I've always thought of teaching as an art but it wasn't until I read this quote that I started to really think more about why. I skimmed the definitions for art. I found many significant words in the definitions that embrace teaching. I found words like: imagine, express, human, creative, emotional and ideas. I thought more about these words, especially: imagine. I reflected on all the imagining that I do in my work as an educator. I realized that I not only imagine my students but I imagine how they might work in my classroom, where they will work, how long an idea will hold their attention, how they'll interact, how they'll think and how I'll plan for their thinking.
As I imagined this summer, my goal was to plan for some more depth and thinking in an illustration study I've used with my students at the beginning of the year in first grade. This illustration study that we engage in has been evolving for years. It first started with mini lessons I tried directly from from Katie Wood Ray's: In Pictures and Words ( one of my go to texts at the start of the year for young writers). This year I wanted to tweak it even more by focusing and simplifying the study because I know just the idea of "study" can be hard to jump into at the start of the year. This summer I thought about the simplest of ideas for student illustrators. I imagined kids noticing: color, lines and shapes when illustrating. I am using these ideas to guide the study but incorporating other techniques like ideas, layout, character and tone within my mini lessons.
You might be surprised to read that I used Pinterest to collect and re-imagine my unit of study. Pinterest seems like just a visual tool for beginning with an idea. I often use Pinterest pins to give me a quick visual or link ( an idea) I can use and or change for myself. Too often I just repin on a board and forget to come back to it. But, as I thought about how often I would be coming back to the pins for my illustration study, I found myself adding everything I would need when using these links in the classroom. I found myself being more purposeful. I began to add my own thinking using the edit icon (really practicing the questions I would ask my students to notice to think about with a partner). And, I'm trying to keep it fresh by pinning newer picture books to the study, video clips and more digital samples for kids to think about. This has given my tentative plans (and pins) some more depth and opportunities for students to study to think.
This year you can see the pins I am using to guide this study on my Pinterest Board: Illustration Study and this google doc that's guiding my more specific mini-lesson thinking as I re-imagine this study this year.
Because I don't know my students yet, I pre-planned using my past experiences with students and go- to texts.
Of course this isn't set in stone but rather a place to begin and mold as we roll into September. I know the ideas I anticipate with change and grow as I listen to my students and their ideas.
Seth Godin also writes....You can be perfect or you can make art.
Here's to an artful year of planning with your students!