In my classroom, they drew an apple in oil pastel. I showed them two red apples the first day... one was real and one was a fake I bought from Wal-Mart... have you seen fake fruit lately? It's amazingly real looking. The kids could hardly tell them apart... I could hardly tell them apart. We looked at the shape of the apple, the color variations in the skin, the placement of the stem, and the little shiny spot where the light reflected.
It took them about four 30 minute sessions to get from start (put your name at the bottom of the paper, now flip your paper over so you don't see your name... etc) to finish (we talked about the qualities of their drawing, about how they blended blue and white in the background). We discussed colors of apples, how they are not all red, and not all shaped the same. For the purpose of the lesson, we all drew the same apple.
The vigorous manner in which first graders color lends itself easily to the smooth rich color of oil pastels. The result of all their 'scribbles' in the background, which I encouraged, is an impressionistic style of painting. The kids don't know that yet, but their parents will appreciate it. The main focus was that they learned how to blend two colors with oil pastels by laying down a dark hue (blue) and applying white on top. They are beautiful to see as I walk down the hall.Thinking about those first graders drawing this apple, now that I'm sitting at home in a quiet, relaxed environment without the distractions of managing a classroom, is quite different than what I was thinking about them as we drew the apple in that classroom environment I was managing. (I'm chuckling as I write that.)
Before I started teaching art (this is my second year), I pictured my classroom as being a peaceful refuge where students would fearlessly explore their creative urges, yet where they would sit attentively, listening to every direction and instruction I give them. Not only listening, but in this fantasy, they actually followed up and did what I asked them to do, in the order it was given. Yes, it's a fantasy that I strive to realize every day.
Yet, when the lesson is over, their work is done, and the teacher hangs it on the wall, I stand back and admire what they did... and I remember individual students, how one broke his oil pastels on purpose one day and I had to send him back to his classroom... how one girl was more interested in tipping her desk over, and another who thought she was finished coloring and started playing, and knocked her oil pastels to the floor. I recall stepping on oil pastels after I distinctly remember telling them to check the floor for pastels on the floor near their desks and chairs.
As the recollections pass before me, I also remember a student saying in surprise "Look! White and blue makes light blue, Mrs. Gilmore!" and another saying to a pal "Your apple looks beautiful, Shana." My mind preserves them all, like mini video clips... kids bent over their drawings so intently coloring that they don't realize I'm standing in front of them watching; the image of them as they walk into the classroom and see their papers and bags of oil pastels sitting on their tables... music playing somewhere in the background. The looks on their faces... a generous gift ... parents and friends have wanted to be a fly on the wall to see those faces.
Teachers, once in awhile, get to be flies on the wall... I count my blessings every day.
I dedicate this entry to teachers all over the world, in all types of classrooms.