SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 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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P O I N T O F V I E W CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. U sing humor is important in helping teachers connect with students—they enjoy classes where the teacher is funny and entertaining, and they're more likely to pay attention and remember the lesson. Humor and playfulness are often present in elementary and middle-school art, but when students enroll in high-school art, it seems like the focus is more on observa - tional drawing and painting in order for art students to learn the basics. Elementary Humor During my elementary school stu- dent-teaching placement, I taught second-graders about insect anatomy, and we discussed how insects came to be trapped in amber millions of years ago. Students created a collage of colored tissue paper to represent the amber and used oil pastels to draw insects on the paper. My cooperating teacher was a former English teacher who encour- aged me to incorporate reading and writing into my units. When my students were done with their mixed- media creations, they wrote a short story about what the insects were doing in the few moments before they became trapped in the amber. I put no parameters or restrictions on what they could write; I just wanted my students to practice creative writing. Since it was my first experience teaching children in second grade, I had no idea what to expect or what went on in a child's mind. What I got were funny stories that made me laugh. One story was about a boyfriend and girlfriend bug taking a walk on a tree branch when the sap came along. They were forever trapped in time and holding hands. Symbolic Sculptures When I began teaching high-school students, I realized that I missed the innocent humor of my elemen - tary students. So, I tried to infuse humor where I could and have it make sense. Today in my ceramics classes, I offer a couple of opportuni - ties for students to use humorous memories and experiences in their sculptures. When I assign a slab bowl at the beginning of the year as a way to teach students the basics of wedging clay and working with slabs, I encourage them to use shapes that have personal meaning. When I asked students what significance the chosen shapes had to their lives, one student, Katie, said she chose an apple and bees because they were "symbols representing an inside joke from lunch." This was perfect. What teen - ager doesn't have inside jokes? What could be more personal than secret information only shared with your best friends? Later that year, I gave students the opportu - nity to sculpt an inside joke. My students will keep the resulting sculptures forever because the ideas behind their work have such fond and personal memories. I don't ask students to explain their joke, but some decide to share the meaning behind their symbolic sculptures. A Little Humor Goes a Long Wa Corinna Stone M tudents will keep the resulting sculptures forever because the ideas behind their work have such fond and personal memories. Adashia, Butter(fl ) Jar. 14 MAY 2018 SchoolArts

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