Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making Daylilies into Paper

I had the pleasure of presenting my research in papermaking from garden plants and the crops of Madison County to the Southwestern Illinois Hemerocallis Society last evening. Since I knew there were teachers in the Society, my presentation focused on both the process and the interdisciplinary connections made in the classroom.

While the powerpoint images depicting the stages of papermaking from harvesting in the garden to the classroom and studio clearly defined the process, the members and their guests made tangible connections when they finally held my handmade books and closely inspected the construction of my handmade paper landscapes of Cornwall.

Sun Pans and Mica Drags

After carefully examining my landscapes, one member of the Society was excited to share that his grandparents came from Cornwall; and he had been to Liskeard, Cornwall for a family reunion!

The following is a short description from last night's program:

This presentation explores papermaking from plants as a means of experiencing real world interdisciplinary connections between the art studio or classroom and the local organic environment (farms or gardens). By growing and/or harvesting the waste materials (stems, stalks, vines, or leaves) of local crops or landscape plants, processing the pulp, and transforming the pulp into paper for painting, drawings, printing, sculpture, or bookbinding, art students will work together to explore chemistry, botany, agriculture, math, and the history of papermaking, while expanding their critical thinking, planned risk taking, self-motivation, creativity, responsibility, teamwork, time management, interpersonal communication, and a sense of self-worth gained for meeting or exceeding expectations. The presentation will offer step-by-step detailed descriptions and images of the process of papermaking from plants, as well as actual samples of handmade paper and books for teachers who desire art as experience from seed to final binding stitch.

Friday, October 7, 2011

OMS Art 1 American Sign Language Video Project and Art Exhibition

My 7th and 8th grade Art 1 students at Oakville Middle School just created a very special video demonstrating American Finger Spelling and American Sign Language. Our video (seen at this link) is the culmination of learning how to draw and paint hands representing the students' names or nicknames in fingerspelling, as well as learning the signs for a few of the Character Traits taught in schools through PBIS and Character Education programs. At the beginning of this project, the four Art 1 classes watched short video clips from the new ABC Family television show, "Switched at Birth," about two families that include adults and teenage actors who are deaf. After watching the television clips, the Art 1 students broke into small groups and taught each other a few signs through a Kagan-type activity using illustrated flash cards created for this project.

After the students' video was completed, edited in I-Movie and uploaded to Vimeo, it was shown to the entire middle school during Advisory along with a still image of this week's PBIS/Character Ed quote/question (below). The teachers discussed the video and the quote/question with their classes before each student wrote a response by applying a few words from the list of good Character Traits (below). The students also had the option to also illustrate their responses.

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear 
and the blind can see." 

- Mark Twain (1835-1910) American Author

How might patiently learning the alphabet in American finger spelling or a few words in American Sign Language help you to demonstrate kindness now or someday in the future? 

Respect ● Responsibility ● Peace ● Self-Control ● Caring 
Integrity ● Courage ● Patience  
Service ● Goal-Setting ● Integrity ● Cooperation

As we do each week at OMS, the teachers will collect the students' quote/question responses, select the best from their class and submit it to me. As a member of our PBIS committee, I'll read the responses and choose the best one. The student who wrote the best response will be called to the office and congratulated by one or both of our principals. The student will also be given four privilege passes (such as permission to leave Advisory two minutes early at the end of the day) as a small reward. 

The Art 1 video was shown this week and the feedback from the staff and students has been excellent! It was hard work, but the art students enjoyed the entire project.  

In addition to the video, twenty-three of the Art 1 students' watercolor hand paintings, as shown in the video, are currently on display at the Midwest BankCenter on Telegraph Road in Oakville, MO (South St. Louis County) through the end of October 2011.  The remaining thirty paintings will be on display at OMS through October.

This project was inspired by my step-daughter, Chrissy, who is deaf and her siblings who learned sign language to communicate with their sister.  I am proud of you all.  The video was created for educational purposes. If you would like to use it in your classroom, please contact me at: