SchoolArts Magazine

JAN 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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tive reflection and revision. • A presentation of learning. This unit has been an ongoing tra- dition at the school for the past ten years, a culmination of the elemen - tary experience. It is implemented schoolwide with between 120 and 160 sixth-graders who represent a wide-range of student populations, from first-generation immigrant to special-education. Teachers from mul - tiple subjects communicate learning targets and develop project parameters that match the intended outcomes. The Process Students first explore the theme of identity: Who are we? What makes us who we are? How does that influence who we will become? Teachers build relationships by sharing who they were in sixth grade and how some of their personality and interests have stayed the same, while other new interests are acquired over the years. Students dis - sect artwork and literature, identifying how writers and artists create personal narratives and self-portraits. Students are then introduced to the challenge. Through inquiry, students identify a variety of topics such as: What brings meaning to their lives? What are options for future careers that align to interests? and What makes up a successful life? Project Parameters • Create a painting that highlights who you will be in the year 2038. • Include measurable goals of the steps it would take to accomplish your dreams. • Create a series of written artifacts (newspapers, blogs, personal let- ters, diary entries, etc.) from vari- ous points in your life that capture key moments and celebrate your successes and roadblocks that may lead to a meaningful life. • Include the themes of culture, a successful career, hobbies and personal interests that bring joy, and personal relationships that may bring meaning. (While some students were interested in being professional athletes, we discussed how most athletes are retired from sports by their mid-thirties, so if they wanted to include that, they should also consider other interests or career options.) This unit provided an opportunity to make connections throughout the curriculum, including portraiture and painting in the artroom, career exploration and goal-setting with the school counselor, and mastering per - sonal narratives through a variety of options in language arts. Reflection and Revision How do we make art class accessible for students who might not feel as successful as artists? Let's celebrate the thinking that goes through the process and celebrate a good idea as much as we do the art-making skills. In this project, teachers create mean- ingful opportunities for students to lead the way for providing feedback for improvement to each other, both during and after the project. If this is a focus, students will build a growth mindset and recognize that they can improve through small refinements. Public Presentations The culmination of the project is a large event in which all students dis - play their planning sheets, artwork, a series of narratives, and their writ - ten goals. They have a choice in what they make and how they showcase their learning. The opportunity allows students to curate their own exhibit and describe their growth from start to finish. Parents ask questions, take pictures, build relationships, and get emotional when they see the potential futures their children have envisioned. The exhibit has left many parents with tears rolling down their faces! This project has been a celebration for all stakeholders: students who reflect and develop a potential future, teachers who collaborate and give students an amazing experience, and parents who walk away amazed at the deep thinking and learning their chil- dren get to take part in. Jeff Lonnett is an instructional specialist in Fairfax County Public Schools in Fair- fax, Virginia. N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and exter - nal context. W E B L I N K Students reflect on prior experiences, how those experiences have shaped their identit , and how the an also serve as a launchpad for future plans and dreams. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 33

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