Saturday, September 2, 2017

Arts in Education Week - Building Unity in the Community

Are you looking for a way to make the most of bringing unity to your school community and celebrating Arts in Education Week in a manner that all feel comfortable in?  Consider creating a Unity Mural to display in your school foyer, or out in the community!  This open-ended project allows for creative expression at any age, in any medium, and creates a flowing mural comprised of multiple sizes of paper circles.  Think of this as a springboard for a review of the elements and principles, or a focus on radial design, or perhaps mandalas, or even the works of Frank Stella.  Participation in this project brings people of all ages and from all walks of life together in a creative setting, where each person's work is valued and accepted. 

Open-ended creative opportunities encourage others to try something new, and build confidence and excitement in learning that carries over into the rest of the day for all ages.  Enhancing creativity empowers students, and leads to more divergent thinking and exploration. 

You could use this idea directly in your classroom, or open it up to all students and their parents if Back to School Night is close at hand.  Why not bring the idea to the next faculty meeting, for a quick hands-on demonstration, to show the value of the arts as creative therapy, and showcase the geometric design aspect. 

The artistic process of creating and conceiving new artistic ideas and works allows community members to consider ways to take creative risk.  Creative and innovative thinking are essential life skills tat CAN be developed.  

This lesson plan, Uniting our Community Full Circle with the Arts, was written by Heather McCutcheon (Herkimer Central School) as a participatory activity to engage the audience during the Herkimer County Youth Art Month Show held at Bassett Healthcare in Herkimer NY last spring. 

The Goals of this lesson were:
Students, Teachers, Parents, Siblings, and the Community will work together to create a United Collaborative Art piece.  Each individual will design a circle that will be added to the big piece. 

How to incorporate this lesson into your classroom:
Teachers will bring this Uniting our Community idea back into their classrooms in their own way.  Teachers can pick from the Unit options below or decide to create their own collaborative lesson. 

Unit Options/Ideas for K-12:
  • Study geometric shapes and use an arrangement of them in any medium to design your circle.  Shapes can overlap, intersect, etc. (PK-Grade 3)
  • Focus on a color scheme - open to any kind of media.  Different grade levels can design their circles with different colors, to assemble in a rainbow layout. 
  • Incorporate a quick read of The Dot by Peter Reynolds (and International Dot Day!) with your lesson.
  •  Crate a list of famous artworks to use for some VTS (Visual Thinking Strategy) to get kids thinking about how artists demonstrate unity wihin a community, how art is something that brings all mankind together - working in a limited format (the circle).  
  • Learn about and design mandalas - they can be symbolic.  Discuss radiating design, symmetry, repetition, concentric circles, etc. 
  • Discuss who is part of your community.  Discuss how can we hold our community together when there are so many things dividing us.  Can art make us all look at where we live differently?  Can it improve our quality of life? (for example, painting walls, decorating public spaces or other things that were eyesores?)
  • How can I make a difference (pay it forward).  What is beautiful about our community?

For more information (steps, unit ideas, and National Visual Arts Standards), click on the following lesson link:

National Visual Arts Standards – Creating: Conceiving and Developing new artistic ideas and work.  Enduring Understanding CR 1

The article in this blog post was written by Donnalyn Shuster and Heather McCutcheon, who have been previous contributors to The Artful Advocate. 

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