I teach 7th and 8th grade students in small town New Mexico. While my students are culturally diverse, coming from mainly Caucasian, Hispanic, and Native American, plus some Asian and African American backgrounds, many are economically disadvantaged. They are at that age where they are trying so hard to act all grown up, but they are still kids at heart. I get joy from seeing my students grow and change each day while still getting to be kids while they are at school.
My students gleefully participate in cutting and pasting and coloring as they work on learning about plot or integers.
They love to give me grief about my penchant for incorporating artistic elements and tactile exploration into learning activities for language arts or math. I see them make connections with the material that eluded them before and they are doing it through these types of activities. These are the students that many other teachers complain about or have difficulty with, but when they can do something hands on, they are engaged in learning and not engaged in misbehaving. A favorite part of my day is when a student who is "bad at math" finally gets it.
Students can learn about art history and the elements of art through lecture and class discussion. They can spend time drawing, coloring with pencils and markers, and even doing watercolor painting. Art students in middle school need to experience and experiment with as many different mediums as can be made available to them while they learn about art. Sculpture is an art form that engages the artist and the viewer in a way that is completely different from a two dimensional drawing or painting. It can be created and experienced from many vantage points. There are so many different materials with which sculpture can be made and that variety is exciting for art students.
Having access to two different sculpting mediums will give my students the opportunity to fully explore this art form and help them make specific connections to the course material in art history and the elements of art.
Students will love getting their hands dirty as they create. They will have the opportunity to complete an abstract sculpted form from the pulp board and a functional cell phone amplifier using clay. Knowing middle school students, I can see them getting really excited about a project to make playing music on their phones louder.
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