On Wednesday, I taught my first art lesson.
I created a PowerPoint and came to class with a stack of blank colour wheel assignment sheets, and some blank sheets for my class to draw on.
When they settled down after recess, I took a few minutes to see what they have learned so far. Apparently, they have only started a guitar unit, but have not done anything else in Arts Education so far. That was both intimidating and exciting, because it meant that I could take the lesson in any direction I wanted, but I had to start from absolute scratch. Really, it didn’t cause a problem because I had my lesson plan written out to start from scratch anyways. I was prepared!
So the grade seven curriculum for Arts Education focuses on the idea and importance of place. When I was trying to decide on an outcome, I had no idea what that meant or where to start. I remember when I was in grade seven, we made really awful plaster plates that we stuck rocks in while it was still wet to make a picture. They looked terrible, and I did the same project when I was in Kindergarten. The only other art assignment was plaster face masks. I think the school must have had an excess of plaster and wanted the teachers to use it all for their art assignments. It wasn’t very creative, and it just created a huge mess. It didn’t teach us anything, nor did it make us think about our identity or what the “Importance of place” may be. Therefore, when I was looking at the curriculum, I had no idea what I was doing.
I decided to ask my mother (who I like to claim is an artist, though if you ask her, she’ll be timid and just say she likes to paint) what the importance of place is.
She asked me, “Well, what makes place important?”
It was an incredibly simple question, but that’s what I based my entire lesson plan on. I started class by asking my students the same question, “What makes a place important?” We listed ideas on the board until they had a satisfying answer.
Essentially, memories make a place important. I used the example of a tree. Somebody might walk by a tree on the corner of a street and think nothing of it, but somebody else could walk by and think, “That’s where I waited for my friend every day after school!” Or, “That’s where I had my first date!” Examples like that. I showed the students examples of Wilf Perreault’s paintings of back alleys in Regina. He’s a Canadian artist who paints beautiful, realistic pictures of locations in cities he’s lived in. After we felt comfortable with the importance of place, I moved on to the concept of the colour wheel.
We talked about primary, secondary, and complimentary colours, and I had the class fill out a blank colour wheel, as well as write down the different colours we went over. A lot of students took complimentary colours in a very literal sense, and would write down colours that they thought just “looked good together,” instead of colours that are opposites on the wheel.
I gave them time to work on the assignment, then asked them to bring an image of a place that is important to them to class for next week so that we can create images that mean something to us. I’ll be asking them to write a paragraph or two about why that place is important to them, and it will be handed in for marks. I’m excited to be teaching the second part of this lesson, especially since my students seemed really excited about bringing images to class that they get to redraw. I told them that they will have to try and play around with the colours as an exercise next week, and asked them what colours they could use to draw an apple. I got the generic red, yellow, and green, then I asked them to name any colour. A boy at the back said, “So, like, could we draw purple apples?” I said yes. Who wouldn’t want to draw purple apples?
I felt like the lesson may have been a little bit boring because we hardly covered any material, but it gave them more time to have fun and just colour, which is always a great little brain break.
Until next time!