I’m not artist. I never have been. My students all know that they have far more artistic skill than me, and often they model how to do an activity instead of me doing the modelling. While I may not be artistic though, I’d like to think of myself as creative, and I try to encourage this same creativity in my students.
This morning I read a blog post by Aaron Puley, a Parent and Student Engagement Consultant with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. This post discussed Aaron’s own experiences with his seven-year-old daughter. He explained how Medea often comes home from school with blackline master activities, like the ubiquitous Easter bunny hat. Aaron shared that one day after making an Easter bunny hat, Medea came home, went right into the office, and creative an Easter bunny story instead. Aaron actually shared this amazing story with my class, and my students loved it! After discussing these experience in his blog post, Aaron cited the expectations met through the Media Literacy and Arts curriculum documents. It was this part of his post that really got me thinking.
Today my students had to create an animal puppet for the Ancaster Fair. Before I read Aaron’s post, I was going to have the students research an animal, and then make a paper bag puppet. I think that this could have still worked, but Aaron made me wonder if art needs to be about more problem solving than this. I did something then that I’ve never done before: I opened up the Arts Curriculum Document on the SMART Board for the students, and together we read about the elements of design. Then we used the screen capture tool to put the elements right into the Notebook software.
We went element by element, and students shared ideas about what specific ideas may be included under each element. Then I challenged the students to create an animal puppet that used at least three elements of design.
Something happened in my art class that has never happened before. Students were actually discussing elements of design. As they were researching their animals and sketching their plans, they were also talking about what elements of design would work best for these animals. Students were creating, problem solving, and learning together. It was incredible to see!
When they were finished, we discussed as a class what elements of design the different students used. I chose to record the discussion using Audioboo, and the class got so involved in sharing, that I didn’t even notice that the five-minute time limit had been reached. It does cut off slightly at the end, but I think this discussion is still worth sharing.
Then, to end the activity, students used the ideas generated orally to write about their elements of design. Below are some photographs of what the students wrote. I particularly love all of the different ways that they shared their thoughts. Again, it was about creativity!
Thank you, Aaron, for helping me make today’s art lesson about more than just skill. All students were successful today thanks to this different approach, and I can’t thank you enough for this. It’s amazing how a blog post can change things for the better.
How do you approach art in classroom? What are the results? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Aaron Puley (@bloggucation) reminded me in his comment that I forgot to include photographs of the puppets. Below are some photographs of what the students produced. Thanks for the reminder, Aaron!