Dr. Evermor Fantastical Machines

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This last lesson with the 4th graders while student teaching was a lesson that I designed and taught myself. We focused on one of my favorite Wisconsin artists, Tom Every, aka Dr. Evermor.
Many of you have probably seen some of his giant, metal bird sculptures on the roof of Madison’s Children’s Museum or on Patterson Street in between East Johnson Street and Williamson Street. A handful of the students even said that they have had a chance to visit his sculpture park, just South of Baraboo, WI.

Our first day, the students were given a picture of Dr. Evermor’s famous Forevertron sculpture, which happens to hold the Guiness World Record for largest scrap metal sculpture. I asked them to interpret and analyze the picture without giving them any previous information. They discussed with their classmates what they noticed about the picture, what they thought the item in the picture was made from, and what they thought the item in the picture was used for.


FOREVERTRON by Tom Every aka Dr. Evermor
http://www.worldofdrevermor.com

We then had a class discussion about their ideas and I introduced the artist Tom Every and his artwork. We discussed how he uses unaltered recycled scrap metal or “junk” in his sculptures, the importance of recycling, alter-egos, narration in artwork, storytelling, elements of a story, inventing, and the non-traditional art making process of generating the context behind the artwork after it is already made rather than the traditional process where ideas are generated first and turned then into final pieces of artwork. That last topic was something I really wanted to focus on in our initial discussion and following activity because that is exactly how Dr. Evermor works. He begins by welding various scrap metal together without knowing what type of sculpture he is making and lets the artwork itself help determine the content, concept, and story behind the sculpture. Then the students were given their own junk and were instructed to just start drawing using the “junk” as inspiration and begin creating a drawing without knowing what it was and to let the drawing itself decide what it is.

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Then the students were asked to create their own Dr. Evermor inspired fantastical machines based off their “junk” drawings and develop a story that explains their machines. The students were introduced to the various graphite pencils that artists use, blending/shading, hatching and cross-hatching drawing techniques, designing mechanical drawings, and even 1-point perspective!

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The student’s Fantastical Machines and stories behind them were absolutely AMAZING! The creative and inventive ideas that came from the minds of the 4th grades was absolutely inspiring and everyone one had a fun time inventing their own Fantastical Machines!

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Super Science Saturday Art Exploration Station

As many of you know, Super Science Saturday is always a big hit in the Madison community. This year, my cooperating Art teacher was approached by some of the organizers and asked if she would be interested in organizing an exploration station that integrated Art into Science. I instead asked if I could organize the project as I want to get as much experience as possible working school events while still a student teacher.

Over the few weeks prior to Super Science Saturday I asked for any student volunteers to join me in the Art room at lunch as I wanted the exploration station to be as student oriented as possible. A small group of 4th grade girls stepped up and joined me for lunch for 3 weeks in a row where we brainstormed ideas, possible activities, and made visuals for our exploration station. As 4th graders had recently been learning about magnets in their science class, we decided to organize a booth integrating magnets and painting, and soon the “Magnetic Masterpieces” Exploration Station was created. With student input, previous knowledge, and a little research of my own we created posters explaining how simple magnets work as well as visuals explaining color theory and color mixing.

They day of Super Science Saturday I was met by my group of volunteers to help get things going and we set up 2 stations for visitors to make “Magnetic Masterpieces.” A piece of thick paper was taped in between 2 tables and another in between 2 chairs and those allowed our Artist/Scientist visitors to create a work of art using only magnets and various pieces of metal to move the paint around the paper and create their masterpiece. Using the high powered magnet on the underside of the paper, visitors were able to move the various metal jewelry, paperclips, bottle caps, screws, hair clips, etc. that were on top of the paper and move those items in and out of the paint to mix colors and create an interesting composition.

While our visitors were creating their “Magnetic Masterpieces” my Wonderful 4th grade helpers, the visiting artists, and I discussed color mixing, basic color theory, composition, and how magnets actually work! Everyone got a little messy, but everyone had a great time and created some really awesome “Magnetic Masterpieces”!

I want to give a special thanks to the 4th grade girls who volunteered to help me on the only Student run Exploration Station! It was the volunteers who pointed out that I am technically still a student 🙂

Part 3: Poetry

Some students did an excellent job and had a great job creating their collages but then finished before other groups. When students finished early, they became poets.

Students used the words from brainstorming weeks ago then wrote and illustrated poems.IMG_5869 IMG_5877 IMG_5878 IMG_5886 IMG_5887

Some students performed their poems:

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And even a song:

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Part 1: Romare Bearden and Jazz

We just finished a three week Jazz and Art integration unit planned between Ms. B (the music teacher) and I. It was awesome!! The kids loved it, the teachers loved it and I hope you love it too. (4th and 5th graders at Randall were part of this lesson).

