Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I see, I think, I wonder .... about art

One of my personal goals this year was to further explore the Visible Thinking core routines.  I wanted to try out different routines with students on the 2 campuses where I teach and to blog about the process and the learning.

Today I was at our smaller campus where I was due to give an IT lesson to our Grade 2s.  They have been working on the How We Express Ourselves unit and have a fabulous exhibition of the artwork they have created over the past few weeks.  The central idea of this unit is:  art is an expression of human thoughts, emotions and experiences.  Students visited local galleries to find out about artists and for inspiration for their own artwork - for example they made wonderful aquarium paintings after visiting the Paul Klee Museum.  They also made great models and 3D art, for example in shoeboxes, and in the IT lessons they made graphics in the style of Piet Mondrian, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and M.C. Escher as well as experimenting with software such as BRUSHster, Flow and Pixel Face.

I was really impressed with the visible thinking routines I could see had been used to discuss artwork.  For example students had looked at this painting, American Gothic, by Grand Wood and used See ... Think .... Wonder as a routine.  This is what some of the students said when they explored this picture as a class:

I see ...

  • a lady wearing a brooch
  • a red building
  • a pitchfork
  • glasses on a man
  • a spotted dress
  • a red hand on the man
I think ...
  • the woman is married
  • the white house is a church because of the arched window
  • they live on a farm because he's holding a pitchfork
  • they are rich because they own the house and have nice clothes
I wonder ...
  • if these people are real
  • why they are so unhappy
  • what she is thinking
I could see that the students had become familiar with this thinking routine because they went on to use it themselves for paintings of their choice.  For example one of the students wrote about The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali:
    I see ... a blue sky mountains, four flat, dented, clocks, a bird and a plant and a red clock and a fly.

    I think ... the bird is dead because it's missing an eye, the things in the picture are melting because they are old.

    I wonder ... why all the clocks are dented, why the bird is not flying and has no wings,  why the artist used so many dark colours.

    It's clear that these students are very comfortable and familiar with this thinking routine and I am keen to work with this and other thinking routines in my own classes in the final part of the year.

    Photo Credit:  American Gothic by Grant Wood from the Art Institute of Chicago and The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali from the Museum of Modern Art in New York

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