05 March 2006

You've gotta have art...

I've been sporadically working on my art history unit this week. Hopefully my Children of War unit will wrap up by the end of this week. I hope. That unit has been one of my favorites, but for whatever reason it didn't really have the same punch as last time. I am thinking that maybe sixth grade is a little too young to really grasp some of the ideas.

The first time I did this unit was a couple months after September 11. Ironically, I was supposed to begin with that project, as soon as the kids were familiar with rules and procedures, etc. Afterwards I decided to put it on the back burner because we were all too raw. But a couple months later, I went ahead with it, and the kids wrote some amazing things. We read Zlata's Diary, and one of the requirements was for them to keep a diary for two weeks. Nearly all the kids backdated theirs to September 11 and it was heartbreaking to read about the things that were going through their heads. I like to think it was somewhat cathartic for them, to have that outlet. Heaven knows, we didn't deal with it well in my school on that day or after. But then again, what precedent did we have?

I want to make this art unit really challenging, and interesting, and relevant. It's hard. Yesterday I tried to work on a rationale that the ReBots would not be able to question. The Rebots love to shoot down my ideas, but don't really offer me specific ways to make my units better. They like to talk circles around me.

It makes me think that maybe I am not very smart after all.

I decided to start backwards (since I've had some training with Understanding by Design and think it's pretty solid way to plan) and think about what I want the kids to have as a final product at the end, how I want them to show me what they've learned. And I am not sure. I am hoping that the process of writing this entry will clarify things for me a bit.

Other than the big old book that I am going to cut to pieces (probably while watching the Academy Awards tonight), I bought three other small books (one each about da Vinci, Monet, Picasso, and Matisse.) There are some other random books in my building that I can use. I am going to have to get really creative. I want to be sure to address African-Americans and Hispanic artists too. There's so much; it's really overwhelming.

Definitely want to address: da Vinci and the Mona Lisa (I think kids will get a kick out of the theory that the Mona Lisa is Leonardo in drag), Frieda Kahlo, van Gogh, Matisse, the Impressionists, modern art, ancient Egyptian art. There's so much, and before I go too much further I should think about how I can make solid connections to literacy. Egads.

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