Well, I have made the news! Here is the press release from my school system. It was also mentioned in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – in the Cobb County section. Thursday, I went to the local meeting for all of the Fund for Teachers fellows. It was held at Lovett (private school) and it was short and sweet.
There, we were given a check for 90% of our award money, and were walked through the required expense recording and other paperwork. We are required to submit a final reflection by the end of September, wherein we will be awarded the final 10% of the money. Seems fair to me! Then, we took individual and group photos for future press releases.
At first, I debated about whether or not to link this blog to my school affiliation – and I still may separate it later. I don’t think that I have said anything controversial, but you never know… Both FFT and MCS want to make sure that I do not misrepresent those organizations – so I don’t know… I don’t want to be repetitive about my grant proposal, so here is the post with a description.
Yes, I still don’t know if I am going to drive or fly – although I am leaning towards driving. I also keep wavering between leaving the dog here and taking her with me – er, us. My husband will be going with me as a technical aide :-). If we drive, it will add about 10 days to our trip – it will take about 5 days to get from Atlanta to Morelia. My thought is that if we drive, then we might as well bring the pooch – the apartment that we are renting in Morelia allows pets. And my dog is so neurotically attached to me that I don’t know how she will do being left for 5 weeks.
In the meantime, I am doing some research on the arts and crafts that I would like to include in my project. This week, I finally dove into tin embossing (aluminum, actually). I first heard about it a while back, but I was listening to this podcast on the Crafty Pod, and really became inspired. I tried working with four layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, but that was unsatisfactory. Then I moved on to aluminum from one of the roasting pans I purchased to try this with. That was great! I also did one on a flattened inside of a Diet Coke Can, but that was a little too stiff.
Needless to say, I have one sore left hand and thumb! I produced this beautiful piece by tracing over a design from one of my Mexican folk design books, then coloring it with Sharpie markers. I cut it out with one of my ornamental scissors. I love it! So did my students – I was doing some of this during CRCT testing. I plan on letting them do some, but I have to iron out some safety issues – sharp edges being the main one. I plan on tying it in to our Mayan unit, which I will begin next week.
I also did some experimentation with faux amate bark painting. I took some brown craft paper my husband uses to cover things he mails out and cut out an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. I flattened it and put it through my laser printer. Then I used some of the many tempera paints I have to paint it. Pretty awesome.
Here is what I am learning about 7th graders. Whereas elementary school students are generally happy to do crafts and drawing and have it look like elementary school children’s work, middle school students have entered into this “perfectionist” phase. They are afraid (or don’t want to) to do art projects because they have suddenly found out they “can’t” draw and don’t want people to see their work. Most students that I see actually drawing things are tracing – tattoo images are popular (but they sometimes don’t realize that the words are backwards…).
I can identify, because I have always been that way. Even as a small child artist, I was VERY frustrated that my pictures did not look like the things in real life. I was constantly wanting to be as talented as my mother without putting in the years of practice. That is why I generally drew things from my imagination – they couldn’t be compared to real-life items. I think that is also why I am drawn to collage. I am able to draw, but I am not shy about using tracing to get a foundation for many of my pieces.
So, I am trying to make the art experience as friendly as possible for my fragile middle-schoolers. I will introduce the tinwork and amate by incorporating tracing and coloring. The only thing I will have to insist upon is that they don’t talk or socialize a lot. Many of my students are satisfied with inferior work, if they can get it done without their full attention (meaning while talking to others) or quickly, perceiving that there are more fun things to do after they are done.
Mrs. Williams don’t play that. This is not play time. I fully expect my students to incorporate a written response or report on the type of art they are doing. I am so tired of students thinking everything is “boring”. That’s just a cop-out for not caring about learning – or being afraid to seem nerdy for wanting to learn things. This attitude will be intensified by the approach of the end of the year. We just finished CRCT testing, and we have 5 weeks left – it’s always a challenge to keep them focused!