The program continues with fun and laughs. At our last meeting, I introduced the students to a new contest from Scholastic. This one asks them to create an original character for a comic. Our lesson involved originality, character creation, and generating character sketches.
I led the class in a short discussion on originality and the ills of plagiarism. The older students were familiar with the terms, having had lessons on originality in their core classes. Many had already generated science and history reports for their regular teachers. After our brief discussion, we talked about using our personal interests to create a character. We made comparisons of heroic figures like Wonder Woman, Super Man, and Batman and later contrasted them against other characters from Disney, Captain Underpants, and of course, Bone (whose creator is behind the scholastic contest).
After our lessons, I allowed the students time to create a few character sketches. Using our small art library and the white board, I showed the students how a character can be drawn from a variety of angles and poses. They quickly broke out their sketchbooks and began drawing. Monitoring and offering encouragement, I was delighted to see the students engaged in their own creative processes. Some of the highlights were “Soulkeeper,” a Grim Reaper-like figure who collects souls with a variety of magical accoutrements; Roboman, a cartoon robot made of a variety of angles and shapes; and a villain made entirely of applesauce. ”He can’t be killed unless you eat him with a spoon,” his student creator declared.
After our last contest, I knew I needed to make a greater effort to reach out to the families. I sent home reminder flyers for our deadline (this Friday for review and Monday for the final project) and made sure to call all of their homes. The parents were very excited to hear about the project. I could also tell that they were moved by such a simple personal touch. I imagine it must be motivating for them to have other adults interested in their children; I certainly feel that each call home helps motivate the students. More than half of the students have come to discuss their characters before the deadline.
Our field trip is set for mid May, after the students will have completed their California State Tests. It will be a wonderful treat for this group; that two-week battery of exams can be draining on even the most studious of children. We will be visiting the Getty for a self-guided tour (our group is too small for a docent to guide us). The students are already excited, many asking for their permission slips now. However, I think I’ll wait for our return from Spring Break before sending those home.
I got through to NASA at the Dryden Center last week. Their public relations coordinator is currently on leave but should be back shortly. I look forward to discussing our small group and their final project with her in the future. I have made a couple of calls to the local municipality hoping to find a venue for our finished pieces and will continue to pursue those in the future.
We are quickly nearing the halfway mark of our term and I couldn’t be more proud of the students. They all seem to enjoy the art program and projects. More importantly, I see a change in their academics and behavior. Because the art program is important to them, school has become important. A teacher can’t ask for a better goal than that.
This appears simultaneously at lifeasgood.com.