SchoolArts Magazine

December 2015

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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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 31 Students became captivated by this project because of the low threshold for entry (they did not have to be skilled in drawing) and the opportu- nity to express their own opinions in school, something they feel is extremely rare. The combination of authentic opinions and the establish- ment of an individual cartoon style helped students find their artistic voices. Examples and Styles I began by collecting a variety of current and historical political car- toons from the Internet, making sure that I represented a wide variety of topics and multiple points of view. Great historical examples include Ben Franklin's pre-Revolutionary War "Join or Die" cartoon, and Dr. Seuss's political cartoons from World War II. I also included cartoons that commented on social issues and controversial topics. Remember that this lesson is about allowing students to express and develop their own opinions, so be sure to offer opposing viewpoints. Next, I shared and discussed the cartoons with students while empha- sizing the following points: • Political cartoons can influence history. • Political cartoons discuss the most important political and social issues of the day. • Political cartoons help us under- stand and memorialize tragic events. We also analyzed the cartoons to identify frequently used techniques, such as simplifcation, exaggeration, distortion, use of text, and use of sym- bolism. Ideation and Creation Next, I asked students to pick one or more topics that they considered important. Topics could pertain to politics, society, culture, or any part of modern life. Students were asked to create three or four sketches to explore their ideas. I met briefly with each student to discuss the content and style of his or her cartoon. I emphasized that the cartoons should fit "your style and drawing ability," and that simplicity is often the key to success in visual communication. It is important to discuss the content of the cartoons with students, as they may need help making sure that any challenging or controversial statements are appropri- ate for the school community. This is a good opportunity to discuss freedom of speech and appropriate ways to respond to opposing points of view. Sharing Before students completed the final details of their cartoons, we con- ducted a peer review. Each student read at least two cartoons by other students and filled out a review sheet The combination of authentic opinions and the establishment of an individual cartoon st le helped students find their artistic voices. CONTINUED ON PAGE 45.

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