Monday, March 23, 2015

Week of March 23-27, 2015

First Grade: I started the week with a reflection on our trips to the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Albright Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Nature Center. We talked about all the places we've seen art and the people who work as experts in the field of art. The students reflected through dialogue, drawing and some writing.

Kindergarten: I've been using open studio time for the art show and meetings, so it's been good to get back into pulling small groups for the days. I brought a group into the studio today to create a background landscape for the life-sized horse they created after their trip to the farm. I thought this would take a few days, but they knew exactly what they wanted to do and had it ready in an hour! I'd previously taught them about horizon lines, so they drew that right away and started working on the grass and sky. They knew what colors to mix from the desert lesson and went right to work.

Brookelynn to Melangell- Go up and down, not side to side. It will look more like grass that way. There you go. And be careful that you don't get it on your pants or your mom will have to get the stain out.

Teacher- So what kind of animal might live in this environment?
Brooklynn- horses, chickens, sheep
Melangell- cows. There can also be chickens coming out on the farm.
Brooklynn- what about chicks?
Melangell- chicks with their mama!
Brooklynn, singing- Chicks with their mama! Chicks with their mama! No, chicks with their dad, because the mama has to go get all of the food.
Tell me more about the food.
Brooklynn- The chicks eat worms
Melangell- what do the cows eat? Oh yeah, grass!
Brooklynn- so do horses.
Melangell- horses do eat grass, and they eat hay
Brooklynn- I know that because I went to the farm with my mama
Melangell- and I went with my dad
Brooklynn- I stayed overnight for four days. No, four weeks.
Melangell- you would miss school if you stayed for that long.
Was it summertime?
Brooklynn- yeah, but my mom didn't like it because it was kind of cold for her.

Brian joins them.
Melangell- you have to go up and down, like this.
Brian- I forgot!

Melangell- I went to a different farm.
Brian- I went to Cedar Point and I saw a zoo with tigers and zebras.
Do tigers and zebras live at the farm?
Brian- Some zebras can live at a farm.
I think you are right about that. Do tigers?
Melangell- they live at the jungle
Brooklynn- in Africa
Brian- or at African lion safari

I pulled another kindergarten group in the afternoon who'd prepared a mural about the Savannah with their teacher. We critiqued the mural and looked at photographs to see what we needed to do next. The students started painting the grass and sky. 

For second grade, I pulled a small group to continue our study of plants, as we prepare to begin a long unit on drawing and writing about plants. Two boys are very interested in the process of making paper out of trees. They watched a video about it, over and over again, pausing to read each line as it describes the process. They wanted to make a poster that explains the process, so that their friends could learn about it, too.

Pre- K continues to study the relationships between lines, pattern and animals. They reflected on the project thus far in this conversation: 

Jacob- I see my Buffalo is brown.

Eziekiel- It looks like it's melted when we draw it three times. [This is referring to using glaze three times on the ceramic pieces, and the way it looked.]

Izabella- We looked at it and we drawed it. 

Araceli- My fish has lines on the tail and that curvy line is his back and it looks like a fish and it's blue and yellow. It has lines and a curvy line going down and another curvy line on the tail. I love fishes. Sometimes fishes don't have curvy lines. Some have triangle lines. Some have "W" lines. Some have wiggly lines or lines that go down, down, down. 

Ryan- I didn't know it had a nose! Some buffalos lines look like it goes like this. [shows the outline of a buffalo with his finger.]

Eziekiel- To do the lines, I needed to see it. 

Izabella- A snake has curvy lines! 

Today, I gave the students tiny close up photographs of animal skin and fur. The students looked closely at the lines and patterns. Ezekiel is really interested in looking at the lines now. He understands the need to slow down and look closely in order to draw what he sees. 

Jacob is another student who is very interested in looking at the details. This is his drawing of the snakeskin: 

Our second graders are continuing to research and write nonfiction books about plants. These two young ladies are writing a bilingual book about how seeds grow.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Week of March 16- 20, 2015

This week:

First Grade
My second group came in to glaze their hearts.  I asked them what they think "glaze" means and Jayden replied, "Delicious?" because he was thinking of glazed doughnuts.  You could hear a pin drop during this class period- the students were so interested in how the glaze covered the fired clay.

We finished glazing all of our organs, so all that's left is to fire these and compile documentation to share the knowledge we learned about the human body when we display the sculptures! 

