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Re: motivation  / urban schools

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TwoDucks_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Tue Sep 28 2004 - 04:30:37 PDT


In a message dated 9/28/04 7:20:00 AM, austart@bryanisd.org writes:

> I think I am going to think "OUTSIDE THE BOX>>
>
Jackie: I humbly offer that I probably do NOT belong in this discussion
because 1. I am an elementary teacher 2. I am in a suburban school. But I offer a
story from John Crowe (also not in an urban high school) because there just
might be SOMETHING here that could lead you to something which might help.
Note that he gets them putting paint on the paper and THEN does the teaching
(including those EezanPees.) This excerpt is from the best practice website:
http://knowledgeloom.org
<<In an effort to connect more to his students, it occurred to him to survey
the fifth and sixth graders' interests in preparation for conducting a unit on
painting. He asked two questions of the 100 students:
     1. If you were able to create a painting about anything, what
would you be interested in painting? He asked students to ignore what they felt
they couldn't do, maintaining that he would teach them. Sample responses were:
something outside, mountains of Vermont, mother and daughter doing something
together, a football game, Paradise (Revelation 21: 3,4), a bald eagle flying,
things of cheer, a glass castle.
     2. If someone were to ask you to paint something, what would be
your least favorite thing/subject to paint? Sample responses were: a boring
painting, a fishbowl with no fish, falling off a cliff, Hitler, a well textured
animal, a dancer, a picture of someone I know, a one-color painting.

He took the surveys home to organize them; it was easier than he anticipated.
The student responses fell into the categories of people, landscapes,
objects, and imaginative scenarios. He compiled a list of preferences from each of
the four classes and gathered books and resources for the chosen subjects. When
he met each class at the art room door, he called out the names of students
organized by interest category. Each group was assigned to a large table and
asked to look at the material piled in the center. Some students figured out that
the resources related to their surveyed interests. After a brief introduction
to what he had arranged, he stated, "I want you to follow your interests. Use
the resources for inspiration if you wish. I will teach you individually and
in small groups what you need to know to paint what you want to paint."

He offered mini-lessons: for example, mixing a variety of skin tones to the
figure painting group, the many ways of creating the illusion of distance to
the landscape group, the tradition of drawing upon dreams to the imaginative
scenarios group. In addition, he honored individual and group requests for
instructional topics. Since he provided a wide variety of exemplars, the class had
many sophisticated discussions around the definitions of the genres in addition
to the 'how to' requests. He reflects on the success: "Teaching became more
fulfilling for me, learning more engaging for my students. The resulting
artwork was more authentic and varied. My first step toward student choice was
modest, yet encouraging. I was off the stage and into the more intimate venues of
small groups, organized around their own motivations, not mine."

The substantive discussions around the landscape, figure, still life, and
imagination/dreams genres inspired him to revise his curriculum for fifth- and
sixth-grade students. "I was thinking about how we teachers try to accommodate
different learning styles and wondered how I could concurrently support a
variety of art styles. As a start, I decided to adopt the identification and
descriptions in Edmund Burke Feldman's Varieties of Visual Experience (1972) of four
art styles: objective accuracy, formal order, emotion, and fantasy.">>

Best of luck to you in a difficult situation.
kathy douglas

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