I did a unit on totems with sixth-graders and after studying the west
coast Haida totems we made our own personal totems. The kids got in
groups of four and they each selected an animal that they felt
represented themself best and we stacked them together. We did not copy
the style of the native peoples as the objective was to make it personal.
Many of my students are Chinese so some decided to do their Chinese
horoscope animal and others decided on an animal that mirrored their
characteristics. We spent about 4 hours researching the west coast Haida
totems but I didn't want to copy their style or belief system - just
appreciate it. Then we moved on to make our totems personally relevant.
They stood about 7 feet tall and guarded our classrooms. About
unfinished work - I expect them all to finish their work. I have learned
the hard way to make major assignments due at least one month before a
grading period comes to an end.( this also helps since it takes me so
long to mark a major assignment such as a modern masters unit where they
need to do a research paper , coloured sketch and acrylic canvas ) For
the four weeks at the end of the term we do assignments that can be
finished in class and take 1 - 2 classes, this way the perfectionists
have 4 weeks of afterschool time to finish their work and the slackers
have no excuses. Once something is more than two classes overdue, a note
goes home - 3 weeks a phone call, then I have covered myself. have a
great summer everyone.