Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Final Reflection for Walden Course

In my initial Personal Learning Theory developed for this course I stated that my beliefs were a blend of a potpourri of theories.  I am still convinced the Behaviorists push my classroom management system and help students that are grade motivated to excel.  As an art teacher, I am thoroughly entrenched in the theories of Constructivism and Constructionism as my students develop artifacts to demonstrate their learning and the making of those artifacts provide the students an opportunity to extend their knowledge with and beyond what they bring into my classroom. 

I still maintain the bulk of my teaching style and personal learning theory stems from the Cognitivist realm.  To start, this theory has always stood out for me because it mimics my personal learning style.  The basic concepts make perfect sense to me.  To learn, the information needs to come from a multitude of different senses in order for stronger connections to be made.  The information is stored in a variety of networks so allowing the learner to organize it helps retention.  An opportunity to rehearse or work with the information as much as possible builds stronger connections, hence, provides easier retrieval from long-term memory.  This is so entrenched in my personal learning theory that I was able to see its basic concepts as the foundations for Constructionism and Constructivism as well in regards to the opportunity to work or rehearse the information to create the artifact, or, in other words, elaboration.

While this course did not change my direction as to how I believe individuals learn, it did clarify and strengthen why I feel the way I do.  I am now able to justify the strategies I use in my classroom.  I was also pleased to find small adjustments to old strategies to help further promote the possibilities of learning success.  For example, the Dual Coding Hypothesis promotes matching and image or sound with text to strengthen the learning opportunity.  A small adjustment to a strategy I already use will be to provide PowerPoint presentations but to deliver them with images and use the text for the script. 

I was thrilled to find new technologies that will allow me to present time tested learning strategies in conjunction with my learning theories.  For instance, in terms of helping the students create networks of knowledge, I will begin using the online concept mapping sites along with content vocabulary.  From advance organizers, summarizing and notetaking, to nonlinguistic representations and cooperative learning, this tool is a gem as it can be used for several of Marzano’s proclaimed strategies that work. 

Another tool that I plan to implement immediately is that of VoiceThread.  This online tool will provide the students an opportunity to post favorite artwork produced by the Artist of the Week and record or type in comments.  The discussions will center on how the artists fit into their genre or, simply, on why they chose the piece, all the while using the content vocabulary they are learning.  This provides a social environment where the students can converse about the artworks posted, gives an image to support the vocabulary, and extends their learning by allowing them to rehearse or elaborate the concepts.     

There are still more changes in store for my classroom that I project in the long-term.  I would like to create a classroom blog that would allow the students to explore solutions to visual arts problems like refining a theme, symbols to use, media to use, etc.  This would also be a platform for students to post their designs and ask for suggestions as well as a place to post their final products to instigate art criticism.  Developing a routine and finding the technology to support this endeavor will be the main obstacles to overcome before this vision can come to life.  Our schools are beginning to see the importance of computer availability for each student so I am encouraged that this will ease the stress of access.  I am also taking the initiative of finding refurbished computers and having them restored to accommodate the needs of my room.  I am anxious to initiate this process as I feel it will open a stronger relationship between my students as they collaborate to design, build, and evaluate their pieces, but also a stronger ownership and connection with the content and the pieces themselves as they take control of the development and learning.  

An extension of this social networking would be to provide the students with a global platform to display their work and demonstrate their learning.  This will take place in the form of a VoiceThread or a Wiki.  This would extend the evaluation of their artwork beyond my scope and the walls of our school.  Knowing the audience for their artwork is expanding exponentially is sure to elevate engagement. 

Ideally, I would like to initiate this process by partnering with a sister school that would allow my students to gain different perspectives on their artwork due to the different cultures that stem from that school.  I think this process would mirror the collaborative measures corporations are taking as a means to solve problems and further the development of their products.  Allowing the students to experience this sort of 21st century collaboration will not only prepare them for the workplace but also allow them to refine social skills like accepting criticism and different perspectives within the realm of propriety.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Projects and Pictures

I finally had a chance to compile some of the pictures of my favorites and put them on display.  August has 16 projects posted with pics.  The summaries are brief but if you are interested in the step by step, I'd love to share.  Any twists on a theme you'd like to add, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pinch pot whistles

This is a fan favorite!  I have done this project with middle school and high school students.  The students learn the basic properties of clay along with pinch building, additive sculpture, and carving while creating a functional piece of art.  After learning the components of the whistle and where they MUST be placed in order for the whistle to work, the students were challenged to design a creature whistle that seamlessly integrated the whistle parts into the design.  After hearing the first whistle come to life, the rest of the class is off to the races.  This one is a keeper!

Paper Mache masks

I know this is one that is done in nearly every art program.  For this I tried to emphasize the idea of unity, craftmanship, and painting techniques.  The students were given the challenge to create a mask that did not look like it was made out of paper mache and that it was all one piece, not just a balloon with shapes attached.  I demonstrated some techniques for clean construction and ideas for armature.  They were encouraged to add embellishments as well.  Some chose to recreate characters from their youth, some chose symbols that represented them, while others tried to illustrate belief constructs.  The variety of masks and the craftsmanship was unbelievable.  The students really rose to the challenge for this age old project.

