Monday, April 16, 2012

Put Your Mind to It!

"There is no achievement without goals" - Robert J McKaine

We have noticed for a while that one of our students has been really interested in the game "Angry Birds". She isn't always interested in writing and she wrote a long and detailed book about what she calls "Mad Birds".

My partner Cheryl began to explore the game with this student a bit more and they looked at pictures online. After sketching and drawing some of the birds, they decided that they would explore paper mache.

The covered a balloon with paper mache to begin their project. When Cheryl explained that this project would take a long time and required patience, the child simply replied "That's okay, all you need to do is put your mind to it".

Over the next two weeks that is exactly what they did. They slowly worked on creating a paper mache "Mad Bird" helmet. She chose to do the Red Mad Bird, it was definitely her favourite. Part way through the project, she even came to school with a new red Angry Bird backpack.

This child was so interested and patient while working through this project. Other students were intrigued by her project and joined in as well. Although it was an art project, it wasn't prescribed or thought of by teachers. We gained a lot of rich assessment data about measurement and art. We also were given excellent insight to the children's ability to persevere.

I think what makes projects like this (and many of the other amazing ones happening in our room right now) perfect is when colleagues admire the children as artists. This morning another teacher in our school came to visit our room and shared how amazing the kids creations are! She was inspired to reflect on the way art is being taught in the upper grades as well.

Why should any art have to look a certain way as a finished project? When I taught in the primary grades I remember making "samples" to show the kids HOW they would do their art the next day. What was I thinking? I never realized until today just how restrictive that is to their thought process.

Essentially, in the one time the primary children feel they can be creative I was taking all of that power away from them. Why don't primary rooms have art studios set up to allow for students to more freely express themselves? Lots of food for thought - great discussion this morning, this is what makes me excited!!!


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