Monday, November 30, 2009

Life in Flight (High School Art Unit Plan)

The Art Problem:
Students will communicate something about their path in life through metaphorical drawings that make use of the following realistic imagery: paper airplanes, building blocks and airport signage.

Student Assignment Sheet
1 or more folded paper airplanes
Selection of children’s building blocks
Handouts of airport signage: Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3
Sketchbook or sketch paper
Optional: Viewfinder
Optional: Pencil value scale
White tag board (we like to use 14 x 17" with a 1" taped border all the way around)
Ebony pencils
"Dirty Water Wash" (a very small amount of black and brown, even a little blue, mixed with a large quantity of water to make a cool or slightly warm gray wash)
Optional: black Sharpie marker

· An understanding of and sketchbook practice with modeling techniques (hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, cross-contour marks, etc.)
· Familiarity with "weighted line" (widened and tapered line) and varied line quality
· Knowledge of a value scale
· Basic understanding of composition and Elements and Principles of Design

Individual Student Procedures:
1. Choose a concept to communicate.
2. Arrange paper airplane(s) and blocks to best communicate concept (each student creates his or her own still lie).
3. Use a viewfinder if desired to isolate the strongest composition, making sure to crop edges and keep focal point out of the center of the composition (the viewfinder opening should be 2 x 2 ½" for a 4 x 5" thumbnail and a 12 x 15" drawing.
4. Draw one or more thumbnails in sketchbook (use a 4 x 5" template for a 12 x 15" drawing); discuss with teacher; revise if necessary.
5. Establish a table line—diagonals are nice for more dynamism.
6. Choose graphic symbols from airport signage handouts and incorporate into background "wall" surface to emphasize concept and direct viewer’s eye to focal point. (Students may incorporate signage into foreground "table" surface if it doesn't confuse foreground and background and works in their composition.)
7. Stick tape onto clothes to remove some adhesive and then stick onto borders of 14 x 17" tag board to create a 12 x 15" drawing area.
8. Transfer thumbnail to tag board.
9. Model objects making sure to leave plenty of white paper showing for the lightest values, e.g. in the paper airplane (students must set up still life for every modeling session; spotlight if necessary)
10. Apply value to background airport signage.
11. Dirty wash the foreground "table" surface.
12. Adjust values if necessary, optionally applying black Sharpie marks for the darkest values.
13. At one or more points during the process, conduct a simple ("2 Glows and a Grow") in-process critique: give all students a 3 x 5" card and a pencil or pen; have students leave their artwork at their desks and begin to walk around the room while you play music; when you turn the music off, they sit at the closest desk; there they write at least 2 detailed "Glows" (aspects of the artwork that the student is handling really well) and at least 1 detailed "Grow" (an aspect of the artwork that needs improvement) and sign their card; everyone moves back to their original seat and reads their classmate’s remarks before gluing the card into their sketchbooks.

Hooks and Mini-Lessons:
[Incorporate one per class prior to completing other drawing and composition practices in preparation for the "Life in Flight" Creative Challenge; some could be used as hooks or warm-ups on the day(s) that students work on thumbnail sketches.]
· Fold paper airplanes (student volunteers demonstrate their favorite style plane)
· Hold a paper airplane flying contest with prize (4 students compete; winner takes on 3 more students and so on)
· Draw a study of a paper airplane in sketchbook
· Go outside and fly paper airplanes; write a sketchbook entry about how the flight of the paper airplanes can be compared to life
· Innovation Stations: In small groups, students use paper airplanes and blocks to communicate the concept of their choice; groups whisper concepts to teacher who writes them all on the board; whole class tries to match each concept with the corresponding 3-D composition (correct matches are not the main goal; reasonable justification for their selection is)
· Innovation Stations: Teacher makes copies of his or her sample and manipulates each copy in several different ways, one per small group of 4-5 students and places them in several stations around the room (e.g. uses more dramatic weighted line with sharpie, deepens shadows, uses more expressive mark-making, brightens highlights, etc. ). After showing the original to the class, ask students to go to each station and try to figure out how each was changed and which they feel is strong. Discuss as a whole class.

Student Extension:
Students write an artist’s statement that addresses the following four components:
1. Concept (e.g. overcoming obstacles)
2. Inspiration (how the concept relates to the student’s life)
3. Communication through Design [how the student arranged the airplane(s) and blocks to communicate his or her concept]
4. Airport Signage (how the student incorporated airport signage to help communicate their concept AND direct the viewer’s eye to the focal point)

Score and comment on pieces according to the "Sailing the 7 Cs" visual arts rubric

IB-MYP Area of Interaction: Health and Social

Student Sample Credits: (middle) Bethany C., (bottom) Isabella M.; Teacher Sample Credit: (top) Betsy DiJulio, NBC Art Teacher, Princess Anne High School, VA Beach, VA


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