Friday, January 27, 2012

Teaching Science Through Art: Longitudinal Nature Observations/ 1st grade

We have initiated long term nature observations at our school this year. The first grade students are observing trees. They are learning how to identify trees throughout the year using their Artistic and Scientific skills to sharpen their senses through observation .

Some students took photographs in the schoolyard and these images were used for nature studies' illustrations. We used pencils and oil pastels to draw Trees in Winter. I wanted the students to not only to observe the lines and shape of the trees, but to look for the negative spaces, patterns, textures and composition.

Teacher Narrative-

I have devoted this year to developing students' observational skills. Last year our school's Science Inquiry Team designed a Science Curriculum Map and proposed to include long-term nature studies into our science program. Kindergarten- Urban Animals, First Grade- Urban Trees, Second Grade- Weather, Third Grade- Sunrise/Sunset.

To supporrt these long-term studies I integrated Science into Art as both disciplines share common skills although they diverge at differentpurposes ; Art is a Language of Emotions and Science is Language of Explanation. Both sides of the brain are represented when we use the arts to communicate what we have observed through science. The art experiences and products help students to communicate their observations by using their art skills such as; drawing and photography.

During the First Quarter I introduced first grade students to the Tree Study through songs, video and images which would provoke them to Observe nature more closely, specifically looking at trees. Mini Lessons were designed to build essential foundational science vocabulary to help students define Senses, Observation, Identification and Classification. Lessons were also provided to introduce students to essential art vocabulary; line, shape , color , texture and composition. The students have been using a variety of art tools and processes including pencils, print making, markers, book making, and photography.

For the compositions, I stressed foreground, background and horizon line. I also encouraged the students to use the entire page.

We developed our craft through practicing drawing with markers, oil pastels and pencils. We envisioned by sketching the trees first, We observed by photographing trees and then using those images as our subjects. The students engaged and persisted by completing their drawings. I am always amazed by the different images produced from the same assignment.

1 comment:

  1. This post is great. Strong observational skills are essential for the 21st Century thinker and, as you point out, have a seamless transfer across disciplines. Beginning to develop these skills at a young age is essential. Strangely enough, "observing" seems to have made its way into many of the conversations I have recently been having and reading, from an article about humanity's "work in progress" and the idea that "we are all artists", to Cynthia Gehrie's online journal describing how she is "observing herself" in her art-making, to our preparation for the American Art units in this project which will focus on developing students' ability to closely look at a piece of art. I'm also reminded of the comment we heard at MoCP from Corinne Rose about how students must have a visual literacy in this age of constant imagery. Being able to observe, not just notice, but to look closely and analyze is a must have skill.

    I end my comments with a suggestion borrowed from Lois; that we practice the habits on ourselves, that we observe our students "to see things that otherwise might not be seen."