(You can find out more about Smithsonian’s Learning Lab here.)
Each collection contains images and artwork for the theme, as well as a webinar for each topic. The webinars were done live late last year, but you can watch the archived videos to get ideas for discussion and background information about the assets provided in the collection. “Exploring Women Who Broke Barriers” has a Powerpoint Presentation from the Webinar here. “Persisting and Resisting’s” Powerpoint can be found here. I might have missed it, but I do not see one for “Who Tells Your Story.”
I like how the presentations give ideas for using Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero in to develop deep discussions about the artwork. (You can see some other posts I’ve done about using a couple of these routines here and here.)
Since it’s Women’s History Month in the United States, you may want to consider adding at least portions of these to your curriculum for March. But I think you will see that there are enough resources to make for enriched learning throughout the year!
I got to be a small part of an interesting project on my last day at Advanced Learning Academy. One of my colleagues, Dan Mallette, teaches a class for the high school students called, “Global Changemakers.” Inspired by the World Art Drop Day in which the Southwest School of Art participates annually, Dan tasked his students to each create two works of art based on the Sustainable Development Goals each student had chosen to study. About a week before Art Drop Day, they started advertising #alaartdropday on our web announcements, and encouraged the school community to follow the Instagram account for our makerspace/studio (@studiozorro). On the day of the Art Drop, I was able to accompany a couple of the groups of students as they took their pieces of art to different spots around campus to “hide” them. Once a student found the perfect spot for his/her art, we took a picture of it in its location, trying to include a couple of clues to its surroundings, and posted the picture of the artwork on Instagram with the #alaartdropday tag. Any student or teacher who was interested in one of the masterpieces could try to find it based on the clues in the Instagram picture, and claim it as their own.
The students had a great time hiding their artwork (one piece ended up on the railing inside the elevator). It was the perfect activity for the last day before Winter Break – allowing the students to get out of the classrooms and to come up with devious ways to camouflage their pieces while leaving them in plain sight. A couple of staff members I ran into were excited about trying to find particular artworks that spoke to them that they hoped to display in their classrooms.
Finding a way to give students a larger audience than just the teacher and their classmates can be challenging. This was a unique way to achieve that goal, and I hope that it will become an annual tradition at the school.
As seasoned readers may know, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of math. (See here, here, or here for some examples.) Now that my job title is S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher, I have been looking even more for ideas on how to integrate math and art.
Math Craft is a great place to start. From mathematical knitting to Sierpinski Christmas trees, there is no shortage of inspiration on this site (though it is a bit heavy on polyhedrons). Not every post gives you instructions, as some of them feature work by professional artists – but you could always pose the question to your students, “How do you think they made this?” They may end up making something completely different, but equally as beautiful, along the way.
This post was originally published in 2016. I think it’s a fitting time of year to bring it back.
We all have things that scare us, of course. In the book that my 5th grade gifted students are reading, The Giver, the main character is “apprehensive” about an upcoming event. To help the students connect to the text, I asked them to list some of the things that worry or scare them. Using our green screen and the Green Screen app by DoInk, I had the students superimpose themselves on the image of Edvard Munch’s, The Scream. The students then used the WordFotoapp to add their specific fears to the picture. Here is one result. (You can click on it to see a larger view.)
When I looked closely at this student’s final product, I noticed the word, “division.” I was a little upset because I had told the students not to put silly things just to get a laugh. In my mind, division and multiplication would fall into that category, especially since this particular student has never had any problems achieving well in math.
“Why did you put this word when I told you not to put something silly?” I asked him as I pointed at his picture.
He looked at me solemnly. “I meant the division of people. You know, how war and other things divide us.”
If you teach older students who have their own phones, this might be a fun idea for an impromptu writing prompt. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has decided to make more of its artwork available to the public by digitizing it and allowing us to text requests. Only 5% of its entire collection can be viewed in the SFMOMA’s physical building, but thousands more pieces are accessible through this new feature. You can text the number 57251, and type, “Send me” followed by a keyword or color. There’s something suspenseful about the whole endeavor that makes it a bit addictive.
I tried it out by texting, “Send me kindness, ” and received the following, somewhat depressing, reply.
Maybe kindness was too abstract? So I tried, “Love.”
Now remember, this is the Museum of Modern Art, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the answer to my next request.
Not really sure what the museum bot was trying to tell me there…
Anyway, I soon discovered that trying to use this activity as a “pick-me-up” was a bit too unpredictable, especially after I received a sad portrait of the war in Iraq after I asked for “home.” However, my daughter and I did have fun using emojis and asking for pictures of bread and dogs. (It does work with emojis, by the way.)
Not to be outdone by artifical intelligence, I decided to end our texting communication by asking for something that couldn’t possibly be mis-interpreted in a bleak way by a computer. “Send me a rainbow,” I asked.
My 4th grade GT students study masterpieces each year. The story of the Faberge Eggs, annually created for the last Russian czar’s mother and wife, fascinates all of us – especially when considered in the context of the tragedy that later befell the family. I use this piece of history to discuss empathy – how Faberge displayed it with every detail of his intricate creations, and how the Romanovs’ lack of this important trait resulted in their demise.
Usually, my students create their own Faberge Eggs, and then design “surprises” to go inside a partner’s egg. They interview their partners and play different games with them to learn more about them. Then they have a week to make a design that will be particularly meaningful for the other person.
I have cried over some of the incredibly creative ideas that some students come up with for this project. One year, a student created a military medal for a student who had a soldier parent fighting overseas. There have been poems, clay objects, a message in a bottle, flags, snowglobes, and so many other little presents. The students scored each other on how meaningful the gifts were – and many of them made up for themselves in thought what they might have lacked in skill.
This year, egg designing season rolled around a bit later than usual. Since Mothers Day is just around the corner, I decided to have the students decorate their papier mache eggs for their mothers rather than their peers. They also created 3d printed surprises to put in each egg.
As generally happens when I try something new, there were some successes and some failures. Without the interviews and other activities we did in previous years, some of the “surprises” seemed to be less deep than in the past. (This could also be because of the 3d printing limitation.) Next year, I think we will need to do a few activities to help the students understand their mothers as people rather than just parents, and I will open the project back up to any hand-made surprise instead of only 3d printed ones.