Inspired by ideas from Olivia Gude and a local high school art teacher, I had my fifth grade students start the year by making a set of artist trading cards that were based on the elements and principles of art. The cards served as a good but quick review so we could move on to other things. They are a bit difficult to photograph, but I gave each student a compartmented plastic page in which to keep them. Now I have to decide if I should let them take them home (which they all want to do) or keep them so students can add to them throughout the year. If we use both the front and the back, the pages each will hold 18 cards.
Though I can't submit my students' cards, you certainly can enter your students' work in SchoolArts' annual artist trading card contest. The deadline for entries is December 1, 2010.
Continuing the theme of compassion, the October issue of SchoolArts includes an article about the project called One Million Bones, written by founder Naomi Natale:
In spring of 2013, one million bones—made by an international community of artists, activists, and students—will flood our nation’s capital.
One Million Bones is an international fundraising art installation and education project designed to recognize the millions of victims of genocide. Our mission is to increase global awareness of the ongoing devastation of genocide, raise $5 million to protect and aid displaced victims, and educate students about tolerance through art and social activism.
One Million Bones asks one million people — children, artists, youth, senior citizens, parents, and college students — to create a bone representing a victim of genocide, and sponsor it for five dollars. Sponsorship funds will go to service organizations for aid for survivors.
The arts are a powerful tool for engaging the community. We believe this type of hands on education is necessary because addressing global issues begins with the knowledge that global issues are local issues magnified by distance and intensity. Therefore, providing a creative arena for children to discuss what makes us different and what makes us the same allows them to understand global issues through a local and or individual lens.
This is the first step towards change. Outreach efforts to educators across the country will help teachers create a curriculum that is age appropriate, and which encourages analysis and synthesis, as well as the creative consideration of global issues.
Art & Action
Apathy is often cited as the reason that people fail to act against injustice, though perhaps impotence is a more useful way to describe such inaction. If we approach the problem from this perspective-that people don’t act because they don’t feel capable of affecting change- it has a very clear solution: Offer people a compelling, tangible way to make a difference and they will seize it.
This is the guiding principle behind One Million Bones. In places like Sudan, Burma, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, millions have been murdered or displaced by systematic killings and ethnic cleansing. The international community has neglected to effectively intervene and the violence, which has ravaged for years already, continues.
One Million Bones aims to unite people whom individually-and as of yet, perhaps silently-oppose these genocides. It provides participants with the means to both demand government intervention and to raise support for the conflicts’ many victims. It gives these ongoing tragedies, often muted by our physical distance form them, an emotional presence and a powerful voice.
Opportunity for Participation
One Million Bones is looking for educators to bring this project into their classrooms. Regardless of the subject taught, we are convinced that One Million Bones can assist with student engagement and skill acquisition at all educational levels.
We hope that you will consider bringing this project into your classes, perhaps even every semester until our 2013 installation. This issue is so important and any awareness we can spread is incredibly valuable.
Naomi Natale is the director of One Million Bones and of an earlier humanitarian effort, The Cradle Project.
Samantha Melvin, the fine arts teacher at R.J. Richey Elementary School in Burnet, Texas, sent me this photo of her school's celebration for Pinwheels for Peace last Tuesday on the International Day of Peace. Her students are holding up their pinwheels for this aerial shot.
I am constantly amazed and delighted by the lengths to which art teachers such as Samantha will go for their students. Pinwheels for Peace itself is a great example of such efforts as it was started by two art teachers, Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan.
In just five years, Pinwheels for Peace has grown into an international project with millions of participants. Ann and Ellen have now expanded this idea at their school to 10 Days of Peace. How powerful is that?
You, too, have the power of art. How will you use it to make a difference in the lives of your students?
It turns out that about five or six schools in my district celebrated Pinwheel's for Peace. Our paper did a feature on the elementary schools that participated, including mine and you can look at them here. I long ago learned that you must take it upon yourself to promote your programs, especially through your local news media. I have gotten to know our local education writers just from sending them so many publicity releases and photographs. So don't be shy in promoting what your students are doing. It's up to you!
