While my ST finished up his time with us a few weeks ago, he’s still here in spirit. And by that I mean, kids are still finishing up a few things they started with him. He was able to grade most of the student work he assigned, but some pieces are still coming in dribs and drabs, and I’ll be grading those for the end of Marking Period 2, which is rapidly approaching.
Most of the projects he worked on with the kids were projects I’d had in my plans already, although, there was one project he assigned the kids over holiday break that he made up all on his own.
My ST was very much into comic books- he often brought in his comics form home to share with the kids in class. So I wasn’t surprised when his project was for the kids to create their own character. It didn’t necessarily have to be a super hero, but it had to be some made-up character.
I’m 50/50 on this idea. On the one hand, I think asking kids to make up a character is fantastic. I love stuff like this, because the kids can do a million and one things, and all of their work will be totally unique. However, I think when a project is as open ended as this one, you can run into a lot of problems. Many kids are intimidated by the freedom and end up basing their “unique” characters off of characters that already exist. Also, without something to work from, lots of kids end up with characters that are very under-developed in terms of detail. It was obvious that the majority of students didn’t take the assignment seriously and threw something together last minute.
However, as with any project, we got some really fantastic and inventive results. What I did really like about this project is that the ST had the students fill out a “Character Bio” telling us all about the character they created. The bio asked about what the character’s skills/powers/characteristics were, what their job/role/goals were, where and when they existed, and things like that. I love that he asked the kids to really think about who their characters were- to develop a personality and a story for them. I love doing cross-curricular stuff when I can. So many language arts standards are aligned with this project.
Here are some of my favorite examples:
Name: CEO of Robots With No Pants Corporation.
Age: 1 11/12 years old
Goal: World Domination. No Pants Allowed.
Story: He’s a robot super hero with a laser hand gun, space boots and programmed skills. He stops the Pirate Extraordinaire invaders.
Powers/Goal: Steven can grow a foot taller if he needs to. He really wants rob a bank, but he can’t, because he’s a lamp.
Name: The Human Liability
Powers: This super hero can run through walls, but he has to be going at a high rate of speed. He’s in it for the thrill. Also? He has a high tolerance for pain.
Name: Lilitu Pleasance
Size: Smaller than average
Power: She uses her imagination and knows basic gymnastics. She has the ability to enter a hidden word of characters in an enchanted forest. She must protect the hidden world; in the end she becomes more brave.
While I feel this project had some really great qualities, in the end, I kind of felt like it was neither here nor there. In Fine Art I we spend most of the year really developing technical drawing and painting skills. If I were to take this project and use it again, I’d definitely flush it out more. I’d make it worth a test grade. Maybe I’d introduce it after we’d done some gestural and proportional drawing. Maybe I’d tie it into a surrealist project. I’m not sure where I’d take it, but I’d beef it up a little.
I also thought about combining the concept of this project with something I've been meaning to do for a while.
I love Dave DeVries work. He does this special series called "The Monster Engine," which is just the sweetest thing I've ever seen. He takes drawings done by little kids (like, pre-K-1st grade) and paints them in oil, making them look realistic. They're amazing. We have a child development class at the high school and it's filled with pre-K students. A few years ago I paired up with the Child Development teacher and let the little ones borrow cameras from the photo department, and the Photo I kids I taught spent some time analyzing the artwork created from the eyes of a child. Maybe I'll take DeVrie's work and have my Fine Art III kids do what he does to some of the Child Development kids' artwork...develop some characters with bio's and back stories...hmmm...a plan is forming...