Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Going's On at Curie w/ the X Kids

Ms. X and her Happenings.

I am going to connect you to two of my other blogs (as I can't always keep track of the posting I do).

1. Guerrillaart4.blogspot.com
This is the student run (mostly) blog for our guerrilla art class. Currently working on a project connected to the "Bowie Is" exhibit at the MCA. We are collaborating with Lee Blalock, a sound/video/performance artist. We have just started our big project. Check it out as it progresses...

2. http://teachersafterhours.blogspot.com/
This blog is more teacher-centered. I post about, reflect upon, new things I am trying in classes. Sometimes, just get into teacher issues or discussions. Also an ongoing series of posts about my trip to Finland with the NAEA delegation. Very exciting!
Speaking of: the trip got written up in another teacher's blog about the Finnish system of education.

Valerie Xanos

Monday, November 24, 2014

Social Commentary Graffiti Project

Deborah Ryder at Kennedy High School reflects on a recent project...

I designed my Social Commentary Graffiti Project because I wanted my students to experience the power of public art to raise consciousness, provoke discussion and visually impact their school environment. I guided a discussion and asked them to make lists of issues that were on their minds. They chose working partners and formed small groups of 2 -4 and they decided on the issue they wanted to present. 

Graffiti has broad general appeal and interest with my students. As they were planning their works, I showed them a lot of Banksy. I found some really interesting videos about Banksy on YouTube (including a hilarious bit from Steven Colbert). They created 5' tall graffiti works inspired by Banksy. Like Banksy, I told them they could use appropriated imagery from popular culture and Banksy himself, but they needed to create new juxtapositions to design their images. They also wrote Manifesto statements about their topic that would put up with their graffiti. 

Students traced their designs on clear plastic sheets and projected their graffiti designs onto large pieces of kraft paper. They used black acrylic paint and had the option to add white and one accent color. They cut them out and in one day during their art class period they "stealthily" wheat pasted their graffiti any where in the school they wanted. 

My students were incredulous that they had permission to present works that were personal and sometimes controversial. I told them I didn't ask permission. We were just going to do the project and I would accept the consequences. That earned me a little cred with my students, even though I figured the work would be well received by every one at school, including administration. 

At first my students were skeptical. They thought their work would be destroyed by other students in the school or at the very least the principal would tell me to take them down. Then the talk started. "This is so cool. Who did this, etc, etc" They started seeing their work on Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat. Their teachers were talking about it and creating spontaneous lessons inspired by their graffiti.

The graffiti stayed up for 3 weeks and were on display during report card pick up for parents and visitors to view. Then we took them down. Teachers are sorry to see them gone and have expressed their appreciation for the project and are asking me what we are going to do next.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Looking forward to meeting with teachers on Thursday November 20 to continue the collaborative conversation. 

Everyone is welcome--those who attended October night and those who did not.

Time/space for small group and large group collaborative ideation and processing. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What People are Thinking About

Below are comments we collected from the teachers who were present during the Oct. 23rd workshop with Olivia. Who else can share their ideas? What questions or comments do you have regarding Chrissy, Deni, Jeanne and Jeanette's ideas below? Please let us know what you are thinking about...

I find as art teachers we are very isolated and we have to seek out communities to share ideas. These ideas seem to more receptive because we WANT to be in the community. Many teachers of core subjects are forced to be in these conversations. I am eager to get ideas and collaborate with art teachers I have long respected. I feel like I take away information every time.

I was pleased to discuss ideas with the teachers I paired with because I feel our students have similar pressures regarding the high school admissions process. They often feel they are wrongly assessed though they have many attributes that can't be measured.

I'm intrigued by the idea of how they are measured and how we associate behavior in relationship to color and numbers.

Our group also discussed the idea of behavior management in general. How students seem to feel the consequences of their peers. These are teaching opportunities we feel for them to work collaboratively towards a goal.


1) There are so many themes...how to choose
2) The themes we ultimately chose had a broad base for interpretation...
3) While I can't dedicate an entire quarter to the theme, I am excited to work with the 7th grade.

My 3-4 takeaways from the 10-23 event:

1.  Healthy relationships seem like a real need.
2.  Navigating the terrain between talking about issues, making art
about issues and then what?  Is raising awareness and talking about
issues enough?
3.  The quote: "All violence is the result of unmet need." is a basic
tenet of restorative justice.  I think naming the needs and then
finding/assisting students to find the resources to meet the needs is
a good thing to work on.
4.  Asset Based Inquiry is another good angle to pursue in the search
for solutions.

My takaways:

Wow, this is really tough work? This seems like it takes a long time? Lots of planning, contemplating, and thinking? It wlll be great to have this group to work with to figure this new way of teaching. I love the connections that can be made to contemporary artists and their work.

Interesting how the elementary kids have such issues with being silent in the halls. What must their life be like, constantly being told to do stuff that goes against their natural nature? How does this experience in elementary school influence how they behave when they get to me freshman year? They go from such control and structure to much more freedom, no wonder they struggle to handle it.

I am so glad to live in a place that offers opportunities like this. I am so honored to be included in this group and look forward to the journey ahead.

Why does life have to be so stressful, for us as adults, for kids, kids shouldn't be this stressed.

Art is so important to understanding life, each other, ourselves, the world, to make the world better, to make ones self better.

Every problem is a curriculum problem, how can I apply this to the problems I am beginning to have in my 4th period freshman art class?

Monday, November 3, 2014

What does this learning community ask of me?

Recently I was reading a philosophical text by the German theorist Hannah Arendt. Arendt wrote about collective responsibility and I thought perhaps this is something we could consider within our group. Arendt said "I must be held responsible for something I have not done, and the reason for my responsibility must be my membership in a group (collective) which no voluntary act of mine can dissolve." (The Human Condition, 1958). This quote leads me to think about what our learning community asks of us. What are we called to do within this community? How are we responsible even when we choose to not participate? One of the central ways we can come to know each other's work/practice is through participation in the project blog. Collective responsibility does not demand that we are prolific or eloquent writers, but we are none the less called to participate in a conversation as members of this group. There may be a hesitation at first to write but responding to each others' ideas is a good place to start. Write a comment inside or outside of the comment box as Olivia did. I am personally moved to write about Olivia's statement - The weird illusion is that somehow we now have objective data when we quantify subjective judgments. Right, we can never remove our subjectivity from assessing works of art. We wouldn't want to remove this subjectivity. How do we call this subjectivity forward within assessment? 

You have joined this group and have already chosen collective responsibility. I know you're there. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Going to Finland!

1st leg of tour: in O'Hare, Chicago. En route to NYC to transfer to Finnair. 
So excited and also thinking about all the posts I have to finish regarding the awesome work students are doing. Lots of photos and video to edit and upload. 

That will have to wait. For now, this is about Finland.