The year was halfway over and I noticed that a handful of students were still having a difficult time working through the artistic process in order to create interesting, dynamic, and individualized work of art. These students were amazingly creative and talented- but still struggled to go from their idea to a completed piece successfully. After thinking about what I could do to take them to the next step- I formed a new lesson: Emotional Breakdown. Not only would we focus on emotion within a work of art, but the artistic process would be broken down and chunked so the students could see why each part was important.
Students viewed artwork that conveyed emotion. Each student was asked to pick an emotion and set up 4 pages in their sketchbooks for the project. Students were told that they had to have to GAP (Get Approved Please) after each page before they could move on to the next.
Setting Up and Breaking Down:
On page 1, students had to write down what emotion they picked and find 1-3 quotes or song lyrics that showed that emotion. I told the students they may use the quotes and lyrics in their work- but they could also choose to just use them as inspiration. The rest of the page was to be used for brainstorming, doodling, or noting research about that emotion.
Page 2 was used for thumbnail sketches. Students were told they had to do at least 4 thumbnails to get their ideas down on paper before they moved on to the rough draft. I have found that understanding the difference between a thumbnail and a rough draft is tricky for my middle school age group- but this project helped them to understand a little more clearly. Students were asked to talk to their tablemates about their ideas and thumbnails before getting the page approved.
For page 3, students were asked to pick one of their previous thumbnail sketches and to create a rough draft. I explained how the rough draft needed to flesh out the ideas from their thumbnail sketches. We had a class discussion about how a rough draft was the step between thumbnails and a final copy. It was a place for mistakes, and changes, and it did not need to be perfect. I reminded them that they could change their ideas as they went and nothing was carved in stone. If something was not working or if the emotion was not being displayed in the piece- they could come up with something new.
On page 4, students wrote a short description of how their artwork will look. They had to write down step by step the process they would use in order to create the art. I likened this to a writing a lab report in science class.
Up to this point in the year students had been introduced to a variety of media. I set up their supply area with watercolor color and Prismacolor pencils but the students knew from the beginning of the project that they could choose a different medium if they wanted to do so. Students were prompted to talk to their table group multiple times during the project in order to get informal feedback on their work.
Students worked on the Emotional Breakdown project for 2 ½ weeks. The projects covered a range of emotions and media. Students used Prismacolor pencils, watercolor, sharpie, pencil, acrylic, chalk, and oil pastel.
Other notes and ideas:
So... my question to you now is... Are you ready for YOUR emotional breakdown?
Today I attended an amazing art tech camp (mini conference). I presented the Osmo device and a few apps that one can use to further the Osmo experience. I love my Osmo and I was happy to share. I am including my presentation below incase anyone is interested.
One of my professional goals is to try to STEAM it up. I have been working closely with the STEM department at my school and helped to create this awesome new sign for our hallway:
I want to incorporate more STEAM concepts and ideas into my art room. We have a strong STEM department that is willing and to work with me and help me grow as an educator. I have found that opening my mind to STEAM in the beginning was more difficult than the actual incorporation. I realized that STEAMing up my art room was less about changing what I was doing and more about verbalizing the ties to science, technology, engineering, and math that were already happening.
Recently I was inspired by a collaborative tile wall created by Janet Malone in her elementary school studio. Students were each given a 4x4” prefabricated glazed white tile. They used Sharpies to add color, dropped on rubbing alcohol, and Janet sprayed each tile with clear acrylic. The tiles would have been beautiful on their own, but together they made up an amazing, eye-catching wall above her sink area. I knew that my middle school students would respond to the aesthetics and process of the project, and I knew that I could manipulate the lesson to hit some of my STEAM goals.
My journey began in a local home improvement store. I bought 100 4x4” glazed white tiles in a box for about $15. I then headed over to Walmart to pick up some rubbing alcohol, a few eyedroppers, and clear acrylic spray paint. I pulled out my massive stash of Sharpies and started experimenting on my own to get the process down before introducing it to the kids. I discovered that I like the way the brush Sharpies worked when the rubbing alcohol was added better than the fine point Sharpies. I also realized that a limited color palette worked best to keep the colors from getting muddy.
While making my own tiles, I started seeing the ties back to STEAM. I was able to come up with a lesson that embraced concepts like solvents, environmental impacts, silt distribution, evaporation, weather, and color theory.
