Drawing on a Theme
By John Wade
7th Grade ELA, Floyd Dryden Middle School
By Maura Selenak
Kindergarten Teacher, Harborview School
It’s January and I’m sitting at the carpet with a group of kindergartners. “Why do you think the character in the story said that? What was she thinking?” Hands shoot into the air- “I’ve built a snowman before!” “My mom read this book to me before.” “Can I go to the bathroom?” They are eager to share their experiences and what they know to be true. However, urging a group of five and six year olds to perspective take-- whether we’re reading a book, or I’m asking a child to think about his friend’s point of view when they’re having a disagreement-- can be hard. Perspective taking is the ability to take the perspectives of others and apply it to your interactions with them. It is something that we work on over the course of the entire year in kindergarten.
When my Art Lab group chose to experiment with the Step Inside Artful Thinking Routine, I was intimidated. Choose a person, object or element in a piece of artwork, and step inside that point of view. Consider: what can the person/object perceive or feel? What might the person/thing know about or believe? What might the person/thing care about?
I worried that this thinking routine would be too abstract for my kindergartners, or that they wouldn’t be interested. Boy was I wrong. This routine was so successful on the first try that I came back to it again and again for the remainder of the year. Each time I was blown away by the students’ insights, responses, and eagerness to share.
What did this thinking routine look like in the classroom?
Snapshot 1: Our Day-Old Chick
For this thinking routine, we used an image of a chick that had just hatched in our classroom. Some of the students’ thinking was recorded on a poster during the thinking routine:
Snapshot 2: Friendship
This thinking routine happened toward the end of a read aloud of Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells. In the story, Timothy is excited to go to school but when he gets there, Claude tells him he is wearing the wrong thing day after day. We paused at an image of Timothy and I asked students to “Step Inside” and pretend that they were Timothy. Some of the students’ thinking was recorded on a poster during the thinking routine.
by Michaela Moore
JDHS, ELA & Drama
To introduce the play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, I first put an image from a poster of the play on the overhead and had the students go through the Thinking Routine of SEE/THINK/WONDER:
After this Thinking Routine, I asked the students to complete a Crowdsourcing activity about Arthur Miller. The students found information quickly about Arthur Miller and came up and wrote in a word splash on the whiteboard fun and important facts. We took a few moments to discuss surprises and interesting facts found in table groups and in whole group.
Then I asked the students to prepare for notes: I introduced the 4 main characters from Death of a Salesman to students and asked them to choose one character that they would focus on in their project and notes. I instructed the students to write anything important down about the character (personality, weaknesses, strengths, choices, goals, motivations, etc) while we watched the play. After we finished watching and discussing the play, I passed out the text of the play and asked the students to fill in holes in their notes about their characters AND to add important quotes said by their characters, or important quotes others said about their characters.
Once, these notes were complete, I taught the students step by step how to draw a caricature of their character beginning with a sketch first and then moving into their final draft. We first discussed the idea of caricatures and how they were different from real portraits or pictures. We discussed the symbolic nature of caricatures. (Learned from work of Richard Jenkins).
2. Show the students how to draw a caricature from lines, shapes, and patterns and have them draw your example, and have them rough draft sketch out a caricature of their Death of a Salesman chosen character.
3. Show the students how to turn their sketch into a real caricature of their chosen character.
4. I showed the students how to do Richard Jenkins’ inking technique (using sharpie to outline your pencil drawing) and then coloring technique (how to use colored pencils to get different shades and different textures) and shared with the students Richard Jenkins’ helpful handouts on hair and faces.
by Thomas Mc Kenna
Harborview Elementary School, Principal
From the outset of the year with the Artful Teaching project, I’ve been challenged as a school leader to think about how I could help to catalyze and support arts integration in a way that aligned with other district initiatives. From the first time Nancy Lehnhart and Mandy Mallott presented to our Admin Council, I began thinking about how I could orchestrate professional learning about arts integration when teachers were showing signs of “initiative overload” very early in the school year.
Fortunately for me, Harborview teachers are fairly well inclined to embrace the arts, but with so much else coming our way (Marzano, SLOs, and Reading Wonders, in particular), I was quite nervous about teachers not having intellectual space (or time) to open up to new learning.
When Jessica Ross from Project Zero visited, I gained quite a bit of insight into the fit with the work we had committed to, in heart and mind, at Harborview. Ms. Ross’ introduction of “Thinking Routines” meshed nicely with the “close reading” protocols our teachers had been collaboratively developing to work with Reading Wonders materials. As I perused the exhibitions of student work that were part of Ms. Ross’s presentation, I was delighted to experience the connection with our site based work just that morning, reading Ron Berger’s thinking about the value of curating and studying exemplary student work. That confluence of themes will continue to help us find a way forward in sharing knowledge about practices like close reading, inductive thinking and evidence-based reasoning while using District-purchased curricular materials.
