Name: Julie Rast
School: Joseph S. Shanklin Sr. Elementary School in Beaufort
Subject/Grade: Visual arts/pre-K through fourth grade
Years teaching: 18
What is your favorite lesson you've ever taught?
As a visual arts teacher, I am constantly searching for new ideas and lessons that will motivate and capture student attention and encourage creative thinking and problem solving skills. Every year, students are introduced to various artists and cultures from around the world. They are provided many opportunities to learn and use new art techniques and processes while working individually and in cooperative learning groups.
One of my favorite cooperative lessons focused on creating three-dimensional works of art using objects from nature. Following a study of sculptural art -- consisting mainly of sticks, logs, leaves and grasses -- students discussed the qualities and characteristics of these works of art and were then challenged to design an animal sculpture that would be free-standing and recognizable.
Students worked in small groups to brainstorm, plan, sketch ideas and gather natural materials during a nature hike. Then they used these natural materials to create large, beautiful animal sculptures using twine. Most of the sculptures became life-sized. Each group presented their finished work to classmates by sharing and discussing the challenges and successes of the project as well as sharing creative thoughts and information about their particular animals. Each work of art was displayed in the school garden so other students within the school, as well as parents and teachers, could observe the pieces during a garden walk. This was truly a memorable experience for the students, staff, parents and me.
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