Monday, February 23, 2015

Week of February 23-27, 2015


Today is the day we take down The Nature of Learning Art Exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The show received a tremendous response from both the gallery and the general public and we are very grateful that we were able to share what we do at School 33 with the rest of the city. Many of the teachers I spoke to from other buildings were asking, "Why aren't more schools doing inquiry learning?" I wonder the same thing. It's fulfilling work that makes both teacher and student happy. It still hits the standards, but with so many added benefits.

First grade- I brought a group down to the studio who were interested in learning about brains. They immediately referenced zombies and then zombie walked to the atelier. I asked if they could show me what a brain looks like. Each student went about drawing their version of the human brain while they shared what they knew of the brain.

Taylor- The brain has lines like noodles. It looks like a bowl of noodles.
Jada- It looks like meat.
Taylor- It's round.
Camron- It looks like a taco.
At this point, the kids start to giggle because Camron had been talking about "Taco Tuesday" earlier and how he was craving tacos, so he was making a joke.
Yarilys- It has a line in the middle.
Edwin- A zomie eating a brain and the brain looks dirty. It has circles and a bunch of things.
Yarilys- It's for thinking. For doing math, doing your homework, for doing anything.
Aniel- You can use your brain for doing numbers.
Yarilys- It helps your body. If you need help, your brain thinks it.
Edwin- Your brain controls all of the body- your mouth, your eyes, your nose- everything! Your heart pumping, your breathing...
Taylor- The brain tells other body parts what to do- it sends messages.

I ask them what they wonder about the brain.
Jada- I want to know what color it really is.
Taylor- Pink, of course!
Yarilys- I think it's red.
Edwin- It's pink.
Aniel- It's red!

We decide to take a survey. The students vote for whether they think it's pink or red. Camron jokingly suggests blue, but the other kids are adament that it isn't blue and he says he was kidding.

We look up images of the brain to see if we can find the answer.
Yarilys- It's like a kind of brown.
Edwin- It's like gum! 

The brain, we decide, is a shade of pink that happens to be the same color as used bubblegum!

Tomorrow, the students will create brain models out of clay and we will see if more "I wonder" questions come up!

The students created models of the brain. To figure out the weight of the brain, we went online and found out that the adult brain weighs about three pounds and an infant's brain weighs about a half-pound, so the students decided they needed something in the middle. They chose to use one pound for the size. They were able to weigh the clay they needed with a one pound package of modeling clay.

Weighing the clay using non-standard units of measurement.

Mr. Roberts brought in stress ball brains for the kids to use for modeling.
They thought these were the coolest things ever.

Second grade continued to work with balance: 

Kindergarten students have been working on seeing lines and shapes in the things they draw. We outlined photographs of farm animals on acetate to see the lines we need to draw a little more clearly. Then, they completed observational drawings based on the lines and photographs.

Pre-K worked with plasticine, learning to make three-dimensional versions of the animals they'd drawn. Students at this age tend to sculpt flat, but I showed them how they can make sculptures that can stand on their own! It took a lot of practice, but they're getting it now.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week of February 9- 13, 2015

Today was a great day!

First grade has been studying the human heart. They are very interested in how it works. I'm working with a second group right now and between Friday and today, they had some interesting conversations:

Jayden- The heart pumps blood.
Emesiel- The heart is for breathing.
Jangel- It helps to sort your blood.
Mrs. Rose- Can you explain?
Jangel- Your heart helps your blood sort through your body. It goes around your body so you can move.
Eliseo- You would be like a zombie.
Issac- You would be flat.
Jayden- When it beats fast, it means you took your breath and it means you're running and out of breath.
Jangel, describing the 3D image of the heart- It's like having a baby- it's stomach is big and small and it looks like it's dancing and those are arms!
Jayden- It doesn't look like a heart.
Eliseo- That's not a real heart- that's a Valentine heart. This is a real heart.
Jayden- There is blood in that.
Mrs. Rose- What do you wonder about the heart?
Cherish- I wonder what the white parts are.
Jayden- Are those boogers?
Mrs. Rose- It says that those are valves.
Jayden- What are valves?
We click on an app that has a video describing parts of the heart.
Jayden- They open and close!
Mrs. Rose- How big do you think your heart is?
Jangel- Like a lemon!
Eliseo- Or apple.
Max- Or an orange.
Jayden- A grown up... a baby... The baby's heart beats faster.

