Using themed challenges in a modified choice classroom continues to be the right balance between freedom and structure that my students need. Those that want to stretch and go beyond have the room to do so and those that can’t or won’t still have something to guide them and a deadline to meet. I offer the theme and the students get to choose from a variety of mediums, sizes and techniques to communicate the theme.
I will admit to having favorite students. I know we aren’t “supposed” to but hey, I am human! They are the ones that CRAVE new mediums and techniques, the ones that take my theme and go in places I could never expect.
When I introduced the “Time” theme we looked at and talked about a bunch of quotes and short phrases related to time. A lot of kids did “time flies” and drew clocks with wings. As many did “time is money” again with clocks and dollar bills floating around.
But this 7th grade student grabbed the idea of “master of time” and went in a very surreal direction. She also loves to combine different mediums. In this piece she has used graphite, water color pencils, acrylic paint, liquid water color paints and I think she also used oil pastels. She finished this with enough time to do a completely different piece too! “Time Heals” apparently when you are sleeping. I love her style and her body of work really looks like just that. Pretty advanced for her age.
Not very many students chose sculpture for this challenge but the ones that did created interesting work. This is one of my newly identified SPED students. He worked really hard on this take on “wasted time.” I am not sure if he even sees all the interesting symbolism in his piece. The garbage can is filled with bottle caps all turned into clocks. I also really like the angle he used to take his photo. (Sculpture students are all responsible for take pictures of their own work before it can leave the classroom.)
I am not really sure what is going on in this time art, I still need to read his reflection but it is really interesting. I thought it had to do something with the end of times, but not sure why Mickey Mouse is in it.
This one is about the end of times. I like how the clocks have scythes attached to them.
A lot of the boys were drawn to the “time bomb” phrase, but just wanted to draw the symbolic clip art style bomb. I really wanted them to go more towards the play on words than they literal. This was difficult for many of them, but after several discussions and redo drafts a few gems started to emerge.
You can probably tell by the length of this post that I am pleased with the work they produced for this theme. I had hoped for a little more variety in media, lots of just colored pencils. But that mostly points out to me that I need to do more demos in different mediums to show kids ways to use them.
What themes have been successful in your classroom?