Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Patriotic Striping, Zentangle and Collaborative Planning - 2nd Grade

Patriotic Tangle Art

If you ever wonder how we create lessons at a BTS/ALP (Beverley Taylor Arts Learning Program School) I thought I would share the process with this blog post.  This lesson happened to be one of the best collaborative projects that I have had the privilege to participate in.  This lesson is the culmination of four years of  teacher team building, working together, learning how to push and pull  and help each other create lessons that meet the needs of the teachers and lift the children to higher heights.  The teachers in our school have the highest level of professionalism and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make the integration of arts into the core curriculum a reality.

One of the main purposes of the BTS/ALP program is that we are trying to train teachers to become better teachers.  Our hope is that they will integrate the arts on a daily basis using sound instructional skills as they teach the basic core curriculum.  The Utah State Legislature funded this program with the hopes that by putting a specialist in each school, the teachers will have the opportunity for ongoing professional development with the specialist and that they will gain the skills they need to more fully meet the needs of their students with quality, research based art integration lessons.  This is our 4th year in this innovative program.

Now to the nuts and bolts!  In our school, each grade level team meets with me once a month for an in-depth planning meeting.   We often have smaller meetings throughout the month and each teacher also works with me one on one as I try to adjust projects to meet their special needs.  We have a large school, and in the case of this lesson, nine 2nd grade teachers met with me as we tried to explore exactly where we wanted to go for the next few months.  This lesson was planned in early December and prior to this planning meeting, the 2nd grade teachers had asked me to create a lesson with a focus on Patriotic art.   I found several examples, and came up with a few ideas, then when they came to the planning meeting, we were able to "tweak" the lesson and explore possibilities.

The first requirement of this lesson was that we wanted to reinforce patriotic principles and talk about different symbols that would reinforce learning.    We talked about our American flag and the patriotic colors.  We then decided to move to a form of abstract patriotic art that would encompass the colors as well as pull in elements of the flag, but would not look like a flag in and of itself.  

I showed the teachers a little art "tangle" called "Striping" that I learned when I went to a Zentangle* certification class last spring. I taught the teachers how to do this, and then I showed them how we could adapt it to create patriotic art.  We just played with the art process a little.  I asked each teacher to draw four squares in their sketch book, and then in each square, draw a shape.  Then we added a "string" and some striping patterns to fill in the pattern.  The teacher's colored these sketches in with the red and blue crayola markers. 

During the course of this activity, some of the teachers understood what to do, others had difficulty. We wondered if this project was something that was in the scope of ability for a 2nd grade student.  The teachers all decided that it was, but that it was a bit complicated, even for them. Simpler would be a bit better.  We decided to simplify the striping so that it wasn't multi-dimensional as I had originally demonstrated.

 We were just sketching these small scale, but the children would be using tempera paint and large, 18 x 24 inch paper.   We had never painted on paper this big before, and I was concerned the children wouldn't have the room they needed to paint.   We talked about stacking the chairs and creating an environment where the children would stand up to paint.  I also decided to bring in two extra folding tables so that we could spread out a little.  We ironed out a few more details, and then decided that everything was ready to go.

In side-by-side teaching, both the classroom teacher and the art specialist teach different parts of the lesson.  The plan for this lesson was that the classroom teacher would review symbolism and teach what the different colors in the flag symbolized.  We also talked about patriotism and we discussed what it meant to be a patriot... then we went forward with the art lesson.


Our planning meetings are chatty and casual.  We get a lot done and we work hard. This photo shows some of the teacher ideas and their interpretation of striping.

Every teacher tried their own variations and found their own level of comfort with the project.

We decided the more simple designs such as the one on the upper right would be more appropriate for children of this age.  As we display the large pictures, they naturally create fun variations that look like some of the more complicated versions.

 My favorite thing about this project seeing how everyone came up with their own creative abstract designs.

For the final project, we decided on the following steps.

1.  Each child would sketch designs in their sketchbook similar to what their teachers did. Then they would pick their favorite.  For the sketch I gave them the following instruction:

  • Draw four squares or rectangles that fill your page.
  • Draw a different shape in each square that doesn't take up more than 1/3 of the square.
  • Create "Striping" by drawing a simple curving line that fills the rest of the square

I taught parallel lines and helped each child create a sketch similar to what their teachers did, but a bit more simplistic.

2.  Each child selected their favorite design and then we got ready to paint it.  We had extra tables and had children all over the classroom so every child had lots of room to paint.

3.  We painted the blue field first.  I modeled how to do it, then the children painted their blue.

4.  Then we painted the red stripes.  Again, I modeled how to do it and then the children went back and painted theirs.

3.  We used large poster paint brushes and I had two complete sets of brushes, one for the red and one for the blue so we didn't have to wash brushes until later.

4.  The teachers had the children add a few random starts to their artwork after it had dried.

This is a simple patriotic display that is going down the main hall, but as of yet, most of the student artwork is still not up.  With almost 200 students we have enough art to create 400 feet of beautiful patriotic art gracing the halls of our school. We hope you come see the school sometime during February as the 2nd grade team gets ready for their program.  It will be  sight to behold!

*Zentangle is an  easy to learn repetitive art form developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.  Learn more at www. zentangle.com.

Alphabet Under Construction

The kindergarten children at East Elementary have been busy "constructing" alphabet letters in the style of the little mouse in the book "Alphabet Under Construction" by Denise Fleming.  Each child is learning how to interact artistically with each letter of the alphabet and they paint, sand, roll, tile, prune, watercolor, measure, judge, button and airbrush!  The children love this project and we have created an "In Progress" display in the main hall of the school.  A few weeks ago we started adding words to go with each letter and it helps the children have a huge artistic word wall.  Each child will also put their very own name under "their" own alphabet letter.  We hope that that his will give them a sense of ownership.  When our alphabet is complete,  each child will create their very own book from the letters they have constructed in art class.

This is an introductory post, but I will create another post later explaining how we chose our action words. Some of them go with the book, and some don't!   I will also offer some tips for teaching this project if you decide to do it!  It is a great project and it provides an opportunity to teach many art skills as well as reinforcing phonics and letter naming skills.

In getting ready to finish this project I also found Denise Fleming's website and she has lots of 3-D art ideas that are great as an extension to this project.  Here is the link:  http://www.denisefleming.com/pages/activities-alphabet.html

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Grade Dinosaurs

The first graders created these cute little dinosaurs to go along with a story in their reading book.  We used Crayola Air Dry clay to create the dinosaurs.  Then we painted them with acrylic paint and added a coat of varnish to make the shiny.  The children really loved this project!