As each child glazed their ceramic organs, I asked them to reflect on something they know about the organ.  Here are the results:

The brain:
J'Mar- The brain is like the heart. They both help you. The brain helps you realize things.
Layla- The brain helps you be smart.
Thalish- The brain can help you think.
Remi- The brain is pink.
Jada- The brain looks like meat. An adult brain is three pounds and a kid brain is one pound.
Camron- The brain helps you think.
Ericsson- The brain looks like gum.
Tatiana- The brain is wrinkly.
Yarilys- The brain is round. 

The lungs:
Anthony- If you smoke, your lungs get black.
Miguel- When you run, you breathe a lot. Your lungs go big to little.
Hannah- The lungs help you breathe.

The heart: 
Eliseo- The heart is the size of a fist. 
Julia- The heart pumps blood through your body so it can keep you alive.
Denali- The heart pumps blood.
Shaytara- The heart beats. When you run, it beats fast and when you don't run, it beats slow.
Kiarelys- When you grow up, your hands grow and your heart grows, too. 
Jayden- We thought the heart looked like Valentine's Day, but this is what the heart really looks like.
Wilberto- The fist is the same size as your heart.
Sandieliz- The heart protects your body. If you don't have a heart, you die.
Mimi- When you are old, your heart weakens and you die.
Jangel- The heart doesn't look like a heart from Valentine's.
Elias- Your heart protects you by pumping.
Jazmira- Your heart pumps blood around your body.

 A second small group from 102 came with me to the atelier to explore products of the farm. They said a few of the same products as the first group, but they also thought of a few new ideas.  Some of them created multiple drafts and had a book worthy drawing ready by the end of the period! I was impressed with their enthusiasm today.

We are simultaneously working on some large scale murals of the farm, the desert, the forest and the savannah. Today, a group looked at images of the desert, then, as a team, created a drawing of what their desert landscape would look like. They each drew a component. It was really remarkable to see them work together to design it. We then mixed colors and each student picked a section to work on.

The pre-K students are still looking at the lines we see in animals. This lesson is really helping them grasp observational drawing. I've got centers going on in the studio. Students drew a pre-drawing, then traced their animals on acetate to see the lines. After that, the students are trying to draw the animal again from close observation of the photograph. Slowly, one or two students at a time are breaking through and learning to see the lines and draw them on paper. Once they've accomplished the line drawing, they work with plasticine clay to try to sculpt their animal. After the plasticine, they are creating the animals in firing clay. The last step will be to glaze the clay. 

Second Grade:

After seeing how much the students are interested in storytelling, we've decided that the atelier will support Story Workshop in helping students create strong illustrations to go with their stories. For 116, we are working on stories about plants, a subject they are very interested in lately. We've decided to start by writing down as much as we know about plants.  Some students were curious about the paper making process, others want to show how plants grow, while others were interested in learning and sharing about the many varieties of plants.

For 118, I worked with students on illustrations for their different stories. One boy is working on a comic book character named Piranha Man for his story workshop. I helped him shape his character by asking open ended questions. The other three boys wanted to create a book about animals. We looked at fantasy and nature books about animals and they decided that they wanted to make a nonfiction text about them, with observational drawings and facts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Week of March 9-13, 2015

I spent three days last week at Skillful Teacher training, which was really interesting and enjoyable. I already tried one of the techniques I learned (Popcorn discussions) to ensure every kid in my last group today was able to share out their experience about a field trip they went on. They were excited to try something new in our discussions, not that they don't love to talk anyway.

Here is a rundown of what everyone is working on: 

Pre-K- Mrs. Bennett, Ms. Hernandez, Dr. Lopez:
The pre-k students have been working on drawings of the lines we see in animals. They started with pre-drawings, moved to tracing the lines on acetate paper, then created a post-drawing to see if they could see the lines better after the tracing let them recognize the lines. We used vocabulary like vertical, horizontal, diagonal and curvy to understand that the lines we drew alone are used to draw anything in the world!

From the drawings, we are moving into two types of clay. Plasticine for practice, then firing clay for a final product. 

After this lesson, we are going to look at the patterns we see in animals, so I'm going to set up a provocation with photos of the details of animals with patterns and we will paint or draw those patterns. 

104: The kindergarten students are also working on recognizing lines to build their observational drawing skills. We are comparing fantasy paintings of animals from an Eric Carle book to scientific drawings of animals from a book on wildlife artists. 
102: The other kindergarten is also using lines to draw, but their focus is on the products we get from the farm. They will use observational drawing techniques to draw things like wheat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables. 

