During the institute, my teaching focus was drawing-based science learning and assessment strategies. We started with basic drawing techniques. I walked participants through a toolkit development session which involved lots of practice drawing. Several of these techniques are discussed in previous newsletters and/or in my guide Sketching and Field Journal Basics.
We also discussed how to facilitate these techniques so that students have lots of informal low-stakes practice before they are formally assessed (the difference, say, between in-class practice and a test). Skill- and confidence-building like this is a critical part of engaging students in the benefits of drawing to learn.
We then applied these skills to observational drawings of cichlids (an extremely diverse group of fishes which includes tilapia). The cichlid specimens were provided by Dr. Katie Wagner, ecologist-in-residence for the institute. Dr. Wagner, along with Drs Dorothy Tuthill and Brian Barber, spent the week helping us all better understand descent-with-modification and other elements of the evolutionary process.
Ultimately, with the guidance of sculptor Adrian Vetter, participants sketched out plans, and sketched to document progress, as they made fish mobiles (based on cichlids) which demonstrated the principles of phylogenetic trees.
We’re doing some distance-learning elements of the institute throughout the rest of the month, and by then we should have a solid sense of how participants will use these practices in their own classrooms.
If you’re interested in how to facilitate any of these activities in your own educational setting, I’d love to chat and/or connect you with my co-instructors.
Reproducing or presenting an image in an artistic way can help you catch the attention of a wider or different-from-usual audience.
One such method is the packing tape sticker I mentioned in my October 2016 newsletter. If you want to create something more permanent, though, you might try solvent transfers.
I learned about this printmaking technique just last week, when my writing students, co-instructor, and I took a field trip to the University of Wyoming Art Museum’s studio classroom. Our field trip was part of an on-going multidisciplinary approach to “Communicating Across Topics in Energy” (the name of the course). See the Artful Classrooms section of the March 2017 newsletter for more information about how students are exploring the connection and communication potential of artworks and energy issues.
In the next year, I’ll focus on natural history collections, raccoon “hands,” horses, magpies, and the wind.
I’m telling you about root & star because:
I think it’s a phenomenal way to engage children in artful thinking and exploration. I love the magazine and love being part of it. There’s no monetary benefit to me if you subscribe or pick up a copy at one of the retailers now stocking it.
But, that’s fine — I only hope you’ll find it wonderful, too!