Beginning Drawing-
Throught trial and error, the method that works the best for me is the use
of the grid. I begin the year with a series of pretest drawings (simple
cartton characters, the Picasso 'Stravisnsky' drawing used in the upside
down exercise, etc). After each pretest drawing is completed, I have the
students write responses to questions to express what was either easy or
difficult for each drawing. (This gets them prepped for using Rubrics and
responding to questions I include on the Grading Rubrics for their
projects).
Then I introduce Subjects utilizing the grid system. Sometimes I begin with
a 16-Block Grid (4 by 4 rows) and thenb move on the the standard 64-Block
grid system (8 by 8 rows) that I use for assignments. I teach the use of
the grid to build the drawing a block at a time, and then a row at a
time...(to build the drawing like fitting together a puzzle). Right away,
this begins to solve the problems students encounter with proportion
(getting all of the parts to fit together correctly so that everything
'looks right.' This method also touches upon another area, measurement and
fractions, an area that most students show great weakness. I instruct how
to read the ruler and explain the basic fractions involved. It's no secret
that the use of the calculator in math class diminishes the student
understanding of basic fractions (a skill that they begin learing in grade 3
I believe).

I usually have the students work out a border and format for each drawing
they do. This also requires using the ruler. But some kids simply can't
get the concept right away for measureing and dividing with a ruler. So I
came up with an alternate method for measureing and dividng using a strip of
paper. This gets the kids who need to use this method on track and self
productive until I can get around to working with them one to one on
understanding the ruler. I've had students taking upper leverl high school
math that really don't understand the concept of fractions/measurement.
Everything to them is metric/calculator. I re-introduce them to fractions
and measurement when they learn the basics of the drawing methods that I
instruct.

So the drawing, grid, measurement, and fractions all go hand-in-hand for my
beginning drawing lessons. The results are quick and amazingly dramatic
(from the pretest to postest grid drawings). The resulting drawings go up
on display and in most cases I get the student 'hooked on drawing.' I can
continue to give the student who struggles the more simple line only
subjects (until they catch on). For the ones who 'get it' right away, I
challenge them early with drawing invloving flat shading and even gradated
shading (even before I teach the concept of shading). It's amazing how many
pick up the basics of shading from these early drawings.

The grid is a tool that I use to fall back on frequently (for instance with
the self portrait assignment). Along the way students learn to also
'measure with their eyes' when I have them 'sub-divide' each block of the
grid (into fourths) in order to increase the accuracy and placement of the
lines and shapes contained in each block of the 'puzzle.' It is the way I
get students to actually frehand draw and get a good representation/likeness
of the given subject (without resorting to tracing). It elimates the
frustration the student experiences when drawing "and it just doesn't look
right."

Once kids produce and get great reults, they can use this method to draw
subjects of their own choice for Extra Credit Drawings to work on when an
assigned project has been completed. They can move on and work on their own
until the next class project is assigned. Once the grid and proportion
issue is solved, it's really easy to move students on the freehand contour
drawing from observation. They learn to measure with their eyes and make
thei own judgements on proportion when fitting together a particular subject
LIKE A PUZZLE!

Although many disagree with the use of the grid, this system WORKS for me
and gets my students INTERESTED in DRAWING!
Right now out 1st grading period has ended and I have many great intro
drawings that I've not yet had the time to put on display. (Maybe next
week)...

(Check for and excuse any typos...it's Friday and I'm ready to head for
home)!