Monday, September 28, 2015

Week of September 28, 2015

After spending a few weeks studying lines, I was able to start the portrait process with the pre-k students. The manila paper is the self-portraits they created on the first day in the studio. The paintings are the finished portraits. Our study in lines created such a difference already in how the students look at the world around them and how they use the materials provided to them.

The portraits are coming along nicely. We are attaching the finished pieces to large sheets of acetate and installing them on the windows of the front entranceway to our school!  This way, visitors will be greeted by the faces of all 500+ students who attend Bilingual Center School 33 every time they walk in the door!  Ms. Ulak, the visual arts teacher, is working with grades three through eight, while I work with the pre-k through second graders to ensure that every student is able to create their portrait for our entranceway! 

We have installed one panel so far as a test panel. The students critiqued it with me and I asked some other teachers in the building to critique it with us, as well. We decided that it may need a black border, but we like the transparency of it. I can't wait to see it all installed! 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Camping! September 25, 2015

As I posted on the September 14th blog, the students in pre-k Room 106 were really interested in telling me about their experiences camping over the summer.  This led to many talks and pretend play about camping. On Friday, September 25th, we decided to take the kids out for a camping experience at the Valley Habitat Trail. With their permission, we pitched tents, had a campfire, hiked, ate lunch and had a really fun time.  We brought along a fifth grade class to continue the spirit of collaboration between grade levels at our school. The older students were so helpful with the younger students. They have been studying the environment, so it was perfect for everyone involved! 

Our campsite.

C found a grasshopper.

One of the two  ponds dried up and our big kid helpers were really puzzled by this.
(The adults were surprised, too!) 

Off to the woods! 

We saw many interesting things.

The grass was really overgrown in some spots! It was quite an adventure.

We found this charred wood and the older boys decided that a dragon
must have been there. 

Sometimes the trains pass and you can see them from a safe distance on the trail.

We walked to the other pond, which is still in good condition.

One of the turtles was out! 

We saw someone kayaking in the river.

Some of the students painted outdoors.

We finished our camping trip with smores, discussing the difference
between healthy food and snack food. 

Week of September 21st, 2015

The pre-k students have been studying lines to prepare them for the drawing and writing skills they will gain this year in school. We have been creating lines through different art materials, seeking lines in nature and on the school grounds and learning how lines are used for writing letters and drawing narrative pictures! Below, I've included the summary from our first documentation panel on lines and an image of the panel. 

The k-2 students have been creating self-portraits as part of their annual study of identity. The students drew themselves with pencils, outlined with markers, colored with crayons and then traced their finished portrait with marker on acetate and finished by painting the acetate portrait. So many materials to refresh their memories and get them ready for the school year. We have a big plan for these acetate portraits. Stay tuned. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week of September 14th, 2015

We are back for another year of Reggio-inspired, inquiry learning at School 33!

Here's what we've been up to so far:

Pre-K is just getting used to being in the studio. They created portraits of themselves using loose parts. They looked for lines and created portraits with finger paint. They explored lines with pipe cleaners and tried drawing and painting them. They looked for the lines that are in their names.

The students are already starting to tell stories using the art materials.  I sat with a small group and asked the students to look at their portraits and tell me about themselves. It turned into a discussion about camping. We are going to see where an exploration of this topic will lead the students. We are planning a nature hike to "camp" in the Valley Nature Trail, where we will set up real tents!

M- I live with dad and my mom
A- I live with my mommy and daddy and grandma and grandpa.
Teacher- Amali, did you forget someone?
A- I don't think so.
Teacher- What about that guy? [I point to her brother, who is in her class!]
A- C? Oh, yeah.
J- I go camping.
A- Dada and Mama go camping.
Teacher- What's the best part about camping?
A- You can do fire for marshmallows.
G- I go camping at my dad's house, at his backyard.

Teacher- What do you do when you're camping?
Have you ever been to the woods?
J- I was walking in the woods.
M- I was walking near my house with my mom.
A- I was walking in the woods.
J- I went camping in the woods with marshmallows.
Teacher- Where do you sleep when you camp?
G- In a tent! We were in the jungle, with my dad.
Teacher- Were you pretending?
G- Yes, we heard parrots!
J- You heard parrots?
G- Yes.
J- Them come to my house.
A- Parrots come to Reya's house. Only our Reya.
M- My mom has parrots.

Teacher- What do you eat when you go camping?
M- My mom makes pizza. For breakfast.
G- We had marshmallows and pizza it was burned in fire.

Teacher- Did you see any animals when you went camping?
G- I heard the wolfs and I heard a spider.
J- I didn't see no spiders at camp but they was crawling on me really fast.
Teacher- Do you like spiders or are you scared of them?
J- I like them. I like to pick them up. Do you like spiders?
Teacher- I'm a little scared of them.
J- They are friends. They're nice friends.

This was one of the loose part artworks created while
talking about our camping experiences.

Another story came out while a student, J, was exploring lines with black paint. I noticed that he was placing his marks with intent and purpose. Ms. Hernandez asked him about his painting. He told her, in Spanish, that there was a mother and father and a snake and a mother. At first, we didn't understand why he drew the mother twice, but he explained that one mother is a human mother and the other is the SNAKE'S mother. He told us that the snake was going to "line up" behind his mother, the way we line up at school when we travel through the halls. This shows an understanding of the word "line" in both contexts- making a line with art supplies and standing in line with other people- and it shows that he recognizes that lines can be used to represent things, in this case, a snake.  We decided that we were going to ask the other students for their stories during our next class together, and see if anyone else has a tale to tell.

A snake, its mother and a mother and father. 

Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade are all working on their identity walls. Each student is drawing a portrait, reviewing portraiture, redoing their portrait, coloring it to match their actual skin, hair and eye colors, then tracing it on acetate and painting it. The result will be two finished portraits- the regular crayon drawing for their classroom identity wall and the acetate version for the school entranceway. Every student in the building, from pre-k through eight, will eventually complete an acetate portrait for the entranceway, so when you come into School 33 you are greeted by the beautiful faces of our students.