Thursday, March 30, 2017

4th Grade Think Different Design Challenge

Hello. This is my first blog post as Ms. Higgison’s student teacher. My name is Ouda Baxter (Ms. Ouda to the students) and I am currently in the Masters in Art Teaching Program at Maine College of Art. I am very excited to be here, and through the end of April.

In early March I presented a Design Challenge Project to 4th graders utilizing a Mystery Bag, and the idea of Transformation as well as Envisioning play a prominent part in this project. The goal was to envision, to stretch and explore and meet the Design Challenge using a limited number of materials and with a time constraint as well. Questions we asked to get our minds going are: What is a design challenge?  How can artists meet design challenges? Why do artists give themselves design challenges? And What makes a sculpture different from a 3D object?

We discussed the difference between a mass produced factory made dinosaur toy (3D object) and a ceramic handmade sculpture (one of a kind). We also talked about staplers and looked at a couple different models as we thought about the Design Challenges faced by the stapler designers; how easy was it to use, how appealing did it look, was it comfortable to use, how many pages could it staple.
We identified the Problem ( using the objects in each Mystery Bag to create something) . We then set about brainstorming potential creative solutions, with the project being very open ended so that there were literally millions of solutions. My intention with this project is to actively practice stretching concepts, getting young artists to Think Differently, and allowing students to meet the Design Challenge each in his or her own way. The parameters were: One paper bag (optional), 3 long straws, 2 short straws, 1 piece of paper, 1 small paper plate, and 3 pieces of tape, and each student had to Title their project, just as almost every art piece, whether it be a drawing, painting, sculpture, or photograph, has a title. One of the students commented: “I learned how much you can build with 3 pieces of tape!” and another, “I learned how creative I could be.”

The project outcomes were VERY diverse and imaginative. I can see that the students really did that, and some of them really ran with it. The slideshow below, is evidence of how engaged students were and how students thought differently and let their imaginations run wild. The skills practiced in this project are ones that the Y.E.S. Share Team teachers ( Ms. Pachuta, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Spellman, Mrs. Troy and Mrs. Higgison) are all focusing on this year; Positive Thinking, Patience, Practice and Perseverance.

The slideshow has examples of finished work as well as work in progress.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Please Welcome Ouda Baxter Maine College of Art Student Teacher

Greetings, Families!

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Ouda Baxter and I am in the Masters in Art Teaching program at Maine College of Art and I am student teaching in the Art Studio with Mrs. Higgison as my mentor teacher. I have an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Visual Arts, and have lived all over the world, including Africa, South America, and Europe, with roots in Maine due to my grandparents. It is a privilege and an honor to be learning and teaching alongside Mrs. Higgison and all of the wonderful students at Yarmouth Elementary these past few weeks. I am also really loving March as “Think Different” month, including the art work out in our hallway, the Collaborative Monochromatic Mural Project.
This week, I have been teaching a “Painting to Music” lesson with the 2nd grade, and we are also working in Clay Scranimals with 3rd grade, while the 4th grade finishes MEA testing and has had short art doodle challenges.

In addition I am a practicing artist, primarily a multimedia artist focusing on Sculpture and Installation, as well as Photography, to explore both the natural world and the constructed world. I also paint in watercolor and ink, as well as with gouache and acrylics. I like to make drawing implements with found objects, and make my own inks and dyes with foraged plant materials. 
Feel free to come by and say hi- I would love to meet you! I will be here through the last week in April.
Sincerely, Ouda Baxter ( aka Ms. Ouda)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Monochromatic Friends

In the Art Studio we have been learning the term, MONOCHROMATIC; mono meaning one, and chroma meaning color, thus " monochromatic" means shades and tints of one color.  With that in mind I have been searching for 'sightings' of monochromatic occurrences at Y.E.S.  Below are some sightings of 4th graders either dressed monochromatically or nearly camouflaged as they stood next to a monochromatic panel in our abstract art wing mural.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Art in process: Collaborative Abstract Mural by 3rd & 4th Graders

March is YOUTH ART MONTH: During the month of March, that I call " Think Different Challenge" month in the Y. E. S. Art Studio, all third and 4th graders are participating in a collaborative abstract mural that is being created in the hallway outside the Art Studio.   My goal in embarking on the project was to engage the students in an authentic artistic process, where the artist, in this case approximately 250 artists,  participate in a where each student responds to the work ( marks, colors, etc) of the artist before them. Its a process that will continue to evolve, until it gets to a point that we are satisfied with it. It feels a bit like I am musical conductor, keeping a focus on the whole and allowing the artists to do their thing, but controlling the materials and tools. 