They came back in today to work on creating 3D models of the heart using clay.

Jangel- This is like cutting peanut butter!
Mrs. Rose- What do you wonder about?
Jangel- I wonder what's making it beat.
Jayden- You breathe. It's the air.
Jangel- But what is making the air move?
Max- It's because the heart is beating.
Mrs. Rose- That moves the air?
Max- Yeah.
Eliseo- I wonder why babies' heart beat faster.
Issac- I thought the heart was pink. That's red. That one is pink.
Mrs. Rose- What could that mean?
Eliseo- It's a zombie heart!
Issac- No! I think it means that that one is maybe dead.
Mrs. Rose- What is something you notice now that you didn't notice before you started studying the heart?
Denali- I never knew that the heart has tubes!
Jayden- I never knew the heart was red and white and the tubes were white.
Jangel- That's a good observation.
Mrs. Rose- I like how you said that, Jangel. That's a nice thing to say to a friend.
Eliseo- I never knew the heart looks brown.
Jangel- I didn't know there was a little long tube in the bottom.
Jayden- Oh! Now I know why there's tubes in the heart! It's because the air needs to come in and then come out again and air keeps coming in!

They measured the clay using a non-traditional unit of measurement- their hands.

So festive! Hearts for Valentine's Day! 

The kindergarten students are working on drawing animals from their farm trip in a realistic manner. We are being detectives looking for lines.

The second graders are working on drawing symmetric balance. Esmeralda suggested that we paint the copies of their drawings before they roll them for the next step of the project- turning the copies of the work into a 3D sculpture using a rolled paper technique. I thought this was a great idea, so that's what 116 will be doing next. 

Pre-K is exceeding my expectations with their progress on this current project.  The first drawing in the following photographs is a free-hand, non-observational drawing of their favorite animal. The second is a tracing of a photograph of their animal, completed on acetate and colored with oil pastels. The third is a completely free-hand observational drawing (NO TRACING) of the same photograph. They looked at the lines they traced and they looked at the photograph. We now have line detectives ready to draw anything from observation! 

I love the addition of grass in the middle one. You can tell he
was really looking at the photograph. 

This one isn't finished, but look at the contour line drawing of his
third piece! It's going to be spectacular. I'm so excited about it! 

The dark shaded spot is the first fish. The third fish is almost the same
exact size as the photo. I'm really happy with the progress of this student!

Look at that final buffalo! Amazing! 


I spent the morning at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center with the pre-K students. They were interested in drawing the animals they saw in the landscape paintings and picked up on the idea of "painting noise" in Charles Burchfield's work.

S- I really think the painting is real!
L- no, it's fake. 
D- I see black things.
Docent- What is this part?
D- a gate! 
S, to the docent- are you touching it?
Docent- No, I'm just pointing to it. (The painting is called Summer Afternoon.) What do you hear in this painting?
L- bzzzzzzzzz
Docent- Can you see the noise? Where does the noise come from?
L- the bees in the hive. The hive is in those trees. 
Docent- What kind of weather is this? 
S- warm!

As we were getting ready to leave, Dr. Lopez's class noticed tracks in the snow. They couldn't tell me what kind of animal made the tracks, but they knew something was out there, living in the winter wonderland. Animals who live in a winter wonderland has been their theme, so it was neat that we saw these rabbit tracks. 

116 decided that they wanted to paint their symmetry copies before turning them into paper sculptures. I thought it was a great idea, so they've been working on getting them painted so we can start the 3D asymmetric part of the lesson soon. 


