As a teaching artist, I am excited about the new school year. I am scheduling traditional author visits, but I am also scheduling a few longer residencies. Tuesday, I will join other Jackson-area artists and arts organizations in meeting with elementary school faculty and principals committed to integrating the arts into everyday academic instruction. This group is the Ask for More Arts Collaborative, a program of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson. I will offer my services through the AFMA JumpstART program.
In collaboration with teachers and a librarian friend, I have designed two projects that combine writing and photography. They are: The Fibonacci Folding Book Project and [Your School] on the Map. Regular blog readers will have followed the development of these projects. Julie Owen, librarian at St. Therese Catholic School, helped develop the Fibonacci Folding Book Project. It is a companion to Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.
Second grade teachers at Davis Magnet School, most notably Beth West, helped develop Davis on the Map, or [Your School] on the Map. You may click on the “Davis on the Map” category to the right to read about this project. Both of these projects feature the study of the work of a master artist, the opportunity for students to create original artwork, and an exploration of the program’s theme (Community: A Sense of Place.) Each meets curriculum objectives in the visual arts and several academic areas.
Spring brings sunshine, flowers, recitals, and exhibits. On Friday, Richard and I will attend the Opening Reception for the JumpstART project. My participation in JumpstART this year was at McLeod Elementary School. I worked with 5th grade students to photograph and research living things in the Schoolyard. (Read previous posts here.) With generous support from the Beth Israel Congregation, an adopter of McLeod, we enlarged five photographs for display. The students compiled the rest of the photographs with titles and captions into the first McLeod Schoolyard Field Guide. See the photos in a gallery on my website.
In addition to the work with McLeod, I returned to Davis Magnet School for a second year of Davis on the Map. Instead of being paid through JumpstART, the Davis Magnet principal and second grade team found separate grant funding to pay for my time. (You can read about this project in these previous posts.) You can see some of the photographs I took below. I have the students’ photographs in galleries on my main website.
Visit the JumpstART exhibit at the Mississippi Art Center from Saturday, April 17, through Friday, April 30.
Davis Magnet School second graders presented their Davis on the Map photographs in a narrated slide show. Each student read the caption he or she wrote to accompany a photograph. The students visited six places in the neighborhood with their cameras: The Commons at Eudora Welty’s Birthplace; Two Sisters Kitchen; The state Supreme Court; Wishbone Art Studios; Pigott, Reeves, Johnson; and the We Will Go Ministry. You can read about the process in recent posts here. In the next few days, I’ll be putting all the selected photographs on my website.
This is our second year with the Davis on the Map project. We developed it last year through an initiative of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson. We refined the project his year. One of the best things we did differently was to create a mini computer lab in the classroom using the school’s four laptops (plus one that was a personal laptop). Trying to use networked computers in the library the previous year was slow and frustrating.
Here are some McLeod Elementary School fifth graders working on titles and captions for their photographs of living things in the schoolyard. We had a few computers freeze up on us while we worked, but generally speaking we could get at least six computers to cooperate at a time. The most challenging thing about working with schools and digital photography is the computers. For It’s Alive, we had a hard time getting (computer) permission to save photo files to school computers. With a large district like Jackson Public Schools, permission to save files on networked computers has to come from the Instructional Technology Department. We filled out a ticket to get permission and, eventually, we got what we needed, but it was a difficult process. All of us who have kids in JPS schools and/or are involved in educational projects are really pulling for the promised federal stimulus money to come through. It’ll mean lots of new technology, including smart boards and laptop carts for classrooms.
We got a shout-out at Kid Tested, Librarian Approved.
“Writing: Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell
Want to learn how to write accessible and interesting nonfiction for the emerging reader? Sit yourself down in front of this book and take notes.” That’s very nice.
I went back to Davis Magnet School today to facilitate the writing of captions. If you remember, I went out with second graders earlier this month as they photographed their neighborhood for a unit called Davis on the Map. Today, I sat with groups of four or five at a time at a kidney shaped table and we talked about proper nouns, active verbs, capitalization, spelling, and pronouns. We learned words: official, baptismal, peel, kiln, convince, unresolved and Jamaica. We had to consult dictionaries, the internet (which was slow and ineffective – ha!), and the teacher’s notes.
As the teacher and I worked with each group writing captions, the other students spent time going from one center to another. One of the centers was dedicated to books that were related to our unit. I added a work-in-progress of mine to the pile and invited the students to read it and make comments. Once our caption writing work was done, I talked with three students about the manuscript. One girl expressed her observations in the form of “text to self connections and text to text connections.” This particular manuscript is missing an ending so I asked them to give me their ideas and, of course, they had some good ones. I love interacting with my audience!
Wolfsnail update: A new review of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator went up on Maggie Reads, the blog of a librarian in the northeast part of the state. I really appreciate the kind words about the book and the recommendations for its use with kids. She also mentioned Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.
Davis Magnet School Second Graders went out with cameras today to document their neighborhood. Along the way, they forged relationships with neighbors of all kinds: business owners, missionaries, public servants, and artists. It was a fantastic day. The rain held off until our very last stop. Here are two favorites of mine. There were lots of exclamations like:
“Using a camera is fun!”
“Maybe I’ll be an artist when I grow up.”
This student worked very hard to frame this statue of Eudora Welty, which is on the grounds of The Commons at Eudora Welty’s birthplace.
The bronze statue of Welty provides an interesting subject for the students.
They are always interested in knowing why she was so tall. Jonathan Sims, the artist-in-residence at The Commons, showed the students some of his sculptural works in progress so they could understand the process.
