Sunday, October 11, 2009

Name Mandalas

My fifth graders have voted this their favorite project of the nine weeks. This looks like a hard lesson, but is really simple (if the students listen to directions)! First off, the students were given a 12x12 piece of paper and were shown how to fold it. The paper is folded in half in each direction (vertically, horizontally and twice diagonally) Using the fold lines as a guide (which make 8 triangles) the students draw their name in one section. I have make sure that their letters are touching two edges of the triangle, and are overlapping slightly. They start with pencils of course, but once they have a design that they like, they trace it with sharpies. The next step is to for the paper in half with their design on the outside, flip it over, and hold it up to a window or light box in order to trace the design onto another triangle. Continue unfolding and refolding until the design is traced around the entire square (note... 4 sections will have name reversed, this is correct). Finally, the students get to paint their names using whatever paint I choose. For this class, I choose glitter liquid watercolors that were donated to the art room. It was more gel-like than liquid, but the students liked it. I had them paint the background black. The neat thing is that unless you tell the viewers that this is the child's name, it is usually hard to find it.

Time for grading!!!

Well, it's that time of the year again, the time that all teacher just love and look forward to with excitingly beating hearts... (note the sarcasm!). It's the end of the first nine weeks here in Metro, and it is time to grade all of the children's artwork. After years of lugging stuff home and spending my entire weekend sorting and trying to figure out whose paper is it that doesn't have their name on it, I decided that I was not going to waste my weekends again. So a few years ago, I came up with this method of easy grading that ensures that no artwork is dragged home with me and that the no-name papers are taken care of as well. First of all, I do not grade throughout the nine weeks at all, I grade only at the end. I take the last week of the nine weeks and call it "Catch-up Week". After explaining to the children that this is not the stuff that we put on our french fries, I pass back all of their artwork (the ones with their names on it). The papers without name go in a pile on the floor by the trash can. On the board I write down a list of the projects that we completed and that I am grading, so that if they are missing something they can search the pile by the trash. I then give them the first half of the class time to finish any projects that were not quite done, and to check their craftsmanship. Halfway through the class, I start walking around and grade their artwork. In MNPS, for elementary students we are required to grade with an E-S-N grading scale (E=excellent, S= satisfactory, and N= needs improvement). After spending years writing more S's on my grade books than I dare count, after all, most of the students get an S, I finally realized that if I wrote down just the N's and E's as well as 0's for missing work, I could assume that any blank spaces were the S's and I would save beau-coups of time. After taking a walk around the room and grading, the children then have a portfolio of work to take home that day, and I throw away any artwork that is left on the floor by the trash (unless there is a child absent of course.... I'm not that mean!)