Express Yourself (ism)

Expressionism was the name of the game for this unit. It was an exciting week, because it was time to paint bold bright colorful paintings. Below are some of our experiments with expressionistic themes.

First we looked at Kandinsky:

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20140721_110622We then moved on to August Macke, my favorite German expressionist.

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Then, we were on to our own expressionist paintings. This was especially inspirational because my teenage student’s enthusiasm for expressing themselves and exploring emotions added energy to this assignment. Can you tell what kind of feelings they were trying to express, what mood they were trying to capture?

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Education in Other Words, and Other Worlds

It has been a long time since I have been a high school student, and an even longer time since I have read a high schoolers personal essay. I have read plenty of artist statements, and reflections on growth  as an artist, but none of these give me a real and tangible glimpse at the student perspective like a personal essay, or a creative writing piece. (Note to self: Talk to the creative writing teacher ASAP) Now I have to. I suppose I don’t HAVE to, but I am going to because another teacher (^Creative Writing Teacher) at Stone Ridge and I are now advising the “Calithump.” It’s our schools magazine, and it is full of student submissions. We have poems and photographs and essays and paintings.

An interesting fact about this publication was that it was once an award winning one, a few years back. What award I’m not sure but there is definitely a plaque next to the entrance to our auditorium. Unfortunately, in its recent years it was acquired by other teachers, who then left our school for other opportunities and in that transition it was left abandoned and almost forgotten. (*By abandonded I mean by faculty, and for only a few months) It wasn’t until about two weeks ago that my colleague in the English Department suggested we both take it on. So we took a look into what was left of this publication and we found something amazing. In the absence of teachers, two seniors had taken on the role of editors and had been quietly organizing a team of student staff members in collecting and organizing this publication. So really we were just joining them to offer our support. I contacted the printer to get specific details and suggested a few organizational strategies for the content, while our fearless English teacher offered to look over, edit and advise them on all of the thirty-something written entires they had received. It was kind of like we had stumbled upon a hidden factory. I was, once again, impressed with the self-motivated students we cultivate at Stone Ridge.

So the voice of the student, or the student perspective is what I will focus on in the coming weeks. I read this amazing article about a school in South Carolina that is a public boarding school for the arts and humanities. It looks like a wonderful place to be a creative high school student. From this article I discovered three essays from three different students who attend this school. Each essay was “whatever perspective the students wanted to offer about their experience at the school.” They were all different, but equally inspiring, and they reminded me that I should take into account not only what it is I’m teaching my students, but what it is like to be a student in my class, at this school, and in this area. (I highly recommend the essays which can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/what-my-school-means-to-me-essays-from-3-high-schoolers/284317/)

In this same line of thinking, I have taken an interest in what is going on in some of my students other classrooms. I want to share some artwork that is not a product of my classroom, but a response to an English assignment that required artwork. I was told by a student that I should, “go check out the stuff [they] made in English,” and that it was “pretty cool.” So I did. And is was “pretty cool.”

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