Personal Narrative Through Self Portraits

Topic

Description

Objective:
For grades 2nd -5th to develop a personal narrative by creating a self-portrait that is reflective of the “real you”. Your loves, your likes a few of your favorite things.

Self-Portraits:
Students were shown a variety of portraits and self portraits by various artist (based on Core Knowledge themes, van Gogh, Matisse, Grant Wood Picasso, Renoir and Frida Kahlo). Students background knowledge of artistic styles is presumed during group discussion and students are allowed to share out individual thoughts and meanings behind of the portraits during whole group, Think Aloud. This group time allows students to create relevancy between their work and the authentic, meaningful, real-world artwork of other artists.

Student Reflection: Using “I Can” Statements talk about:
What was your inspiration?
What were you most proud of?
What was the most challenging part of this project?
Why do you believe we’re studying this objective?
Did this project help you learn more about yourself and your other classmates?

I Can Statements:
I can use color, pictures or words to express unique qualities about myself.
I can try new ideas, materials and approaches in the making of art.
I can use line and shape to help me draw a portrait with accurate facial features.
I can recognize the differences and similarities between myself and others.
I can combine concepts to create innovate works of art.
I can reflect on how artwork tells a story about myself or others. (personal narrative).

National Core Art Standards
Creating:
Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work — Combine concepts collaboratively to generate innovative ideas for creating art.

Organize and develop artistic ideas and work — Demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design.
Refine and complete artistic work—Reflect on whether personal artwork conveys the intended meaning and revise accordingly
Responding:
Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work — Interpret art by distinguishing between relevant and non-relevant contextual information and analyzing subject matter, characteristics of form and structure, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.

Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work—Develop and apply relevant criteria to evaluate a work of art
Connecting:
Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art- Generate a collection of ideas reflecting current interests and concerns that could be investigated in art- making.

This Workshop Session was tagged in Visual Arts

Overview and Context

As the only art teacher at Red Hawk, I am in contact with all 730 K-5 students on a weekly basis.  Class sizes range from 25-31 students and consist of a large variety of student learning needs especially those students with special needs.  Our school is located in Erie, CO a suburb of Boulder and is a large middle class community.  The free and reduced lunch percentage is approximately 10%.  

Red Hawk is a Core Knowledge school that focuses on math, science, integration of the arts, and technology within an environmental platform.  We integrate 35-40 minutes of rigorous activity into the school day, engage students in our garden, and use the Gold LEED building as an instructional tool.  Parent participation is encouraged with over 5,000 volunteer hours in the building each year.  Many of the Core Knowledge themes are easily woven in to the art curriculum and standards, in fact it is these themes which provide an extra layer of engagement for students as they are often studying the same theme in the regular classroom. 

Process and Protocols

Portraits: Students were shown a variety of portraits and self portraits by various artist (based on Core Knowledge themes, van Gogh, Matisse, Grant Wood Picasso, Renoir and Frida Kahlo). Students background knowledge of artistic styles is presumed during group discussion and students are allowed to share out individual thoughts and meanings behind of the portraits during whole group, Think Aloud. This group time allows students to create relevancy between their work and the authentic, meaningful, real-world artwork of other artists.

 

Partner Share/Quick Thoughts: Students turned to a partner and share one or two ideas about what they noticed, wondered or could relate to in the portraits shown. – Teacher began with – “I noticed no one was smiling in most of the portraits, I wonder why?” Returning to whole group partners then shared out ideas. Teacher summarizes group responses ending discussion with-  Now think about what makes you unique/different and how would capture that in a self-portrait?

Read Aloud: Teacher read aloud A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon reflecting with whole group on the lesson/theme within the book -Be yourself, we are all different and it’s okay to be different.  Teacher gave time after read aloud for Think Aloud, Collaboration and Clarifying Ideas. Teacher begins to shift student focus on individual characteristics/qualities instead of appearance – “how we look”. This thought process gives students time to reflect on their similarities and differences while building relationships between their peers and making connections. Teacher begins with the identity piece, rather than the traditional “how to draw a face” lesson with grade levels 2nd – 5th.  (Group discussion/partner pair-share, Turn and Talk), Focus: What makes each of us unique (hair/eye color, skin tone facial features, glasses) our likes (sports, foods, animals) and our loves (most favorite things).

Practice Drawing: Teacher began drawing lesson by discussing with the class, what makes each person unique, rather than the traditional how to draw a portrait lesson, which minimized the student apprehensions of “I can’t draw a face”. Teacher modeled on the white board a simple how to guided drawing lesson, using shapes for the head, neck, shoulders and facial features while discussing facial proportions. Teacher then has students turn to an elbow partner to compare skin colors using back of wrist. Teacher asks the question “What do you notice?” “Are we all the same color?” Using Multicultural Crayola Crayons teacher identifies that there are subtle differences in each person’s skin tone. Students then began a small practice drawing about one fourth the size of the final product. Reassuring the few struggling artists success, the teacher modified the lesson for by using Instructional Strategies such as templatesIndividual Direct instruction and Teacher/Peer modeling. Teacher also provided worksheet examples of how to draw a face and facial features at each table.

Final Drawing: For the final drawing students concentrated on the portrait (face, neck and shoulders) focusing on facial features and proportions next. Next they began to color the skin tone, eyes, mouth and hair making sure to point out that everyone has multiple colors in their skin, eyes and hair color. The last step was to add a background that contains descriptive phrases, stories, adjectives using either words or pictures. Teacher reminds the students that the final piece should be a visual representation of them, “The Real You”.

 

Tools and Artifacts

Books: A Bad Case of Stripes/David Shannon, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont (Author), David Catrow (Illustrator) and Arlo Needs Glasses by Barney Saltzberg.

The lesson/theme behind each book is to be yourself, we are all different and it’s okay to be different. (More Think Aloud, Collaboration and Clarifying Ideas here!)Instructional strategy/thoughts behind this approach was to focus more on the individual students’ characteristics/qualities instead of appearance – how we look. This thought process seemed to give them time to reflect on their qualities and differences.

I usually give the students a broader choice of materials for their final products. By limiting the coloring material choices to only crayons and colored pencils they seemed to focus solely on technique and the final piece.

Workshop Session Files

Reflections and Discoveries

 

What background knowledge and skills did I assume students were brining to the lesson?

Because we are a Core Knowledge school I referenced artist that were studied in previous units/lessons, either in the regular classroom or the in the art classroom. This practice has been part of our regular and anticipated routine in the art classroom. All themes/ideas presented spiral, building upon the techniques and concepts learned in previous years. A whole school themed unit may be presented for each grade level K-5th grade with appropriate lessons for each grade level.

What were the results of the approach I used?

I usually give the students a broader choice of materials for their final products. By limiting the coloring material choices to only crayons and colored pencils they seemed to focus solely on technique and the final piece. With a challenging subject matter like portraits, utilizing materials the students have confidence in using guaranteed their success. 

Were the students productively engaged?

Portraits are a challenge to teach and I often convey this to the students. I usually give up about half way through the unit. This year I made the decision to find a way to persevere through, no matter what! Because of my excitement and commitment, I found that my students were actively engaged in this project, discussing the process of creating the portraits with their parents, teachers and other students. I did have the opportunity during this project to share my own artwork, creating a relevancy between my personal life and teacher world. I felt the students had a better understanding of, that I am also an artist as well as a teacher.

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