For the build up to the project, students spent time rediscovering color theory concepts previously taught. Students were each given a tile and told that the tile was a representation of land. The Sharpie on their tile was representative of silt while the droppers of rubbing alcohol represented rainstorms. Students were guided in the process of ‘making it rain’ on their tile by dropping 2 full droppers of rubbing alcohol onto the tiles. I asked students what events could happen to their silt that could change the flow of the water. Some students shook the table to imitate earthquakes, some students blew across the surface of their tile to create wind. A few students added an extra dropper full of rubbing alcohol to create monsoons, while other students did all of the above!
As the rubbing alcohol worked to dissolve and lift the Sharpie from the tile, we discussed how the rubbing alcohol worked as a solvent. Students made scientific observations about the changes in their tile periodically during the class period.
The next day we made connections to evaporation. Students studied their tile and were able to infer that all of the rubbing alcohol evaporated leaving the Sharpie behind. We revisited the discussion we had in the previous class on the silt/Sharpie analogy. We explored the idea of silt disruption due to weathering and construction. Students were asked to think of what construction sites look like, and we talked about what steps construction workers take to keep silt from filling the streets and drains. Students brainstormed the lasting effects in the environment due to erosion and silt displacement.
I asked students to study their tiles. In each tile there are very evident dark lines that surround the evaporated puddles of rubbing alcohol. These areas are where the Sharpie was displaced from its original spot and then resettled during the evaporation process. Students made connections to what they saw in the tile and where soil would be left behind after being displaced. The tiles were given two coats of clear acrylic spray paint and left to dry.
Taking it further:
Students were given a 10 minute wrap-up review to help reinforce the concepts, ideas, and explorations of the lesson. I asked students to write as many ideas down as they could from the project within a 10 minute period. They then shared those ideas to their peers at their table groups. Students were given a sheet of paper cut down to the same size as the tile and were asked to mimic the colors and color blending seen on the tile onto their paper. This extension activity allowed students to study color in a new way.
Georgia 6th Science:
S6E5. Students will investigate the scientific view of how the earths surface is formed
S6CSI. Students will explore the importance of curiosity, honesty, openness, and skepticism in science and will exhibit these traits in their own efforts to understand how the world works.
Georgia 6th Art:
VA6MC.2 Identifies and works to solve visual problems through creative thinking, planning, and/or experimenting with art materials, tools and techniques.
VA6PR.1 Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes.
VA6PR.2 Creates artwork reflecting a range of concepts, ideas, and subject matter.
VA6C.1 Applies information from other disciplines to enhance the understanding and production of artworks.
I was recently asked why I was against school-vouchers. At the time I couldn't put my thoughts into words that a non-teacher would understand. I thought about it... my explanation is below.
What if you lived in a "failing" state? You wanted to stay in that state BUT you wanted all your taxes to be spent in the state of Florida instead of your state because you like the beach and Disney and oranges.
What if more and more people kept paying taxes but requested the money all be spent in Florida?
You know what happens?
Your state sucks and Florida gets voted best state ever.
Then Florida gets roads covered in Swarovski crystal while your state can't even fill a pot hole. People stop trying to better your state because the money is gone. Florida gets better and better, your state gets worse and worse, and they start filming post apocalyptic documentaries in your state because they are low budget films and your state already looks like it was hit by a Sharknado.
When I discovered empty boxes as tall as me, I did a happy dance and made room for them in the art room. My neighboring STEM teacher was equally as happy about her new tables that were in the boxes... it was a gift that kept on giving.
At first I was unsure of what to use the boxes for. While I waited for inspiration to spark, we used the boxes as a collective gallery space for art works in my classroom. Then, the gallery room boxes traveled the school and were housed in the 7th grade classrooms as a traveling gallery for a few weeks before retuning back to the art room.
Upon the return of the boxes, I realized that their arrival was a wonderful opportunity for my 8th grade students to work on large scale, mixed-media, recycled pieces.
Each student was to create a layered work of art that had to include the boxes as a base, newspaper, paint, added recycled cardboard pieces, and portraiture.
My 8th graders were intimidated by the size of the boxes. To get their feet wet we held a contest to see who could fill the inside of the box with torn newspaper pieces using correct care and craftsmanship first. The contest loosened them up, helped them to think on a larger scale, and raised the level of enthusiasm for the project.
We worked on thumbnail sketches to think of the creative process we would need to follow in order to create a finished piece. Students were asked to write their steps down so they could think critically about the projects before they went any further with their work. Small groups met to give students the opportunity to explain their steps and get ideas for any changes that needed to be made.
After students came up with their plan of action they very eagerly got started. I demonstrated tinting the gesso, hot glue safety, proper use of the X-acto knife, and how to enlarge drawings on the projector. Students worked at their own pace for the rest of the project.
