Creating art lessons is fun. Seeing the results of someone else’s attempt at that lesson is nothing less than gratifying. Heather MacLean, an elementary school teacher from Calgary, Alberta, has been kind to send me such pictures.
I stumbled upon your website by accident 2 years ago and it has been a godsend. My classes now have a purpose and I have been able to try some really great stuff with the kids as a result. Last June we did the folk art cities, as you know. We were working on them right up to the last minute. Whenever we do a project, I put them up on the white board with magnets and we look at them altogether, then critique them. Because I taught the 5s last year and now this year I am teaching them grade 6, their art was still on the white board in September, so we just carried on.
Over the summer I dreamt up a new lesson. I have the pictures on my H drive at school. Maybe it might be worthwhile for your blog. Basically, they are done on large poster paper. They divided their paper into 6 random sections, not evenly spaced. Then they had to pick 6 things that were important to them and draw them in each section. They had to use pastels, paint and black markers. It had to be in the folk art genre, which was a continuation of our folk art form June.
I made a portfolio for each kid using large paper I buy from our board called Manila Tag. I have an old hideous flat storage set of drawers so I have room to store 3 classes of portfolios flat. Every piece of art they do is signed in the lower right hand corner and dated, then put in their portfolios. At the end of the school year, we haul out the portfolios and go through them. We discuss what lessons they liked and which ones they didn’t. The kids can also see their growth as artists over the school year.
Do you have a favorite art lesson? I love painting with the kids. My favourite DSS lesson thus far would have to be the Folk Art Cities. Although, I must say, I love all the lessons on DSS and spend far too much time trolling the DSS blog for ideas. Nothing generates more enthusiasm when I say, “Let’s paint.”
What do you like most about teaching art? I like the freedon of expression that it gives kids. Everyone of them can be successful. ( I agree, Heather!)
What’s your philosophy or general feelings about kid’s art? I tell the kids all the time that art is not colouring nor is it crafts. Art comes from the soul and it is okay to take risks. For example, I rarely let them use a pencil first, becuase it leads to too much erasing and then they are not willing to plan things out or to take risks. I also use good qualtiy supplies, differnet sizes, colurs and shapes of paper, etc. I tell them that if we are going to do art, it is worthwhile using proper equipment. I have taught the kids to be respectful of the supplies and they take it very seriosuly. I can even trust them to paint if I happen to be absent, because I know the brushes will be clean when I get back. I don’t do that very often though. (I really respect this statement. Well said, Heather)
What projects are you working on now with your students? In grade 6 we just finished the Big Fat Hen project and in grade 5 we are about to begin negative space. I’m kind of into chalk pastesl right now, so I think we’ll do chalk sunflowers.
Have you ever used a Deep Space Sparkle Lesson? Yes, I have, one of my faves was the Clipper Ships and WOW, were they ever great. I also did the Dancing Cows with the 5s last year and they were specatacular. I must say, I hog the bulletin board in the main hall and always put my kids art up. I never take one down until I have another to put up.
Do you blog or have a web site? Nope, way too techno challenged for that. (I know, too bad for us!)
What’s your biggest source of inspiration when it comes to teaching? Your blog, That Artist Woman blog, I also get ideas from ads in magazines. I’ll see an ad for something and think, hmm, that would make a great lesson.
Anything else? As a class, we entered the Lion’s Club, (a service club) international contest called Vision of Peace. Once of my students has made it to the local level semi-finals. She used pastel, pencil crayons and paint for her poster. Unfortunately, It did not occur to me to take a picture of it before they took the poster away, duh!!!! The people who came to juddge were blown away by the quality of the art my kids produced. I had them last year so this is their second year with me.
Thank you so much, Heather! Your students are very lucky to have you. And, don’t forget to take pictures when one of your students wins that prize again! Stay warm up in the Great White North…
Your fellow Canadian,