In art class, we began by brainstorming about community. IMG_5895Students broke into groups to describe, analyze and interpret five photos I printed out showing communities in different parts of the world. They were told to write down all the describing words they could think of describing the photos. Then they wrote down their thoughts about the photos. We came together as a class to share out what each group wrote down and came up with a class list of what all the photos had in common.

Next class, we listened to Duke Ellington’s Harlem and drew lines that made sense with the tempo of the music. Students then took those lines and interpreted them through body movements. It was a lot of fun to dance our lines and was a great opportunity to let creativity fly. Students partnered up to combine two of their line movement interpretations and perform their merged moves. The class described and interpreted their classmate’s moves through conversation. Students then went back to the medium of drawing to interpret their classmate’s movements back into a line drawing. At the end of class, students had a good understanding of how Romare Bearden was so inspired by music in his visual artwork.

In the meantime, students were learning about call and response in music class with Ms. B and our artist-in-residence musician, Kevin Knapp.

Students listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of A Tisket, A Tasket and searched out examples of call and response within the song. Over the next two music classes, students had a chance to learn about call and response through drumming and other percussion instruments. Kevin taught us that there is a caller and a responder. When the caller is playing something, we must listen carefully and reflect on what we hear and then respond with something that makes sense. Kevin played some C-Jam Blues on the piano and students would respond through their percussion instruments.

In the third art class, students had their first experience with Romare Bearden and his artwork The Dove. Students had a class discussion on what they notice in this piece of art.

The DoveStudents watched this video by Picturing America and made connections between The Dove and Romare’s love for Jazz. Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 10.48.05 AMThe video talked about the large blocks of color Romare laid down as the background which can also be related to the beat or pulse of a song. Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 10.48.22 AMScreen shot 2013-02-21 at 10.48.39 AMAnd then how Romare showed the tempo or rhythm which is show as pattern in art.

Students broke into groups and discussed how they would show community through their collages and then cut out images they thought they would use for their collages. We didn’t glue this day, just cut out and laid things out to experiment a little.

The next class was all gluing. Students created a background to become the pulse of their collage. We talked about filling up the whole space and craftsmanship and then students just worked for two solid art classes on their collage creations. Then we discussed how to use call and response in creating a group collage. When one person lays something on the collage, the second person needs to look at it, think and reflect on it, and then respond with something that makes sense. What you are missing in the next blog post are the conversations students had through the art process. They were rich with ideas about so many ways to show community, what made sense together, laughter, silliness and some serious subjects. The collages themselves are amazing but their conversations and their experience working collaboratively were not to be missed.

From here on out, it was all hands-on collage creating. See the results in the next post!

Baskets

Ms. Mincberg came to me and asked if I would create a lesson to enhance her social studies unit about learning about different cultures. I was going to do basket making in the spring but moved it to the fall to enhance this unit. Baskets are so important to so many different cultures for so many different reasons.

First we learned about sweet grass baskets from Sierra Leone and their history from Sierra Leone through slavery and into our current southern culture today. We also learned about the Navajo and how baskets carry stories with them. We looked at the Hmong culture and various European cultures to see how baskets are used in other cultures as well.

As far as techniques for making baskets, there is the coil technique and the weaving technique. There are many variations and styles on both of them but every basket comes down to those two basic techniques. Some students finished their coil baskets (made of yarn and clothesline) early and either made more or tried to make a woven basket with magazines and glue.

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IMG_5192 IMG_5191 IMG_5190 IMG_5189 IMG_5142 IMG_5141 IMG_5116When I began this project, I had no idea what I started! So many students loved this project, that I lost over 50 plastic needles in the course of a month because they would take home more materials and ‘borrow’ needles to work at home. I’m pretty sure coil baskets ended up being a popular holiday gift in the Randall community!

There is a huge component to this lesson that I did not plan for and photos can not capture and that is how much persistence and patience Randall fourth graders showed through this lesson. The beginning of the coil baskets is not an easy thing for fourth graders. We discussed, at length, what persistence and patience means not just in basket making but in test taking and school work. It was really amazing to watch my students grow and learn through the creation of baskets. Sometimes, the lesson is better written by my students than me.

Frank Lloyd Wright

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Both Huegel second and third graders as well as Randall fourth graders created these beautiful stained glass windows inspired by nature just like Frank Lloyd Wright. We started with observational drawings of items from nature and then abstracted them into geometric shapes to create our symmetrical windows using line symmetry.

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