Friday, October 30, 2015

Week of October 26th, 2015

The kindergarten students have been talking about farms and landscapes. A group of four of them came to the studio at a time to look at landscape photographs and choose one to draw. They drew it as a group, choosing areas to work on, discussing colors and lines. This particular example is of the farm in winter. These will be used as backdrops with the animals in their block area, to inspire story workshop. 

The first graders have been talking about symbols, how letters are symbols and reading is simply knowing what the letter symbols mean in that order. They looked at work by Aboriginal artists in Australia and the work of American artist Keith Haring. Using a style inspired by Haring, they created multiple drafts of a symbol for friendship. They shared these with each other for critique and when the design was clear, I showed them how to transfer it onto a large canvas donated to us by a friend of the school, Katherine Vitale. Each student will create a rectangle and in the center we will use a quote about friendship one of the students made during their study of friendship in the classroom.

The theme of pirates is still going strong in second grade. I asked, during story workshop, if there were pirates in Puerto Rico at some point, since most of the children in that class are from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Ms. Lopez told us about Roberto Cofresi, the "Puerto Rican Robin Hood," a pirate who helped the poor and defended the islands around which he lived. I brought this group in to teach me about him, because they had already had the lesson in their homeroom and I didn't have the experiences that they had. 

The students taught me all about him and the question came up of whether or not he was a good or bad man. Some students felt he was good because, even though he was breaking the law, he was generous and doing the right thing at a time when the wrong thing was being done by the ruling people. Other students felt that he was wrong because he was stealing and he went to jail. This is going to lead to a compare and contrast about goodness and badness in the homeroom. While they talked, I asked them if they wanted to create a portrait of what they think Roberto looked like, so they looked at photos of a statue erected in his honor in Puerto Rico and photographs and artwork of pirates. Working together, they created this image of him. 

Week of October 19th, 2015

With Pre-K 103 and 106, I've been finishing up with the identity portraits. 101 finished earlier, so we were able to move on with our study of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Buffalo, as part of a unit on our identities and where we come from. I brought a group of four students into the studio and we looked at many photographs of Puerto Rican landscapes. The students chose one and we identified the lines we could see. The students drew the lines on a large sheet of cardboard, one line at a time, with a lot of discussion between them about where the lines should go. They then looked at the colors they needed. I had them start with the building and water. We used horizontal brush strokes, repeating that vocabulary word again. It's turning out pretty well. 

Story Workshop is up and running in Second Grade. The walk we took to the Valley the week prior sparked an interest in pirates. (The students were sure that a sign they found on a tree stump was left by pirates.)  The students have been exploring this theme in their centers, creating ships, characters and writing out ideas for fictional stories about pirates. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Week of October 13, 2015

These are some of the nature mandalas that the pre-k students created with their sorted materials. They found materials using a color wheel and then had to group the colors together when they were creating the mandala. This activity was engaging for all of the students and they were very interested in creating patterns. These two were created in groups of students and then the students had the opportunity to create an individual one of their own. 

We took a walk with 116 and we found that the hornet's nest near the entrance to the Valley had been exterminated. There were still some dying hornets on the nest, so the children, from a safe distance, were fascinated to see the inside of the nest and the hornets moving around in it. On a later walk, Mrs. Christie was able to grab some of the exterior of the nest to show the students and they used it as a natural material for their letter wall collages!

116 found this little tin sign and decided it was evidence of pirates living in the nature trail. From that point forward on the walk, the focus of "What does fall look like?" turned into "What other evidence of pirates can we find?" Emergent curriculum at its best. They found the word "HEL" on one tree and decided it must be the word "help" just unfinished. They found cement blocks halfway buried under the trail. (Jangel- Look at this random stone here!") and wondered if it could be covering the pirate treasure. This is going to be a rich experience if we follow their lead. Ms. Colon is setting up centers to start the students with writing Pirate Stories in Story Workshop. We will collect evidence like scientists and try to study the history of this part of our community. What was the valley nature trail before it became a nature trail? Did pirates sail Lake Erie and the Buffalo River? We plan on discussing this with Ashley Cadwell at his next visit because we foresee so many possibilities of tying in the standards to this rich topic of pirates. 

104 (k) and 106 (pre-k) went on a hike to search for numbers and letters in nature. They decided to turn themselves into letters at one point in the walk. 

Week of October 5, 2015

We have been working with color in Mrs. Bennett's class lately. We noticed that this is an area in which the students need practice. We sorted our loose parts and then we took a color walk! We found leaves and other items outside using a color wheel. (Photos to follow when I upload them from the "good" camera.) We sorted those, just like the loose parts seen here, and then used them for a special project the following week.

 The kindergarten students in 104 went on a nature hike to find letters in nature. We also found that our former swampy pond is now completely dried up AND we found a little clown doll hanging out there. Some of the kids were delighted by the clown and some of them were scared of him. We asked them to tell us about the pond.

Where did the water go?
D- It went in the hole.
L- It dried up. It went under the mud.
T- Someone died over there. Look! A shoe!
Do you think that means someone died?
T- Yes.
J- A bear eat him!
S- Maybe the person with the shoe built that house over there and he died.
D2- I think he died because he sank down in the mud.
They then decided that the clown belonged to the dead man's son, who also lived here and died.

We are finishing up the Identity Project with all of the classes. Here are some shots of Pre-K students figuring out which color to use for their hair and skin tones. We want the students to look closely, like a scientist, when they are using their graphic language, so this is just one example of how they are learning to do that.