SchoolArts Magazine

February 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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28 FEBRUARY 2018 SchoolArts Welcome Defiance More than once, students got me excited about their sentences but defied my expectations with their brain - storms or their sketches. One student skipped those steps entirely. When I suggested sketching, she reminded me that I had given her free reign; it wasn't my place to tell her how to work. She was absolutely right. I was proud of her for putting me in my place. She ended up restarting her illustration several times, but she never got frustrated. It was a method that worked for her. I had abandoned the master and apprentice relationship that my mentors had used with me. My new role was as an advi - sor and an occasional assistant. Questions Raised There were plenty of questions to answer, of course. It's difficult to build a picture out of an idea. What images does your message describe? "Can those symbols be combined somehow?" Non- sequiturs rarely work, but jux - tapositions pack a strong punch. On the other hand, sometimes it's powerful just to see an idea drawn Upon seeing her work though, I had a sinking feeling. This painting had no voice. In her moment of pride, I felt that we had much further to go. A New Approach to Studio Projects Privately, I set a new goal for myself: Help my students to cultivate and communicate their own opinions and points of view. To that end, I cre - ated studio projects that demanded introspection or the expression of an opinion. My seventh-graders, for example, used political cartoons to discuss the 2016 election and its aftermath. My first-graders illus - trated storybooks about the joys and challenges of their family lives. Translating Ideas One of our most successful projects was a quick one. I showed my fifth-grade students the work of Jeremyville. His elegant Community Service Announcements encapsulate complex ideas such as "Our ideas form our own private universe." I asked my students what ideas or messages they would like to share with our community. The challenge was less about how to draw and more about how my stu - dents could translate their ideas into images. To that end, I set no param - eters for methods or materials, but I provided many examples of concep - tual art and illustration. Our rubric showed the level of thought that I expected from their finished work. Say Something The hardest step for most students was finding something meaning - ful to say. My only requirement was that a sentence be worked into the finished piece of art. So, I asked them to think about rough times that they have had and what ideas helped them then. "Did a parent or a teacher ever tell you something that seemed exciting or worth sharing? What advice would you give to your younger sibling? If you could go back in time to the beginning of the school year, what would you tell yourself?" Shoshana Zisblatt.

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