Deb Brzoska's presentation at Dzantik'i Heeni was well attended by our staff. In her session, “Integrating Art with Reading Wonders,” Ms. Brzoska presented a set of “best practices” which called for adoption of constructivist techniques of giving students experiences with content, allowing them to engage through a variety of modalities as a mode of teaching that is more effective than teachers’ “delivery” of information. This spurred important dialogue among primary teachers about the potential opportunity cost in teaching straight from the directions in Reading Wonders. We integrated tableaus with choral and close reading while Ms. Brzoska reminded us that students should engage a complex text at least three times.
I emerged from Richard Jenkins’ workshops at The Canvas and at Dzantik'i Heeni grateful for the experience of art providing multiple entry points into writing. Mr. Jenkins’ advocacy for special needs students was especially powerful due to his own soft-spoken intellectual nimbleness. We learned a step-by-step technique for turning geometric shapes into superhero drawings. I loved his technique of demonstrating a single step, giving a very precise instruction, and saying “Go.”
Melanie Rick’s talk about art integration, and then her teaching demonstrations about portraits helped bring the year’s p.d. full circle to me. She provided a definition and a rationale for arts integration, and then she modeled some exceptionally good class management and thinking routines with students observing and describing portraits. Students arrived ,through close observation, at a working definition of portraits, and they realized that portraits were everywhere.
Finally, at our school table during the Arts Team Day, we re-visited the theme of alignment. Ted Wilson grounded thinking routines in several elements of Domain 1 of the Marzano teacher evaluation framework. Our team will continue to discuss how to align next year’s work with this year’s cornerstones of close reading and curation of student work.
by Carly Lehnhart
Glacier Valley Elementary, 2nd grade
Artful Thinking has become such a natural part of my teaching. I have found that it sneaks its way into everything. I continue to be amazed at the engagement and effort that my students put in during and after a Thinking Routine. It brings the focus back to the process and emphasizes curiosity and critical thinking skills, which are two things that I strive to facilitate. One way in which Artful Thinking has made a huge impact for me and my students is in science. I have always used science notebooks as a way of recording our observations and findings, but this year, they have been a lot more successful. I am realizing that Artful Thinking is what I have to thank for that. My students are structuring their observations and notes in ways that are mirroring and combining a lot of the routines that we have tried. Without leading them in a formal routine, I find that they are using the language that has been modeled when they make notes in their science notebooks. Woohoo!
I have been loving using Artful Thinking as an introduction to a unit to spark interest and identify our background knowledge, as well as at the end of units as assessments. This specific lesson was kind of in the middle.
My students had just been to DIPAC to learn about mollusks. They had been introduced to what a clam was, gotten to see one, and had an overview of the parts. A couple of days later, a parent showed up in the morning with a bucket full of clams and asked if I wanted to use them. I obviously threw out the old plans and quickly came up with an idea of how to use them in my classroom. Artful Thinking immediately came to mind. I started out with a See/ Think /Wonder with this picture. This is a routine that we do A LOT.
I started the lesson doing a Looking 10 x 2 Thinking Routine. They immediately forgot about the picture, because a live clam on your table is way more interesting.
1st look: Quick and simple. They had about 3 minutes to write down words, phrases, or sentences about the clam in front of them. Some second graders struggled with this, so it turned out to be more like 5x2 for some. Here is an example of one students 1st look:
by Elisabeth Hauser,
Harborview Elementary, Kindergarten
Introducing kindergartners to sea week may be one of the best reasons to be a kindergarten teacher. There’s something that amounts to pure joy in uncovering a huge group of sea urchins under a rock, or the slippery curvy movements of a prickle back with children for the first time.
Our time at the beach was amazing! We made so many discoveries and were able to use important property words to describe their physical characteristics. We used our observational skills to notice animal movement and interaction with their environment (and ourselves). In coming back into the classroom, I wanted to see what my children had learned and how they could represent this new knowledge to each other. And so I gave them a challenge:
We’ve practiced our acting skills throughout the year with guest actors and individual “tableau” to help us represent characters in some of the books we’ve read. We’ve used the phrase “actor’s neutral” to control our bodies before acting. We’re familiar with the concept and role of an audience. So we’ve had some preparation already.
For this tableau experience, our goal was three fold:
Before giving children their group assignments or photo, I modeled a performance with a parent helper in the classroom. My emphasis was on teamwork and kindness during practices, as this was certainly a piece I was worried about as a kindergarten teacher.
I placed children into small groups of 2 or 3 children with an animal assignment (which included a familiar photo of the tide pool animal), giving groups 10 minutes to practice and rehearse their role. Then, it was time to perform.
Each group’s performance began in the “actor’s neutral” stance. This gave them an opportunity to check their bodies and also gave the audience an indication that they were ready to begin (and, truly, we kind of need to have “audience neutral” at times in kindergarten!).
