Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Radial Printmaking Display

Just wanted to share the Radial Printmaking Display I put up before I left for Spring Break on Friday!
(Blogged about here.)




Monday, March 31, 2014

Wrapping up the 2014 NAEA Convention (San Diego, California)

Today was the last day of this year's NAEA convention in GORGEOUS San Diego, California.
What a great few days I've had here!! It's been amazing getting to meet and listen to other art teachers from around the country (and even a couple from Canada) talk about the subjects within art education that they are most passionate about!
It has reignited my excitement for what I do in my classroom and has really motivated me to become even more active in my profession.
It was also awesome getting to meet some of my blog readers! You guys are a huge part of the reason I keep writing! :)
This trip has also pushed me to really consider going back for my master's degree - something I initially put off because my son was so young and I didn't want to miss out on the early years with him. This fall however he will be entering kindergarten, so I'm beginning to feel like it might be the right time (though I likely wouldn't begin until the Fall of 2015).

So what's next?
I'm really hoping to present at next year's NAEA convention set for March 26-28 in New Orleans, Louisiana. So I will be putting together my proposal for that (hopefully with the wonderful Ms. K) over the next few weeks!




Sunday, March 30, 2014

Birdhouses 2.0 (1st/2nd)

This past week another group of 1st and 2nd graders finished up their birdhouse collages (posted about here). This rotation I changed things up by making the lesson a 3-day project instead of a 2-day ... and also decided to talk to students about warm/cool color schemes. Students were asked to paint their backgrounds with either a warm or cool color scheme, then use the opposite scheme to build the bulk of their birdhouse to create more contrast.
I really like how these turned out!










Lego-style Self-Portraits (3rd/4th)

EQ: What is a self-portrait? How can personal style influence one's artwork?

The lego-style self-portrait project is a fun two-day lesson that is great for pretty much all elementary grade-levels!
I began by talking to my students about what a self-portrait is (an artistic self-representation that an artist creates of themselves) and then looked at a variety of famous artist's self-portraits. One of the big ideas I wanted my students to take away from looking at all the famous examples, was that very often an artist's self-portrait is very reflective of his or her personal style.
For example, Vincent VanGogh used the same type of iconic brushstrokes in his self-portrait as he used in a wide variety of his other paintings (like "Starry Night").

Self-portrait of Vincent VanGogh

"Starry Night" by Vincent VanGogh













Artist Joan Miro used a similar abstracted surrealist style in his self-portrait much like the style he used in his other paintings.

Self-portrait of Joan Miro
Joan Miro, "Carnival of Harlequin" (1924)


So when it came time for my students to create their self-portraits, I wanted them to work in a style that reflected their personal interests - and thus the lego self-portrait project began!

As much as I HATE giving students a template to work from, I thought it was necessary in this case (due to time constraints and personal frustration levels) for them to have a framework to build off of, so I gave them a printout of a blank lego person to put under their papers that they could see through to build off of. The examples below were pulled from my 3rd and 4th grade classes that I had this week.






Future lego self-portrait? I don't remember teaching Mr. Rogers. :)


The kids absolutely love this project! Definitely a must do! :)

I know.. the resemblance is shocking.    :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Radial Printmaking 2.0 (4th)

Printmaking isn't really one of my favorite art disciplines.. but I truly do love this project (aside from the messy messy clean-up). This 4th grade radial printmaking project is one that I did last year as well.. so if you'd like to read my fully explained lesson you should click here. :)
The only thing I changed up this year was having my students mount their artwork onto a sheet of construction paper. I think the pop of color really livens the black-and-white pieces! :)
When the 4th grade teacher came to pick up her class from specials I showed her a few of her student's work. She was really excited that we had talked about symmetry in class (yay math connection)!







Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 NAEA Convention - San Diego, California

I am SO excited for the NAEA convention this year!! I've been going for the past few years (Seattle, New York City, and Fort Worth) and I feel so fortunate to be able to attend again this year! I always leave the national convention with a ton of inspiration and ideas!! :)



If you are going and would like to meet up and talk art education - shoot me a line at melindagram@gmail.com  !! I will be in town from 3/28-4/1.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Birdhouses and Birds on a Wire (1st, 2nd, and K)

2nd grade student sample
EQ: Where do artists get ideas from? How can nature inspire us?

