Thursday, November 28, 2013

Here's an article on a study done on how looking at art and discussing it promotes critical thinking.

Art Makes You Smart-New York Times

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dreams, Culture and Music 'n the Hood

On Nov. 15th, Matt visited Paula at Little Village World Languages High School and observed her revisit a Close Read of Faith Ringgold's quilt Dancing at the Louvre (1991). Using worksheets they had completed earlier in the unit, the students reviewed each step of the Close Read. Paula made adaptations from various versions of the Close Read strategies presented in this project and generated these prompts for the students to work through. Paula spaced the prompts out on a two-sided sheet of paper with enough room in each section to allow the students to fully articulate their thoughts.

1. CREDIT LINE INFORMATION. Students copy the credit line information and review that this can be examined for contextual clues. 

2. DESCRIPTION, I SEE... Describe all that you see. Images. Lines. Textures. Color. The elements and principles of art. USE ADJECTIVES. BE DESCRIPTIVE AND DETAILED.

3. CONTEXT, WHAT ARE THE CONNECTIONS. What do you know about the artist or about history at the time the work was done, that helps you understand this artwork?
CITE 2 PIECES OF EVIDENCE FROM THE TEXT HANDOUT (included later in this post).

4. INFERENCE, IT LOOKS LIKE…Guess what the artist’s message is based on the clues you wrote about in the description and what you know about the artist or history at the time the artist worked. What’s going on? What is the mood or the message? Back up your guess with evidence. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS? WHAT HAVE YOU BASED YOUR OPINION ON? 

5. JUDGEMENT, IS IT SUCCESSFUL? Did the artist communicate what she wanted to you? Is she skillful? Do you like the artwork? WHY OR WHY NOT? WHY DO YOU THINK THIS? YOU MUST GIVE A REASON AND BACK UP YOUR THOUGHTS.

You can watch Paula lead this Close Read process at this YouTube link.

Here are the two pieces of text Paula provided the students to facilitate their contextualization of Faith Ringgold. It was great to see this part of the research process given over to the students and to see which sections of text they highlighted or underlined. 

This process of unpacking Faith Ringgold's work is the connected to sewing and quilt-making studio activities. The students came up with different themes they wanted to represent in their quilt, i.e. Dreams, Culture and Music 'n the Hood, and in small groups created individual squares to be sewn together for each theme. The end product will be a quilt close to 3' x 5' that will be displayed in a local cultural center.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Interesting Curating: Art and Appetite

The Art Institute has a new exhibit about food and art.

Since we were talking about curating ideas, this new exhibit looks great. Has anyone seen it? I want to soon. My friend said it was fantastic. I love the connections being made with it, beyond the art world...

Studio Thinking Teacher Exhibition Preparation

On October 28, our learning community came together to collectively imagine, dialogue and envision possibilities for our upcoming Teacher Exhibition. The Exhibition provides the opportunity to tell your stories as art teachers and teachers who use the arts by highlighting the intricacies, the in-between spaces, the essences, and the complexities of your daily practice in and out of the classroom. This is your narrative to tell.

From "Learning to Love You More"
The clip below, "Maxine Greene on Teachers College: Its People and History," served as a spark to our idea generation for the Exhibition. In this clip, Greene discusses the ideas of being "wide awake," imagining possibilities, embracing others and various perspectives, being awake enough to be enraged to resist, and other wonderful ideas. 

These are some of the ideas the group generated. We should continue to revisit these ideas as we move through the year. What else do you want to say? What else should the Exhibition entail? What don't you want the Exhibition to be about? We encourage you to imagine possibilities and share them with the group as they come to you.

As Kate and Matt listened to your thoughts and reviewed the conversation, these are some of the emerging questions we are hearing as a way to tell your story:

What do you wish you were teaching?
What are you not teaching?
What do you think others think of you?
What can't you leave at school? What do you bring home with you?
What do you bring into the classroom from home?
How does your vision of teaching compare to your lived experience?
How do you transcend the times and think of new methodologies?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Learning to Love You More Workshop

Last week when our Studio Thinking learning community met, we spent time opening ourselves up to imagination and possibilities by responding to several of the assignments from Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July's project "Learning to Love You More."

A couple of days before that, Valerie Xanos, Kate Thomas, and Matt Dealy led a couple of workshops around reading visual texts such as those found in LTLYM at the CTC Young Adult Literature Conference held in St. Charles, IL.

On Friday night, we led a discussion in which we introduced key concepts brought forward by the LTLYM project and facilitated a hands-on experience for teachers to respond to LTLYM prompts. These assignments included:

16. Make a paper replica of your bed.
33. Braid someone’s hair.
38. Act out someone else’s argument.
54. Draw the news.
70. Say goodbye.

Then on Saturday morning, we once again began our workshop with a discussion around the importance of practicing our ability to critically read visual images/texts. Valerie then led a rich presentation aided by this slideshow (click on the link below the Close Read image to see the entire Powerpoint).

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I really think that the stress of paperwork and grading at the end of the quarter has made me physically sick. I am in so much pain from upper back and arm muscle spasms (massage therapist says typical of too much computer and stress) and I feel ill, poisoned, just really awful. Trying to take care all day despite having work to do. Work, rest, work, rest.  The paperwork at school is just overwhelming. I'm working so hard to keep up and NOT let it affect my class and curriculum. Experiential and involved teaching is time consuming. It's the most important part of my job. But to do that and all the crap is killing me.

Our ways of teaching are so thoughtful, active, experiential. How do we do that and all the ridiculous nonsense CPS requires? Constant rewrites of curricular paperwork, evaluations, ABOUT the paperwork, long redundant unit plans on top of lesson plans, on top of other similar stuff, wasting time with long meetings, and then more and more paperwork... DESPITE our contractual protection of no increased paperwork. We are mandated to do so much at Curie.

I just wonder how long we can keep this up and still be good teachers in the classroom. Sorry for venting, but I know you all feel this way and are struggling too. Maybe it helps for us to talk about it.