09 March 2011

Hello blog, I've missed you.

I've had a hustle and bustle past couple of weeks, hence my absence from this blog. With student evaluations due, final assignments for a grad. course to complete, and endless studying for the MTEL (Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure), I haven't been in my sewing room. However, I have been productive in other parts of my life...

* I'm on the path to becoming a teacher in New England. This weekend I flew up to Rhode Island to visit my boyfriend and take the MTEL (that was the primary purpose of the trip, I suppose). Seeing Trev was great. Spending an entire day in a frigid high school classroom taking a standardized test...not so great.

* I made my first official sale! This week my boss hosted a get-together at her house for a friend who makes and sells jewelry and she invited me to bring my crafts. I sold one of my clutches and racked up a few custom orders as well :)

* My research is coming right along. I'm at the point where all these ideas are flooding in and I'm feeling like there's not enough time to try them all. I guess that's what the rest of my teaching career is for!

Speaking of my research, I wanted to share what I've been working on with my students this week. I've been interested in the link between art and literacy and how art can be used as a catalyst for writing and descriptive language. I'm experimenting with a model created by Beth Olshansky, the director of the Center for the Advancement of Art-Based Literacy at the University of New Hampshire, called the "artists/writers workshop." During this workshop, students study literature, create art, and compose writing inspired by their artwork.

Olshansky explains, "Young children intuitively understand the meaning of pictures long before they are taught how to read words on paper. Whether or not a well-meaning adult can "read" the pictures a child creates, the young artist can explain with confidence exactly what a particular drawing means. Children can also look at pictures created by others and read those pictures for meaning." (The Power of Pictures, 2008)

She makes another great point as she says, "I have noticed that when the language of pictures is offered as the first language for thinking and developing ideas, students who then write have already experienced a tremendous amount of rich visual thinking. The language of pictures provides a very concrete and dynamic core language for thinking as they engage in the process of decoding and encoding meaning in both languages." (The Power of Pictures, 2008)

Needless to say, I've been inspired by this concept.

On Monday we studied the artwork and descriptive language in several books. We discussed how the illustrator created a mood with their use of color and light. Tuesday my students created landscapes and seascapes using a crayon-resist watercolor painting technique. Tomorrow they'll brainstorm descriptions of elements in their painting and compose a piece of writing to accompany their art. Here are a few photos from our artists/writers workshop...

So although these past couple weeks haven't been filled with crafts, they have certainly been filled with art and inspiration!