This semester we taught fourth and fifth graders at The Lab School for Creative Learning. Our unit was centered around the concept of transformation. Students were able to explore the transformation of animals, their faces, their bodies, and abstract concepts. In this unit the students were able to explore new materials and techniques while exploring ideas about the world around them through the art making process. The students created various artworks for each lesson using the ideas and concepts from the previous lesson. The materials and techniques that were explored included portraiture, assemblage, vellum, wax resist, painting, plaster manipulation, and collage.
Lesson One; Feature Creature Marionettes
Students Learned about Marionettes and how to transform a 2-Dimensional drawing into a 3-Dimensional structure during this lesson. They saw multiple images of computer altered creatures, and then got to create their own imaginary creatures by combining various 3-dimensional materials together to create a moveable marionette. They took multipule features from different animals and combined them to form a new creature, and sketched their ideas in their sketchbooks before they started on their final.
Lesson Two; Transformed Self-Portraits
Students learned about portraiture and how people have multiple layers to their personalities. They connected various characteristics of their personalities to animal patterns, traits, features and colors, that could show the same characteristics within their transformed vellum and painted portraits. The first portrait used different layers of vellum and mylar and the second was painted with mixed media and the students put their animalistic bodies within an environment.
Lesson Three; Masks - Reveal and Conceal
Students learned about the history of masks. They also discussed how different types of masks have very different purposes, whether they are occupational, ceremonial, functional, or decorative. The students discussed how masks can portray emotions and characteristics with the use of colors, various mediums, and the manipulation of plaster and form.
Lesson Four; Collaborative Quilt
In this lesson the students created a class quilt that showed things that they are thankful for in the form of personal symbols they created in their sketchbooks. They discussed how to transform a word into a symbol to represent what they were thankful for in their lives. They used glue to draw the symbols that they created that formed a resist with the fabric that they dipped in dye at the end of the lesson.
Methods for Integrating Literacy, Numeracy, Technology, and Other Relevant Subjects:
Throughout our unit, literacy, numeracy and technology were addressed and incorporated into each of our lesson plans. We also included are a variety of 21st century skills that facilitate the learner long after their time in the classroom with their peers and teachers. Our four different lessons catered to a variety of subjects, materials, and processes, so we had to provide various educational subjects and topics to solidify understanding with our students.
In each of our units literacy and numeracy were addressed because students were required to plan out their work in their sketchbooks before they started on their final works. Students did a variety of brainstorming activities in their sketchbooks. They would either draw or write down their ideas, or a do a combination of both, to help them solidity their ideas that they wanted to get across in their artwork. This idea that a sequence and a specific order of doing things is required to create art demonstrated numeracy to the students. The idea of writing down your ideas, discussing your thoughts on a subject, and reflecting on what they wanted to say, all taught the students about literacy as well.
Each of the lessons have elements of numeracy and 21st century skills concerning critical thinking and problem solving as well. The second lesson taught numeracy with the process of layering vellum and mylar to create an image, and the order of operations this technique entails. Lesson one also demonstrated this order of operations because the marionettes required multiple step-by-step processes. The students also practiced critical thinking and problem solving by creating originals symbols on fabric with a glue resist and dye.
Technology, innovation, collaboration, and creativity were addressed in various lessons. The first and third lessons utilized digital images that were shown on a PowerPoint presentation, that the students were able to observe and interact with. The second lesson utilized technology as well because students used a digitally printed image of their faces to help them created a transformed self-portrait. In all of the lessons students were able to explore various new materials to create new creative and innovative ideas. They explored multi-media techniques, resists, the materials of vellum and mylar, plaster, and fabric dye. The fourth lesson also taught the students ways to creatively and collaboratively work on a piece of artwork as a class. The understanding of new technologies paired with the 21st century skill of creativity and innovation allowed these students to create unique forms with three and two dimensional materials.
Strategies for Classroom Management Relevant to Lesson Plans Taught in the Lesson:
In Alicia's fourth and fifth grade classroom there were already some classroom management strategies that were in place that we utilized when we taught the class. One strategy that we utilized almost every class period to get the student's attention, was a bell that Alicia would hit to calm the students. When the bell was rung students would put their thumbs up in the air towards the front of the classroom, and they became quiet and attentive. Whenever we needed to switch topics in class, or get the student's attention, we rung the bell to re-focus our students. There was also a school-wide policy that students had to be quiet in the hallway when walking in a group, so they wouldn't distract other classes. We reminded them of this policy whenever we took the students into the hallway. As our lessons progressed, and as we learned more about our students, we created our own classroom management strategies.
During most of our lessons we used the idea of bargaining with some of the students that had trouble staying on task. We would ask them to work on the assignment for a certain amount of time, and we would tell them they could read or work in their sketchbook if they worked the whole time that we told them to. This strategy only worked for a few students, but nonetheless it helped to keep our classroom organized and engaged.
We also had a rule during the last two lessons that students had to stay at their own seats to work on their projects. We allowed them to work where they wanted if they asked, in the first two lessons, and it caused disruptive problems. There were also more accidents when we allowed this, and it made the carpet in the classroom dirty. By having the students stay at their assigned desks, we were able to keep track of the students better and they seemed much more focussed and responsible or their work. When we worked with the messy materials of plaster, glue, and dye, this technique was especially effective because it helped contain and organize the mess that came with the materials we let the students use.
Utilizing various numeracy related management strategies was vital to our success in the classroom as well. We would always tell the students how long they had to do an activiy, before they started. We also told them how much time they had left near hte end of an activity as well. This helped keep the students on task and helped teh slower workers work fasster, and the faster workers work more slower and more efficiently. Not only did informing the students of the time help them stay on task, it helped us stay on task as well. Allowing a time reminder in the classroom helped the room run more smoothly becasue it was more oragnized nad created smoother transitions.
Putting specific students in charge of cleanup was a good way to hold the students accountable for the clean up and often times made it much more organized. Giving students responsibility in the classroom allowed the students who normally distracted others and were disruptive during clean up, to focus on something, and kept them on task. We also told students during every clean up in each lesson that they had to pick up a certain amount of trash each time. We would often say that they had to pick up ten things off of the floor before they could go to recess, which really helped make the classroom clean fast. Organization of supplies as also a strategy that was a large part of our success at keeping an organized and clean classroom. We would put the supplies that the students were going to need for the day on their desks before they got to class to avoid the chaos of students grabbing the supplies later in the class. If it was a lesson that the students were not working at their desks for there would be stations set up around the room for them to go to for the supplies that they were needing for their work. Each time we had stations or gave students their own supplies at their desks we gave a detailed explanation of where the supplies were.
During the last two classes we played calming music. By the end of the semester we could tell that the students were becoming more and more impatient and inattentive in class, so playing music was a simple tool that seemed to really relax and quiet down our students. It seemed to make the students focus more intently on the task at hand and it also helped students engage with their work, so they did not feel the need to walk around and distract each other. I also found that utilizing a simple touch, or saying a student's name, was a good strategy for calming students and redirecting their focus during class. If a student was being too loud during a class discussion or during independent work time, I would often just say their name in the group conversation, or touch their shoulder. These simple acknowledgments toward the student, helped them re-focus because they realized that we were paying attention to them.