Monthly Mentor

Leslie Gates (May)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Leslie Gates, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Art Education at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she coordinates the undergraduate and graduate art education programs. She has taught visual art at the high school and elementary levels in both urban and rural contexts. Leslie's research interests are art educator's professional learning, assessment in the arts, and feminist and choice-based pedagogies. Her research, using participatory and feminist approaches, often means she is working alongside art educators to identify problems and work towards possible solutions. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



Join the largest creative community established exclusively for visual arts educators, college professors, researchers, administrators, and museum educators.

Join NAEA Renew Membership

« Shinique Smith in the K-1 Classroom: Discovery, Transformation and Crazy-Pants Art! Day 1 | Main | Shinique Smith in the K-1 Classroom: Discovery, Transformation and Crazy-Pants Art! Evaluation and Reflection - Part 1 »

April 25, 2017

Shinique Smith in the K-1 Classroom: Discovery, Transformation and Crazy-Pants Art! Days 2 & 3

From: Jennifer Childress

ET_Section_A_LP8_Smith JC edits_Page_18

ET_Section_A_LP8_Smith JC edits_Page_18

As Erica planned for day 2, she made some changes in her original expectations for Kindergarten and first grade, as she had anticipated might be needed. Both grades made a few more objects with increasing independence, including wrapping or altering items they brought from home, such as stuffed animals, shoes, and the like. Items from home brought about both nostalgic conversation and lots of hilarity.

Erica asking for student advice on which shapes to put whereErica asking for student advice on which shapes to put where

Then each student arranged his or her objects on a cardboard “slice” to connect solid objects linearly, like points that make a solid line. She demonstrated how to “compose” the line by asking herself questions first, using the “think aloud” method to help students develop self-talk. “Hmmm- I think I’ll start with this tied pipe and put it… here… then maybe this one? No – this one – it fits better…” By the third object, she was asking students for advice and to explain their reasoning. Once students moved on to independent “line-composing,” I observed them asking themselves and each other similar questions, and thoughtfully arranging, then rearranging pieces.

First grade working on lining up objects -2

First grade working on lining up objects (above and below)

First grade working on lining up objects -2

In addition, Erica brought in extra items they could incorporate, adding even more discovery opportunities to the lesson:

I will bring rocks, pipes, and other small found objects for students to arrange in addition to their own sculptures. How they arrange these objects will be up to the students, as I will only demonstrate that the objects can be set side by side to make a line, like Shinique Smith has shown in her sculpture. It is my hope that they will get creative and find other ways as well.

Attaching the objects proved to be much more difficult and time consuming than anticipated, even with an extra helper in the room, Erica’s fiancé, whom the students called “Mr. Erica.” First grade was able to move on to the collaborative organization of their individual “slices” of cardboard, while Kindergarten did not. For K, that was saved for the 15 minutes grabbed from a third day, which was slated for student review and reflection on their full ten-lesson portfolio.

Erica reflected:

During day two of this lesson, the first graders exceeded my expectations in terms of the number of forms they were able to make and how creative they were with their problem-solving. Because of this, it was hard for me to slow their momentum when it was time to move on from the discovery-based portion of the lesson to begin arranging their forms on the slices. This caused me to run out of time for the collaborative session as well as an opportunity for real closure. I sacrificed a successful closure to give the students time to arrange their forms on their cardboard slices. This ended up taking a lot more time and effort than I thought it would. With the kindergarteners, I decided to end with a successful closure rather than attempting to fasten their sculptures to their slices after seeing how long it took to do with the first graders.

I think that this happened because the lesson was so discovery-driven, and I think I tried to cram too much into just two days. I’m very lucky that I will have 15 minutes during the last lesson to catch up with both classes. However, I’m glad that I didn’t cut the students too short from the discovery portion because they were all so engaged. Each student challenged themselves in a positive way and I would hate to have stopped the students before they had completed their last forms. However, I know by sacrificing closure I lost other important aspects of learning. Never enough time!!

The appropriate solution for this problem would be to create a successful closure in the next lesson and try to reflect on both days.

The final and third day, first grade students had wonderful conversations about whose slice should go where, as they took turns organizing their individual “lines” into an explosive, circular composition on the floor. Kindergartners created their lines, and the slices were carefully transported in to the hallway. Later, Erica and some of her lab peers worked on attaching any loose objects.

The results, as seen here in the lab school’s art exhibit, came out wonderfully! The two class’s installations greeted visiting parents, teachers, and students as they entered the gymnasium, where the spring semester exhibit was held.  The art exhibit features K-8 artwork, from two different art ed lab teaching courses – Curriculum and Assessment in Art, and Methods of Lab Teaching. These photos were taken an hour before the opening. The panoramic shot also includes the school principal, caught asking a question mid-photo.  

Kindergarten InstallationLab School Spring 2016 Art Exhibit

Kindergarten InstallationFirst Grade Installation

Kindergarten InstallationKindergarten Installation

Kindergarten InstallationKindergarten Installation Close-Up



Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.