I began this lesson by asking my students "where do artists get their ideas from?"
The most common response of course was "their brains!".. but then I followed up by asking "but how did the idea get in their brain?"
This one is apparently a toughie for the Kinder-2nd grade brain.. as all I got back were puzzled stares and the occasional hand offering the answer "their brains!!!" again... and again. Nooo children - that is still not exactly what I'm looking for. ;)
What I was trying to do was get my kids to help me come up with a list of ideas as to where artists find inspiration (or their ideas) from. I finally found a way to get my kiddos on the right track by showing them a painting or a specific artwork, then asking them what the artist must have been looking at or thinking about when he/she created the piece. Finally I got answers like - nature, flowers, and the sky! Closer children.. closer! :)
Then I showed my students a few pieces by John James Audubon - a French 1700's-era artist who came to America with his family and became a naturalist and a painter (he is most well-known for his incredibly detailed paintings of birds). While looking at the paintings, I asked my students how they thought he was able to create such detailed paintings? They responded by saying that he must have seen the birds up close! Then I asked them how could he have gotten so close to the birds to be able to sketch them without them flying away? This became the starting point of a rather amusing conversation in which students plotted ways Audubon must have held the birds captive. Then I asked students if they were going to draw a picture of a bird and could not use the internet to gather pictures - how would they do it? How would they know what detail to draw? This brought us back to the idea of drawing from real-life and potentially baiting birds with food. Then I asked my kids what the best way to give food to a bird was so that we could see it up close? FINALLY- we landed on a birdhouse! :)
Yes this was a rather lengthy conversation to only get to that - but it was worthwhile.

I had my students begin their birdhouse artwork by first painting a background (everything that would appear behind their birdhouse). I gave my kinders and first graders blue and purple watercolor paints to do this.. but let my second graders go to town with a full set of watercolors (I think I prefer the limited color scheme of the blue and purple).
The next day when my kids came in we started by drawing a bird on a piece of 4"x5" white drawing paper (I did this size hoping that the kids would fill this paper with their bird). To help aide the students, I did a step-by-step drawing demo on the board and told students that they could follow along with me or draw their own bird - it was totally up to them! Once their drawings were finished I had them outline with sharpie and then color their birds in with color sticks.
Then onto their birdhouses for first and second graders! Earlier in the week we created some sheets of painted paper, so we used this paper for our birdhouses. I gave students a 5"x5" posterboard tracer to help them draw their base square and a 5"x2.5" posterboard tracer to create a rectangle (which we then folded in half, cut diagonally, and created a triangle).
Students then picked out two popsicle sticks to act as their birdhouse's base and glued them down to their background paper. Then they glued down their birdhouse shapes (the square and triangle) and also cut out a black circle to create a hole in the front of their birdhouse. Students then picked out another popsicle stick to glue down below the black circle to create a perch for their bird.
At this point we were pretty much completely out of time (on a Friday). :( Since I see my kids for one full week and then rotate to the next class, I knew I wouldn't see them for another 7 weeks (the last week of school).. so we rushed to get the bird glued on! I gave some of my students pieces of cardboard to glue onto the back of their bird and then to glue onto their perch (to create a relief-element). Sadly we did not have enough time to fully decorate the birdhouses - but now I know for next week that this lesson needs a full 3 days to be completely successful!
My kindergarten class was also working on this project.. but after seeing how my 1st and 2nd graders were unable to complete their birdhouses.. I knew my kinders wouldn't stand a chance.. so I had to improvise (and successfully did so on the spot)!
Sitting out on my shelf was a box of TwisteezWire (I have a TON of it and have found no good use (that I like) for it).. and in that moment I decided we would tape down a piece of that onto their background and use it as a "telephone-wire" for our birds to sit on!
I gotta say.. I really like this version of the project too!
I can't wait until next week when I give this project the full 3 days it deserves and see what kind of results I get! :)

2nd grade
2nd grade
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1st grade
1st grade
1st grade
1st grade

kindergarten
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