Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lesson: Elements and Identity Sketchbook Cover

 The Sketchbook:  What is it good for?

The INSIDE scoop:
Matt's handout
Table of Contents at the
beginning of each sketchbook.

Over the past two years of teaching at Kenwood Academy, I have been so very lucky to collaborate with the most innovative, creative, and dedicated art teachers who constantly revamp and "upcycle" (to use that oh-so-trendy word in a different context) lessons from the past as well as create and modify new lessons to keep the projects and process fresh and exciting.  Last year, Matt Milkowski and I devised a plan to help students understand, apply, and retain the Elements of Design (Line, Shape, Form, Value, Texture, Color, Space).  Matt had grabbed an idea of using the sketchbook as a daily journal or binder is used in other classes.  The sketchbook was super organized; students had a table of contents, numbered each page, used Cornell Note taking strategies to take class notes, practiced drawing tasks all in this sketchbook.  Students were also held accountable with periodic sketchbook grades based on organization, completion, and broken down rubric expectations.  This was the BEST idea... EVER.  Below are some examples of students' sketchbook pages...

Cornell Notes for the element LINE
Line Exercise
Space project:
Linear Perspective Movie Title and Ground Collage

Value Worksheet


Judging a Book by its COVER:


My finished sketchbook cover.

We had always planned on making a cover for the students' sketchbooks, but because of this structure, we didn't find the right time.  Therefore, it seemed appropriate to unify the Elements through the sketchbook cover, applying what the students' had learned over the first quarter.  As promised to the students, first quarter focused on technique and foundation, and the rest of the year would be more focused on applying what they learned to create conceptual artwork.  In this case, the concept being explored was Identity.  Even though Matt and I followed the same structure and projects up to this point (which is always incredibly amazing as we can bounce ideas off each other and share the responsibility of lesson planning and handout making), at this point, Matt and I followed slightly different paths/approaches to the project.  We had the same basic expectations and the same ideas, just slightly different ways of teaching.  My approach to teaching larger, more conceptual projects tends to be to give students structured expectations, guide them along the way, but then let the product be more "loosey-goosey."   This has its pros and cons for sure.  The outcome tends to vary greatly (at times surprising and exciting, and at other times disappointingly mediocre), and it does take a lot more individual student attention, which is not only incredibly difficult but also exhausting within the 45 minute period. However, students really get to explore their own style, personality, and problem-solving.  

This project took longer than expected (as they usually do)- several weeks.  I began with a powerpoint, as usual.  I also always give my students a handout of expectations, description of the project etc.  Then, we explored identity using a set of prompts and then turned that into an identity word web.  This helps students understand how to THINK about creating art.  I have them start with themselves in the middle, then words that relate to them stemming from themselves, then off of each of those bubbles, students are to come up with as many words of images that describe those.  I try to tell remind students that it doesn't matter if the image relates to them or not, just try to come up with as many possibilities as possible.  In doing so, we are creating a bank of ideas, and pushing yourself to think outside the box in a way you might  not expect should you just pick the first image/idea that comes to your mind.  

One student example of
identity brainstorming
using a word web.

Page 1 of the Identity Prompts
Next, we explored building a ground for our covers to start from.  In this case, we practiced multiple watercolor techniques.  Students decided what colors and techniques they wanted to use to create the actual ground for their collage.  

After that, students began to collect images and drawings and items that they might want to use to create their identity collage.  The largest hurtle to overcome was to get the students to think differently about collage rather than randomly pasting images and words onto a piece of paper.  My go-to example?  "You know how you have a ton of photos of you and your friends and your family placed every which way on the walls in your room?  Well, that is what you are going to NOT DO!"  Using plenty of examples in the powerpoint is usually pretty helpful.  Often, I will print out several examples of good collages for students to reference along the way.  