Raku Udu Drums

My Ceramics 2 students at Reeths-Puffer High School and I had a great time making functional Udu drums then finishing them with a Raku firing.  The students studied the Udu drums, it's sounds, and other variations of the instrument as well as studying the composition of Raku clay and the chemical changes that occur during Raku firing.  The results were always unexpected and the students were amazed to see the colors in their glazes as they scrubbed the soot away.  I believe this is one experience they will remember for a while.

Transformation Drawings

A study in line and shape; these high school students were challenged to find two items that were related in some way and create a five drawing transformation that easily flowed from one stage to the next.

Native American Coil Pots with Slip Inlay or Sgraffito

These high school students in my Ceramics 1 class at Reeths-Puffer high school learned to make a seamless coil pot while studying the artist Maria Martinez and Navaho Indian symbols.  The students studied the technique and the culture then created their own pots that used symbols that either represented them biographically or told an episodic story of their life.  The results are beautiful.

Narrative Tiles

These tiles were created by my Ceramics 2 students at Reeths-Puffer High School in Muskegon.  The project included creating a tale to illustrate.  They learned about David Stabley's style and tried to recreate their designs mimicking his characteristics.  They had objects that broke the picture plane, used additive sculpture to create the foreground and subtractive to create the background.  They were also challenged to incorporate different textures and patterns.  The bisqued tiles were painted black and antiqued with metallic rub on glazes.  This was a new twist to the ordinary glazing techniques we had previously studied and the students were excited to try something new.

Color Theory and Balance

These projects began as a balanced, asymmetrical design using nonrepresentational geometric and organic shapes.  Once the students from Port Huron Northern High School created their original design, they transferred it to a larger piece of paper four times to create a symmetrical design.  From there the students painted each square using complementary, split complementary, analagous, and  monochromatic color schemes.  This project allowed the students to see how colors react with each other and made it easier for them to make educated color choices in the compositions that came later in the semester.

Surrealist Shading

This middle school project is packed with objectives.  To begin, we studied the characteristics of Surrealism.  Then we proceeded to learn the tricks to creating depth in a landscape and volume using shading.  They were captivated by the idea of creating a Surrealist landscape as it let their imaginations soar.  Many were extremely proud of their shading techniques and their ability to bring volume to the page.

Wire Sculptures

This 3D I class from Reeths-Puffer High School studied movement, line, and the sculptor Elizabeth Berrien as they created their favorite creatures using wire and pliers.  The students were inspired by the detailed works of Berrien and I think you'll see that carried through in their final projects.

Independent Projects

These projects were designed and created by high school students.  The students were asked to design a project that challenged them in at least two ways.  It could be a design challenge, a new medium to conquer, or a difficult theme to illustrate.  The students were asked to write out a project plan along with a sketch of their design.  While many struggled with the freedom of creating whatever they wanted with few limitations, many really hit their stride once they found their way.  I am really proud of the original works they created.

Camouflage Impressionist Style

This lesson was adapted from the Incredible Art Department.  The students at Port Huron Northern High School studied the characteristics of Impressionism as well as color mixing theories as they attempted to create a landscape prompted by a strip of a painting.  The students were asked to find an Impressionist painting they like the most from the Internet and print in color.  From there, we cut the picture into two inch wide strips.  They glued one strip of paper onto a 12 x 18 piece of paper and then were challenged to create a totally original, balanced landscape that perfectly matched the colors presented in the strip.  Using the color mixing theories as their guides, they tried to camouflage the original strip by using color match and brush stroke matches.  As any artist will tell you, color matching is addictive.  Once they found they could recreate any color from a basic palette of primary colors, white, and black; they were sold.  The results speak volumes.

Picasso Still Life

After studying the characteristics of Cubism and practicing drawing exactly what our eyes see with a still life, these Port Huron Northern high school students recreated a still life in Picasso style.  They were challenged to use multi-media, along with multiple view points, geometric shapes, etc.  The students were also asked to unify and balance the piece using color, textures, or shapes.  They were given free reign as to what media they wanted to use.  The students were engaged and excited to bring in their treasured materials from home to use.  The students were also grateful to be able to choose materials and media that they felt they could really control and manipulate the best.

Optical Illusion Cubes

This is another project that was adapted from an Incredible Art Department lesson.  These cubes were created by seventh and eighth graders.  We started by looking at works by Riley and Vasarely.  Once they were hooked by the idea of optical illusions, we practiced together, breaking the illusions down into easily managed steps.  From there, we branched out and looked at optical illusion pattern books to see if we could discern the tricks for designing them.  Finally, the students were asked to choose six designs, either practiced beforehand or developed as an original to create on the sides of a cube made of tag board.  The students were challenged to make the piece interesting from all sides and unified in some way.  This was another project that was a confidence booster.  The students were amazed when they nailed an illusion.  Other teachers informed me the designs were showing up on notes and homework!  Can't ask for a better compliment than that!