I set up centers in my classroom at the start of the 2012-2013 school year. This year I began implementing differentiated independent projects to fifth grade so they get to learn a little more about what each media can do. We recently finished independent projects in textiles and sculpture.
The drawing center assignments were two-fold. Students were to learn a little bit about different genres of art and also different techniques on how to learn how to draw.
I began with a worksheet that reviewed different genres of paintings.
As a class we reviewed different drawing techniques. We looked at examples of blind and modified contour (which was a skill we actually learned last year) and watched a silly video about it. Next, we watched a slideshow showing the steps to drawing a still life. Another technique is drawing with a grid. Students warmed up with a mixed up grid drawing, and learned how this could be used to copy their own pictures and enlarge them.
Then came the decision time. Their choices were:
Still life drawing. Still life artists would set up their own still life from objects in the classroom and draw from life.
Portrait. These artists had a choice to draw from a photo, or use a mirror. In the end, the students who chose portrait mostly relied on their imaginations. I provided fine art exemplars and even passed out a map of the human face, but students did it their own way.
Landscape, cityscape, seascape. This was tough. I wanted it to be realistic. I was so terrified of having lollipop tree landscapes and corner suns... I gave this group several fine art exemplars to look at. Mostly Jamie Wyeth. They surprised me!
Magazine/drawing realistic. This was my grid-drawing group. Most jumped right in and did awesome work. Some were confused, and still some preferred to attempt contour line or sketch. And most do not understand how to use a ruler. Regardless, they look great.
Once our initial sketches were finished, and line drawings done on their final, I brought the class back together to learn shading. I struggle with teaching light & shadow every year. Most kids don't actually see the light or the shade unless it is a really bright or stark contrast. So, we faked it. We practiced value scales and added imagined shades to spheres, cones, & cylinders. Students were charged with imagining a light source in their drawing. We started with what would be the absolute darkest, and worked our way through there.
Many students found success with this lesson, but I noticed they found it tedious. After the second hour, most students just wanted to be done. I was pretty lenient, since we did have other projects going on at the same time.