Sunday, 6 September 2015

Drawing the Line(s and dots)

I can't be sure but I'm fairly confident in making the assumption that ALL classes love art. My memory of art at primary school was that it involved coloured paint and cartridge paper. It was all very practical and, if I'm completely honest, left this super nerdy kid wanting more. I enjoyed it, but wanted to know more about the artists, the techniques, how to show variation in shading, about different styles and periods... Which all leads me to the Australian Curriculum's version of the Visual Arts.

The Australian Curriculum website says:
Learning in Visual Arts involves students making and responding to artworks, drawing on the world as a source of ideas. Students engage with the knowledge of visual arts, develop skills, techniques and processes, and use materials as they explore a range of forms, styles and contexts.
Through Visual Arts, students learn to reflect critically on their own experiences and responses to the work of artists, craftspeople and designers and to develop their own arts knowledge and preferences. They learn with growing sophistication to express and communicate experiences through and about visual arts. (Visual Arts Overview, Australian Curriculum, accessed September 6th, 2015.)
This actually describes exactly what I wanted as a child. Now, as a teacher, I'm excited to be working within this framework.

Our school is lucky enough to have an onsite Art specialist teacher with whom each class has one lesson per week; clearly not long enough to teach the entirety of the five subjects within the Arts Learning Area.  I probably shouldn't be so excited by this but I am. I HAVE to teach Art. Oh darn. What a shame!  *Happy dance*

Earlier this term, I  guided my kiddos through a short unit of learning in Visual Arts about line and shading.   I started the unit without telling the class what we were going to be learning about. Sounds a bit odd but just go with me for a moment.  I shared four artworks with the kiddos and asked them to pick the odd one out, and to justify their choice.  Which do you choose? Why?

All images are taken from the public domain.
There are, of course, as many different answers as there are people in the conversation. I was looking for some group consensus though about the use of line to create shading. There are a couple of very cluey (and arty) kiddos in the class who started asking questions and requesting to look at the images up close. Without much help from me the class concluded that the burger was the odd one out because it as no shading and is made from all block colours.  It took them about 5 minutes of free discussion to come to this conclusion. How fantastic!

We moved on to look closely at hatching, crosshatching and stippling as the three main ways of using line to shade (as exemplified in the pieces above). Lots more discussion, viewing images and having a go. We rounded out our first session by coming up with a definition of the technique and creating a sampler of 3D shapes using these three techniques.  Just as my personal tip to you all: the sound of 25 pencils all tapping repeatedly on tables is not for the faint of heart or sore of head. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Art working wall at the end of our first session.
The following week we started with a 'Silent Word Shuffle' (first time I'd ever done one with my class). I didn't put any restrictions on using iPads or the working wall to work out the categories and so there was a very high sense of engagement. The kiddos knew they could figure it out - even if they had to struggle to get it. Perfect example of encouraging a growth mindset!

We moved through a range of learning activities, and then I showed the class some examples of student work to inspire them in developing the success criteria for their art piece. (I have to admit here that I have completely lost the url of the website on which I found this student work.  If it is yours or belongs to someone you know PLEASE tell me so that I can credit you, and find the website again because it was brilliant!)

We constructed this project design using a democratic
process that ensured all voices were included.
You can see how closely our project mirrors the example.
Here are some of the final projects.

The kiddos presented their finished pieces on the big screen at a whole school assembly. I'm not sure whether the big screen or the actual art itself  but my kiddos were very chuffed with the repeated 'oohs' and 'aaaahs' from the the junior primary children.

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 1 Know the students and how they learn
Standard 2 Know the content and how to teach it
Standard 3 Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

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