The first graders took a trip to the Albright-Knox. The hallway we enter in is the hallway is the hallway in which our school's exhibit is on display.

S- I know this work. I saw it before. OH! It's ours!  It's from our school!
E- That's a picture of our school! 

Soon, a chorus of "That's my work!" or "That's me in the picture!" could be heard as the students saw their artwork and photographs on the walls of the museum.  It was really awesome to be a part of that experience. 

The tour was really fun, too. The students were so engaged with the artwork. They're pros at visiting art museums now, and I rarely have to direct them. They are very interested in the paintings and sculptures and throw a lot of vocabulary back at the docents. They make me proud. 

Pre-K has been working on drawing animals by looking at the lines.  We traced photographs, after doing a pre-drawing, so that they could see what lines they'll need to make in order to create their animals. 


This has been a week of field trips for Bilingual Center School 33. On Thursday, we visited the Burchfield-Penney Art Center with the kindergarteners. They were on fire!  They pointed out interpretations of paintings that I'd never considered before. They saw an underwater scene in a Burchfield landscape and after they said that I couldn't see the painting the same way again! And they saw a scary pig face in another Burchfield landscape and once they pointed it out, I could see it, too. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The first graders are studying the organs of the body. A while back, I asked them to draw a picture of the human heart. Predictably, they drew symbolic hearts, the kind you see around Valentine's Day. We played with a 3D heart app and they went to the Science Museum to learn more about organs of the body. Today they came in to sculpt a 3D heart sculpture using clay.

Last time they were in here, W said that the human heart is the size of his "punch." We looked it up and hearts are about the size of a fist, so he was right. The students knew that they needed to take as much clay as they needed to make a heart the size of their fists. They quickly measured the clay by holding a ball of it in one hand and looking at the their other closed fist. Then, using images on the computer, laptop and iPad, they began to sculpt.

E- It looks like a balloon that is going to pop. 
J- It looks like a rock with points.
What do you wonder about the heart?
K-I wonder if this triangle part is red. 
S-It looks like a hand.
J- It looks like a small pumpkin.
K- I want to find out how the heart goes fast when you run really fast. 
W- How does it bump everyday? 
S-  Why is that a game? 
I tell them that I think we could probably guess why they made an app about the heart.
W- It's for you can know everything about the heart- how it looks.
M- I wonder what the heart looks like inside.
J- I wonder why the heart has [counts to six] six tubes.
E, gets up and grabs a clay knife from the table- We need to do lines with the knife for the lines on the heart. 

They joked about decorating the atelier with "hearts" for Valentine's Day as we left them to dry on the windowsill.

I pushed into 116 to finally start our Balance provocation. I asked the class to describe balance. We created a circle map about it and then I showed them what symmetry looks like. Tomorrow, I'll pull them in groups to experiment with symmetry using mirrors and then have them draw their own symmetric drawing.

The kindergarteners are starting to really get into storytelling. They are doing their pre-drawings for a unit on animals, but while they drew, I asked them to tell me about the artwork and the stories just flowed. Here is one example:

This is a horse and a dog and a cat. They are on a ride, like a roller coaster- my favorite one. It's like a plane. They saw a ghost and the ghost made the car come off and it went in the water and they had to walk back and the person said the rides were going to be all shut off and then they go home.

The pre-k students are continuing their study of the lines that make up animals. I had them trace a photo of their favorite animal. This will allow them to see the lines (horizontal, vertical, curvy) which I'm hoping will help them improve their observational drawing techniques. After they traced the lines, they wanted to color the acetate. Next class, they will use the photograph and acetate tracing to study the lines and try to draw the animal using observational drawing. 

My second graders are continuing to study balance. We experimented with symmetry and a mirror and then they worked on symmetric drawings. 

