Sunday, October 2, 2011

Identify Yourself! Learning About Symbols and Stained Glass

Angel learned that her name means "bringer of good news".  She came up with the idea of using the stork on her own!
Samantha's composition made good use of one big symbol, the horseshoe, as a focal point .   She learned that her last name means "blacksmith", so the horseshoe symbol represents the trade of her ancestors.

I look forward to reading each issue of School Arts Magazine, which is published by Davis publications.   I  have had se my lessons published in SchoolArts and I hope that they have inspired other art teachers to try something new.   So this month it was my turn to be inspired by another teacher's lesson.  That lesson is in the digital edition of the September 2011 issue, and was originally taught to high school art students.  I decided to tweak it so that my 8th graders would be able to learn about the origin and meaning of their first and last name.  I also asked them to list some character traits, just so that they would have enough information to work with.
The goals of the lesson were for students to research these things about themselves, generate original symbols  to represent these findings, and combine them in a drawing that used a "stained glass style".   I took each class to the computer lab so they could research the meaning and origins of their names.  I made up a worksheet to help keep them focused and asked them to work primarily from the information at  The students really enjoyed this part of the lesson because everyone was excited to look for the information that would inspire their artwork.
Back in the art room students did more brainstorming, some rough drafting and then moved on to white final draft paper.  I showed them examples of stained glass windows.  Some of these examples were real thanks to other teachers answering my request for help with finding actual stained glass to show the students.  I  also printed out a bunch of other examples from various pictures found in google images.  It was helpful for students to see examples of the outline drawings called templates; these are used by artisans before constructing the stained glass.  We talked about how none of the shapes could "float" within the picture, as well as the "metal outlines" that we would represent with black sharpie.
The drawings were quite impressive, even before any color was added.  I'll check in again soon to show you how they really "glow" once the colors were added!

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