Sunday, January 22, 2012

Missing Pieces

Last year I saw my first classroom and my grandparents' home razed.   It's a curious feeling seeing bits of your life erased.   Currently, some of the former Page Middle School is awating the wrecking ball, but the lovely house and gardens where my father's family lived for so many years did not fare as well, or did it?
The left side of the property line that runs alongside a ditch.

Although neither of my paternal grandparents are still living, I enjoyed driving by their home every now and then and watching the seasons change.   Someone outside of the family bought the property and ran a business there for a bit.   Finances must have changed because the property now belongs to Dollar General.

Tractors atop the footprint of my grandparents' house.
At first I was saddened to think that a place with so much soul would turn into another link in a chain, but I grew excited as construction neared completion.   When the store opened, I took my camera and went for a visit.   I was charmed to find that there was an ice cream freezer, Doublemint gum and Mr. Goodbars a couple of steps inside the door...just like old times.   There were Christmas decorations and cold drinks, pajamas and pet food, something for everyone really.   Although the rosebush and hydrangeas were plowed under, a camellia and azaela stood along the property line.   And when spring comes, the irises will bloom along the ditch.  

Once again, I can stop by to visit a place that I still drift to in my dreams.   In my dreams, it's always summer.   The garden's ripe.   The garage is filled with records.   The kitchen is buzzing.   I am young, and I am old.   My grandparents are well.

The other good news is that I get to help Page move forward by serving on the design team.   We've met twice so far, and I am heartened to be able to help bring something functional and beautiful into the lives of so many.   What an architect we have on our side.   I'm looking forward to seeing this building emerge from the dirt too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blackout Poetry

If you have a newspaper and a black marker, you have some poems on your hands.   Just ask writer/artist Austin Kleon.   

Choose a spot in the newspaper, decide which words are getting in the way of your emerging poem and mark right through them with your black Sharpie.   Left behind are the lines of your new creation.   Magic!

In order to simplify this exercise for 8th graders, I added a couple of steps.   Students used pencils first to identify words to cover with their markers.   Also, I asked that they glue their chosen text into their journals before using the marker.   This was an effort to keep ink from bleeding onto the desktops.   Make sure they use gluesticks in their journals, not liquid, as the paper is delicate.

Some kids will also eliminate words until a news article is basically summarized.   The idea is for a transformation to take place.   You will want to show them samples to help writers' imaginations run free.   These creations could also make beautiful art for your classroom walls...

It looks like censorship, but it's a lot closer to upcycling. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Feel Good Art

This is sideways because I can't figure out how to rotate the image in my Blog.
The photo is saved right side up!
 As a prelude to this art project, you will need to teach the difference between denotation and connotation.   It's also wise to have students scour a piece of writing for positive and negative connotations.    This is a good opportunity to split your white board into two areas and allow students to write their found words down on the positive or negative side before leading a whole class discussion.   There are some words that may fit on either side, depending on personal opionion.  

For independent practice, you can have your students focus on the positive.   Here's another way to use your mountain of magazines.   Hand out blank 3 x 5 notecards, glue sticks and scissors.   Students will cut out words from their magazines that they feel have personal positive connotations.   The goal is to completely cover one side of the notecard without any bits stretching over the borders.  

When your grade their work, set aside the best examples and mark them with a symbol on the other side of the notecard.   These are pieces that you would like donated back to you for classroom art.   (No pressure.)   Arrange the returned notecards to your satisfaction.   Glue them to another piece of paper that can be laminated.   Hang the community creation in a place where students are able to get close enough to view their work.