As much as I enjoyed putting the art show together and working closely with my colleagues, as much as I enjoy field trips with the students, these regular days of making art with students, recording dialogue, listening to their stories, and photographing their learning are my favorite days. I'm so excited to move into the second half of the year. The progress is really starting to show now. The preschoolers, especially, are at an exciting point in the year now, where they are starting to inquire and create theories more and more. It's so enjoyable for both teachers and students. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 3, 2015

The Nature of Learning, our school art exhibit, is officially open at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery!

The first graders spent the morning at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. We looked at the new Burchfield exhibition, the landscapes of Levi and more of the photography exhibit.  We went into a room that had lights that flash on and off when they sense radioactivity. They made subtle noise that intrigued the students.
Luzmary- The noise sounds like something is biting.
Sara- Like when you bite your teeth when  you're scared.
Jada- It sounds like a pebble going across the water. 
Taylor- Pretend this is the water.
Sincere- And I've got a pebble.

The pre-k students are studying animals, so I'm tying in the idea of seeing lines with drawing the lines we see in animals. We're going to start with observational drawings of animals and then focus on the patterns we see in the details of animals. This lesson is a mixture of their curiosity (about animals) their needs (to see lines in order to improve their drawings) and inspiration from a study of details that I saw while visiting the Opal School in Portland last week. 

Ryan- My buffalo needs to find food. He's hungry. He's really hungry. 

This little girl is usually quiet, but today she was inspired to share about her drawing:
A snake and a fish. They live in a pet shop and I love to buy them everyday
and everyday again. I love to buy a lot of fish. I have a lot of fish at home.
She then began to lay the foundations for a story. 

A- I'm changing my name to The Love Girl. I'm changing to another girl.
Me- Tell me about The Love Girl. 
A- It's a surprise. I'm not going to tell you it. 
Me- Oh, that's too bad. I wonder if The Love Girl likes drawing. I wonder what The Love Girl does for fun.
A- She puts hearts on paper. She loves people. 
Me- I wonder if she's a superhero!
A- NO. 
Me- Could she have something to do with Valentine's Day?
A- She only comes at Valentine's Day, and then she flies away.

I asked her if she would like to draw The Love Girl. She refused. I gave her some paper and said I really want to see what The Love Girl looks like and maybe she would like to draw it another time. She told me I should draw what I think she looks like. I might do that for her tonight. :)

Second Grade is still working on their balance provocations. We talked about how balance is used in art. We experimented with symmetry and a mirror. 

We folded paper and tried to create our own symmetric drawings. Some students understood it right away and others had to learn through critique. 

Monah- it's like balancing a stick on a plate. Like that. [sets her sharpie off the edge.]

Roshelys- balance is people who do ballet, they put their feet up and they try to balance like this. And they spin.
Liana- you can balance on one foot. 
Yaneliz- my definition is to balance on one hand.
Abzierzak- balance is when something if you put an apple and a rock the rock will be bigger than that.
Alexander- when they put a stick in one and a rock in another one and the rock is taller it goes up.
Devante- balance is like balancing a block or a pumpkin
Jakwon- balance is balancing a stick like if I balance it right here and then out a stick on top 

What are you curious about?

Kiara- I'm curious about if people join the circus, do they get hurt when they go on the tightrope.
Monah- I'm curious to see if people can balance on a marker. 
Liana- people balance on a high wire over the ocean. They hold a stick to help them balance.
Yaneliz- sometimes they balance stuff with the sticks and if they wobble, sticks will balance them back.
Roshelys- sometimes they have a thing around here to hold them up.
Monah- sometimes they go like this and...
Yaneliz- they lean
Alexander- if someone do balance on a see saw and then you grab a stick and push it up, are they going high or low?
Devante- how does something balance on an oval block?
Jakwon- if the balance thing was on the table, how do you balance two sticks the same way? 
Roshelys- how do they balance a bike on a rope? How do they do that? 
Liana- what does curious mean?
Yaneliz- it means you want to know something
Kiara- something that you don't know already.
Liana- I want to know more about how you can make something with balance in art.