Students were in control, had a plan, and really thought through the movement (or lack of movement).
What I loved most was the response of the audience. Students were enraptured because the act was also a game for them – their job was to try and guess what the tide pool animal was. I encouraged children from the audience to explain what clues brought them to their conclusion. It demanded that children look for details in the performance – like the squirt from a clam or the small spikes on top of a still sea urchin.
OK, fine, I loved a lot about this experience. So I’ll just mention the other really important piece – the children were elated. They loved working with each other! Learning should be a joyous experience, no matter the age (but goodness it is so important for young children). They should be working together, creating together, and learning together. This year of focused arts integration has been such an important reminder to me of what young children are capable of if they are given the right amount of guidance, modeling, and opportunities (for mistakes and successes!). And, that it’s ok for me, as the teacher, to take risks and make few mistakes along the way to find those joyous and meaningful successes.
by Mareta Weed
Auke Bay Elementary, 3rd Grade
There is professional development, and then there are the classes you sit through and can’t wait to try the concepts out with your students. That is how I felt when I attended Richard Jenkins' Super Powered Stories Workshop on a sunny Saturday in March.
Like a lot of classes my group of third graders love to draw, but getting them to write can be a struggle. That morning, while creating my own super hero, I could definitely see how engaged my students would be and I could just imagine the backstories that they would write to go with their created heroes.
The problem was, we had just finished a narrative unit and we needed to do some informational writing. Wasn’t I always reminding students that expository text could be fiction? An idea was born. Students could practice their sentence writing by creating a paragraph about their hero, and then create a diagram labeling the different parts of their hero. The end result would be a poster. I was ready for Monday; well, sort of.
As I had been absent the previous Friday, my students had attended their own class, a kids version of Richard Jenkins' lesson, without me. Would students still have their work from Friday? Probably not. How much would they remember from their class? If we repeated the lesson would they be bored? “But Mrs, Weed, we’ve done this before”. I decided to have students start from scratch, with the expectation if they liked one of the characters they created before, they could create a final draft of that character.
Monday started off without a hitch with students telling me what they had remembered from the following Friday. We got started with a warm up, and I waited for the whine, “but we did this Friday!”
It never happened and believe me, I was prepared for it.
I didn’t even hear it when we started to talk about creating the rough drafts of our heroes, going through the steps that students had gone through with Richard three days prior. Students were engaged the whole time. Yes, I got the occasional reminder about how to do the next step, but my class was really into about the entire process. I did model and go over concepts a little faster then I would have done with a class that had never seen it before. Overall, the class kept up; when they were done with their heroes, they worked on their villains.
By Katy Ritter
Gastineau Elementary, 4th Grade
I was scheduled to use the 4th grade elementary art kit, Centennial Bridge, but I’d never used it before. I didn’t check it out with a purpose to integrate it into our current social studies or science units of study, but I was excited to try an Artful Thinking Routine that would add some depth to our discussion, and hopefully deepen students’ engagement in the lesson. I decided that I would begin by showing the photographs of the Gastineau Channel/Douglas Bridge included in the kit, and use the Think/Puzzle/Explore routine. I hoped that showing the photographs without telling any information would invite students to try to build a narrative about the history of transportation in Juneau.
I displayed the photographs on my whiteboard tray at the front of the room, and asked students to look at them carefully and quietly without talking.
I began with the question, “What do you THINK you know about this topic?” Some of their responses:
Students seemed to understand that all of the photographs were connected, and they were telling a sequential story of the transportation used in the Gastineau channel. Then I asked, “What questions or puzzles do you have?
And the final question: "What does this artwork or topic make you want to explore?"
Students were very engaged and excited to find out that the reason the old bridge was replaced was because it was too small for the growing population and the new bridge is larger (this could be linked to why the roundabout was built about ten years ago!) They commented on the structure of each bridge and the difference in design, wondering why the old bridge had more artistic detail.
I introduced the photographs of the Centennial bridge and we compared it to the Douglas Bridge. We determined that it looks like a pedestrian bridge, which is why the art decorating the two sides of the bridge is in the footpath. We looked carefully at the symbolic images placed on either side of the bridge and thought about the difference between art that is functional (like a bridge, which has a form and a function) and the Centennial bridge, that includes style which carries symbolic MEANING.
Students then created abstract bridges with 100 pieces of colored paper, creating patterns and lines. The results are as different as my students--each created their own pattern or arrangement of color and shape on the page.
Salmon | Think | Wonder
by Davin Savikko
Riverbend Elementary, Kindergarten
I will share the story of how I used the SEE/THINK/WONDER routine when I brought 6 salmon into my kindergarten class.
I love this routine for its simplicity: What do you see? What do you think you know (in this case about salmon)? And what does this make you wonder?
