My 6-8th graders' first "real" assignment of the quarter (after making
their sketchbooks) was based on using their names or initials as the
basis for their artwork. The sixth graders wrote their names in large
block letters--any style--so that they extended to the edges of the
paper and overlapped some, creating lots of interesting negative spaces
(hey, a principle!). The letters, the positive spaces (another one!)
remained blank while they add a variety of patterns (that's three!) in
the negative spaces. These always came out really nice, and were pretty
foolproof. The seventh graders made mandalas that hid their initials in
eight sections, working with negative/positive, patterning, color
schemes, balance (yikes, an element and another principle!). It was an
adaptation of Larry Prescott's lesson on IAD. A bit tricky at first,
but the results were really admirable. The eighth graders made
freestanding sculptures or reliefs of their names. That was probably
the most popular assignment, one that all the students in all the grades
wanted to do. Here they were working with form, balance (literal and
metaphorical), shape...well, you get the picture.
There are a lot of lessons on IAD that incorporate using their names.
Woody's right, hook 'em with something successful at the beginning. You
can sneak in Es and Ps pretty easily without hitting them over the head
> I am curious about how any of you out there at the middle school level
> start out the year. I teach 6-8 and generally begin with the elements
> and principles, but I wonder if I could hook more of my students if I
> approached it from a meaning point of view.