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Author and illustrator Bryan Collier came to visit this week! He read some of his award-winning picture books, showed students some of his original pieces of art and answered lots of questions!

Uptown

I love his book Uptown and have used it as inspiration for a fifth grade lesson in the past, but didn’t think the quality of the finished work was that sophisticated. There were some interesting components, but I think the content of the lesson could be stronger. I’m a very reflective teacher, and like to rework lessons until I feel like I’ve gotten something good out of them, so having Mr. Collier back for a visit was exactly the inspiration I needed to revisit this idea. Stay tuned!

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The week before vacation and all through my class, students… have been making Artist Trading Cards!

The week before vacation is usually unpredictable. Some students go on vacation early, or, during this time of year, students are often absent because they’re sick. Because of this, I put most projects on “hold” and started calling this week “ATC week.” (Kindergartners and first graders worked on completing unfinished work so that they can have more 1:1 help and so that we can start new projects when we get back from the break. When kindergartners and 1st graders were finished with all their unfinished work, they had the option of drawing in their sketchbook, or making a “free choice” collage or painting.)

When my second, third and fourth graders came to class, I told them the plan and showed them my ATC Idea Binder. It has samples of cards organized by media–drawing, collage, painting and mixed-media. We spent five minutes looking through the binder and discussing, “What makes a good ATC?”

Then students got to choose where to sit based on media. I had students “vote” what material they were most interested in using (by raising their hand) and then set up the stations based on popularity. In some classes, drawing was most popular, in others collage or painting was more popular, and in some it was split pretty evenly.

Students enjoyed the freedom of choosing their seats and materials, moving from station to station, and working with other students in the class. It was a great way to transition into break and I’m so proud with the ownership students took over coming up with and implementing their own ideas. Check out some of the results…

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This year, I’m introducing ATCs to 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders. I’m starting the year by giving students a couple of assignments. My hope is that these assignments will encourage them experiment more throughout the year and make cards that are more thoughtful and “complete” when they are given choice time.

2nd Graders: Oops! Card

For this lesson, I read the book Beautiful Oops!, by Barney Saltzberg. I talked with students about what choices an artist has when he/she makes a “mistake.” Next, I showed students a few Daily Monster videos and challenged them to turn an “oops” into something new… something scary, or friendly, or beautiful, or funny, or… just about anything they could think of! Students started by transforming their oops with pencil and tracing with Sharpie. Then, they added a background and colored in their ATC.

3rd Graders: Sky Color

For this lesson, I read the book Sky Color, by Peter Reynolds. We discussed that the sky is not always blue and then I demonstrated a few watercolor techniques… painting wet on wet, wax/oil watercolor resist, sprinkling salt, and blotting with a sponge brush, q-tip, paper towel, or bubble wrap. Then students set to work creating an ATC of a type of weather or time of day.

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4th Graders: Abstract Dot Composition

For this lesson, I read the book The Dot, by Peter Reynolds and discussed how students might “make their mark.” After showing abstract spot and dot artworks by Wassily Kandinsky and Yayoi Kusama, students were challenged to create an abstract composition made entirely of dots. Students could choose to use Sharpies, markers, crayons, watercolors, or a combination of materials. **For this lesson, I also showed examples of this lesson from Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists.

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Students in 6th and 7th grade will be moving to a temporary school next year during the renovation process. To commemorate their time here, students were challenged to create a portrait based on their learning experiences, feelings, and memories of their current school. These portraits will be hung up over the summer, transforming the walls of their new school into an art gallery.

IMG_9952Kindergarteners are working together to create Line Sculptures! As inspiration, I showed students a Power Point of sculptures* that have lines and we discussed the various colors and materials the sculptures are made out of. Students worked in pairs to create their sculptures. They began by cutting tabs into a cardboard tube and attaching it to a cardboard base with tape. Then created lines by twisting, bending, folding, and curling paper and wire and attaching it with tape. I planned two days for this project, but the students are so excited about it that I’m giving them an extra day to work on it. 

*I found a great list of contemporary sculptors that use lines on this blog.

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Inspired by a former colleague of mine, I challenged my eighth graders to create a mixed-media shoe sculpture, using appropriate construction techniques, that reveals something unique about them. Students started by creating an armature and then used mixed-media materials to enhance their designs. I’m so impressed with their problem solving, persistence and final products!

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7th and 8th graders were challenged to design an Artist Trading Card for each of the 7 elements of art and principles of design. Each card has the definition of the word it illustrates glued to the back of it. The goal was to see how much students knew/remembered about the elements and principles and to let them experiment with different art materials.