Monday, May 07, 2012

Thank You

The second half of my STRENGTH post will be arriving shortly. Today, however, I'd like to extend a huge & heartfelt THANK YOU to all the bloggers who shared their resources with us yesterday. Wow! I can't believe how generous you all are...this was so appreciated and I've "favourited" all of your stores. I downloaded so many excellent resources that I can't wait to use.

You. are. amazing! and APPRECIATED!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Strength Wall MATISSE-Style PART 1

I love being a teacher. Absolutely 100% LOVE. Having said that, often sometimes teaching can be very challenging, and (I'm gonna put it out there) downright exhausting. It is a running joke in our household that I come home on Friday nights and jump straight into bed (after donning my fleece bunny jammies) for a nice, long nap.
This year, I have a lot of personality in my class. The kids are wonderful, and I love them all, but they have thoughts, opinions and stories that need (cue dramatic music) to be heard all day long. Which is fine, but makes for a very busy day. It also means that those kids who have to take a turn for a story get antsy...and by antsy I mean squirmy, restless, irritable kids.

This book shows emotions and colours associated with them.
Excellent starting point.
Recently, our board psychologist stopped by our school for his quarterly visit. After listening to my concerns, he suggested making a Strength Wall. What is a Strength Wall? you might ask. Basically, it is a display of character traits that each member of our class possesses. Kids work together to discover something about themselves that they can be proud of and can be posted in the classroom. For example:  "Logan, I noticed that you showed around the new girl during your recess. That was very HELPFUL of you. Thank you." Later, when Logan is distracting his seat partner, a reminder of how HELPFUL he is can be reiterated, "Logan, you are such a great HELPER. Why don't you HELP Kyler get his work organized and show him how you can get to work very quickly." Okay. Admittedly, I was skeptical. I got home from work, researched this concept as much as possible and formulated a plan to put it into action...

1) I wanted artwork that the kids created to be the focus. I tossed around the idea of taking photos but decided against it.
2) I noticed that the kids had an extremely difficult time expressing things about themselves during our community circle. They were stuck. "Something positive about me? I dunno..."
3) I wanted them to own the wall. They needed to put as much input into this as possible.

So, I googled "teaching kids how to draw a self-portrait" and came upon Art Projects for Kids. Wow! Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions that a non-artistic person like myself can teach and create. Perfect.

from Art Projects for Kids
 Next, I looked for artist inspired self-portrait ideas (curriculum) and discovered a Henri Matisse method called fauvism. Matisse, for a short time, painted pictures with colours that reflected how he felt about the subjects rather than their true colours. Teaching the kids to look at their strengths as colours took a lot of work. Read alouds, magazine articles, buddy work, community circles, slide shows of Matisse's work...even websites dedicated to fauvism (and for kids). But it was worth it.

South Colonie school inspired our paintings with their slideshow
 After the kids had finished drawing their portraits, they traced over the pencil in fine Sharpie. I photocopied the original and we coloured the copy. Kids used oil pastels to colour in their portraits .Each child had completed a four square go chart about their own traits. One girl, for example, is kind and associates pastel pink with this trait.

one of our finished portraits Matisse style
**Click HERE to go to one of the articles that I read about the research behind Strength Walls**

Come back tomorrow to read about PART 2 of our Strength Wall journey!