This routine is a great way to get my students more engaged with a piece of art – or in this case – a topic (salmon).
I started out by laying a number of salmon (both Pink and King) around the room on tables. Actually, I started by giving my kids a direct order: “You can’t say ‘Ew!’ – you have to say, ‘Cool’– or something like that." (Unfortunately, that order was not as successful as the use of the SEE/THINK/WONDER routine…but it was pretty funny to hear the kids continually saying ‘Ew!’ and then have 20 other kids yell at them not to say that). Kids were then encouraged to move throughout the room to touch, draw and talk about what they see/notice about the salmon.
We then regrouped at the front of the room and I posed the question “What do you think you know about salmon?”. I recorded the kids thinking on butcher paper.
The kid’s thoughts ranged in complexity – from simple thoughts and details:
“I think tails help fish swim” and “If they don’t live in water they will die”
To more in depth details:
“The fin right here (points to gills) helps the salmon breathe” and “I think they (salmon) have slime on them so if they go in a seal’s mouth they can slip right out”.
That is another thing I really like about using this thinking routine – it allows for multiple entry points for kids depending on their observational skills and/or prior knowledge.
Some of the ‘thinking’ was very literal about what they saw from the salmon in the room:
“King salmon have dots on their bodies” and other ‘thinking’ obviously came from prior knowledge the student had come in with “You can only keep a King Salmon if it’s size is big enough”.
The student’s comments would often build off the comments of their peers. Sometimes it would directly contradict what a classmate had just stated – for instance, right after the claim about the gills helping a fish breathe, another student made the claim:
“I think that that fin (points to rear fin) goes under their body and helps it breathe”.
All thoughts were recorded by me, word for word, with no corrections or judgements.
I then took a different piece of butcher paper and posed the question, “What do you wonder about salmon?” Like the “I think I know” process, some of the wonderings were related to what the students actually observed from the salmon in the room, while others were from prior knowledge or wonderings in general.
“I wonder what that little fin on top does?”
“I wonder how salmon can breathe under water?”
“I wonder how old fish are?”
After all the ‘Wonderings’ were recorded I grouped the students around me for the dissection of a few salmon.
It was only at this time did I reveal/deliver any of information about salmon – a good 30 minutes into the lesson. All previous talk had been strictly kid generated. Every student in my class was engaged. How often can I say that?
The dissected salmon were then put back on tables and students were encouraged to engage in the same process we used to start the routine – touching, talking and drawing what they saw.
People Under Construction!
by Nancy Lehnhart
JSD Elementary Art Specialist
I’m not sure why it is, but kids seem to put a lot of stock in drawing as the quintessential qualification for being an artist. When you ask them if they know any artists, they will almost always tell you about someone they know who can draw. I was really curious about this early in my art teaching work, and also noticed that at a pretty young age, most kids decide they can’t draw (and therefore are not an artist.) And it was actually true; the development of their drawings seemed to stay at about a 2nd or 3rd grade level. Indeed, most adults will tell you they “can’t draw a straight line” and if pressed to draw something, you might confuse their drawings with a kid. I guess we just can’t keep very complex symbols in our heads, most of us, so if we’re trying to reproduce these simple symbols we have memorized, it stays pretty elementary.
Somewhere in my early years of teaching I learned about the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy. I was mostly fascinated by the drawing these kids were doing, and how drawing was incorporated into learning as a tool for observation and investigation. I started experimenting with the young children I was working with, both at Juneau Co-op Preschool and in my own kids classrooms in elementary schools. I used a lot of the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain language, brought down to a young child’s level. And I was impressed! Young children really did seem to take to it naturally. Their drawings were amazingly realistic, even while they were still delightfully quirky as a child’s drawing.
Because of this, I’ve become pretty zealous about teaching and encouraging kids at all grade levels (and adults!) to practice drawing from observation. Which basically means, find something to use as a model, (a feather, a worm, a car, a very still friend, a photo,etc.,) observe it closely, resist drawing a pre-conceived “symbol” for it, and slowly, draw the shapes and lines you see. You’ll be impressed with yourself. Anyone can learn to draw this way. And it’s not that drawing makes an artist, but why not make sure kids know they can learn to do it if they want to!
Over the years of developing art kits for the Juneau School District, I’ve made sure there is a “drawing from observation” art kit for each grade level and I’m kind of preachy about it. I was worried that if teachers did too much of the “This is how you draw a dog,” step by step stuff, kids would learn to see drawing as steps you had to memorize, and if you couldn’t remember a step, well, you just couldn’t draw a penguin or bear or whatever. I wanted them instead to know you simply just needed to find a picture of a penguin (or a real one) to look at and you could draw it very convincingly from observation—and this is actually what most artists do—most artists don’t draw things out of their heads!
A collection of JSD teachers' arts integration classroom experiences