A friend composed a post on Facebook for her son who is graduating at the end of June, celebrating all his milestones getting to this point even though he won’t have a traditional graduation ceremony. That, and the fact that we now know we are finishing the year remotely, made me think; ‘How can we celebrate our graduates with a meaningful curriculum focus?’
The last project that I did with my grade eights before I retired was an integrated Language and Visual Arts project. It just might serve as a way to commemorate this unique graduation for all of our students – a media gallery showcasing “Perspective. They All Saw a Grad”.
I used the book, “They All Saw a Cat” by Brendan Wenzel as a provocation. Yes, I read aloud to my Grade 8 students. I invited them to remember back to Grade 1 when they came to the Library and had story time. It seemed to work. 🙂 If you don’t have a copy of the book, you could share this YouTube Read-Aloud. By the time we made it to the page with the fox, students started commenting that the cat looked very plump and edible! They quickly realized that ALL the characters saw the cat from a different perspective and started pointing out what the artist had done to show this. The read-aloud became an inquiry. We had to go back through every page and do the science. The bee sees with thousands of eyes. The snake sees in thermal vision. We were able to talk about how perspective changes depending on the vantage point of the viewer and how the artist used texture, colour and line to help define the emotion felt by each character as well.
You may want to try to do this read-aloud synchronously with the class if you can. It’s mind blowing what the students discover.
At this point, my students chose any object they wanted to be the focus of their perspective study. “They All Saw Glasses”. “They All Saw An Apple”. Whatever they wanted to use as the focus of their art was the perfect choice.
This is where I think this project can be personalized. Your grads could choose an object from their home that they identify with as a grad, something that says ‘This is Me in 2020″. They could also create a self portrait from different perspectives (high, low, parent, dog, cat, sibling). Either way they can take photographs of their object and use different filters to create a mood and show the different perspectives.. I’ve shared some free digital photo editting tools at the end of this post. Some of my students also used traditional art mediums like pencil, pencil crayon, paint, marker, dyes made from weeds to create some of their work. Whatever works!
By using different filters, the students will be able to play with the colours and textures of their images to show the audience how they want to be seen. Red and black are often used to portray anger. Who knows how many of our grads will have a red image depicting perspective from a sibling! This is the creative process at work.
I asked my students to choose 6 different perspectives and we mounted them in construction paper frames for a gallery walk. You can decide with your students how many they should have.
The students created an artist card on which they explained why they chose their object and how they used colour, texture and line to demonstrate the perspective and emotion in each image. Your students could add a paragraph about how they and others see themselves as a graduate in 2020.
If you already have a sharing platform in place, the students could place their digital images in a gallery and they could be shared as a montage for all graduates to see and keep.
A written or oral reflection could be done so that you could have a deeper understanding of the choices your students made and it might be a really nice way for you to connect one last time with your class community. Feel free to copy and edit this reflection sheet as you see fit!
What I can reflect on from this project was that students who didn’t think they were ‘artistic’ discovered their sense of artistic flair in a medium that was ‘mistake forgiving’. If they didn’t like the picture they took, they deleted it and tried again. They realized shortfalls like phones don’t take great close up shots but if they took the shot from farther away and then cropped it, they had a great result. They were also very excited to share how their artwork came together.
There is so much more to this work than just having a memento for the end of the year. Perseverance, creativity, problem solving and initiative shine through.
If you try this out with your students or even let your parents have a go at creating a perspective of their child and you post on Twitter, please add the hashtag #TheyAllSawAGrad2020. I’ll be watching for your creations!
Good luck! Congratulations Grads of 2020!
Some free photo editing apps your students may like to explore.