Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Assessment: Kindergarten Self-Portraits

One of my goals this year was to document the way I assess my students' artwork. I try to avoid assessing artwork solely on project completion but strive to find creative ways to measure understanding. I thought I'd share my thought process behind a very simple portrait lesson I tried with Kindergarten this year. I use the Getty Museum lesson planning template because the
Learning Objective-----> Activity-------> Assessment
trajectory is a logical thought process to me. They have a great "Lesson Building by Grade" which I find very helpful which you can access by clicking here.

Below are a few of the big ideas that I used to teach my Kindergarteners the basics of portraiture.

1) Learning Objective: Students learn about the life and work of an artist and speculate about his or her artistic intention in a given work.

Activity: Through guided looking, students learn about the life and portraiture of Frida Kahlo by viewing her iconic "Portrait with Bonito." Students then examine "Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear" by Vincent Van Gogh and speculate about his artistic intention.

Assessment: Students can formulate a theory about why a single element or image is included in a work of art and support their theory either with information from the artist's biography, or information found in other works of art by the same artist.

2) Learning Objective: Students identify and categorize art into different genres and categories.

Activity: Students work in groups to sort a deck of art print cards into portrait and non-portrait categories.

Assessment: Students who can accurately sort their card piles demonstrate a thorough understanding of the portrait genre. Students who successfully sort less than half of the card deck need more practice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

African-Inspired Metal Tooling Masks

   I first learned about the art of repouss√© or metal tooling when examining a copy of Tutankhamun's burial mask during a touring exhibit I visiting when I was in high school. It was hard for me to imagine such delicate work was done on one solid piece of gold. "How in the world did the Egyptians do that?" I wondered. It wasn't until a few years later while doing my student teaching, I had the opportunity to try my hand at the process. I found the meticulous balance between gentle and firm to be quite meditative and I thought it would be a really great project to try with my current group of 6th graders. When I found these encouraging examples from the There's A Dragon in My Classroom Blog, I budgeted for some 36 gauge metal and the rest was art room history!

    The goals of this lesson were to tool (push or pull) the metal from both the front and the back, to create a mask that showed symmetry, and to use a variety of textures and patterns within the design. Students were shown a variety of masks that were representative of twelve different tribes in Africa. A brief PowerPoint presentation demonstrated the different ceremonial uses of the masks. We contrasted the way masks are used in American culture (holidays, theater, safety) to African culture (communal ceremonies for various rites of passage, ancestral communication, blessings, hunting expeditions, celebrations, and funerals.) The students were asked to use the visual references as a jumping off point but to instill the mask with their own creativity.

   Students added color highlights to the mask with Sharpies and then emphasized the relief and depth of the masks by using a burnishing technique using black Acrylic paint. Students used raffia and wooden beads as a textural complement their metal work.