Today, the second graders at Davis Magnet walked through the neighborhood around their school, stopping in at pre-arranged locations. I walked with Ms. Hansen’s class. As you can see, we set off with a spring in our step. Several students chanted a version of the “Let’s go walking, Mississippi,” theme song. We visited a restaurateur, lawyers (who are also Davis adopters), the state appellate court, and an artist. Students carried with them frames they had made last week. They practiced snapping “photographs.” Next week, small groups of students will go out again — with cameras.
Last spring, I worked with second graders at Davis Magnet School to document their school neighborhood through digital photography. The students’ photographs were compiled into a photo book, using Blurb.com. It is beautiful. You can preview Davis on the Map and buy a copy if you’d like.
Here are some photographs of the students taking pictures. You can look at their photographs on the gallery page of my website, too. Next week, I’ll be meeting with teams from two more Jackson schools to begin planning two more photography arts integration projects. This work is funded by the Ask for More Arts Collaborative, which is led by Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson.
I wrote several posts about the Davis on the Map project. I am looking forward to working with new classes of students. Taking photographs with digital cameras is so much fun!
Two exhibits of student artwork fill the second floor of the Mississippi Arts Center. Twenty-one of Jackson’s public schools participated this year in JumpstART, a project of the Ask for More Arts Collaborative. Friday night marked the opening of the JumpstART exhibit and Sunday marks the opening of the accompanying exhibit, the Power APAC annual student art show. JumpstART participants were in kindergarten through fifth grades; the Power APAC students were fourth through twelfth.
All the Campbells went because I was an artist-in-residence at Davis Magnet IB World School this spring (one of my students took the photo in the display panel above) and because my two younger sons, N and D, are fifth and sixth graders respectively in the APAC visual arts program. The oldest, G, is in the music program, but he attended so he could write about the exhibit as a class requirement. Richard took photographs that will go in the newsletter for the JumpstART convening partner, Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson.
Here is my sixth grader with one of his pieces. I thought this was cool when I first saw it in the classroom; I love geometric shapes and I love the colors, too. It reminds me of a kaliedocycle he brought home a few weeks ago. He had made it in his gifted class. It is a very cool three-dimensional turning paper toy that he colored with markers. Very exciting. Here are some instructions to make your own.
Here’s my fifth grader with one of his prints. He did a few prints of sunflowers and some were plain ink and others were crayon resist. Very nice. I always enjoy these end-of-year exhibits because I don’t get to see their work along the way — unless it happens to be done before a parent/teacher conference. D was unhappy that his “best” piece wasn’t in the show. He drew and colored a poster for the Martin Luther King Day contest and it was still in the hands of the officials. I hope we’ll have it back to hang on our walls at home this summer.
As I said, we are being inundated with end-of-year stuff. I spent the day in Oxford with G at the Mississippi Music Teachers’ Association State Special Recognition Recital. He had earned a place with a district performance last month. He played two pieces in a solo recital and then another in the sonatina event. At this level, all the students were very accomplished and I loved listening to the pieces. We finished there and headed over to Square Books for a book, some ice cream, and a quick meeting with the manager about planning an event around Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator.
It’s showtime for the Davis second graders. On Wednesday morning, parents and others in the school community will gather in the auditorium to view a narrated slideshow of the 49 photographs that document the Davis neighborhood. For those of you who cannot be there or who want to see the photographs again, I have put a gallery on my website. Click on the photographs tab and then the Neighborhood Student Project. We are printing and matting 8 x 10 copies of the photographs for an exhibit next month. I’ll keep you posted on that.
Today I worked again with Davis Magnet School second graders as they selected photographs to include in their Davis on the Map final presentation. For those of you who are new to the blog, you can catch up on previous posts about Davis on the Map by clicking here. The teachers, Karen Jones and Beth West, contacted me earlier this week to suggest that I create a lesson in which I modeled the photo selection process.
To do this I created a slide show of photographs from a school event I had photographed four years ago. I walked the students through the process of choosing two photographs to “tell the story” of that event, a gifted class’s presentation of music and dance at a local historical museum. I developed a list of questions to guide the selection process:
What story do we want to tell?
Does this photograph help us tell the story?
Is this photograph interesting? Does it include shapes? Lines? Colors? Faces? Designs? Emotions?
Is this photograph in focus? too light? too dark?
If there are people in this photograph, are they focused on what they are doing?
Does this photograph work well with the the photographs taken by others in my group?
Does it add variety?
It was fun to see the students clicking through their individual photo galleries and to talk with them about how they were making their selections. I gave each student a piece of paper about the size of an index card and asked that each student choose three photographs from his/her gallery. Then, I assembled the group around each student’s computer and we talked about the positives and negatives of each photo. Ultimately, I asked the photographer to make the final choice. The photographer put a check next to the chosen photograph on the card (each had noted the photographs by number) and the teacher created a new folder for copies of the selected images.
The teachers had to work hard to get the images into folders labeled with each child’s name; there were several technical issues to overcome because we wanted the students to be able to access the images from a common network drive and we wanted six students working together at the same time. This meant we had to use a bank of computers in the library. There were problems transferring photos from the two newer cameras to the computers, but the librarian was able to figure out that problem. I worked with two groups today and I’ll work with the six more over the next two days. One group today was able to begin the next step in our process, writing captions, but another group did not have time.
Even though today’s activity seemed entirely a practical step (without much strict academic content), the lesson met several visual arts objectives. The students learned to recognize dominant elements of art in art work; identified art that tells stories and expresses ideas and feelings; analyzed art while listening respectfully; articulated preferences in works of art; and exhibited respect for their own work as well as the works of others. As they continue the work on their captions, they’ll be using research and writing skills. True arts integration.