Choice-based Art for Students with Disabilities

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Going through mounting artworks for Arnheim Gallery

Today, I mounted digital pixes of students' 3D works and original 2D works. As I spread out the mounted works, I couldn't help noticing no two projects look alike, each one has it's own theme and unique learning approaches.

I think back when I have been working with my art students for past nine years. Many times I have told them it is not just about doing art but much more in seeing them applying their critical thinking skill, problem-solving skill, mastering tools with proper usuage and care, talking in art terms with on-going dialogues (this one is the hardest for the kids and me due to visual cognitive language comprehension, I am working on it], also working-in-progress, practicing, practicing, practicing, doing it again and again with each new in-sightful suggestions to try. One thing for sure, I never have had a dull moment!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My favorite highlight of today's Construction Center!

Since I introduced Construction Center a month ago, I started to see how creative and inventive some of my deaf students are doing.

This particular student, age 12, has amazed me with his hidden inventive mind to come up with a potential invention to improve his deaf peers' communication some day. First of all, he is a bright receptive learner with difficulty to express himself clearly through sign language and no vocalizing speech skill. Yet he has the very keen observational and critical thinking skills to create a "Videophone answering machine CD/DVD Burner". He managed to explain to me that if a deaf person need to leave a phone message. That calling person, deaf or hearing, would leave his/her own video-imaged of his/her signing messages on the CD/DVD burner. Then the recieving person would see a flashed signal of incoming call. He/she would take out the CD from the answering machine and insert it into the DVD player and watched the messages who called on the TV SCreen! My own Deaf son, a high school senior, thought that would be the coolest thing to have.

The point here is any kids with special needs has some surprising hidden talents of what they are capable of beyond their disabilities. The choice-based art learning brings out the delightful unexpected artistic results when you least expected from these unique kids.

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's February already

So far having centers set up and running. One of most popular centers I have introduced is the Construction Center. The preschoolers have been practicing how to saw and hammer safely with safety rules they must follow (with safety goggles and adult staff supervision). They just love to hammer away those nails on wooden scraps. I should be getting a huge stand-alone tree stump installed in my art room for nail-driven practices. Great for practicing hands-eyes coordinations and gross motor skills; early safety training skills with respect to tools' handling and putting these away. The elementary students, especially the boys!, are into creating a birdhouse, a sitting skateboard, a dance house, and a mysterious wooden sculpture yet to be determined. A pair of high school boys are building a World Trade Center model with recycled materials, which require their independent critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Fiber Art Center is the second popular one. The preschoolers and elementary students are not yet interested to it. The middle and high school transition (special needs) students are into circular weaving on pizza rounds and with old telephone cables and yarns. Two different rug hooking projects shared the same rug frame setup, are work in progress: first is with oxford punch needle and yarns; and other one is with a rug hook and precut skinny fabric strips.

Painting Center is next doing on 2D and 3D surfaces. All levels of learning are attracted to this center.

Clay Center has sort of quiet down after excitement playing with wet clays and plenty of pieces were made: lizard bowl, hearts, star-patterned bowl, basketball, hand-built bowls. Few high school students experiment with the electric pottery wheel. All half-hour classes were not permitted to use the whell because time is too short and needs my 1:1 instructional guidances.

As of this week, I am getting the digital pixes of students' works and mounting them for the upcoming NAEA event in Boston during March 4-8, 2005. These will be exhibit along with the other TAB colleagues' student artworks as well at the Massachusett College of Arts's Anhiem Gallery. Whoever reads this should come and see the students' works from our choice-based art programs, then!

Happy Valentine!

Choice-based Art for Students with Disabilities

Choice-based Art for Students with Disabilities: "based "

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Here's my art room centers I have started setting up at raw stages at beginning of January. These centers have been updated with additional book resources and suggested projects to encourage students to try. Now I have figure out how to use the "Hello" How easy to do!!!

Now I just need to work on visual posted menus and rules for each center. Do any of you have existed menus posted at your centers. Can you blog it to share with me and others?

Students have responded with enthusiasms to the new changes and opportunities to explore with plenty of choices to choose from. There are still some students requiring structures from time to time, especially with austism children. My classes' size averages from 3-8 students at a time, so I am able to provide at least 5 minutes per student of my attention to give him/her a mini-lesson, suggestions, guidance, and encouragements, etc.... Plus I have paraeducators to assist me as needed. Parental volunteers are a rare breed here, because of the school is a mixture of residental and day students.

Soon, I will post my latest pixs of how my centers have upgraded after the quarterly reports done this week. My latest projects are working on the quarterly assessment forms for all grade level using Vermont Standards' Grade Expectations Guidelines.

Painting Center near the sink Posted by Hello

Drawing Tools and Light Table Area Posted by Hello

Drawing Center Posted by Hello

Cardboard Center Posted by Hello

Construction Center Posted by Hello

Claywork Center Posted by Hello

Fiber Arts Centers: knitting, rughooking, yarn coil weaving, punchneedling Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 06, 2005

3jan2005_A new beginning of choice-based art centers

Monday, 3 jan 2005 was a new beginning to restart with new teaching strategy in my art room at school. I am the PreK-12 Visual Arts teacher for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing with communication disorder students. Some of these students also have additional special needs and all are being served with IEP services.
Since Oct 2004, when we, teachers for the deaf, were told to re-evaluate our existing curriculums and teaching methods. We are preparing to be re-accreditated by the Vermont Department of Education and newly accreditated by Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) within next two years.
At the beginning of my own teaching's self-assessment, I have found myself not being quite happy with the way I was teaching for several reasons:

  1. For past six years working at this school, I am witnessing the incoming student population being evolved from normal deaf and hard-of-hearing students to similar kinds of students but with additional disabilities [emotional, mental, and physical learning difficulties].
  2. With newer population, their IEP services have increased. Thus more students were being pulled out of my art classes for services. Which in turns were tangling up my daily teachings, lesson plannings, and assessing my student's artistic progresses (and additionally being a case manager which I am not thrilled doing this part).
  3. The previous art curriculums I have developed and used were mostly teacher-centered lessons I provided to my students. Yet, I felt never satisfied and I sensed the students felt the same way. I had longed for some kind of better learning choices to empower my students' artistic instincts and to nurture their creative outcomes.
So I spent past 3 months researching and reading on internet and at libraries plus talking with my colleagues, administrators, and several art educators in Vermont. Then on the internet one night before two-weeks winter break, I bumbled into The Knowledge Loom website! Ooooo boy, bingo! I was so excited when I read it and kept reading more on it.
I gave up my one-week vacation before 24 Dec and spent three solid days from dawn to dusk to re-arrange my art room's spaces roughly into centers. The advantages I had were I was Montessori-trained and understood how "centers" work; and it was a mid-year break, a perfect time to start afresh. Then after vacation, I informed my principal of my curriculum changes ahead of time when the students returned this past Monday 3 January.
The students were in for a surprise! I started them out with the Drawing Center while I am continuing to work on the next centers: clay, fiber arts, and paper constructions. Amazingly so far, my students have had no problems making new transitions, accepting new rules and routines. They even discovered they can choose within the creative-structured choices I set out for them while other centers are "under construction" and to sit wherever they can focus best on their creativity. The students and I have been re-energized!
I will posted some pixs of my "under constrction" centers as soon as I figure out to blog these online.