Taking it further:
When the projects were completed we had a 2 hour pop-up art show in the media center and invited the 8th grade teachers and administration to come and view the work. A selection of mixed-media recycled portraits were sent in the the Junk Yard Wars recycled art show put on by Jamie Richardson and her students at Cooper Middle School.
Just when I thought STEAM camp couldn’t get any better...
That’s right, holograms.
I stumbled upon the idea of turning your phone/electronic device into a hand held hologram device a while back. I thought it would be too difficult and let it slide by.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was putting together my plans for STEAM camp…
I was struggling. I knew I wanted to do catapult action painting for day one, but I needed another activity to teach on day two. I was cleaning out my e-mails and I found the e-mail my STEM teacher (aka the best person ever) sent me about the hologram devices. I decided to give it a try.
I made my practice hologram alone in my classroom and went into my dark storage closet to try it out.
I screamed (probably too loudly) and ran around the school showing every adult I saw. Every. Adult. Not only can this project be super easy, but it is also AWESOME.
I went to this website:
How To Make A Smartphone-Powered Hologram
Not only does the have an amazingly easy pattern to follow, it breaks things down so even I could understand it.
Then I showed the kids this video.
Even though the video used a different material (CD cases instead of old transparencies), he does a really good job of explaining the process and showing a finished product. He showed off some examples and the kids oohed and awed over it.
I did a quick demo for the project, gave them some tips on creasing the folds in the transparency, and let them begin.
Students were given the following materials:
Transparency sheets (the thicker the better)
Pattern sheets (on the website above)
Sharpies (to trace pattern)
The students traced their pattern on the transparency sheets. They cut their pattern out, folded it, taped it, and jumped up and down waiting for the next step. Literally.
If you search prism videos on google or YouTube there is a plethora of options. Here are some of the videos my students liked:
Top 3 Video
STEM camp added the A this year at my school. Yay, STEAM camp!
STEAM is not a scary concept. Truthfully, it's just giving a new name to some of the things most art teachers have been doing for a long time.
My activity today was AMAZING. Middle school students, summer, catapults, action painting... What's not to like?
So ladies and gentleman, I introduce to you... CATAPULT ACTION PAINTING.
Students engaged in the building of their own catapult. They spent time analyzing force, distance, and accuracy. Some students researched on their own device how to get the best results from their catapult. We painted, regrouped, and discussed our observations on the project. Here are some things we discovered:
1. If we added extra small Popsicle sticks between the 2 larger sticks, the paint covered pompom would go a longer distance. Students used 6-10 smaller sticks each.
2. Smaller pompoms went further than bigger pompoms.
3. The pompoms in the more transparent paint went further than the pompoms in the more opaque (less diluted) paint.
4. The quicker the release the better.
5. The larger the amount of smaller Popsicle sticks, the less accuracy noted.
6. If the pompom is not positioned correctly and the angles of the catapult are not right, there is a larger amount of kick back in the form of splatter (as I learned from a face full of paint)
7. Holding the the side of the catapult (the ones we made) holds more firmly than if you hold the back.
8. Re-position the rubber-bands and spoon... make changes. Make more changes. It is absolutely fine to make changes and regroup as many times as needed. Mistakes happen. Rubber bands break. Paint splatters in the wrong directions. It's the process that matters, not the product.
It is mandatory that students in my classroom take part in cleaning the studio.
Things the kids clean…
7. Paint splatters on walls
8. White boards (clean)
9. Bulletin boards (take down display, take out staples)
10. Organize and clean out all the different classroom media (crayons, color pencils, markers, watercolor, pastels…)
11. Wipe down rulers and scissors
12. Organize paint cabinet, glaze cabinet, glue cabinet
13. Tidy up storage closet
14. Return things to media center
15. Table bins (wipe down)
16. All door and cabinet handles
Truthfully, some classes clean the same things in order to get the room as clean and prepped as possible. Most of the time I still have to go behind them and touch up- but this year they did a GREAT JOB and I even had kids ask to come in in the morning to help me out.
Reasons WHY the kids participate in cleaning the studio:
1. The studio is their work space as much as it is mine.
2. Letting students help in closing the studio helps them to have a bigger “buy-in” to the space.
3. Helps them feel more responsible for keeping it clean in future classes.
4. It helps me keep my sanity.
Edited to add:
I ask for volunteers during the school year but cleaning up the space at the end of the year is mandatory- no matter how small a part they play. I keep the room neat during the school year so this is not a huge undertaking. The kids love testing the materials... And they like organizing the supplies and cleaning the whiteboard. As soon as they are done their "reward" is yearbook signing time/ so the cleanup normally takes all of 10 minutes.