CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Article Published Today!

Visit Arts & Activities Magazine online to read my new article: Boost Creativity & Innovation (See Page 12) http://pubdev.ipaperus.com/ArtsandActivities/AANovember2013/

And while you are there, get a free online subscription so you won't miss the bimonthly "Choice-Based Art" column!
"Nothing up my sleeve" Grade 8

Vermont Teachers Fall Conference

The drizzly day outside only made it that much cozier inside the red school house on the Vermont Technical College campus. Dr.Marilyn Stewart, textbook author and Art Education professor at Kutztown University spoke about the connections between high quality art curriculum and the new "Common Core" initiative.

Dr. Stewart characterized the Common Core as "Liberation of the intellect." That may be overstating somewhat, but the idea is that the Common Core is concept and connections-based and centered on "enduring understandings." These, according to Stewart, are understandings that will pass "The  20-Year Test:" - what today's students will understand after 20 year's time. For art, these may include:
-Art is for all of us, not just a few
-Throughout history, humans have made things to express their values and beliefs
- Art produces joy
-Art is important to humankind

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm so glad

"I'm so glad I can use clay whenever I want to, so I can 
get all my ideas out." - "E," Grade 5

Sometimes teachers who facilitate learner-directed art studio programs, like ours at CBMS, lament a net-loss in 2-D work. As soon as the "Sculpture Center" and the "Clay Center" open, students seem to move away from drawing, painting, collage and other 2-D media. While this can make filling school bulletin boards a little challenging, it is a net-gain for 3-D thinkers, who are often undeserved throughout their school day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Printmaking 101

I think it's a lesson best learned the hard way - when you make a print of something, the image is reversed.
"B," grade 5, discovers writing will appear as a "mirror image" in a Styrofoam relief print - and quickly corrects the error

I used to insist: "NO words or numbers - make an animal - they always come out great!" But I have come to realize that avoiding the inevidible does not provide an optimal learning experience, so now I stay quiet and let the learning happen.

Once students learn this lesson, I assure them that everyone makes that mistake at first. I delight in telling the story of the principal at a school for the gifted and creative, who spent about 20 minutes carving "PEACE" into a printing-block, only to discover the same lesson that "B" did, in the above holiday card attempt (the principal's name started with a "B" too!)

NECAP: Standardized Testing 2013

Testing days test us all - not just the students. 
When students tumbled into art today they were off-schedule, arriving at unusual times after a jumbled morning of testing, recess and academics. Everything felt a little askew.

8th graders always start with a 5-minute "warm-up" in their sketchbooks, and today was no different. Starting class with a silent drawing helps transition students from out there" to "in here." Today the assigned sketch references their morning of testing:
The "5-minute sketch" helps transition students into the art studio
Soon Conestoga wagons, oxen and alien space-spiders appeared, some confidently, some tentatively, drawn in pencil in the sketchbooks, and we were ready to start another day in the studio.

Pinch Coil Slab

Typical kiln load
 "Did you fire the clay yet?" Students are always very anxious to get their clay back. Hand-builders create sculptures and functional-ware using one or more of three methods: Pinch, Coil or Slab. Ask a CBMS art student to describe what each method involves. Wheel- throwers typically make functional-ware (cups, bowls, vases), and strive for height and thin, even walls. 

Thrown bowl by "Z," grade 8 and thrown cup by "C," grade 6
Unloading the kiln is this art teachers favorite task - it is then that I get to revel in the creations my clever students have made, and enjoy the feel of the warm clay as it first comes out of the kiln.

Animation 2013

This year's bunch of stop-action animators is busy learning about the ins and outs of iMovie, as they translate hundreds of still photographs into short animated films. Adding sound effects, titles and their own narration comes next - all skills to be discovered and perfected.
grade 6 team adding titles to their animation

Soapstone Carving

One thing about 8th graders is that they've seen it all. Introducing soapstone this fall is an effort to provide a new challenge to these experienced old-timers and re-ignite their creative energy.
 Soapstone is very soft, ranging from 1.5-2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. It is so soft, it can be scratched with a fingernail! Students use rasps for must of the shaping, but saws appear to be the most popular tool, perhaps because of the novelty of sawing through rock?

Once shaped, smoothed, sanded and waxed, soapstone can obtain a high polish. It's delicate however - don't drop it!

"Wolf" by "Z," grade 8