Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"He's just a guy I made. With paper and then he has sticks for hair. They make him look funny."

"I made this for my friend. It's his birthday tomorrow. And what it is, it's a boat that I made at the 'struction [construction] center. Then I colored with markers, I wanted to paint it, but, we lost paint last week. That's sad, too, I like paint. But then I thought, 'hey! I know! I can put color on it with markers!', so, I did. And see, I made this guy here for the boat. He's laying down, 'cause he's gonna be sleeping on the boat ride. Only, his eyes can't close, so you gotta pretend that they're closed. And that thing in the back, it's a sign, I put a M on it, M for Man, you know, that's the guy's name, Man. Yeah, I thought that was funny, too, it's kinda silly. But that's why my friend'll really like it."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kindergartners' drawings

"I drew lots of colors, and there's a caterpillar, see? It's happy, 'cause it's starting to be springtime."

"Look! It's a centipede! With tons and tons and TONS of legs!"

"And here's my centipede, teacher. Only he doesn't got a hundred legs, 'cause he's really more like a caterpillar. But he's smiling. Even caterpillars don't really smile."

Monday, May 03, 2010

"It's a weaving. It took a looong time, because when you do it, you think you have a lot done, but then you use the comb to push it down and it's not done as much. But you use the comb to make it tight. Else it would fall apart. I'm giving this to my grandma and you know what? She's coming to my house today! After school I get to go get her from the airport. So it's good I finished in time."

Two first graders spent four art sessions trying to make a large piece of pieces (it's about 14 inches long). They overworked the clay on their first two tries. Frankly, I thought they'd lose interest. But not these two. They really wanted to make this thing!

"It's a big piece of pizza. It was hard to make, 'cause the clay got dry, then it broke and stuff. It broke bad on our first two tries! This was our third try, and it only broke a little bit, so we glued it, and finally we can paint it."

When students don't properly clean up a station, that station is taken away temporarily. Such was the case when a first grade class recently lost construction (the center with cardboard, craft sticks, wire, and other 3-d materials). Of course, lack of materials doesn't stop these builders.

"It's a ship! And those are flames, and I used marker, too."

"It's a HUGE robot! We all made it together; me and him and him and him. Can you take a picture?"

"Okay, well, this is a ship, and those arrows are for the lasers, but this one shoots candy. And that guy is the driver."

Saturday, May 01, 2010

"Okay, this is a land for these guys. They are little cotton guys, and here's the house. We used fabric, and tape, and glue, and paper. We have to take turns having it at our house, 'cause we made it together. This week it's my turn."

"I made this for my sister. She's starting kindergarten next year. So, here's a school I made for her."

"It's a dancing girl. I can dance too, I can dance the hula."

A guided project. Occasionally, the students do have an assigned project, and this is an example of one of them. After reading the Ed Emberley book, Go Away, Big Green Monster, the students created their own monsters. Teacher led projects are helpful to push the kids to work on some skills, in this case, cutting skills.

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!

Blog Archive

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.