Creating Transparency in the Teaching and Learning Process

With the intention of exposing my Art-15500 class to a range of art-making methods and practices, alongside equipping them with essential teaching tools with which they may build an effective, individual teaching practice, this semester, I decided to focus on teaching by modeling. In this regard, I divided the semester up into four main projects within which, a sizable chunk of each session follows the structure of a lesson/lessons within a larger art unit, that may be implemented in the K-12 classroom.

During a recent printmaking unit thus, students explored the various steps involved in designing and carving linoleum printing blocks, mixing and applying ink to pull a variety of prints, and finally, creating an edition of finished, final prints. As they worked, students were asked to closely examine each step in the process, thinking through the ‘whys’ behind the directions, and brainstorming ideas around how this would translate into the classroom. Strategies for effective management of materials was discussed, as was the importance of personalizing content, to garner student interest. Discussions also included which age groups were most appropriate for what kind of printmaking as well as the importance of looking at, and responding to relevant works of art.

Students explore lino-cut printmaking.

Students explore lino-cut printmaking.

They mix primary colours, to create inks in secondary and tertiary ones, exploring varied shades and tints.

They mix primary colours, to create inks in secondary and tertiary ones, exploring varied shades and tints.

They explore layering, repetition and juxtaposition before completing an edition of final prints.

They explore layering, repetition and juxtaposition before completing an edition of final prints.

Following this exploration, as students became comfortable with printmaking and identifying the essential components of the larger teaching unit, they were asked to begin thinking about how they might structure their own lesson plans, and where within these, they might introduce close looking. We took a trip to the Museum of Modern Art, to look ‘closely’ at Gauguin’s prints and transfer drawings, in ‘Metamorphoses’. After spending some time in the exhibit, students were asked to identify two prints that they were most drawn to and complete a written response for each, following a protocol that required them to sketch these images, as well as make descriptive, reflective and analytical observations.

Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit. c.1900. Paul Gauguin

Tahitian Woman with Evil Spirit. c.1900. Paul Gauguin.

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