Friday, January 23, 2015

Creating meaning: An Artful Approach to Teaching

Creating meaning: An Artful Approach to Teaching

Using art as a vehicle to bring meaning to assignments can improve student engagement and create a classroom culture that is vibrant and exciting.

Checkout this Hand Self-Portrait lesson that I use in my art classroom. The English Language Arts teachers have begun to incorporate it into their classrooms as well.

I learn so much about my students with this lesson. It is amazing what they will share with you if you ask them to.

Hand Self-Portrait Lesson:

  • Medium - Watercolor Pencils or Colored Pencils or Markers
  • Project Length - 2-3 days
  • Grade - 3rd grade through 8th grade
  • Subject - Art, Creative Writing, English Language Arts
  • Objective - Create a piece of art using color theory, pattern, rhythm, variety and unity that identifies a core belief about yourself and serves as a self-portrait.  
  • Materials - Watercolor pencils, brushes, water cups, watercolor paper if using watercolor pencils. If using colored pencils or markers, just paper, permanent markers, thumbnail worksheet, zentangle ideas to get started, YouTube videos to use as an anticipatory set.

Start by showing students a video of Zentangles. Here are a couple  that I like, but search and you can find a ton of different examples.

Step 1:
Students trace their hands with a permanent marker, create a fun border that goes under the hand and then choose a word that they think best describes who they are as a person. Students should write this word in the palm of the hand.

Step 2:
Give students a worksheet filled with squares to practice their Zentangles. I have my students practice at least 6 different patterns. I let them use pencil if they feel they need to for the first 3, but require them to use marker directly on the last 3, so that they can do that for their finished hand.

Step 3:
Have students use one of the zentangle patterns in the border area of their hand portrait. I talk about creating rhythm, unity and variety through the use of repetition and patterns and thick and thin lines. Check out my video of that here:

Step 4:
Next have your students add color. We use watercolor pencils, but you can use whatever you have on hand, markers or colored pencils will work great too.

Step 5:
Lastly have the students write out the story of who they are. I have all of my students start with the same line: My name is _________, I am the daughter/son of ___________. And then they take it from there.

Here are a couple of my students work in progress:

Here are a couple of the finished hands:

Have fun with this lesson and make sure you let the students and yourself just enjoy the process of getting to know one another!

If you'd like to purchase this lesson with the Doodle Idea Starter sheets that includes 12 step-by-step zentangle patterns and a Powerpoint you can find that here:

See you next time,