Theorizing the Future - Mid-Pacific Institute

Art - Day

Theorizing the Future

Posted on January 22, 2017

by Abbey Day on January 22, 2017

1st/2nd Grades:

As the first and second grade team is engaged in how the earth and animals change over time, we approach the same idea in art.

After briefly asking students what they have been doing in inquiry to remind one another of all their previous learning, I turned their attention to the task to "Look, Think, and Talk." This is a strategy touted by Kennedy Center Art Education Consultant, Melanie Rick, to have students actively look and talk with one another by comparing images. The students were excited about this new structure, and enthusiastically repeated the day's mantra with me -- "What else?" before we began.

With partners, students first looked at the following images.

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They noted that they were similar because they were "old people," "cavemen," "hairy," "mostly men," "most had some kind of tool." They noted differences such as, "only one has a woman" and "some look kind of like photographs and others are like paintings."

Students then looked at three more slides of images with a partner. They practiced their thinking, talking, and asking themselves "what else?"

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This time, they noted they were "fancy," "all wearing a hat," "more women," and "look kind of like kings and queens."

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Here they saw they were "grey," "most are fancy, but one is dirty," "most have their hands behind their backs," and "are kind of serious-looking."

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Some observations with this series were "there's a lot of technology," "most are holding something," and "their eyes are getting so big and their skin is tanner."

Finally, students looked at this final slide:

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Looking at all the images together, they noticed that there was a timeline. "They are all people, going from oldest to now." They noticed the different styles of each period, and when asked why do you think the people in the first slide were so hairy, students provided answers like "they needed protection from the animals," "maybe it was colder," "they didn't have any combs or scissors to cut their hair."

I tossed the students some tough questions: "So then why do people change over time? Why does a horse live on the land and not in the sea?" They pondered this for a little, with some students providing some thougths about how we change for what we need.

I then shared with students that while driving to work, I had heard on the radio that 2016 was the hottest year on record, beating the previous record holders of 2014 and 2015. "What will happen as a result of the earth warming?" Many students were quick to answer that the "ice at the poles will melt." With a little guidance, they then realized that the water level may also rise, too. Another student said, "our weather may change. We will probably be hot all the time."

Rooted in this conversation, the children then thought about how people might change in many, many years. "How might we look different hundreds of thousands of years from now? How might the earth look different?" Here are some of their ideas:

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A top of the mountain person, who will have special hands and feet to help him climb, and bigger eyes to help him see far.

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A person with wiggly arms, because he doesn't use them much anymore, big eyes to see electronics, and long legs because everything will be taller, because we will have run out of land and will need to build up.

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We will take to the skies, because there will be less land, and therefore will have wings.

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Shorter arms, because people will be doing things princesses we all become.

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With a hot sun, this person will be prepared by having three stomachs in case they get hungry while hiking, more fingers to grab onto fragile items, wings to fly, less hair, because it will be too hot with less clouds, and many other adaptations!

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An environment where the fish will be bigger and we will live undersea.

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For an islands world, where we will need wings to fly from one island to the next.

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An islands world, where people will live with both wings and gills.

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Another idea for the islands-world people.

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Where the world is full of lightening and we will have electronics running through us.

While some students grabbed on to this idea of environment and physical adaptation, others took a more story-telling approach, and, of course, there were students that combined both ideas. No matter the approach, these practices of observing, reflecting, and brainstorming, both individually and collaboratively, encourage thoughtful creativity and problem-solving.

These drawings will now be the drafts and guidance for students as they render their ideas in clay.

3rd/4th Grades:

We are just beginning our work with clay. Students are refamiliarizing themselves with the techniques of the medium and will soon be working on creating an animal of their choice, using a variety of methods.

5th Grade:

I have not yet seen the 5th grade for art this semester! Because of our visit to Hawai'i Island and last week's schedule change to accomodate Monday's holiday, I have missed them. However, I enjoyed working with them on our trip, and we will begin our next unit this week, exploring photography.