Friday, October 23, 2015

Choice-Based Art and Sculpting Around the Room

I have been so excited to be getting my students ready for Choice-Based Art.  I began working with them on the Elements of Art, graduated to Drawing Around the  Room, and now we are Sculpting Around the Room.  I have to give a huge nod to Cynthia Gaub at has some amazing things she's doing with middle schoolers, and I'm modifying her Around the Room activities to fit my elementary kids.  They are loving it and I'm so grateful Cynthia rocked this before I tried it.  It's made my job a million times easier.  She even provides the handouts--go check out her website.  Thank you, Cynthia!

Sketchbook Covers
We began our school year working on the Elements of Art, and how to research on our iPads.  We took a "field trip" to the hall outside my room to study the Elements and  Principals bulletin boards, then headed to the media center to learn about safe searches, best practices in research, and effective websites for student inquiry.  Students chose the Element of Art they wanted to work on, researched images for inspiration, and then chose the medium they wanted to use to depict their Element.  Some students chose to illustrate more than one medium.  Afterward we did a quick gallery walk to see what everyone did (they were so amazed at each others' work!) and then they took a bit of time to reflect in writing what they had learned.  I have Art Standards  checklists for them to check off the date when they  meet a standard each quarter, so that was also part of the activity.

Then we turned to the studio introductions for Choice-Based Art.
 Drawing Around the Room
In preparation for beginning our Choice-Based Art Studios, we have some activities using various media; the kids are finding out how their art supplies behave.  Our first set of activities was Drawing Around the Room.  In Drawing Around the Room, students worked with 7 different drawing mediums:  drawing pencils, colored pencils, markers, oil pastels, chalk pastels, crayon, and charcoal.  Stations were set up at each table, and students rotated in groups of four to test each medium.  Cards with definitions of techniques were at each station, and students were required to write the definition before trying the medium.  Next, they worked with the medium and tried out various techniques.  They were encouraged to experiment and see how they liked each one.  Afterward, they reflected on their favorites and least favorites in a writing exercise. 

We are now in Sculpt Around the Room, which is the same sort of experiential activities, except I am not letting  them move around the room--I am bringing them the supplies and activities in big boxes--we lost too much time in transition with the drawing studios.  With Sculpt Around the Room, students have a full 45 minute class period to work on their sculptures. 

Boxes, supplies, so much stuff!  But so worth it.
Prepping for this was pretty big.  I was so glad to finally get it put together!  Cynthia had noted on her website that her kids didn't want the projects that weren't pretty--nobody wanted to take them home--so I made sure the paper projects, for example, were monochromatic with lots of size and  color variety so they could make it look really good. 

I totally stole a  beautiful paper sculpture poster idea from Sarah Brooks, once again right off of Pinterest.  Thank goodness for Pinterest.  Reinventing the wheel is over.  Isn't this gorgeous?!
Perfect for giving inspiration--and reminders that they already know so much of this already.
In each box are materials for a different sculpting project--wire sculpture, a paper village, a mobile, modeling clay monsters, and a relief sculpture using straws.  As the weeks are going by, the artworks are getting better and better.  They have the full class period to work, and they are becoming more and more confident as they continue to get new boxes of materials. 
Dr. Seuss Villages
Working on the Kinetic Hanging Sculptures (mobiles)

Examples of kinetic sculptures

Modeling clay monsters
Straw relief sculptures

Wire sculptures
Everybody is so engaged!

It's been so much fun to watch the kids get the hang of working together on projects--the group sculptures are getting better and better. And the individual sculptures are improving as the students get ideas and inspiration from one another.

It's only a few weeks before we are making Choice-Based Art in earnest.  We will have a Painting Around the Room set of activities, and then we are off.  Can't wait!  I will introduce sketchbook mapping for preparing to make an artwork that is a WOW piece--a Work of Wonder--on which students will work for several class periods, on their own steam, and without my telling them what to do.  I become a facilitator and mentor as they learn the Habits of Mind that help good artists create effective artworks.  This is so exciting.  As usual, stay tuned!

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