Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Op Art

My 5th grade enjoyed looking at and creating Optical Illusion Art.  We first looked at the art of Bridget Riley.  I loved this project because it was so fun, but also because it introduced basic shading skills to my younger students.  We used black sharpie first on the circles to make a checker board pattern, then on the background sections doing every other one.  We left shading with colored pencil for last.

Before using the colored pencils, we discussed how the parts that are closer are lighter, and the parts farther away are darker.  I demonstrated using various pressures to create lights and darks.  We also talked about if the sections were just flat like the black and not shaded, the optical illusion wouldn't work.  I let students choose 1 color for the circle/spheres, and 2 colors for the background.

Most of my students finished without any  struggle for time, but with Christmas break fast approaching, I had a few who struggled because they  had been sick or are slower than most.  I believe we took 4 weeks to do this project.

These are just a few of the best results:

Tint and Shade Animal Paintings

My high school kids ventured into the painting world.  Many loved it, some hated it, but most results turned out pretty well.  Since this is my first year, I am still testing to see what kinds of skills my students have.  I have noticed that my older students lack some basic skills.  I wanted to take it back a little and do basic painting ideas using color mixing and value. 

I had each student choose an animal.  I had many old Zoobooks magazines, a variety of old clip art, and we did some searching on the internet for a few specific animals I didn't have.  I had the students sketch it out on scratch paper, filling the space.  We transferred the animal twice using light boxes.  On the first painting, students chose 1 color plus white.  On the second painting, 1 color plus black. 

Many students said they  never wanted to paint again.  Well of course we will!  :)
Next semester I want to try a color matching painting where students choose a color photo and they match the colors as close as possible.  I think those results will be interesting!

The tint and shade painting results surprised me.  I had these hung up in the commons area and received many compliments on them.  It was really something for the students to be proud of.  I wish I had take a picture of them all together because it looked pretty cool to see them all on the same wall.

Christmas "Palm" Trees

I got this lesson idea from the KAEA conference I attended in October.  I was debating whether to do it or not, but decided I could handle a huge mess for just one class.  My Kindergarten got to use paint and glitter…oh what fun! 

We started out by putting our hands in green to make our tree.  We added a brown square for the base, white for snow, and different colors for ornaments.  I precut stars for all of my students and at the end, we glued them on and added glitter.  How awesome was that! 

After I got over the fact that we would create a large, crazy mess, we had so much fun!  While following my step by step instructions on which colors to do when, students discovered they could mix the colors.  What an awesome thing this was!  Except that the colors we used created some yucky colors, but they didn’t care.  Most of the color mixing was on the paint trays, but some did it on the paper.  At that point I didn’t even try to stop it because they didn’t care.  They just enjoyed the experience.

Here are some results:

Weaving Cup

I found this lesson on a blog, I can’t remember which.  My 3rd grade students enjoyed this project and it was good practice on basic weaving techniques.  We used small plastic cups and cut from the top down into 7 sections.  Any odd number will do but I thought 7 would be a good number for 3rd grade.  Most of them struggled at first but got it after a few times around.  A few still had big problems and needed a lot of help.  Overall, they look pretty cool.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Group Project Mystery

My JH students were in for a surprise when I gave them few directions and wouldn't answer any questions.  With little guidance they had freedom which can be exciting and scary for some.

In preparation for this assignment, I drew our mascot on large poster paper after I projected the image onto the wall.  I traced the image then created a 12X12 inch square grid over it.  I then separated each square and numbered them so they were in order.

I transfered each square image onto a higher quality paper so it could withstand a variety of mediums.

My directions were to leave the pencil lines and somehow distinguish a difference between lines.  My students had the option of using a combination of oil pastels, markers, colored pencils, and watercolor paint to complete their squares.  I happened to have 13 students in my class and my original image was 24 squares.  I added another column of 4 so that each student could have 2 squares and I joined in the fun by completeing the 2 leftover squares.  I tried to make the squares random so the students could have a variety of blank squares and ones with the pencil drawing on them.  This also kept them guessing.

The color was applied to all squares in 1 50 minute class period.  The next class period we put it all together.  Many had figured out the previous day that we were going to assemble it together but nobody guessed what it was going to be.  I have 4 large tables in my room so I had students divide the numbers by row and put them in number order.  We taped each row together on the back then combined the 4 rows together to create the whole thing.  "AH HA...I get it now!"  Well that was the response from some.  Others needed further explanation.  We talked about it visually and decided it needed some black outlines to tie it all together.  We then ventured into the hallway to tape it up on the wall.  I decided a great location would be near the gym since it is the beginning of basketball season.

Go Big Buffs! :)

This was a fun, quick project that turned out pretty well!  I've had many comments on how it was really cool once they figured out what it was...ha!  I may try this again using a different subject.  Because there are few "rules" it could work for many grade levels.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HS Explores Henna

This project was a total experimentation that flopped in some ways, but the end results were somewhat I pictured in my head.

