Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Working From A Variety Of Activity Centers

These past three weeks our kids have had opportunities to create work from several activity centers. They accessed materials at the drawing center where there are a variety of pencils, colored pencils, water base and permanent markers, drawing books and crayons. Materials at the painting center include watercolors and india ink. The computer center has been used to create drawings on Microsoft Paint and a few have begun electronic portfolios on PowerPoint. I did a little experiment with our 2nd graders today. I set out a large piece of bulletin board paper on a sheet of sturdy compressed cardboard about 7' x 3' and told them we now had a "mural" center. I had 4 to 5 kids per class working at that center and they were "going to town" with "automatic," self-directed experimental ink drawing. We now have 4 centers to work from within the room. Drawing, painting, computer and mural center. I also converted an old mobile book shelf into a collage center which the 4th and 5th graders have been visiting with regularity. I have introduced the artist Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and talked about the way she combines graphics, collage and other materials to create bold, expressive works of art.
So far, I am very pleased with the production and attitudes of our kids. 99% of them are into working from the centers. My younger kids really get into it. One of the problems we are having is they do not want to clean up. I give them a 5 minute warning, then a one minute warning....they are oblivious to my request to clean-up. They are so caught up in "flow," they can't stop what they are doing.....
I am getting requests to open up the sculpture center. I think I am going to start small again and go big. I am going to buy a bunch of toothpicks, cut a bunch of cardboard, and get my glue containers ready. It would seem a good thing to intoduce Louise Nevelson at this juncture. Check back later, Clyde

Monday, August 23, 2004

View of students at work tables in foreground with drawing and computer centers in the background. Posted by Hello

Promoting divergent forms of thinking.....

I have realized this past week, what we have here is a vein of educational gold. Choice based art education promotes an individual's divergent thinking abilities in a psychologically profound and personally meaningful way. This kind of program provides an openess in the curriculum that gives students freedom to explore, invent, examine and go deep into aesthetic experiences and subject areas related to student interests far beyond any other kinds of programs I am aware of. Student's take full ownership of the direction they move in. The electronic portfolio element of our program will provide students with a dynamic assessment process that allows for self-reflection of the purpose and direction of individual work and provides an accountability tool.
I remember listening to my friend and colleague Clark Fralick talk about complex operations "start small, go big..." and also the words of encouragement from Barb Andrews, Teri Eastes, Kathy Douglas, Diane Jaquith and John Crowe. Because of their work and encouragement, I am about to cross a pedagogical threshold into a new and exciting instructional dimension.......more later....

Thursday, August 19, 2004

First Day of Choice

This morning I had my 5th graders rotate through the art room. I told them to give me the first five minutes of class and then I would give them the other 35 minutes to do what real artists do. Choose or find a pathway and work from that direction. I spoke about working from ones interests and expressing what is important in ones own mind. I told them I would help them find their own way if they needed support. If they had ideas to pursue, they could work from the drawing, painting or computer center. Students had 4 activities to work from. Self-directed work from the drawing, painting or computer centers; a scary "ghost town" contest drawing/painting for the Indianapolis Children's Museum's Halloween Art Contest; continue work on personalized portfolio covers which were begun on the first day of school, or conduct art research from the internet or the art library. As soon as I was finished with my presentation talk students quickly got up from their seats and began assembling materials to begin work. Most went right to work. They had formulated their activity as I explained our new program to them and went right into implementation. One or two in each class needed additional time to get going but eventually began work on a drawing or painting. In 4 class rotations this morning I had approximately 100 kids working on individually tailored activities that were student centered and student generated. About half experimented or worked from with the materials at the paint center, the others worked from the drawing center and began creating images for the art contest. My first impression of choice based art education from today's experience very positive. I plan to modify the "Teaching Artistic Behavior"program here as needed. I know Clark is conducting his version of TAB to fit his student's needs and work it within his pedagogical style and that is the way I plan to run ours here at New Palestine Elementary. There are many other teachers throughout the country who conduct TAB in their art programs and I think flexibility is one of the keys to their success. Being flexible and prepared is how I am going to approach the transition from teacher to student centered art education. If todays smooth sailing is any indication of what we are in for the rest of the year than I need to make up for all the lost time I was doing things the old way (teacher centered, everyone doing the same thing.....).
Tomorrow I will modify and repeat this set up for my 3rd and 4th graders.

Monday, August 16, 2004

First Day of School

Monday, August 16, 2004. 8:32 a.m. First day of school. I have created four studio activity centers in the art room. Drawing, painting, sculpture and computer centers will give students four options to work from in addition to the lesson of the day. This first week, we are moving slowly, introducing each center and how to access and use the materials. Our lesson of the day is something we are all going to participate in. This is what Clark Fralick would call a "have to" activity. Everyone participates in this one. We are creating a personalized hard cover portfolio to store our work in. This first day should be interesting. We will conduct art class with approx. 110 5th graders via four homeroom classes this afternoon. Each class will last approx. 35 minutes. Can't wait to get started. This will be interesting.