Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pinwheels for Peace 2012.

Last year, as a first year teacher, I found out that the retired teacher I had replaced had been doing Pinwheels for Peace for years. While it didn't necessarily feel like I had the option to discontinue this tradition (which was somewhat tough-- how to establish a new identity and not just feel like a replacement who is trying to be a cheap imitation of what came before?), I was happy to fall in line with Pinwheels for Peace expectations. But unfortunately, when I did end-of-the-year surveys with all my classes at the close of my first year, many students commented that they were bored with Pinwheels for Peace, which had more or less consisted of making pinwheels with the same photocopied template year after year. While I had developed rigorous lessons with in-depth discussions and reflections on what peace means, can be, can look like, I hadn't deviated from that paper template. So this year, it was time for a change.

Inspired by an NAEA session I attended at the annual March conference, called Ponder the Potential of Pinwheels: Projects Inspired by Pinwheels for Peace, led by Amy Broady (who can be found over at her blog, Tanglefish), I shook it up a bit.

Kinders and first graders still made paper pinwheels, which still hold and held plenty of magic for them.

These photos are really haphazard. I literally ran outside, snapped these shots while some kinders were "planting" their pinwheels, then ran back in to continue prep between classes. They're putting them around our school sign. Sad that I didn't get a more comprehensive shot :( Photographer... I am not.

Second graders made Peace Doves, after thoroughly discussing the dove as a symbol of peace, and analyzing Picasso's use of doves in many of his drawings. We took one class to weave, another to draw and cut our doves and color and cut the mini-pinwheels. Next year, I think the pinwheels should have some sort of "stem" that comes from the mouth of the dove. Some doves look like they're munching the pinwheels or that they have pinwheel noses. Whoops.

Example of... pinwheel-nose.

Peace doves come in all shapes and sizes.

Third graders made clay pinwheels that they then painted with tempera. Our glaze order never came in this year because the warehouse the whole county ordered them from... discontinued carrying any glaze. A new order is pending. The students rolled plastic texture sheets into the slabs that would become their pinwheels, but with a traditional application of tempera, the texture was mostly lost. Whoops, again. I've seen India ink rubbed into fired bisque, and I might want to try that next year. Or glaze :)

Concentrating with such intensity!

Fourth graders made Tibetan prayer flag-inspired Pinwheel Flags on tracing paper with Sharpies and colored pencils. Like the second graders who added doves to their arsenal of peace-related symbols, fourth graders added prayer flags. I strung them together by hole-punching the construction paper tops and linking them together with paperclips. 

Last but not least, fifth graders made posters that advertised International Day of Peace (which is on September 21st, by the way), which were hung up around the school a week before the big day. While I challenged the students to work together to consider layout, font, images & symbols, readability, and create a "bold and simple design", I found their posters didn't necessarily reflect all those careful considerations we delved into. Something to work on: effective, clear, concise design! Especially before middle school, when the assignments that require posters will continue, while the art classes may not.

Here's to another year filled with promise and aptly, peace!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Collaborative Circle Paintings with Fourth Grade.

The circle is hands-down my favorite shape. It often shows up in my own art, and I enjoy working within circle-shaped canvasses. 
Untitled, 2008

So when I came across Collaborative Circle Paintings last school year by Marcia, from Art is Basic,  I was super-excited. I usually try to choose projects based on what I think students will like, but sometimes I let my guard down and choose something because I love it. Selfish, I know. But so refreshing. And I've found that my excitement and energy is catching, so when I love it, the students do, too. Win-win.

There wasn't an opportunity to try this out last year until the art show came along. The art show club (formally called the Art Show Architects, led by moi) wanted to make something to sell to raise money for the art department. I proposed making bookmarks, cut from large, collaborative paintings. And so, an opportunity presented itself! Then we did it again in one of my 4th grade classes when we needed some kind of a present to give our PTA volunteers at the end of the year thank-you breakfast.




I started the lesson by showing the awesome video Marcia made, which the kids loved (I think it's so important for students to look at art... made by fellow students, and not just during critiques). Then we talked about the potential of a circle, and I demo-ed some potential circle transformations. It's key to talk about the art of collaboration--- how to discuss your decisions or ask for advice, share the space and materials,  and respect the work-in-progress. Providing limited quantities of neon and metallic tempera, and talking up the "specialness" of those colors (which I can't always make available due to limited quantities), helped to up the ante in terms of encouraging students to be on their best behavior, and they were.

Here are the results, enjoy!

Cut, and ready to be laminated.

Finished bookmarks ready for PTA volunteers to pick their favorite.