Its a lesson that started with math,  music and monochromatic colors meet to create a layered work of art.  The math was  geometric shapes, parallel lines and measured midpoints.  The music was, for a brief period artists painted  to J.S. Bach's " Aria" from the "Goldberg Variations".  And day two color began to be added and it  then evolved into a color lesson using primary and secondary colors.  Its now transformed into segments of monochromatic colors that progress across the murals surface.   I will keep adding to the images as the mural unfolds.  And I confess, each morning now this week, I am excited to come to the hallway and just bask literally in the glow of the mural.  If you are at Y.E.S. be sure to come by and check it out.  Its well work your time, or so I think! Next week we will continue to fine tune and hopefully add a title.  One student called it " A trail through an abstract rainbow", which I found particularly resonating.
In addition, when Ms. Agell saw it, she exclaimed, " Oh, its a palimpsest!".  I had never heard of the word but indeed it is a palimpsest, something that reveals itself through various layers that continue to show through, as more layers are added.
Mrs. Wentworth's 3rd Graders, day 4 of the mural. Add captio

A very focused 3rd grader adding highlights on the monochromatic segment of green. 

Mr. Gordon's 4th graders getting into their groove. 

Day 2: Color is starting to be added.

End of Day 1: Parallel lines, geometric shapes and lines, some zentangles.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Second Grade Cats Inspired by Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat

We are kicking off March, our month of " Think Different" art challenges with an homage to Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat.  Second graders created their own cats wearing red and white hats. Amazingly, while each young artist was inspired by the same cat, the resulting drawings each have their own unique personality, and style, just like the young artists who created them.  

Cats with hats by Mrs. Page-Redmann's and Mrs. Gautreau's classes. 

Cats in Hats by Mrs. Gautreau's class

Cats in Hats by Mrs. Page-Redmann's class

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Make & Take Zig-Zag Heart Cards

The days before Valentine's Day have been spent in the Art Studio with what I call a : Make & Take
Lesson.  A lesson where we are challenged to explore a process or concept( in this case how positive shapes can create negative spaces, that in turn create other positive shapes) and it results in a product we take home and share that day.

Valentine's Day symbol of the heart, as a symbol of love, offers rich possibilities and this year all the classes ( at  least the ones not impacted by our snow storms) were able to participate.  Kids were totally self motivated by the challenge and I wound up taking photos of every student's work. The work of the previous class became the exemplar's in a iphoto slide show I projected for the following classes.  It was really interesting how the marvels of technology can be used as a simple tool to not only acknowledge the unique style of each child, to affirm the value of their work and inspire their classmates.  I had never in the past used the work of a current years students in such a way and I am hooked on using it more as students work's became successively complex as they garnered ideas and inspirations.
Below is a slide show of works by students in Mr. Abbott's 3rd Grade.  The challenge was to create the zig-zag fold and then somewhere in the card use at least one positive shape heart and its negative shape ( created by cutting it out) to create another heart.  The results are diverse and lovely as you can see.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Open Studio Collaborative Problem Solvers and Makers



Often in the Art Studio, when students are done with their structured lesson time they pull out blocks or play dough.  These two  3-D materials seem to spark kids imaginations  and force them to problem solve on the spot, without them even realizing they are problem solving.  Below are some images of structures, environments, animals,  foods and fabulous creations by students across the grades.

One of the things I find so fascinating and wonderful is that these materials also bring out kids collaborative nature and they tend to work and play collaboratively when these materials are out.    In this digital age where kids are so drawn to screen time its refreshing when we all are getting messy with blocks and play dough and digging deep into our creative brains.
 For example, today while kids were building with blocks I witnessed a team of kids working on a physics problem, trying to balance blocks of varying sizes against a large piece of board.  Other students created their own game with play dough; they split themselves into groups of 3 and each group pretended they were chefs and created foods that the other team had to guess.
Honoring this unstructured time and letting kids feel empowered during it is something that I am attempting to embed into our studio time on a regular basis this year.  It feels like a win win for us all.  Enjoy some photos below from various different recent classes.