Greetings from my new school in the UK! I am officially an art teacher again and I couldn’t be happier! Over the summer I accepted a half-time art position at one of the schools here on base. I teach about 230 students and am so stoked to be back in a classroom. For those of you who have followed me before, a lot has happened since my last post which was over two years ago (oh my goodness!). Keeping it short and sweet: I got married, started (and am almost finished with) my Master’s degree, have had a few different jobs here in the UK, and I had a precious baby boy named Benjamin! My life has been crazy, busy, and full of excitement!
As I mentioned, I am finishing up my Master’s degree in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum. While taking classes, I have done a lot of research on choice-based teaching and Teaching for Artistic Behaviors and decided to implement it in my classroom this year. Basically, it is a teaching approach that respects student individuality, encourages thinking like a “real” artist, and allows students to have authentic art-making experiences. Here is a brochure I use to help explain what it is to other educators and parents: TABBrochure
This poster also helps describe what the kids are doing in my room:
I was both excited and incredibly nervous to implement this, especially after two years of not being in a classroom. I have been working for about a month and I absolutely love what is happening in my classroom! The kids are loving it too! They have the freedom to express themselves and learn as they work. Here is a basic rundown of what happens during an art class period:
First 5-10 minutes: Attendance, introduction to concept being taught, demonstration
Next 5 minutes: Students choose what center (media) they would like to work in, and get their workstation ready
Remainder of class: WORK TIME! Students are free to work on one or more projects in one or more centers. Students are aware that there are 2 skill-builders (practice-type projects) and 2 W.O.W. projects (wonderful, original work of art) due by the end of the quarter.
Last 5-7 minutes: Clean-up, share ideas and art
The first few weeks have been crazy just because there are always procedural items to go over and we are opening the various centers one week at a time. Here is a breakdown of what we have done each week so far:
Week 1: Introduction to the choice-based art studio (and their new teacher, ME!). Media exploration- students had a white paper divided into 6 sections. At each of my 6 tables, I had different media for them to “play with”. They could draw/paint whatever they wanted in that square with that particular media. After about 4-5 minutes, they would rotate to the next table. I also had post it notes for them to write down notes about each media, such as if it was messy, bold, colorful, etc. I made posters with these notes that are now hanging in the different centers.
Week 2: Grand opening of the drawing center. Students were permitted to use white paper, along with the following drawing supplies: marker, crayon, colored pencil, conte, charcoal, and pencil. They were introduced to the drawing skill-builders (line duplication and value scales), and were taught how to properly get out and put away materials. We also discussed what artists draw and decided that pretty much everything we talked about fell into four categories:
Week 3: What is an idea? We watched the video “What do you do with an idea?” by Kobi Yamada and discussed ideas and how to nurture them. I also introduced what a W.O.W. project was and how it is different from a skill-builder and experimenting. This checklist helps remind students what a W.O.W. project should look like:
Oil pastels were also added to the drawing center this week (which the kiddos loved!).
Week 4: Grand opening of the collage center. Students looked at artwork by Matisse, Picasso, and Bearden, as well as collages done by other students. We talked about how collage artists must think about shape since they are cutting or tearing and gluing. I did a quick demo of the collage steps I have listed in my room, including how to use the infamous *glue sponge*. I also showed them two collage skill-builder options (a magazine cut-out color wheel and a mindmap).
Week 5 (THIS WEEK!): Grand opening of the painting center. I know, I am a little crazy to open the collage and painting center back-to-back and with so little demonstration, BUT: a. we are working on a fundraiser work of art and I really wanted them to be able to paint, and b. they’ve done AMAZING so far! Very few problems with clean-up or anything! It’s amazing what giving students some freedom does! Anyway, I introduced watercolor and tempera cakes. And by introduced I mean quickly talked them through set-up and clean-up and brush care, then set them free.
As I said, the kids are really loving this teaching approach and are creating some great work! That being said, I will say it was difficult to relinquish my control as a teacher and allow them to *gasp* actually think for themselves instead of creating a project that looks exactly like my example (and everyone else in the class!). I am truly seeing their personalities shine through though, which is exciting. We have definitely had a few bumps and bruises along the way, but the students and I are both learning how to navigate this type of learning environment. Here are some work-in-progress photos:
Colored pencil & charcoal landscape
Oil pastel drawing
Pencil and oil pastel fruit still life
Charcoal pencil drawing of a unicorn eating ice cream with a human dressed as a unicorn (duh!)
Marker pointillism drawing
Pencil drawing of an animal eye
Landscape marker drawing
Construction paper collage
Construction paper collage
Oil pastel landscape drawing (and below, charcoal landscape drawing)
I apologize for this being so long, but I am excited to be back in the swing of things and plan on updating more often. Happy Tuesday y’all!