The second biggest hurtle was discussing the idea of UNIFYING their piece.  Students were to use at least 3 Elements of Art in an intentional and meaningful way.  They also had to include at least one of their own drawings.  As students worked on their own piece, I created mine; showing students how I collected and created pieces to include, how I arranged them using compositional techniques, how I ultimately unified the piece AS I was creating is always helpful.  I could also use my pieces to illustrate my thought process as I problem solved the list of expectations given.  Lastly, students had to write an essay about their piece and how it reflects their identity, and why they made the choices they did.  This was very insightful into what the students were trying to do (whether successful or not), and helped me grade their work more effectively and accurately.  

One last note:  I had groups of autistic students in my art classes.  Therefore, every single project we created was modified for their skill level.  Thank GOD for my amazing aids who I worked daily with in order to create some appropriate and exciting modifications.  Below you will see examples of student work, which includes examples of the modified autistic works. 













Side view- student used FORM as one of her elements...


Example of one Autistic Student's Work.
Example of one Autistic Student's Work.

 











10 comments:

  1. Love this!

    Do you have a PDF or file you would share? :)

    I do daily sketchbooks with my students and I am looking for ways to update the assignments.

    Do you incorporate sketchbooks into your budget or do students purchase as a requirement for the class?

    I am going to try a weekly photo assignment using a hashtag (#bahsart) on instagram to encourage a new form of daily art practice.

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  2. Hi Britt-
    Email me (jataylorart@gmail.com). I have typically had students purchase the sketchbooks from us. They can go get their own, but ours tend to last longer, are exactly what they need, and are cheaper (due to bulk ordering)! Love the hashtag idea for photo! I'll be curious to hear how that progresses!

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  3. Interesting idea! What age group were the students who participated in this sketchbook project?

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  4. Hi Keaghlan-
    All lessons here so far are 9-12. However, I'm sure most can be modified for various age groups.

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  5. you have some great ideas! I have my middle schools students making coverstock covers and folding computer paper in half width wise, I have stretchy bands for binding...about 60 pgs (half sheet equals 1 page; 1 page of computer paper equals 4 half sheets etc.). Students number, and some exercises they glue in after completion, some they just do in the books...it works giving that I have zero budget and cannot sell anything...low socioeconomic area...and they all have expensive shoes, etc...go figure...anyway, when I did do real sketchbooks, we didn't use them up (kids didn't) and I'd reuse the fresh paper for draft drawings...lots of work on my part to deal with...no longer doing that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. you have some great ideas! I have my middle schools students making coverstock covers and folding computer paper in half width wise, I have stretchy bands for binding...about 60 pgs (half sheet equals 1 page; 1 page of computer paper equals 4 half sheets etc.). Students number, and some exercises they glue in after completion, some they just do in the books...it works giving that I have zero budget and cannot sell anything...low socioeconomic area...and they all have expensive shoes, etc...go figure...anyway, when I did do real sketchbooks, we didn't use them up (kids didn't) and I'd reuse the fresh paper for draft drawings...lots of work on my part to deal with...no longer doing that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your ideas, Gini! I also had a lot of "waste" from some of the kids. It's funny, because I teach drawing differently, and we use our sketchbooks differently... and they completely use up the space on their own. I have had students love the freedom, while others love and need the organization of these sketchbooks. I almost always have a handful of students who say, "This is awesome, I want to make this for my other classes!" It's interesting...

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  7. I just found your blog. Starting to teach high school art this fall after 6 yrs in elementary. I would love to have a copy of your handouts pictured in this sketchbook lesson. Wonderful information!

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  8. I just found your blog. Starting to teach high school art this fall after 6 yrs in elementary. I would love to have a copy of your handouts pictured in this sketchbook lesson. Wonderful information!

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  9. Hi Janet! I think that you really have something here. If you put it all together and put it up on "Teachers Pay Teachers" (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:Pay+Teachers) I would sure lay out a few bucks to buy it. I shamelessly took screen shots of what you have in this blog, simply because I couldn't figure out any other way to load it in my arsenal. I am certainly going to try it out this year. Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete