Friday, October 21, 2011

Luck of the Draw.

Q: "In a few sentences, tell me about the playing card you created. What symbols of luck did you include? What do those symbols mean to you? What can someone learn about you by looking at this piece of art?"

A: "I drew a heart, a peace sign, and that's it. I drew a heart because it's inside your body and the heart pumps slow and fast. Someone could learn to be fantastic, be proud."

I acted as a scribe for one of my Learning Center students and this answer on his self-assessment was unexpected. I want to learn to be fantastic and proud... and shouldn't we all? It would be awesome if my art could teach that... or maybe more awesome if my teaching could teach that.

*   *   *

I ran into so many challenges with this fourth grade unit. I'm not sure that it was developmentally appropriate. If I try it again, I will try it with fifth graders. If it's still not successful, I'll prob nix it, or at least do some major editing before I ever teach it again. I taught it successfully this summer at MICA's Young People's Studio to students entering 3rd-5th grade, but that was a very different population. Those kiddos were the art stars of top private schools in the area, and there were only eight in my class. Yesterday I taught the final lesson of the unit to one of my fourth grades... during my first formal observation from my consulting teacher. There were thirty students, seven of which have IEPs. With the help of my para, I survived... and even received glowing compliments! Somehow? Whew.

So this four-lesson unit goes like this:

Day 1 - Defining Luck, Risk, and Chance
Day 2 - Collage Collaboration Rotation
Day 3 - Drawing on Luck
Day 4 - Analyzing the Deck: Self-Assessment and Critique

Students will:
  • ·     Collaborate to create collages
  • ·      Randomly select a card
  • ·      Randomly select a collage
  • ·      Draw a design that represents their drawn card and personal symbols of luck with oil pastel on top of a collaged surface

Students will know that:
  • ·      Their belief in luck is unique
  • ·      In art as in life, you can’t always predict the outcome
  • ·      They can do their best with the hand they’ve been dealt

      We discuss and write about luck, risk, and chance. Then we collage as a group-- students begin a collage while listening to music. When the song changes, they pass the collage to their right at their table. When the song changes again, they pass again, etc. Ultimately, we end up a collaborative collage for each student. They can collage whatever they want. Once collages are done, they are covered with a layer of Mod Podge, they are collected, then randomly redistributed. This is where luck and chance comes in (in a big way)-- you lose control over which collage you're going to get. Then students draw a card, also at random. They then use oil pastel to create a playing card based on the card they draw, personal symbols of luck, and working with the collage they were given.

It takes some higher level thinking to negotiate your oil pastel drawing with the background of the collage, all demonstrations aside. Perhaps too high for fourth grade. Also, once I inquired with the other art teacher at the school I found out the students have had little to no experience with both collaging and oil pastel. Whoops. That's where a pre-assessment would have come in handy.

Oh and the kids hated having to collaborate on the collage. They equally hated having to receive a random collage. They told me this much when reading their reflections on their self-assessments. Gotta appreciate that honesty.

The majority of the results were less than satisfactory-- but this was a good lesson for me to learn in that... it's really about the process and not the product. Anyway, even though I'm not so proud of the teaching mistakes I made, here are the visual productions:

This unit was inspired by Olivia Gude's Spiral Workshop unit titled Life's Deal: Deck of Cards and a commissioned show by Printworks Gallery in Chicago, titled A Game of Chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment