How do you determine baseline levels for your new incoming students? For years I have been using this project as my initial assessment of student skills. I tell my students it is a "follow the leader draw". As educators we call it a directed lesson. As I begin the lesson I determine student understanding of line names such as horizontal, vertical and diagonal. Some usually are familiar but not necessarily comfortable with the words. I have students draw with their "magic pencils" (index fingers) in the air in front of them as I say the word for the line and then they repeat it back. We do this for several repeats as they draw first horizontal lines from edge to edge of the paper, followed by vertical lines and finally a few diagonal lines. Next we embark on the primary colors and shapes. The lesson might go: color a rectangle red. I would ask someone to tell me what a rectangle might look like before they color. A square could be blue or yellow and the final color would be a triangle. Each time someone shares what the shape should look like so that all students are able to identify the shape they should be coloring. Secondary colors are introduced by combining the primary colors. "What will happen when we mix red and yellow?" This happens for all three secondary colors as more shapes are colored and circles are drawn and colored. The entire lesson involves active student participation in the discovery with much repetition of words and concepts. As they work I am constantly taking in the process and looking for struggling students and competent students. As we all know, there is a huge discrepancy in skills with incoming Kindergartens some years. This lesson really gives me an overview of what I need to focus on and whether students have already mastered basic skills due to PreK exposure or home involvement.
My students are completing their dots for International Dot Day this week. I was able to pull a few out and hang a bulletin board outside the classroom for Monday. As I mentioned in a previous post, every grade approached their dot project in a different way. We have Dots based on the Elements of Art, Dots showing the Element of Space, Dots that reflect things that are shaped like dots from real life experiences, Cut dots showing symmetry and positive and negative space and lastly, Dots that are color wheels. It's always interesting to throw out an open-ended assignment and see where the kids will take it. From the vast number of dot ideas present on this bulletin board, you can tell I had some great creative thinking happening in the art room over the past few weeks. My big focus this year with students is to have them really thinking and writing about their art. All students from 2nd grade through 5th are writing artist statements on the reverse side of all their completed work. I really love reading some of their thoughts. I gain so much understanding of their learning and creative thought process. Click into one of our Artsonia accounts and check out some of the artist statements, too. And with that..... Happy International Dot Day Celebrations to you all!!!
What do you do when the Internet has been down since the first day of school? We've become so dependent on the technology aspects of our teaching, well, you feel stripped of everything! No power school, no Artsonia, nothing. You forget how many things we do with technology as educators until you become technologically helpless. I promise that I will catch up as quickly as possible once everything is up and running, again.