Showing posts from March, 2011

Inspiration; Drawing from Books

Books provide a valuable resource for drawing. I still haven't quite worked out
for myself how Dewey's ideas of authentic educational experience works when the topic
is far away and out of reach, but I do think stories and illustrations can help bring
far away animals in to the classroom. At least a little bit.

An idea I want to try

I have been wishing for Karla Cikanova's book 'Teaching Children to Draw' for a long time. I am a big fan of her book 'Teaching Mixed Media to Children', but her books on painting and drawing have been out of print, and I couldn't find them at prices I could afford. Last week, there was a cheap used copy on Amazon, so I got it! The first thing I noticed while looking through the book was this nifty idea, which will be great for the Sabot preschool with all of the thinking going on about birds.
The idea is to have children make rubbings, prints or drawings of feathers in order to see and notice things about them, and then, to think about and use the feather shapes while drawing a bird.  It seems to me that this would be valuable in helping children think about parts of a whole, drawing the texture of a bird, and learning about how birds are put together. Here are a couple of feather drawings by Acadia and Nolan. I haven't gotten to the part about drawing a whol…
The 5 year olds who like Star Wars came bursting into the studio "Anna! We need to hear R2-D2 noises on your computer!" I was working with some other children and was a little concerned that the boys 'high energy and loud voices would distract from the concentration in the room. Trying to figure out the source of the energy and the point of the request, I asked them a few times to tell me again what they wanted. Each time I got the same response, until I asked "Guys, please tell me why you want to use my computer to listen to R2-D2 sounds. I'm worried that you just want to sit down and click things on my computer, and it doesn't seem like you would be learning anything new by doing that."  Then, the boys told me "We need to hear the sounds because we are reading a Star Wars book, and when it gets to a page with R2-D2, it says 'R2-D2 says beep-beep'. But we don't want to say beep-beep, we want to be able to make the right sounds there. An…

Cross Age Interactions and Family

A good thing about having a school that serves so many grades (with one studio for all to share) are the meetings that happen between students of different ages. Here, a preschooler came in with her journal (a composition book families fill with pictures to create a home/school connection). She wanted to look at a picture of her dog in order to draw him.

Coincidentally, her cousin was in the studio making a video for a project in which the 5th graders are documenting their math learning this year.

While some of his teamates were working on props for the video, He got paper and took time to draw his dog, too. They talked about family pets who have passed away, and the ones they have now.

Then, they watched the math video together. The care they took with each other was a lovely thing to see.

On Being an Atelierista: Languages and the reason for studios in schools

Going through some old piles of things I have been meaning to read, I came across this quote from Maxine Greene, in the article "Radical Puppets and the Language of Art" in Art Education from May 2009 (I told you it was an old pile!)

"You can learn more about the language of art, not in the hope that you can be transformed into an (artist), but so you will have at hand a greater range of means of expression, ways of saying what ordinary language can rarely capture or convey." (2001, p. 111)

This quote really captures the essence of studio thinking and the reason for introducing art media and materials into the school across every discipline. I do think that many of the students who have access to ateliers and atelieristas in school will continue with art throughout their lives, at least I hope that the habits they develop in drawing from observation, for instance, will continue. 

However, the main reason I believe it is important to give children exposure and techniqu…

Social Emotional Learning and Conformity

The Teachers that I work with in the pre-school are very, very good at scaffolding social/emotional learning with children. That doesn't mean everyone feels happy all the time, in fact it means that hard things, sadness, worry and fear are seen as opportunities for children to begin talking together and learning about what other people like, and how they feel. Learning to play together and to respect each other's personal styles and ways of being are no doubt very important in growing up to be a kind person who is able to share and listen. I believe in this strongly.
Lately, however, I've been feeling a tiny  little bit of doubt about it all. It has begun to seem to me that in helping children with these skills, it is crucially important for teachers to monitor their own expectations about how people should be. I have begun to think that there is a very, very fine line between helping children be part of a group, and teaching children to behave in a very similar way, a way …

An Especially Expressive Portrait

He made this on tracing paper while looking at this photograph.
I like the expression Oliver created very much.