Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.
We are in the middle of putting together an 18 school art exhibit, and as we
look at over a 1000 pieces of artwork taught by classroom teachers, it is very
evident that when students and teachers are involved in a DBAE lesson,the art
history component shows in their production. Another thing we became aware of
was that when children try to produce something that they have not had
experience with, for example, a snowstorm in Phoenix, it becomes an exercise in
following directions and manipulating materials, instead of a personal
This brings us to what seems to be a common thread running through our
discussions about developing inquiry lessons, that being the need for a
personal experience to preceed or be an integral part of the lesson. So how
does a teacher develop meaningful inquiry questions for their students? First
it seems crucial that one knows and has respect for their students, regardless
of their age. One kindergarten teacher related to us that she always surveys
her students and their experience with the particular topic before fully
developing the questions. She told us that always they generate questions that
are relevant but that she would not have ocurred to her. Recently the
kindergarten classes were studying the concept of "CHANGE". Before they could
understand "change" in art over time, she needed to involve them in "Change "
so they would understand the concept. Three examples are worth mentioning,
she had them describe popcorn kernals and asked what they could do with them to
make them change. The key here is that she did not tell them, they had to
generate possibilities. After popping the corn, they were then asked to
describe how they had changed. All of the senses could be involved in this
experience. A second "change" experience involved bringing in ingredients to
make pudding and brainstorming what could be done with these ingredients, a
third was using a rock tumbler to change dirty, dusty rocks into smooth shiny
stones. Now the students have a firm grasp on the concept of "change" and can
transfer this learning to art.
The art production activity evolved from the pudding experience. Besides
eating it, it was spread across the desk tops and used as the medium for finger
painting and printmaking. This generated a question of whether other artists
have used pudding to make art,which led to a discussion about the changing
materials used for making art. It was easy to start with cave painting as the
children understood how an artist could use materials from their environment
and their hands as the tool.
We strongly share with Dr. Erickson the importance of all 16 inquiry
objectives, AND we would stress "experience based" understanding as a vital
part of the overall lesson. Student inquiry into a concept is motivated
through a prior experience or an experience provided as part of the lesson.
Inquiry questions can also motivate students to seek experiences so that they
can better understand the concept.
We feel fortunate to have been part of this seminar as it has forced us to
really think about our thinking. We also have had some interesting discussions
with classroom teachers about inquiry, about teaching art history and
evaluating their questioning strategies. These discussions were an opportunity
to communicate with our teachers that we probably would not have created for
ourselves this year. This seminar has had a ripple effect and many of us have
benefited from it.
Linda and Mary
Tempe School District #3
"Putting Kids First"