Aaah...the weekend! This school year - at least for the first semester - is going to be a doozy.
As I've mentioned, I have 85 students to start this year, ranging from 5th grade to 12th. They are broken down into 6 groups of about 15 kids per group and I see every group, Monday through Thursday for 30 minutes...one group right after the other. I have an unusually large number of students simply because there is a teacher out on maternity leave until the end of January. That teacher usually takes half of this number for English and history. Since she's gone, the remaining upper grade English teacher (that I typically pair with) has all the students, all the time and that means I see everybody as well. In a nutshell, my job at this school is to use the English, history, and Spanish curriculum as a springboard for art education. I look at what material will be covered each year and then design art projects that teach both basic art principles and that strengthen students' understanding of the material.
We are beginning the year reading Great Expectations in preparation for seeing the play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in mid-October. The English teacher is approaching the book from a language/writing perspective and I'm helping the kids analyze the book from a visual perspective. My students will be creating their own comic books, character maps, and geographical maps based on our reading.
A week before we leave for a four-day trip to Ashland and the Shakespeare Festival, I'll switch gears with the kids and discuss travel journals/urban sketching as the students will be keeping sketchbooks for the entire trip. The journey to Ashland is an annual event for our school and virtually every student will go on the trip.
When we get back from Ashland, we'll do about a week of closing assignments surrounding our travel experiences, and then we'll dive into our theater unit with dizzying intensity. The youngest middle school students will be learning and performing Midsummer Night's Dream while the older kids will tackle Hamlet. Some of the older students (who have already done Hamlet) may spin off to perform Eddie Zipperer's Don't Fear the Reaper. During the theater unit, I help the students learn the material through the creation of a journal. This year, each student will be constructing an accordion-folded journal that holds vocabulary lists/definitions, act summaries, Shakespeare caricatures, and faux illuminated pages.
Whew! You might be as tired from reading all that as I am in planning/doing it. Last week, I came home every day and fell into bed. I'm hoping as the days progress that I'll be able to find a healthy rhythm that leaves me with energy at the end of the teaching day to do my own stuff. I am trying to get back into journaling and other small projects (while preparing my show for hanging) so the photo I've included in this post is of my latest spread in my small "Unexpected Convergences" journal.