SchoolArts Magazine

January 2018

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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teacher-created list that includes guiding questions for students to address and options for them to share what they've learned, such as giving pre- sentations, creating displays, making videos, or recording podcasts. Another option is to ask students to help determine the direction of content by ask- ing them to propose topics for research and presentation. Open Art History Making the study of art history open to all students means including a high level of choice in the content they study and how they present their learning. Instead of focusing on a specific set of names and dates, class content can focus on big ideas and themes that have shaped our world, studied through the lens of the art of the past as well as current art practices today. Students can help determine the direction of their learning and use their technological preferences to investigate topics and create content that demonstrates their learning while it informs their peers. Art history class in the Open Art Room is an exciting place to be! Melissa Purtee is an art teacher at Apex High School in Apex, North Carolina, and co-author of The Open Art Room, available from Davis Publications. 22 JANUARY 2018 SchoolArts T H E O P E N A R T R O O M CONTINUED ON PAGE XX. Caption A rt history can be tricky for teachers who value student choice. Covering every important artist and artwork takes so much time that there is little room left over for self- directed study. We have to cover everything, especially the big names in Western art, right? The answer to this question depends on who you ask and what you think is most important for your students to learn. Determining What to Teach If we take some time and really exam- ine the art that we consider valuable, it often falls into one of two categories: art that we personally connect with or art that we were told was worth learn - ing about when we were in school. Neither of these reasons is an espe- cially strong way to determine the art students should learn about. What if, instead, we look for ways to provide a comprehensive overview of the global history of art-making and, at the same time, allow room for students to self- select what they'd like to learn about? Historical Connections Art history has to focus on remem- bering names, dates, and artistic movements to some degree, but it can also expand to include more diverse content and go deeply into the inter- ests of specific students. It's impor- tant for learners to get a sense of the diverse artistic traditions that have been a part of human life on earth, as Art Histor n the Open Art Room Melissa Purtee Making the stud f art histor pen to all students means including a high level of choice in the content the stud well as to understand how contem- porary artists pull from those tradi- tions in a global way to add meaning and context to work made today. In addition, relating art from a range of time periods to art created today fosters a deep understanding of the ties that connect art throughout the ages, and an exploration of how our inter - pretation of it changes over the years. Providing Options Once an overall structure that includes big ideas in art history and contemporary art-making is in place, we can give students options to direct their own learning within these speci - fications. One way to accomplish this is by asking them to research related topics in groups or on their own, then share their learning with the class. These topics can be selected from a CONTINUED FROM PAGE 22. and identified the positive shapes that the tree shadow made. I asked students to pick up only the positive shapes of their tree shadows and bring them over to the blank side of the white paper. Students had the option to create a mirror-like image that showed reflec - tion symmetry or a glide reflection that slides along the picture plane without flipping. Students could have also created a reflection of their shape by sliding it over and flipping it around to make an asymmetrical positive and negative design. They played around with these possibilities before deter - mining what they liked or preferred. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35. while tracing it with their other hand. Students learned that they did not need to be directly under the tree to find its shadow. They walked around with their boards like they were trying to capture a fly, only to realize that the shadows were not moving and they paused to draw. Image Transfer Once students captured their images, we brought them back into the classroom. I demonstrated how they would need to take a black sheet of construction paper, place it underneath their line drawings, and then re-clip it to the cardboard. This flexible surface enabled stu - dents to push their pencils into the drawing without poking a hole through it. Since the cardboard was soft, the pressure from draw- ing with the pencil debossed the black paper to capture the tracing. I n Canada, the winters are cold and the ground is covered in snow, but the sun is usually shining. Strong shadows are created by the sun play - ing off and through solid objects such as trees and freshly fallen snow. These shadows are cast onto a variety of surfaces, from buildings to sidewalks, but when shadows are cast onto the snow from bare trees, it creates sharply defined, contrasting forms. Discussing Shadow I talked with my young students about these shadows (a fresh sheet of snow had fallen overnight). We discussed how the snow acts like a canvas for the shadows created by the trees. I shared a few examples of artists who work with black-and- white forms to introduce the idea of positive and negative space. We then went outside to the school's recess yard to observe the shadows up close. Searching for Shadows Students each brought a flat sur- face, such as a thick piece of card- board or drawing board, with a sheet of manila paper attached. They walked around in the area between the trees and snow to search for an interesting shadow. The only criteria I set was that the shadow had to touch the edge of their paper at least three times. Students enjoyed being outside and seeing something that they walk by every day in a new way. Some students approached a single tree, searching for the right shape. It was a process of experimentation, as they had to adjust their boards to prevent from blocking the shadow with their bodies. Holding the board in the air and not putting it down onto the snow also made it a challenge for students to hold the board steady SHADOWS ON Aileen Pugliese Castro Students enj d being outside and seeing something that the alk b ver a n a new wa . Tree Puzzles Students removed the black paper from underneath and then cut along their debossed lines, creating a puzzle. I asked them to next put both puzzle pieces back together on top of their original drawings. Given a sheet of large white drawing paper that was twice the size of their original draw- ing, they put this larger paper under- neath the puzzle, sliding the black papers to one side. During this shuffling of paper, we discussed positive and negative shapes CONTINUED ON PAGE 42. SNOW Left to right: A student finds the perfect shadow; Connor, tree puzzle layout; Issa, positive-negative tree design, grade four. 34 JANUARY 2018 SchoolArts SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 35 E L E M E N T A R Y Positive and Negative Space After determining the placement and removing their original drawings, students glued the black puzzle pieces down onto the white surface. Once all of the pieces were glued down, without throwing away any scraps, students held up their designs. I asked them to identify the positive space in their image. I also asked them to look at the opposite side, which was made up of negative shapes—the negative space being the extra space around or between the positive shapes. Students were able to identify other shapes within the positive and negative spaces of their paper col - lage. While the design was held up, I asked them to turn it once and notice what they saw. Turning it again, they found something different than the initial orientation. After rotating it again and again, I asked them to determine the direction of their new abstract designs. I was always ask - ing, "What shapes do you see?" Aileen Pugliese Castro is an art educator in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. aileen@ aileen - 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 show/1260715.Shadows_and_ Reflec- tions Follow 42 JANUARY 2018 SchoolArts

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