Folks, I have updates on our SchoolArts travel plans for next summer (I know, it seems way too early for this but we have to plan so far ahead!). The Venice, Italy trip is currently filled, but you can get on the waiting list with a fully refundable $300.00 deposit. It seems likely there might be some cancellations. The 8-day trip begins June 18, 2011. The price is $2904 out of DFW (dbl occupancy). Other gateways are available; supplement for single travel with a private room is $310. Our tour company is Go Ahead Tours, 800-597-0350 and the tour number is 51927443, under Pam Stephens and Nancy Walkup. Ask for Lauren, if possible, and mention SchoolArts.
The SchoolArts/CRIZMAC Folk Art Extravaganza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 6-12, 2011, is now available for registration on CRIZMAC's website. We'll be staying at the lovely Inn at Loretto, within walking distance of the Plaza for hands-on activities, guest speakers, museum visits, and two days at the International Folk Art Market on Museum Hill. You can call CRIZMAC at 1-800-913-8555 for further details or to register.
What do ghost bicycles, the Days of the Dead, and the Lincoln Memorial have in common? In different ways, they all commemorate a person, place, or event.
Ghost bicycles are white-painted bicycles placed at a site where a cyclist died. The Days of the Dead are the most important celebration of the year in Mexico, as they honor the memory of loved ones who have died. The Lincoln Memorial honors one of our most revered presidents.
There are many ways for students to explore the theme of commemoration in the art room. Celebrating artist birthdays is one way that can take many forms (the SchoolArts calendar in the back of the issue lists many of these). In school, we are expected to observe months dedicated to different cultures or events such as Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Mother’s Day, and the like. Why not have students explore why we honor such observances and then create their own artistic commemorations?
Even young children can understand reasons for remembering a special person, time, or place. My fifth-grade students wrote stories about their favorite memories and then illustrated and recorded them for a VoiceThread project. (You can watch them at voicethread. com/#q+Denton,+Texas.)
An additional approach to the subject of commemoration could be to ask your students to consider which present-day people or events might be honored in times to come. The daily news offers much fodder for discussion and debate. For example, the Library of Congress recently announced that it would acquire the entire Twitter archive since March 2006. Are all tweets worthy of preservation? Are any worthy of commemoration? What do your students think?
Finally, another way to incorporate contemporary ideas is through a wonderful online resource, PBS Art: 21 episode about Ritual and Commemoration, available at www.pbs.org/ art21/education/ritual/index.html. This unit offers three lessons on this theme: Remaking Myths, Honoring Heroes and History, and New Rituals. Though primarily written for secondary students, the concepts and ideas may be adapted for younger students as well.
The photo above was taken in a San Antonio, Texas, public park during the Days of the Dead.
You can visit SchoolArts online to find articles about Commemoration.
Dear folks, I am sad to report SchoolArts will be unable to present Pueblo Art and Culture next summer in New Mexico. Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe is closing by the end of this year and by the time I found out it was too late to move it to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. I am heartbroken because of my long and rewarding association with program coordinator Sue Rundstrom and the Santa Fe facility. I will try again for summer 2012 in Abiquiu. In the meantime, our Venice trip (June 18) and Santa Fe Folk Art Extravaganza with CRIZMAC (July 6) are still on for next summer.
SchoolArts is in need of ClipCards for the magazine. In every issue, there is one ClipCard each for Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels. We especially need Early Elementary, Elementary, and Middle School cards right now.
The images you see here show the front and back of a ClipCard and the outline to follow: Title, Level, The Art Problem, Objective, Materials, Procedures, Assessment, and author details. We only need one image per card and not too many words, so this is a great way to quickly get published (and we pay for them and give you extra copies of the issue in which you are published!). You can email text and images to me at email@example.com. Please let me know if you have any questions!