First Grade: 
The first grade is finishing up the sculpting part of their models of human organs. Our last group will finish today- Wednesday- and then I'll begin the cycle of groups into the studio again to glaze their organs. 

Today, Wednesday, I had a group come in to create their brain models. I'd used our previous example of a one pound object (plasticine clay in a sealed package) so I found that our wood glue comes in one pound bottles. We explored what three pounds might feel like, which is the size of an adult brain and I explained the concept of one-half, which is the size of a baby brain. This group made the same conclusion that the other group had, that a child's brain is probably one glue bottle in weight, or a pound. I thought that was interesting, that both groups were able to take those two facts- an adult brain size and a baby brain size and reason that they were closer to the baby than the adult. They measured their clay compared to the weight of the glue bottle and sculpted their brains.

Second Grade: 
The second graders were on a field trip to Reinstein Woods. When they returned, I only had a short amount of time to spend with 118, so I asked them some questions about the trip. The first provocation was Tell me the story of your day. The second was Tell me something you experienced with your senses on the trip. The third was What did you learn about today? And the fourth question was How would you share this experience with the school? The students used the popcorn method of answering then selecting a friend to make sure that everyone had a chance to share out about their day.

I pushed into 116 to work on the provocation, "How does it grow?" I sat at a table with that provocation written out, a jar of pens and some paper, with two of the plants they are growing. I waited and soon I'd acquired a small group of curious students.

How does it grow? 
Jose:You need a seed.
How do you get a seed? 
Jose: From other plants. When a plant dies, the seed falls and then it can become a plant again when it dies.
Yabdiel: Seeds and water. 
How does water work to make things grow? 
Jose: they suck it up, like a straw. 

Eliani: You need food. It keeps you strong and healthy and when it's your birthday you grow. 
How does your birthday make you grow? 
Jose: cause you change age.
Do you look bigger the day after your birthday? 
Eliani: Not right away.
Jose: when you grow for a while, clothes don't fit you. I have clothes i brought with me from Cuba and they don't fit me now.
Eliani: I had clothes from when I turned six and then I turned seven and I put on one of the clothes and it didn't fit me. The shirt was too short.

Can you feel it when you grow?
Eliani: no. I can't. I'm thinking if the babies feel it when they grow.
Jose: I'm not sure. My sister got shots on her over here.
Eliani: my brother can feel his leg growing. He's crying at night because it's stretching out, like how a snake is in a circle. 
Jose: when I pick my sister up, she is heavier every day.

How can we help things grow? 
Eliani: when we put water, some of the plants grow. My mom had these seeds she didn't know and they grow seeds that we can start eating, but we have to cook it. She bought all of these seeds, but we never used them and someone threw them out.

Jose Writes time water sun and ere.

How can clay grow? 
Eliani: clay can't grow, but if we mix clay together, we can pretend it's growing. 
Natalia: if we give it water, it might grow.

What if something grows too big?
Jose: whoa! A tree!
What happens if a tree grows too big? 
Jose: if a tree gets too big, it dies.
Eliani: if it grows too big and the wind is coming, it falls.
Jose: sometimes if a tree is dead, parts of it fall off and little animals come and live inside of it. How do you call that bird that eats the side? A woodpecker. He comes and eats the side and then he gives it to his babies and the babies grow!

So trees can help woodpeckers grow? 
Jose: yes, because they can find food in there. In the trees. And they can put their nest in there. 

Eliani: One time my stepdad's sister found out she had a little tiny baby in her stomach so she kept eating and the baby got bigger and bigger and then they took it out and now it's like a regular baby. It's a boy.

We had a lot of snow piles growing this year. How did that happen? 
Jose: the snow falls and goes into the pile and makes it bigger.
Eliani: and when the people move the piles, they push them and the piles get bigger.

Eliani describes her drawing and mentions watering the plant over and over.
I wonder if you could design a growing machine and then we wouldn't have to remember to water the plants.
Jose: like a robot!? 
Nelson: wow! Yes! That would be awesome.

They eagerly draw robots to take care of their plants. 

At the end of the class, a student showed me a stuffed toy he had in his backpack (it was dismissal at this point.) I told him I would love to read a story about this character he called, "Anger Man." He took paper to write a book for me over the weekend. Three or four other students then showed interest in writing a book, so I offered them paper. I'm hoping this will spark an interest in storybook writing!