Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Arts Wall

I was invited to participate in the process of developing ideas for the Sheldon statewide art education program.
The language arts focus will be on poetry but that's not what I wanted to write about this time. In the discussions the idea of using word wall to focus students' work in the language arts. It struck me that we can in units use a parallel arts wall. So what can be part of the arts wall? Well it really depends on objectives and accumulated ideas.
The arts wall can have basic shapes lines or textures, color wheel, a list of techniques (for example tissue, taping, and salt in a unit using water color as medium). The idea is to represent things on a an arts wall using both words and artifacts- so it does not just become a word wall of arts words but actually something different.
Another part of the art wall can be reproduction of art that fits with the subject matter, for example scenery when discussing foreground, middle ground, and background. If for example students are exploring a museum (in person or online) they can bring examples to the classroom arts wall and explain to their classmates why they think it belongs (oral rehearsal). I like even better reproducing parts of art in a way that allows a focus on technique o detail.
Moe about the statewide will probably emerge after the workshop on July 28th and 29th.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Music in the Heart of summer

Monique left last weekend. We've worked very hard and achieved a lot during the past few weeks. I really appreciated her thoughts every time we met, which was quite often even if not as often as I wanted to. Our conversations about music was a strand we followed all five weeks since it is a part of our grant, it is starting in earnest next year, and of course because Monique was participating in a music ed course.
I don't think we still know everything we want to do next year, but here is an idea we started developing. One thing you have to know Monique and I are very concrete albeit in different ways. That is why our conversations moved from big theoretical approaches to the nuts and blots of a unit.
In this case its a life cycle unit focused on the butterfly. The idea is for the students to integrate music in a meaningful way that supports learning about the butterfly, life cycle AND music. For example students can be set up in pairs, with a music instrument (ORF based but also keyboards etc would work). Each pair would be responsible for creating music to fit the stage in the life cycle of the butterfly. Each pair would record the music (on paper and/or tape) and play it to the group explaining why they chose this representation (Oral Rehearsal) . It could also be used for a game where the rest of the class tries to guess what stage it is and present a reason why they think there is a fit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Interesting that Guy would say this today-- “exposure to rich experiences in different domains in our home and community is what makes us diverse and different contributing to the rich tapestry of society”
Today I got re-acquainted with one of those community members that contributes to the rich tapestry…
In 2005 I met Tom Palmerton, at the Lewis & Clark Visitor Center in Nebraska City. He is the sculptor of “Pointing the Way” a Lewis, Clark & Seaman bronze. It was a casual meeting as neither of us was interested in getting in the middle of the crowd at the Opening Program and were standing around outside the building with a few others. Once I realized who he was and what he had created, I began asking questions. He graciously explained his process to me and I knew that some day I would like to visit his studio in Brownville. Today was the day.
He is a 77-year-old artist (father and grandfather) that received his formal training from the Kansas City Art Institute using the GI bill. Originally from Council Bluffs, IA, he returned to that area and spent some time in Omaha. In the early 1970s he came to Brownville. His studio and gallery are in one of the historic Brownville buildings. He spends his days there creating and is usually closed on Sunday. But we called ahead, and he was happy to come and open it up for us (I was with my parents). He’s made many historical figures and many animals and birds. He also is quite a painter and has many framed paintings on the walls. He showed us both working areas—the room for the bronzes and the loft for the painting. He once again, graciously explained the entire process to me. (I think I have to try it to really understand it!)
Today he was working on the wings of a butterfly that will be part of a large bronze butterfly sculpture. The completed sculpture will be part of the Butterfly & Insect Pavilion at the Henry Doorly Zoo. Of course, I took an immediate interest in the subject matter because of our Arts LINC & Science Unit, “Living Things Grow and Change”. Sometime when I’m in Omaha, I’ll go the zoo. He already has several sculptures there. I’ll have to see art at the zoo!
A connection between art and science. A connection with a living and working artist. I feel like I’ve met a rock star.

Home and School

My Mom is visiting from Israel this week. I our conversations we turned to the importance of home environment to the development of visual art. The discussion started from my comment that Itai my youngest (2) seems to enjoys visual art activities (sometime on inappropriate surfaces such as counters, tables and the inside of my car). Art was never emphasizd in our house (though my sister became a musician) we visited museums but were not really encouraged to be actively engaged in any art form. In her comment I am not sure if my Mom meant that Itai will not really ever be an artist because we at home are not ourselves very artistic... This got me thinking about breaking the cycle of non-engagement. Since the home is so important in determining the disposition and capabilities of students, can school change any of that? This is true with language, literacy, and of course art.
As parents I can encourage Itai (and the rest) to be engaged with art, to feel safe trying new forms of expression and seeking out art. As educators our role is to provide the same experiences, environment, attitudes, and expectations that will support a relationship with art and literacy regardless of the home environment. We do need to understand though that our actions cannot erase all differences between home environments... there is too much to overcome.
And in reality exposure to rich experiences in different domains in our home and community is what makes us diverse and different contributing to the rich tapestry of society.