Saturday, February 12, 2011

adventures in positive and negative space

teaching Thursday was amazing.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are middle school days and I typically do not look forward to them. I love teaching, but I do not enjoy the noise and "badititudes" (as a veteran co-worker puts it) the sixth and eighth grades bring to my room.

I do try to squash it. In fact with one sixth grade class we follow the "7 Minute Rule." I have a timer, and for seven minutes there is no talking. If you raise your hand to ask a question, I will answer, but its seven, solid minutes of getting work done. Then, there are three minutes to quietly talk, at your table, while working. This continues until clean up... so far its worked and even been requested to follow in the fourth and second grades!

back on track: I especially do not look forward to Thursdays, as I end my day at the after school program, making my day span from 6:30am to 6:30pm. ew.

every, single class I had Thursday was enveloped in their work. its Saturday and I am still in awe that this happened! I know there were a few tests being taken that day, so some kids were nervous and quiet. And I'm sure the cold weather makes a preteen want to sleep forever, but even the chatty kids were at acceptable volumes and work was being done. AND, I even had great conversations about their works.... from compositions, to color selections, to brushstrokes. amazing.

8th Grade- Positive and Negative Animal DesignsAbout three weeks ago, I put out books featuring different animals and insects. I asked for students to draw three, stylized (simplified) animals.
  • Students picked one of their sketches and made an outline drawing on a 6"x6" white paper. I then showed them two techniques to transfer their image multiple times onto a 12"x18" paper. One was simply tracing, but as I don't have a light table, and couldn't have twenty kids in the five windows, I showed them how to put pencil on the back of their outline, then tracing the lines on the front, with pressure, on top of the larger paper, would push the lead and transfer the image. Like a carbon copy, but they had no idea what that was... 
  • The next step was to have a geometric shape overlap the pencil outlined animals. Students were given a 6"x6" piece of poster board and after cutting out the shape, traced it in another "popcorn" pattern, making sure to overlap at least one animal each time.
  • Students then went back to their outline and colored in some shapes black while leaving others white. This became their "positive" animal and would be used as a reference. At first they thought I was crazy since they felt this step unnecessary, but soon they saw my logic.
  • Finally, using their "positive" animal as a guide, students used sharpie to color and outline their pencil drawn animals. But there was a catch: everything outside the geometric shape was "positive" while everything inside was "negative" or the opposite. 

this student used a circle as her geometric shape, to represent bubbles!

 I am super proud of the eagle design. Its pretty simplified for an 8th grader, but for this particular student, to have a neat, clean and complete work of art, that took time, effort and pride, is huge. Huge victory.


  1. This is a great idea and they look really great. Am gonna try this out some time soon! Thanks for posting.

  2. P.S - I wear chucks when I'm not teaching too.:)