8th Grade students created portraits of animals to accompany their community project to support the Humane League. After learning about using art for advocacy, they used the math and grid method to measure and get accurate proportions in their work. They chose materials like watercolor, oil pastel, colored pencil, or acrylic paint to make their portraits. They also created posters on their computers to accompany their chosen pets, some of which were actual animals available for adoption!
As a public school teacher, it is important that I cover the standards and curriculum set forth by my district. Over the years, my goal has been to build the necessary foundation in my artists while also leaving as much choice and problem solving up to the students as possible. This is a tricky balancing act that has taken our units to new and unexpected directions. There is nothing more satisfying than having the students take a project and really make it their own. The quiet in the room as they worked, coupled with the reluctance in putting away their chosen materials at the end of class only reinforces that we are going in the right direction.
The last two weeks, my 5th graders have been working on self-portraits. The lesson originated as “wacky portraits” and has evolved to Expressive Portraits. Who are you? what would you like people to know about you? How do you think people see you? How do you see yourself? What would you choose to communicate with your portrait? were some of the questions answered while learning facial proportions and color use. The real fun was listening to them tell each other about their work.