I'm ready to begin posting again and sharing some of the ideas I'm using in my classroom. For the past two weeks, my students have been busy finishing up work on their portfolios/folders. In past years I began the year teaching Ed Emberly's drawing alphabet, Monarts family of shapes, and Mark Kistler's Draw Squad concepts. I will still cover these drawing ideas with my students, but this year my approach will differ. I'll begin the year focusing on the elements and the principles of design. For the next few weeks I'll be introducing and reviewing the elements of design with all classes. I plan to focus on line and shape first, and then introduce and focus on the other elements (the principles) as the weeks progress. Then it simply becomes a matter of repetition and reinforcement and encouraging a class culture that builds on this knowledge through meaningful creative experiences.
I also want to experiment with TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behaviors). I have some ideas for my first centers (based on line, shape, and color) and my plan is to spend a few weeks teaching with direct instruction and guided practice, and then designing centers where students can make choices and creatively interact with the art ideas previously presented.
I still want to teach many whole group projects as they are proven favorites and offer unique art experiences (such as painting with colored chalk, getting interesting textual effects using cellophane among others). Clearly, there is more than one effective instructional method. I've been very successful teaching art using the teacher directed method. And once a set of skills and procedures has been learned and practiced, I've let the kids go and create using their own ideas. (I call those open-ended activities "Free Draw" or "Free Paint" activities. It simply allows for students to either draw or paint things that are of interest to them. I have a set of "Free Draw" books - step-by-step - that children use for drawing. Free Painting is usually a time where kids just paint for painting's sake.)
This year I'm going to try to design some centers that will follow a series of direct teaching experiences. The centers will build upon the concepts taught in the whole group lessons and allow for students to experiment with the ideas they recently learned. My room is pretty small so I'm not sure how well this will work. I have one sink, and 5 tables. There is very little room to "squeeze" around the room but it's doable. Picture a room that has 5 tables and one supply area. That's all the room I have to work with and it's part of the reason I've been reluctant to do centers in the past. As I find out what works and what doesn't, I'm sure things will change a bit and I'll work out the wrinkles. Wish me luck.
In addition to blogging about my experiences with these ideas, I have developed a website to host student's work. In addition to sharing things I'm doing this year, I hope to continually add ideas that I've used and found successful in the past.