First of all, IMHO, I think blind contour is tough enough for high schoolers to understand so I wouldn't teach it at that level. I WOULD do contour line though, because it does emphasize all those good things we want them to be aware of, edges, use of line, negative space, fluidity of line, etc, etc, etc, etc. But at that level I think they want something concrete where at the end of the day it actually looks like something they can identify, and well blind contour doesnt.
Secondly, although I never taught 6th grade (I am recently retired,HS), I can tell you that when I taught contour (notice, NOT blind), I made it a "laugh riot adventure" at the beginning, and then we gradually worked into using it as a drawing technique. Here's what I did. When they walked into the art room they found me standing up on my desk. That took them off guard and all eyes were immediately on me. Then I had placed large drawing paper on a table and a large box of watercolor markers right next to it, and as they walked in, I told them each to take 2 different color markers and 4 sheets of paper. I told them today we were just doing exercises that would be timed and held up a timer that I brought from home. I told them to sit down and get ready because it was going to be fast and furious. I told them that here were the "rules" of the game. You can never lift up your marker, and you must try to capture as much detail as you could, and you could NEVER draw the face, just the head, hair, ears, and my glasses. They looked at me like I had a third eye, because I didn't use the word "contour", and they were confused as to how they were going to do this without lifting up the marker, and without erasers. I didn't have a give and take conversation. I just said I was posing, and said the first pose was 2 mins, and we would be working up to 20 minutes, and then I said "GO" and posed and stopped talking. (Yeah, I know I looked like those human sculptures one sees at fair grounds). Giggling ensued, but off they went trying to draw me in 2 mins. At the end of two minutes, I said, ok, everyone hold up your picture in front of your face, and I would rattle of (still standing on the desk) what I loved about the best ones and have kids HEAR what I was looking for. Then I would say "GO" change my pose and do it again. I would gradually up the time to 10 minutes over 3 days. They would hear me say from my perch "Oh, John,you are an art cheat, I just saw you lift your marker" but other than that I stared into space, and they drew like crazy. You get kids who want to pose, and I only let them pose if their drawing has merit. 3rd Day of posing I let them get a brush and a cup of water, and then they take their drawings and "pull" the color from the watercolor line drawing into the figure. They are amazed of the results. So it becomes a drawing fest of me posing and "commenting" on the work from my perch. At the end of each day they took their 4-8 drawings, and numbered them 1-4, or 1-8, the one you like best to the least, and I looked at them to see if there was improvement or if they recognized what I was asking them to do.
From this assignment I got three things, contour line, drawing from observation, and working with the figure. This assignment ALWAYS predated our work with the figure which would be next.
Notice, that these drawings are approached as experiments and NOT final drawings. While contour line is my personal favorite of all drawing styles, it is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. And it is just one of the many drawing styles I taught.
p.s Also, I developed a "I don't think so" attitude over the 35 years of teaching. There would be no top making in my classroom. I might take the time to say, "wow, who knew you could make tops" but then get them right back on task.
> From: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [teacherartexchange] 6th grade art
> Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 23:22:31 -0500
> I wonder if anyone has a syllabus or perhaps some lesson plans for 6th
> grade art that include the grading rubrics. I have been trying to
> teach blind contour. So far a young lady told me today that she had a
> problem with me calling it "blind". They made great tops out of the
> paper plates and pencils. They didn't want to use their hands to draw,
> the tricycle or the plant.
> I am at my wits end. I really need some help.
> JeanE M.
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