SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

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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butcher paper) and either lay it on the floor or hang it over my whiteboard. Then, throughout assembly week, stu- dents add their creations. This can be t he role of one grade level or it can be the responsibility of each student. I u sually hang the mural with the help of other teachers after school. The excitement in the halls the fol - lowing morning is electric! Through- out the entire day you hear little e xclamations of, "That's mine!" or, "I made that!" Students' enthusiasm is contagious and it sparks conversations between them and their parents and teachers about their art and art class. Collaborating as One As a final component of the project, I suggest that students have their par- ents take a picture of them with both t heir work and the completed mural. This helps avoid concerns about get- ting to keep their art and motivates t hem to view and discuss the art with their parents. Students, teachers, parents, and administrators all love seeing a new mural go up in the hall. I receive more compliments about the murals than any other lesson I do! I love that the creation of the mural serves as a prac- tical example of the artistic process while simultaneously providing an opportunity for every student to col- laborate as one larger community. Jennifer Hartman is currently a PhD candi- date in Art Education at the University of N orth Texas and an elementary art teacher at Pecan Creek Elementary School in Den - ton, Texas. hartman.jd@ gmail.com N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work. W E B L I N K www.dentonisd.org/Domain/7993 and "How can artists work together?" Next, I find it helpful to decide on a theme. For us, the theme usually focuses on what will be going on in the school at the time we hang it. For example, murals that are displayed on our Winter Fine Arts Night have a winter theme, while our most recent open house night mural followed our school's chosen theme for the year, Out of This World. If you don't have clearly defined themes such as these, you can let your students choose and vote on a theme to give them more ownership of the idea. Creating a Concept Sketch Once the theme is decided, it is helpful to create a concept sketch. This plan- ning step models for young students t he artistic process for larger and more complex works of art. Create the con- cept sketch based on student ideas, or i n direct collaboration with them. Divvying Mural Work Next, I assign a specific portion of the mural to each grade level. You might have a design that allows each student to contribute a specific piece of art. For example, in our Out of This World mural, each student (more than 700) drew him- or herself as a cartoon char - acter. Or, you may have a design that w ill not allow that many individual- ized pieces. In cases like this, I have k indergarten and first-grade students do things like paint or print back- ground papers; I ask second, third, a nd fourth-grade students to make the pieces (sometimes working in small groups); and my fifth-grade students are responsible for the design, layout, and assembly of the mural. Regardless of how you divide the work, make sure students know what portion of the design they are contributing to so they recognize the importance of their role. In addition, emphasize that they are creating a piece that will become a permanent part of one big work of art. Assemblage Once the pieces are complete, we begin assembly. I usually assemble the background (made of several pieces of our class time. With these challenges in mind, I began to develop new tac - tics. My favorite strategy by far for d eveloping community in the artroom is the school-wide collaborative mural. I've consistently found that murals take up a relatively small amount of instructional time while creating a large impact on the overall sense of community in the artroom, plus they have the added bonus of serving as an advocacy tool for our program. Brainstorming To create our mural, we begin by brainstorming the best time and place to hang it. This allows for ques- tions such as, "What is a mural?" " Why would artists make big art?" M avorite strateg ar for developing communit n the art classroom is the school- wide collaborative mural. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 33

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