On Tuesday, I started the Gr.5/6's on their brainstorming for their mini-comic assignment. It's tough to summarize ways to brainstorm and give them enough time to work things out in one class. I don't think they fully understood what brainstorming is yet, but I wrote some leading questions and feedback on what they did so far to give them more guidance. My UC was visiting for this class and commented that it was nice to see the assessment criteria stated more clearly than previously. She suggested that I try to do something different for the other grades now and experience teaching some other media that are harder to deal with in large classes. After thinking about it all night I came up with an alternative plan. After the grade 1/2's and junior high students finished their anime self-portraits I'd branch off into some other projects instead of giving them a chance to create a comic strip/book which they could do on their own now that they have the basic skills. The grade 1/2's will do a simplified comic strip using collage and drawing, and then I'll teach them a little bit about one point perspective and get them to create a fantasy/surrealist room. For the grade 3/4's, I will focus a lot on perspective, going through one-point, then two-point perspective with a castle design assignment, and then end with atmospheric perspective and create a landscape with chalk pastel or water colours. I haven't decided if I want to use chalk pastel or water colors yet, but I really enjoy chalk pastel and haven't had much chance to work with it. Also, for variety's sake, I feel like my TA and UC would probably want to see me teach chalk pastel since I'll be teaching Chinese Brush Painting to the Junior High students already. The challenge will be set-up, clean-up and clearly laying out my expectations of students' behaviour while we have messy media out.
I want the grade 5/6 class to continue with their comics because they've been developing some good ideas so far. In Thursday's class, I showed them an example of my brainstorming to try and expand their understanding because I noticed a lot of their brainstorming was "stuck" in one train of thought, or there were only written notes, or there were only squares of a basic comic. I also introduced them to the concept of using storyboards to organize and sequence their story. I want to give them at least one more work block to work out their ideas and start drawing their comic page(s). The last few classes I plan to teach them a colour blending technique using pencil crayons. The technique is to use analogous colours. We will blend from primary colour to secondary colour to the next primary colour. We will create an Octopus's Garden: first we'll lightly sketch in pencil some organic shapes and then we will apply the colouring technique to the forms. We'll use the same technique to create some sea critters (fish, jelly fish, octopus, etc) and then the final product will be a semi-3D picture. They will cut out the forms they have coloured and glue them onto dark blue construction paper, curl some of the forms and layer the critters/pop them off the page to create a sense of depth. This colouring technique can be applied to their anime drawings if they choose to later on.
I had to alter my unit and create more units for the last two weeks of practicum but I still wanted the skills to be applicable to comic art if the students choose to use this knowledge in the future.
For the Junior High students I decided on a Chinese Brush Painting unit, and also Japanese bookbinding workshop towards the end. The first class will be an introduction to the art form and some techniques, including proper way to hold the brush. The second class I will take half the class at a time to do a guided demo of how to paint Koi fish while the other half continue experimenting and practicing their brush techniques, and then we will switch. I'm thinking I may move the tables around in the room to form centers. For the third class, I'll take half the class to do a demo of lotus blossoms/branches and landscape forms while the other half continues experimenting with what they've learned so far. In the 4th class I want to introduce a brush painting assignment in which the students create scroll paintings. While the students work on this painting, I want to take one group at a time to do a Japanese book-binding workshop. There are 3 class periods so I can divide the classes into 3 groups for book binding.
In my mind, this will work, but I'll probably have to make more changes as I go.
In other news, my grade 6 ukulele players (I call them ukers) performed successfully yesterday afternoon at the assembly! Because I was sick on Monday, I ended up teaching them on Tuesday. I was a little stressed after their practice on Tuesday because they were struggling to sing and strum at the same time, but they practiced so hard that by Wednesday when we had another practice, they sounded 10x better! We had an extra practice on Thursday morning as well as right before the assembly and they were just amazing! We added a little cheesy ending to one of the songs in which one of the boys gets up and strums his uke once, saying the last word of the song "romance." It was a cute and funny little addition which everyone enjoyed. I heard that because the ukers were so great, the school may be investing in their very own set of ukuleles! The set we have now was borrowed from Vauxhall (not sure of spelling) and is going to be returned next week. It has been quite the journey with these musicians the last 2 weeks. They went from not knowing how to hold the ukulele to being able to sing and strum AND have fun the whole time :) It makes me proud and homesick for the Island Ukuleles group back home in Victoria.
Next week I will be adding Language Arts 7 to my teaching load. I will be doing a mini-unit on Haiku! In these last 2 and a half weeks, I'll be teaching a greater variety of things, branching off from the Japanese comic art unit.
With the exception of some of the Kindergarten kids, I think I remember the rest of the students' names now. Writing down their names in a seating plan helped a lot!