Evolution of a project

Every trimester I start off with a name based project to help me learn my student's name.  The last couple years I had students create a self portrait with "crazy hair" that was formed from their name.  It was a successful project, but this year I found a fun project on Pinterest based on color and strong adjectives.  Trying to incorporate more reading and writing into my curriculum, I thought I'd give it a whirl! The original project came from Ms. Runde's room and can be found here.  

It was a great lesson to talk about color, line and get used to the painting routine in the art room.  Here are some examples of what first trimester created:

What a great project to bring some beginning of the year color to school!

I liked the project a lot, but I didn't feel like students had a whole lot of control over the final product.  An inspirational art teacher, Ian Sands, blogged about a tweet he read, "if you get 25 of the same thing from students, it's not a project, it's a recipe."  

It got me thinking... "Is this how I am teaching?"  Even in college, much to demise of the art education professor, I wrote about giving students choice in the classroom.  I was criticized for my beliefs, but stuck with them anyways.  So, how did I end up teaching a recipe 9 years later?!  It was time to reflect and renew my idea... 

During my summer art camp I taught a project based on fingerprints.  Students enlarged their fingerprint, outlined in black glue, and filled in with oil pastel.  

Both projects had to do with identity; so I mashed them up, threw in a lot of leeway, and left it up to my students...  We aren't quite finished with this project yet, but they are turning out beautiful!  


Incorporate your thumbprint
Use colors that have meaning to you (yes, we study the meaning behind color)
Use a minimum of 10 adjectives about yourself (you have to know the meaning of the word to use it)

How students tackled the rest of the project was up to them.  Here are some completed examples: 

Aren't they fabulous?! Each student tackled the project in their own way- different colors, different techniques, different ways to incorporate their words.  I think the more I challenge myself to let the students guide their work, the better the work becomes!  Students are generally more engaged when they get to decide how to complete a project, which means I spend less time worrying about management issues and more time actually helping students create their artwork.   


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