing the cover of their journal. These journals will last us the first half of the school year. Last year I had 3rd grade through 5th grade work in their art journals, this year I am including 1st and 2nd grades as well.

Observation and Line

I am starting my third year as an art teacher now, and one thing that I decided for this year is that my students need more exercise in observing, and creating observational drawings, or paintings, or whatever else we can record observations with. The curriculum in my district calls for starting the year out teaching about lines. So, we had a small assignment this week creating contour drawings. This assignment was given to both 2nd and 5th graders, mostly because I wanted to see what differences there would be between the two age groups, but also because this kind of work scaffolds well into the assignments I have planned for those two grade levels this year.

I sold the students on this assignment by talking about exercising to build strong muscles, and how artist have exercises to build strong art skills. I let them know that we were going to do some artist exercises. After folding our papers into fourths and labeling the boxes, we had four exercises. First was drawing a paint bottle I set on their table using only one line and not picking up our pencils till we were done. Next was doing the same thing without looking at our paper, but focusing on the bottle. For the third exercise, we had to draw only the outline, but could pick up our pencil if needed. Lastly, I gave them the rest of class to do their best line drawing of the bottle, looking for details, and making corrections as needed.

Throughout the process I made sure to give them tips about looking carefully at what kinds of lines made the shape of the bottle, even some talk toward the end about thick and thin lines. My students seemed way more engaged in this than many lessons we have had in the past, and created some very honest drawings. It was a great learning experience for the students and for me.

Here is one of my favorite drawings that came from this exercise. Tons of character.


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