Tuesday, October 21, 2014

America the Beautiful - An art and music integration lesson.

My music teacher is an over achiever, and wrote a bunch of new units using our new standards, in our new format, over the summer.  When we collaborated at the beginning of year, we discussed what units she would be doing in each grade and when.  Her first unit for fourth grade, "America the Beautiful" would integrate well with our usual watercolor landscape painting.  I used to focus on integrating the classroom's discussion on Illinois and we would use the flat landscape as our inspiration.  "America the Beautiful" would be a great departure from Illinois wildflowers.
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies

I was already familiar with the contemporary artist Terry Redlin, who's prints, mugs, calendars etc. were available at every mall in America.  His style is right up there with Thomas Kincade: the painter of light.  Seriously, these aren't the type of artists I ever want to promote in my art room.  Pandering to the mainstream populace to create trite overworked subjects makes me want to gag.  Total sellouts.  I'd jump at that chance though.  That guy probably has houses in L.A., Paris and Vail. In each one, a 70 inch plasma screen.  However, I knew he had a series of prints called "America the Beautiful."  And, they are beautiful.  I mean really!  (In that pandering to the mainstream populace to create trite overworked subjects kind of way).  Terry Redlin's style is really appealing to kids.  Kids love things that are *perfect*.  The lighting, the exactness, the details, all amazing.  F
from sea to shining sea

The goal for our first lesson in this unit was to familiarize, & visualize the lyrics to America the Beautiful.  I created a PowerPoint presentation to get us discussing.  It begins with a little history, a link to Ray Charles singing, and then lyric-by-lyric the Terry Redlin paintings.  I used Visual Thinking Strategies  to get my fourth graders talking about each of the paintings. I would interject by pointing out the parts of composition and try to get students to notice the details that quite literally illustrated the lyrics.

The PowerPoint also shows a few fine art exemplars of other artists who chose "America the Beautiful" their theme.  And finally, I included this photo from The Friendly Neighborhood Art Teacher that helps explain the parts of composition.

We continued our lesson the next week with some basic color theory.  Fourth graders practiced making neutral colors and how to compose their landscape.

Our last work day, we reviewed our assessment chart and fixed up our pictures with watercolor pencils.

I attempted to figure out the new art standards as I put together my assessment chart.  I still do not think I correctly understand where everything fits in.  This is going to take some time!

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