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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recycled Art with A Purpose--Pedagogy of Listening

Recycled Art Project BUT SO MUCH MORE!

A realization that is being confirmed for me over and over these days is just how important listening to our students is.  Listening to them and letting them know that we care about their life stories and themselves.  One way to weave this idea into your classroom is to give students opportunities to engage with ideas and modalities that interest them.  

This was an end of unit project for our chemistry unit.  We had studied the basics of chemistry, food/health chemistry, drug chemistry, and synthetic materials (plastics) chemistry.  

The project was for students to create an art piece out of recycled/reused materials.  The art piece HAD to have a message!  However, students were able to choose one of the chemistry sub-units we had covered that most interested them.  This may seem like a minor thing but giving students that choice makes a HUGE difference! 

It was great watching students think about how to best get their messages across and problem solve how to build their projects.  Thy were able to use glue, tape, string, and/or a glue gun to put their projects together!  The students had previously brought in recyclable "trash" for us to examine.  We used that plus anything else they wanted to bring in but it had to be something that would be otherwise thrown away or recycled.

The easiest theme for the art project was the recycling theme and the harmful effects on animals and especially the ocean.  We watched the movie 'Bag It'.  Below are a few with the recycle theme. Students were allowed to create a notecard to accompany their art piece. 

Piece #1:  This piece is of a fish that is puking up plastic! 

Piece #2

Piece #3

Piece 4--This was a head/face "on drugs".  Notice the eyes are funky.  The most creative thing was the "brain" that is full of pill bottles and they made a "syringe" that is in there too! 

Piece 5--The message is obvious but what is cool is that everything in there was made by the student.  This includes the ash tray and cigerattes.  

*Note:  We had previously had a debate on the legalization of marijuana.  There were a few students who had argued "for" it and wanted to make their art piece in relation to that.  After much consideration I told them that they would be able to do that but it would not be displayed in the school! 


Piece 6

HARD WORK--The reason I include the piece below is because they represent a significant amount of work that students put in.  Some of it at home while engaging the parents to help!  

Piece 7
This piece was supposed to be a lightbulb.  However, if you look closely you will see a bike sprocket as the base for the bulb.  What you wouldn't know is that I had brought in an old bike frame.  A group of boys spent 2 class periods trying to take it apart.  The took of the chain, took out spokes from the rims, and felt quite a sense of accomplishment when it was through.  Definitely worth it! 

Concluding Thoughts
1) I didn't have the easiest of times finding actual examples to show my students.  Therefore I wanted to include some photos and may add more if asked too.
2) Students were given a choice between a few different themes.  All of the theme choices were given by the teacher but giving students a choice is not to be underestimated.  

This is the first year that I used this project in this way.  I was very happy with the student effort and the results.  I will either keep this theme next year but I think I'd like to add something where students have to build a piece of furniture out of recycled/reused materials!  Till Then! 

Another Day in Paradise,
~Mr. McKinney

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