Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reflecting on the new 3D project

     I’d like to say that I always have my unit and lesson plans ironed out before I ever introduce a topic with my students, but that just wouldn’t be true.  The courses I’ve been teaching for a few years are well planned out and solid so that I only have to make minor changes based on current student needs, popular subject matter or to seize a moment of student inspiration.  This is not the case with my 3D Design class this year.  While I have a general plan (Big Idea that governs the syllabus and pacing guide) it’s the details that are working themselves out as I go along.  In the words of my mentor Dr. Craig Rolland, “We are building this plane as it flies”.

     When I thought I had the plan for the first quarter set I realized that plan wasn’t going to work.   The student population I have this year is very diverse in skill level, motivation and maturity.  Some of the projects I wanted to do I don’t think I will be able to do at this point.  Part of that is their ability and part of that is my inability to work out the details so that they will understand and find success in their art.  So I have to back up an reassess.

     I usually like to start a unit with introducing the art history, but that isn’t going to work with this group of students.  In order to get them interested in learning the art history I have to first hook them with the art creation.  So today that is what I did.  Many students in the class had Art II last year so I was able to reference the name project they did the year before.  We discussed the purpose of that project and how they did it.  They had investigated different font styles for writing their name.  Then they added drawings of things important to them.  They used watercolor for the color aspect and black ink for the drawn images.  This led us to more discussion about letter styles.  From here I presented the project in a rough layout.  I had made the basic structure and put on one layer of primer so that the students could see what their first steps would be.  I didn’t want to show them a completed project because I didn’t want to stress some of my already insecure students.  It’s sometimes easier to show them what the messy part looks like rather than the completed project when they are first starting.  The next time we work on this I will present them with what the second step looks like.

     Again with the plain analogy, I’m building this artwork as I teach it to them.  Next year when I do this project with a new group I will have images of the steps in the process as well as the final product.  I will feel more secure myself with this project then as well.

Reflection of today’s class:

Even though I was not as comfortable as I usually am when beginning a unit, class went well.  I say that because the students were engaged in their task of designing their letter sculpture and focused on constructing it.  Thankfully I have a student aide who could get more strips of cardboard cut while I was helping students with their letter designs.  I had my own letter constructed last night and when I got to school I applied a layer of gesso on three sides.  There was an unexpected result with the gesso.  It cracked.  The gesso didn’t come off but there was definitely an interesting surface design.  Why? I asked myself.  The glue was the culprit.  Instead of using paper tape like the lesson from Dick Blick, I used thin craft paper and watered down glue.  This is what my students would be using.  Walla!  I had a teachable moment.  When showing the letter to my students I asked them what could have caused this.  They gave me blank stares.  I explained how I created the block letter and made it solid with paper and watered down glue.  Then from far in the back came the statement “The glue messed it up.”  At last, someone was thinking.  I asked, “How can we fix it?”  Again, blank stares.  I then explained that two layers of gesso would be needed to get a smooth surface for the next step of the project.  “What’s the next step?” asked a student.  I was so glad they asked and everyone was paying attention.  Color and imagery was next.  This was the opportunity to give the homework assignment.  Students are to bring in at least 10 pictures of themselves, friends, family, favorite places and activities.  We will scan and print these for use as surface design.  At this point time for talking was over as the students were getting restless.  It was time for creating.  The students spend a solid hour drawing, cutting and gluing boards to form their letters.  It was a good class.

Side Note:

With 25 highly energetic teenagers getting them to focus on their work can also be a challenge.  In my classroom I allow ipods.  I’ve found that students can block out other distractions and focus on their own work when they have their music playing.  When students are working independently they may plug in and listen to their music, as long as it’s not so loud as to be heard by others.  I worry about hearing loss.

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