September 7, 2010

Art Journals . . . are they worth the trouble?

"I like about shcool is yim because we play soccer and baseball cause I now how to play and I play good."

The answer is YES DEFINITELY!!! It has taken me one class to find out who can write their name, who can speak English, who can speak English and Spanish (and help me), who can write and how well. I'm still trying to figure out their visual literacy and literacy levels but journals are helping.

With all the classes in 3-5, I am using journals. I first tell them that I will be their pen pals. Whatever they write, I will respond to. The more they write the more I will write back! The first 5 minutes of class, students answer a question on the board in their journal.

I knew journals would help me with 3 things.
1. I would get to know all the kids in these large classes (even the ones who don't like to talk.)
2. It would set structure and routine to the class.
3. It would build their literacy skills.

Little did I realize that some of my students don't know how to write at all in grades 3 through 5!

My Peace Offering!
One student couldn't write, got frustrated and left the classroom. This was really troubling to me. I thought my question was simple but not for someone who can't read. I was embarrassed for not realizing sooner. I ended up drawing him a picture as a peace offering.  Today was a great day because he loved the picture and actually did some work in his journal. I gave him the option to draw for now. What am I going to do with this wide range of abilities and huge class sizes (over 30)? I was thinking of giving students who can't write option to do a picture or trace the words paper in those 5 minutes. I'm a little worried that a tracing words is too babyish. Blogger friends, what do you think? Do you have any ideas?

"My favorite activities are help My Mother, and My father in the house and in the yard"


Unknown said...

Excuse the bad pictures from my iPHONE I wanted to show you what they look like and I left my camera at school!

tishalou said...

love it!! I would like to try this in the future - one of the schools in my county does this in all the specials classes - what a great way to get them in and seated and working. I always have the wait time of them getting settled before I can begin.
For your ones that can't read - what if you gave them picture options - like pick this one OR this one. Then you know their interests by what they choose and they can color or add to the pictures.

barb said...

Erica I'm so happy to see this post. This year one of my goals is to keep sketchbook/journals with all my classes. My older students started off the year by designing one page for a group sketchbook. I wanted everyone to feel comfortable knowing they could draw, cut, paste, write, and collect in their books. Soon we'll be making our first personal sketchbook/journal, and I'm really interested in how other art teachers use them. My thought was to focus on giving the kids a place to collect and try out their ideas, but I like how you're using them to gain insight into their personal interests.

Mrs. Art Teacher said...

I'm impressed you have time to respond to all their journals, how many students are you doing this with?

Unknown said...

Barb: I like your idea of a place to collect their ideas. I am going to use them for a variety of purposes. Mainly I'm just going to try to meet the kids where they're at because I have such varied levels.
Apples love oranges: One class of 4 and 5 combination is 36 bilingual students! These are the journals I photographed. I have to say they are complete angels considering EVERYTHING! All together I have maybe 200+ Some entries are less time consuming to respond to. I do it while watching T.V.! I love to watch The Office:) A lot!

Charlene said...

I teach well over 700 hundred students and I am not sure I would attempt this, but I wish you all the luck. Sentence starters can be helpful for those students having difficulty. My school is more than 80% ELL learners and I find them very helpful. For example, I learned about.... and have them copy this and fill in the rest of the sentence. My favorite part of this project was.... I was most sucessful at....... Good luck!

Unknown said...

Charlene 700!!! What is the world coming to? You are a saint!

I don't do journals with all the grades just the older students. Sentence starters are a life saver. I am also thinking of having them copy vocabulary from the board just to get them started on a quiet note and learning some English words.

Phyl said...

Erica, I'm so impressed! My classes sizes are between 13 and 22 kids, and I think I have three ELL students totally. So I'm blown away at your challenge. I can't fathom how much time it would take to write in all those journals, and I know I would have to seriously revise how I teach my art lessons with those numbers. As far as journaling, I do something with my 6th graders (that I'll blog about when they are done in about a week) where I write individual responses, and it takes me longer than I'd like. I watch The Office too, but I'm usually blogging or beading at the same time!

Unknown said...

Oh Phyl you're are so right! I have taught at a Montessori School and gone to private schools most of my life even my college had 12 kids in a class. I totally was a fish out of water when I came into teaching inner city. BUT, it was really important to me to teach kids who really needed it. Reevaluating how I did things was a must, to survive, but I have managed to keep integrity in the art program (doing my best to never use tracers) and trying to make projects that kids can make their own! No matter where you teach it isn't easy!!! But worth it.

Can't wait to see your journal prompts:)

Barbara's Thought of the Day said...

Ditto Phyl! 36 students is a huge class. I look at my kids and have a hard time imagining how you all fit in one room.
I can't wait to hear what Phyl has going on with her 6th graders. I'll keep an eye on your blog, phyl.
Love to chat longer, but the office is on.