We started making clay hands using 2 slabs and connecting them together.  We put newspaper in between for support and so our clay wouldn't be too thick.  We also poked holes near the bottom so that more air could go through the entire hand.  I had my high schoolers work in partners to get this all done in one 50 minute class period.  Thankfully the next day we did not have school because I was able to put the first ones in the kiln.  It was perfect timing because I was able to see the massive explosion in the kiln before the other half of my students proceeded.  I quickly realized there were too many variables and this was perhaps too complex of a construction for my students who have little experience with clay.  Quick thinking led me to change my plan instead of scrapping it all together.  I really wanted to do this project, so I decided we would just do 1 slab and it would be flat.  Not my ideal work, but it would do.

After they were fired in the kiln, we mixed some flesh tone watercolor to paint the hands.  We then looked at the history of henna or mehndi in a power point.  We talked about how it is made, the process, the purpose, and looked at many cool examples.  I had my students sketch out on paper the designs they wanted to do before moving on.  They then could transfer on to the clay hand using pencil or could freehand the designs on.  We used many colors of sharpie to do this.  I limited students to no more than 3 colors so that it wouldn't get all crazy!  The results were pretty cool!

This assignment was very open-ended in terms of design and as you can see I got varied results.  From flowery-girly designs to more masculine, tattoo-like designs they all turned out very well.

2nd Grade Tape-Resist Tree Landscapes

I have to start out with saying this was not my idea.  I actually saw 2 variations of this same project on 2 different blogs but now I can't remember which.

We started out talking about landscapes.  Along with that we discussed foreground, middleground, and background.  I knew these terms would be "big" concepts, although when reviewing they seemed to understand.  We also looked at the works of Wolf Kahn.

Then students tore pieces of painters tape to lay down on our paper to make our tree trunks and added a few branches too, if they wanted.  We then used watercolor to paint the background.  We started at the bottom with green and small patches of brown.  We then "painted" the rest of our paper with water before we added color.  This helped to blend the colors together.  We focused on making lines of color to make a "sunset". 

After the paintings were dry we CAREFULLY removed the tape.  How cool was this!  The students thought this was just awesome! 

We then used crayons to add patches of grass, tree bark, and a few leaves.  I demonstrated how to use different pressures and shades of the same color to create a bark texture.  We also discussed birch trees and how they are mostly white with gray patches where the bark peels off.

Here are some results:

Overall my students and I enjoyed this project a lot!  I will definitely do it again.

Kindergarten Celebrates Fall

My Kindergarten classes have been doing many small projects to celebrate fall using basic cutting, gluing, and drawing skills.  I think they have enjoyed these a lot! 

We made grass by cutting fringe on green paper and then added white clouds with crayon.  We also used brown, yellow, red, and orange to make leaves.  The leaves were a struggle for some to make them look "real"  but they did a good job!

We made an acorn using brown paper and with red and orange paper we traced our hands to make leaves.  Tracing and cutting out hands...what a challenge it was!  Many fingers were cut off, but it was ok!

My K kids had their first adventure with paint this year.  We first did a step by step drawing of a scarecrow with crayons.  They had a little trouble getting over the fact that we could not erase!  Then we got to painting.  I put out only warm colors of watercolor for a crayon resist.  They LOVED it!  And for their first time painting this year they did pretty good.

We also did turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Rather than doing a silly "hand" turkey, we did real turkeys.  We talked about the difference between domestic and wild turkeys, their coloring, etc.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paper Sculpture

About a month and a half ago or so I wanted to try this lesson I got at the KAEA conference a few years ago when I was still a student.  I was intrigued about the cool designs and how paper could form such a sculpture that was visually interesting.  I thought my junior high kids would be able to figure it all out.

It is called interlocking polyhedrons.  I got the lesson and template from the conference along with a website that helped me a lot.  The website is: http://www.iqlight.com/. 
I enlarged the template and used the 12-piece model.  For some added fun, I allowed my students to paint their pieces however they wanted after they traced them all onto posterboard.
That was the easy part.  I did a practice piece of my own and had no problems but the pieces were smaller before I decided to have my students do theirs bigger.  I also used a slightly different paper.  These 2 small changes sure did make a difference when it came to assembly.  The students had a ton of fun with this project even though it was frustrating for some.  We all ended up working together to assemble them.  Some were better than others, so they were my assistants trying to help everyone out.  It was a great team effort.  Once they were all assembled they went into the display case in the front of the building for conferences.  I got a ton of compliments on how "COOL!" they were and "How did you do that?"  The students were proud of them because they looked really nice and were proud they could accomplish the challenge of the task.

If I do this again, I may have to test paper, size, and if paint affects how they assemble in order to make it easier.

Wire Woes

I have found that students of all ages always show more excitement for 3D projects.  I'm not sure why, but one of my goals is to find more 3D projects using a variety of mediums for all grades.  I'm more of a 2D girl, excluding my love of clay.  The 3D realm is something I want to explore more when I get time.

The first 3D project I did with my HS kids this year gave me many headaches.  Many students were frustrated because it was HARD!  It really wasn't that hard.  Challenging yes, but still do-able.  I wouldn't ask my students to try something I knew they couldn't do. 

