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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Advertiser Index Advertiser Page AMACO 48, CIII Bailey 15 Blick Art Materials CIV Davis Publications CII, 7, 16, 46 Kiss-Off 41 L&L Kilns 2 NAEA 13 Skutt 1 The SHOP Curator's Corner 43 Documenting Children's Meaning 43 Envisioning Writing 43 The Open Art Room 43 Royalwood 44 Youth Art Month 44 Clay Puns Another lesson based on humor that I tried with my ceramics class was to create a visual pun in clay. Puns are plays on words, and stu - dents have to be creative to think of a way to three-dimensionally depict words and a concept. We start the unit by brainstorming a list of possible puns to sculpt. Stu - dents came up with several great examples: "moth ball," which could be sculpted as a ball of different types of moths, not the smelly little white ball that keeps moths away; "dust bunny"; and "couch potato." One student made a crab cake: a slice of cake covered in a scene of the Chesapeake Bay featuring a crab. It even had a personal connec - tion, since we live in Maryland. It's always fun to see people's faces when they figure out what a sculpture is about. An oxymoron could also work for this lesson. How about a "jumbo shrimp" or an "egg- plant"? Imagine the challenge of try - ing to combine two totally different images in an aesthetically pleasing manner. For my high-school stu - dents, I've learned that a little bit of humor goes a long way. Corinna Stone is an art teacher at Perry Hall High School in Perry Hall, Maryland. reenie79 @hotmail.com P O I N T O F V I E W CONTINUED ON PAGE XX. 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 choose 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 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14. THE ORIGINAL K iSS-OFF ® Stain Remover Before you throw it away... try Kiss-Off! KissOff.com "I had gotten blue oil paint on one of my fall coats... I felt like I should give Kiss-Off ® a try and lo and behold no more dried on oil paint! My jacket was saved." ~Malissa Removes: Ink · Oil Paint · Grease · Makeup · Blood · Lipstick · Coffee · Red Wine · Grass Stains & More Ideal for Classroom, Travel & Art Studio MADE IN THE USA I t was a touchy subject. Students, parents, teachers, and the adminis- tration all had strong feelings about the election. That, of course, is why it seemed like an important subject to address in school. I approached the headmaster for permission. With a few adjustments, he approved my plan to teach political cartooning to our seventh-grade art students. That was nine years ago. Barack Obama and John McCain were campaigning for the United States presidency. Seems like a simpler time, doesn't it? But my students were dra- matically invested in the 2008 presi- dential election. When I presented them with the opportunity to draw cartoons about it, they cheered. Getting Started As they brainstormed ideas, though, I learned my first lesson from this proj- ect: Middle-schoolers have almost no idea what's happening in the world. Despite their passionate opinions, my students only knew four verifiable facts about the candidates: Obama was young and black; McCain was old and white. I discovered that this project would not be about drawing or even joke writing. It would be about reading, thinking, and scrutinizing those thoughts. My seventh-graders and I have revisited this project with every presi- dential campaign. During the prima- ries, I introduce political cartooning near the end of the school year. On an election year, it is the first assign- ment that we do together. The fin- ished cartoons usually go up a week or two before Election Day. Their dis- play always causes a buzz in school. Political Cartooning Skills The cartooning process helps my students refine their thoughts about politics. I am careful not to inject my own opinions if I can. Instead, I ask my students how and where they came up with their ideas. Many students arrive to class with bizarre information. I can't imagine the game of telephone, for example, that made one student say, "Bernie Sanders (a Jewish candidate) wants to kill Jews." So, the first skill that I teach is fact- checking. And, when facts are hard to verify, source checking. Can my stu- dents recognize bias in the news that they are receiving? Do their parents, their friends, or they themselves have biases of their own? Analyzing News To illustrate bias this year, I took my students on a tour of Allsides.com. This news site collects articles from around the web and sorts them into three columns: News from the Left, News from the Center, and News from the Right. It is fascinating how a turn of phrase can flip the same news event from one side to another. "Many political cartoonists cre- ate cartoons that defend one side or another," I explain to students. I show them examples. "But the best cartoonists point out ridiculousness wherever they see it." Worksheets I provide my students with a worksheet to help them conceive their cartoons. Their artwork must be drawn from current events. So, at the top of the Talking Rama Hughes worksheet, they are asked to synopsize the subject of their cartoon and to list the sources where they read about it. This was, surprisingly, the most chal - lenging portion of the project. Using Active Reading Few students wanted to do the read- ing that this assignment required. They regurgitated hearsay or cartoons that they had already seen. Many of the jokes were years old or grossly untrue. "What's your source?" I asked again and again. A few stu- dents defended their misinformation stubbornly. Active reading was the The best cartoonists point out ridiculousness wherever the see it. POLITICS CONTINUED ON XX. M I D D L E S C H O O L 30 MAY 2018 SchoolArts SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 31 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31. solution. "Show me your reading." Students were taught to underline important information while they read, and to circle the specific sen - tences or ideas that inspired their final jokes. Having a shared news source to discuss was vital to our conversation. My favorite thing about this project is that every stu - dent who actually read an article came up with something funny to say about it. Several students who are shy about their drawing skills are enthusiastic about politics or joke writing. It was a pleasure to give those kids a chance to shine in class. In 2017, for the first time ever, I began teaching political cartoons divorced from a presidential election. The news cycles move so dramati - cally now that there is always a lot for me and my students to consider. Their cartoons help us all to digest what is happening and to create our own genuine opinions. Rama Hughes is an art teacher at Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Ange - les, California, and a contributing editor for SchoolArts. rama@ ramahughes.com 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 www.ramahughes.com Follow SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 41

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