May 21, 2011

The Courage to be Corny

Is there a point in the year when your 5th graders start taking on a middle school mentality? Every year at about this time (the end of May) my 5th graders start to become too cool for school. The long sighs (during one of my favorite lessons), the spring crushes, the knowing that they are about to go into middle school and be at the bottom again. Emotions are running high and getting through to them is not easy. So I'm starting an op art unit with 5th grade. It should keep the supplies to a minimum, so I can focus on the students and not the mess. It should keep their interest high.  Got any great op art lessons for me? Link me up! I'm making a Bridget Riley presentation tonight (good times:)

I remember in college one of my CRAZY professors. Many kids in the class thought they were "too cool" for his ideas. He was so passionate about words and film that some thought he was corny. His name is Michael Fink. I built him a bird house out of some salvaged barnwood with some of my favorite quotes engraved on it because he loves bird watching and would talk about the birds in his yard during class (which really made a bunch of college students sink in their chairs.) I LOVED him for being corny because it allowed me to be myself.

To make a long story short,  he is the only English teacher I remember.

Middle school mediocrity is looming for my 5th graders. I hope they remember it's okay to be different and have the courage to be corny once in a while!

P.S. I was surprised when I watched the video of my favorite English teacher to hear him use the word "corny" in it. I didn't plan that!


Anonymous said...

A go-to 5th grade op art lesson from Mr. E:

I find the same thing with my 5th graders. I'm ending the year with graffiti. I also gave them the choice of ending with graffiti or another project. I knew they would pick graffiti but it makes them believe they had a choice in what they were learning as well. It also keeps supplies to a minimum (markers and paper) with a focus on the students. : )

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way as you and o'keeffe's backyard. The 5th graders stepped up their "I'm too cool for school" game2 years ago when our school district sent the 6th grade up to middle school. I haven't any new ideas for op art projects, but what I've seen on the blogs recently are pretty sweet.

Mary said...

It seems this is about the time (5th grade) when many kids get hung up on things looking "real". Their lines become tentative and faint and their eraser is always close at hand. I did some grid drawings of cartoons with my some of my students recently: Family Guy, SpongeBob ect.

Phyl said...

I also like that lesson from Mr. E. I did it w/my 4th graders, and everyone was successful, the results were awesome, and they were forced to take their time shading with colored pencils. We used it as an opportunity to learn about value, and also analagous colors. I loved watching the kids run up to the color wheel with a handful of colored pencils to see if their choices qualified as a 'family'.

My 5th graders haven't been too bad. We've done lots of observational drawing, contours of hands, and their initials in sign language with a monochromatic color scheme (those came out cool; I have to post them!). They've worked hard - my only complaint is they can't seem to shut up for 2 minutes and the noise is getting to me!

Unknown said...

Glad it's not just me! It's mainly the spring fever boy girl thing that is driving me crazy. Phyl I hear you with the noise. They grow up way too fast around here and I blame McDonald's mostly (that's another story:) Okeeffe's backyard I like the idea of choice for them maybe I'll also offer the classic square one and/or a wavy weaving (you know the one where you cut up the loom into waves.) I think I will have them pick their project THEN move to a table with that project. So they don't pick a project based on what their friends or crush picks.

tishalou said...

Loved your professor's video! I too loved my creative writing teacher at the Corcoran - he was the leader of a group of us that produced our own publication and had our own writing group... brings back memories!

I am at a quandry with my 5th graders this year becasue my son is one of them - it will be a very emotional end of the year for me! I have been their art teacher for 3 years and some of them were in my son's kindergarten! But I keep telling them they have not seen the last of me since my son is in their grade!!

Good luck keeping their interest. I am doing trace monotypes with their portraits - I like to do a self portrait with them and hang it for their promotion. I am hoping they will enjoy since they will be tracing a photo - I can't wait to see how they turn out. Some classes will get to embellish - some will just get to do the trace part... getting down to the nitty gritty!

Unknown said...

Tisha. . . it is good that we could find good Writing teachers as artists (it's not easy for a writing professor to teach an artist.)

Aw your son is moving on to middle school! It must be exciting and hard to watch him grow so fast. Each year flies by and when it's time to reflect (graduation) it's so emotional.

I only have 2 5th grade classes. One will be very emotional for me because They were my first class to graduate that I taught from First Grade and up. They are awesome. My bilingual 5th graders are awesome as well. . . our problem is we started with 40 in the class now we're down to a more manageable size but there has been a lot of students who came and went and came. So it's hard to know them on the level that you need to. I feel for these students, and now a new school. I would be too cool too I guess if I was bounced around that much, as a defense mechanism. It will be hard to say good bye as always to the 5th grade. Especially the ones who are leaving us and going who knows where. They passed through my room so quickly some only 6 months. . . I hope they find what they need to get them through out there and I hope the teachers they met briefly here at our school were able to put some positive into their life.

The rest I will see around my neighborhood and they will be attending a magnet school or a gifted program. It is fun to watch them grow so fast while we grow exponentially a lot slower (at least that's how I feel!)

Mr. E said...

I think it is whatever is the oldest grade at your school. Our
4th graders check out after TCAP(our standardized testing). So from late April is a struggle to engage them. I save weaving & the line design projects for the end of the year..because I know that they hold their attention. They actually come in before the bell rings to weave just a little bit more.