Their assignment was to create a wire insect using volume.  I had only a handful of GREAT insects  in the end.  Many students just flat out gave up and handed in poor projects knowing they didn't do so hot.  I'm still wondering if it is something I want to pursue again in the future or not.  Perhaps a different approach to make it "easier" for them can be found.  We shall see.

                                            Here are some photos of the best ones.

This one is huge and my student used extremely tough wire!  I kept the chair in the picture to show the actual scale. I was very impressed!


A Worried Relief...

So as we are entering the 2nd week of November, I am just now doing this journaling/blogging thing that I've been wanting to do all along.  Only by wise advice of a great mentor in my HS building did I finally sit down and just do it! 
My main reason for being so delayed in this journaling project is the reality that I have NO time!  I mean who does, really?  But seriously, my schedule as a first year teacher is insane!  Like I said previously, I have 18 classes and 250+ students a week.  That allows me for a 15 minute break in the morning (time when I usually go to the bathroom and check my e-mail) before my next class comes in.  I have a 40 minute break to eat my lunch and switch buildings before I start my afternoon with 3 hours straight of students.  I don't know how I've managed to get everything done, but somehow it does.  I use every minute of every day to be productive whether that is cleaning up or preparing for the next day.  Many days I've left to head home exhausted! 
My concerns, although at first I was hesitant to voice them as a new teacher, well they were noticed.  I said something to my mentor teacher once and shortly after that the news traveled to my principals and superintendent.  I was not expecting that but it was a pleasant happening.  There have been conversations with my elementary principal through my formal evaluation and just in general about changing things to make things easier for me.  This has made me feel good, knowing that they are willing to work with me.
At first I just accepted the reality that my schedule would be the same until next year, but things may change sooner than I thought!  2 ideas for possible schedule changes in January occurred on the same day.  One idea...cut my Kindergarten classes.  The other idea...see if my 3 students in 5th hour at the HS can change to a different hour.  The reality is I don't want to cut or change anything but honestly I know I can't do it all!  It is just too much!
If I had my choice, I'd use my 5th hour as a plan every day for next semester, knowing that I wouldn't have Kindergarten next year.  Cutting Kindergarten halfway through the year just seems strange, especially knowing that I'll have all of those students in the 1st grade next year.  I am just waiting to see what decisions are going to be made.  I am just happy that some relief that has caused me a tremendous amount of stress will soon be solved...hopefully.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

6th Grade Portrait Silhouettes

I wanted to try something simple, yet personal to see what skills my 6th graders have.  By having K-12, I can see what skills my older kids lack that I need to make sure my lower grades are exposed to them.
My 6th graders paired up and did their silhouettes using my projector on the wall.  This was a fun, yet slightly difficult task for some of them.  They had trouble standing still so some lines were pretty wiggly.  We fixed those and I helped some of them do the outlines quicker than they were able to do.
After that we created a 2-inch grided square pattern on the silhouette part only.  We then created 5 2-inch squares as a template for practicing our designs.  I gave students free reign for the designs as long as they had 5 different ones.  They then transferred their designs onto the portrait making sure that no 2 boxes next to each other had the same design.  I had them use colored pencils and stuck to a monochromatic color scheme.  The grid and monochromatic color scheme were 2 new things we covered.  This project took many weeks since I only have them for 40 minutes 1 day a week. Although they turned out great, I could tell that towards the end they were done with it and ready to move on.
I hung these up in the hallway this week.  I intentionally had the students put their names on the back so that we could have a "6th Grade Guess Who" to see if the students and teachers could pick out who was who.  I thought it would be fun since the school is small and everybody knows everybody.  It's funny how some of them are easy to pick out.  I've had some good comments on them and they've only been up for 2 days.

Chalk Mural

I was approached by the KAY sponsor at the HS about doing a sidewalk chalk mural to welcome those attending the regional conference we were hosting.  I was all over it.  With more thinking, we decided to do a mural on the brick wall of the building where the attendees would be entering.  The theme was "There's no place like Kansas."  I found a great picture and was totally on board to have my 3 HS classes crank out this 12X8 foot mural in 3 to 4 days.  Little did I realize what I was getting myself into...
I had my 5th and 6th hours help me sketch out and grid the picture on bulletin board paper.  Doing a grid was a new experience for my students, so it was a good teaching moment.  After explaining how the grid works I got many "ah's" so I knew they got it.  That was the easy part.
Once we headed outside, the craziness began.  The first day was too hot, the second too windy, the third too cold.  I also had troubles getting all of my students to connect with this project, therefore many students did nothing.  That was the hard part...managing those who were working making sure it was being done right, and keeping track of those who weren't working so they wouldn't wander away.  Yes, I was working with high school students but it seemed like I was working with my 2nd graders.  In the end the result pleased the students and the sponsor of KAY, although I could have done a lot more work on it.  But at that point, I was over it.
We were looking hard for BOLD colors of chalk. and even though they looked bold they were definitely pastel.  We made it work with what we had and I was glad for it to be done with.  

Here are a few pictures of our progress.