Sunday, December 31, 2006

Here's a first grader's drawing. She worked on it for almost forty minutes.

I made it have a big head on purpose. It looks cuter like that."

This third grader has spent almost every class period drawing bugs and dinosaurs. For some reason, a couple weeks ago, he decided to move into the third dimension.

It's a praying mantis and it's going to eat that bug. They eat bad bugs."

This budding assemblage artist constantly looks for new items to incorporate into her pieces.

When I introduced clay to the students, I didn't tell them what to make, just encouraged them to explore it. The kindergarteners didn't even realize that the clay could be fired. After a couple weeks of general exploration, one student didn't want to put his creation back in to the tub, "Can I keep it? Please!" That's when I told him and the other students that this type of clay could be fired. You should have heard the excited shouts of glee! I'm serious.

I explained to them that I could fire their creations, with some limitations. Man that was hard trying to to explain to those five and six year-olds.

I discussed a few basic principles, and let them go.

It was funny because one little boy worked for a while on this "snow monster" and earnestly said, "I'm done. Now, will you go burn this?" So I told him that it had to dry out before I fired it in the kiln . . .

This creation was made with florist wire, a recycled lunch tray, and some donated styrofoam.

"It's kind of like Lagoon [a local amusement park], 'cause they have a sky ride. It's like a roller coaster."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

wow! Christmas is over. Usually I feel sad and let down this time of year, but this year, I've managed to procure the keys to my school, and can spend some hours in my classroom! I was there yesterday, and will go again this morning. Mostly, I'm changing out the kids' art displays, getting rid of orphaned art, and sorting through my collage goodies.

We'll all be back to school on January 2, and I want the kids to come back to a freshly organized art room.

I'm hoping to work up some more menus (these are the signs that go in each center), especially for clay. The kids LOVE clay. I hate to see their sad faces, though, when a sculpture or other precious creations loses some of its body parts. The younger kids create animals and people with the teeniest skinniest limbs. I often tell them that they are sturdy enough, or well attached enough, but usually they shake their heads, "No, these are great, see I put a lot of water with it." My response is always something along the lines of, "Well, if they can stay on until the piece is dry enough to fire, then I'll fire it." Most of the time their little creatures don't even make it from the clay table to my drying area.

It's good for the kids to see this. It makes it so that I'm not dictating arbitrary objectives, but letting them learn from real life.

Their second and third clay pieces are sturdier.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The kids create sculptures with marshmallows and toothpicks--I tell them that if they want to eat these creations, they'll need to sketch them for me!

Here's a christmas tree sculpture from a second grader:

These clay sculptures are ready for the students to wrap up to give as gifts

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It's really important for students to explore. When students get their first chance to paint, many spend the whole class period painting sheet after sheet. Usually after one or two classes of this (and the knowledge that they can use more than one sheet of paper!) they stop before the mud stage. This kindergartner found a good stopping point:

The kids were excited that I added some new treasures to the collage center:

"I just made this! It might be to give to my mom, but I might have to keep it. Can you see where I wrote on it?"

One of the first graders created a gingerbread house, complete with figure.

"It's a girl, and here's where she lives. The name of it is just House"

During the same class period, another student created Santa from a tube.

"This fabric is perfect for Santa!"

At least half of my students are putting the finishing touches on their clay masterpieces. They'll be giving them as holiday gifts.

But not everyone is making pots. Some students are creating elaborate "Snake Mouths", complete with teeth.

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Bountiful, Utah, United States

How does TAB work?

To implement TAB, I began with 1 center--the drawing center. It contains different drawing media: pens, pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, chalks, as well as various papers. Also included are dozens of different "How to Draw" books. We discuss as a class what artists draw. Some draw real things, or pretend things, or non-objective designs.

I also discuss the variety of drawing media available, and explain how to clean up.

It is amazing how much the kids enjoy this. I've recently added plastic animals and dinosaurs for the kids to look at while they draw.

The second week, I introduced the collage center, containing colored paper, glue, glue sticks, staplers, scissors, brads, and fabric.

I showed them some collages by Romare Bearden, as well as many student created works. I had to tell them how to determine what adhesive to use, and showed them the stickyometer poster.

They could then choose to go to the collage center, or the drawing center. The kindergartners LOVE the collage center. I love to watch them create. They are so free, so unlimited.

The third week, I opened the watercolor center, with watercolor pans, brushes and paper. The main focus for me was to teach them how to care for the brushes, put on smocks, and where to put their work to dry. They could then choose watercolor, drawing, or collage.

I kept it with just three centers for a few weeks (I see them once a week). It's important for them to learn to care for their supplies and the classroom. But while I wasn't introducing new centers, I did introduce new materials into existing centers, explaining their use (for example, I added whiteboards and markers to the drawing center). I also demonstrated new techniques (crayon resist with watercolors). And I've even started to integrate art principles and elements. Of course I included numerous examples and prints from to reinforce the concepts.

With those three centers humming along, I added the clay center. I did a super brief demo, showing them how to work with it. I did tell them that they could simply create with the clay and not try to keep it, or they could create things for me to fire in the kiln. I gave them admonitions like: "Clay can't be thicker than your thumb, or it will take too long to dry." and"Be sure to join any attachments securely". (Which we all know is MUCH easier said than done!)

Of course, the day I introduced clay, ALL the kids wanted to use it, but I had to limit it to eight. The kids grumbled a bit, but soon were off to other choices (it helped that I introduced craft sticks and chenille stems at the collage center!).

I tried to be as hands off as possible at the clay center. I stayed at the table with them, giving demonstrations as necessary. Joining clay is very difficult, but the determined kids will learn. One third grader created an adorable dog with toothpick thin legs barely hanging on. She wanted me to fire it. I knew there was no way that those pitiful little legs could hang on, I said, "Okay, but you'll need to put it on the shelf to dry." The shelf was only a couple of feet away, but poor little dog was legless by the time he got there! I will admit I felt more than a little coldhearted, but really, this is the only way for them to learn! The student sat with me, and I demonstrated joining and adding just a bit of moisture for her. She worked and worked on that dog, and it finally came together.

After clay was going (it took several weeks for all the students to have a chance, and I stayed at the clay center so they could all have some individual instruction), I was free to add some more centers.

First, I added painting with tempera paints. Next was the architecture or "temporary art", containing legos, blocks, cuisenaire rods, magnets, mosaic boards, and geoboards. This is where the students learn hands on about spatial properties and design elements.

I introduced the fiber center, with weaving and sewing. Kids truly enjoy this one, but they do need significant hands on instruction (especially threading the needles!) and I've put this one away for a bit.

The collage center was joined by the construction center. They can use cardboard, small boxes, and other castoffs to create. Kids have made houses, boats, star wars aircraft, cameras, and so much more here. Their adhesive of choice, though, is tape. Rolls and rolls and rolls of tape! I've spent some time with them, encouraging them to use some of the glues we have, or even to paper mache over the tape, but very few takers so far.

Now, midway through the year, with many centers going, I can work with the students on some art history and appreciation.

TAB is truly a wonderful teaching method. The kids can create things because THEY want to, not because I (or some other teacher) think they look neat. The energy and excitement in the room during class time is thrilling! I LOVE my job!

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A different approach to art education:

TAB stands for Teaching Artistic Behavior It is a research-backed, student driven method. Kids are taught a new concept, technique, or medium each class period, and then are able to choose what art to make.

The idea is to teach them to work like artists. We talk about how artists get ideas, where they get inspiration, and how they behave.

At the beginning of the year I have to focus extensively on set-up and clean-up routines. I want them to learn to be responsible for their own art experiences.