I had the opportunity to spend time recently with Ms. Sharon Chen, Art Teacher at Denton Creek Elementary in Coppell ISD. Her 5th grade students were completing a printmaking project related to the phases of the moon.
Ms. Chen designed this learning experience based on the connection to the recently completed concept in their science class. The timeliness of the topic for this project was powerful in terms of student engagement.
In grade 5 science, students know there are recognizable patterns in the natural world and among the Sun, Earth, and Moon system. This includes the phases of the moon.
Ms. Chen shared that since her students had recently learned about the moon phases in science, “I let them teach me”. The students shared information related to the moon phases, including the number of days in a cycle, the number of phases, and the effects seen on the tides.
The students researched on their iPads for images to replicate through printmaking. Ms. Chen directed their attention to the craters and provided a finished example as an end product. She recognizes the importance of making the work samples ahead of time. In response to the comment she has heard from children and adults alike about not having the confidence to draw or create something artistically, she says, “If you say you can’t draw, it’s because you can’t see it”. Ms. Chen is referring to the mind’s eye of seeing the final product through the process. For this reason, she creates final products for her students as they embark upon new projects – not to replicate, but to provide context.
The image below shows the final products of the students’ moon phases created through printmaking.
These images show Ms. Chen holding one of the styrofoam plates that has been carved with a ball point pen to identify locations of craters on the moon (left) and the print making station on the counter along the back wall of her classroom (right).
For the moon phase project, the following materials are needed:
- styrofoam plates
- ball point pens
- tempera paint
- paper for final product
- iPad/computer access for research
Ms. Chen’s integration of science in her art classroom is valuable, as the students are provided opportunity to make connections and extend their learning. Another important aspect of this learning experience embedded within the design was the students’ role as they came into the art room with background knowledge of the moon phases – the very concept they would soon capture through printmaking. This allowed Ms. Chen to serve as the designer and facilitator of the learning experience, focused on the art of printmaking, while her learners were able to serve as instructors as they shared their knowledge of the moon phases.
Within Article V: Organizational Transformation of the Visioning Document, we read:
V.b The teacher’s most important role is to be a designer of engaging experiences for students, supporting students in their work by incorporating more traditional roles as planner, presenter, instructor, and performer.
For the latest in Ms. Chen’s classroom, follow her on Twitter @MsChenDCE.