To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Sketch-Journaling Workshop for Kids ~ Day 2

The first task on Day II was to look over the homework. Kids came streaming in while I was setting up, eager to share their homework, get advice on their sketching, and ask what was going to happen this second day. As usual, I told them to wait and see!

[NOTE TO ALL YOU SKETCH~JOURNALISTS: To make your pictures look good I had to lighten some parts and darken others, but I tried to not mess with your art. I tried really hard to make each picture look the way it did in real life. I hope I succeeded, but if I didn't, I apologize!]

One delightful aspect of this school is that the children are trustworthy, and I didn't have to take down my workshop at the end of the first day and lug it home (I didn't even worry about leaving my camera untended in the classroom during the day). That saved me at least half an hour this second morning, which I could spend with the kids, chatting with and looking over their homework, which had been to design, sketch, and/or write out a journal page on their own.

(My faithful readers are probably shaking their heads about how I'm going to lose THIS camera, too ~ hey, Tim does it all the time with his camera.)

I asked the kids to leave anything they'd like me to photograph open on the front of their table when they went out to morning recess, and I'd try to get around and photograph it. That way, no one need share their work if they didn't feel like it. So the artwork you see here is of pieces offered by the students for sharing on this blog.

After discussing ephemera (mementos ~ things you want to tape or glue into your journal) and providing an "ephemera pocket" for the students to tape into their journals, we talked awhile about the journaling process and what makes a good journal entry. Our first assignment was to turn a boring sentence into an interesting paragraph, and I was pleasantly pleased at what the kids wrote (one favorite word seems to be "crepuscular").

I handed out the freeform shapes, and had the students design a Sample Journal Page, tracing in the shape the paragraph would take on the page, then creating a contour drawing of their subject (for which I provided photos). The students had a choice of several subjects, but most chose the frog.

I've put up Tim, the teacher's, page (the first Sample Journal Page, above) along with the others. One of the nice things about teachers taking a workshop with their kids is that they experience all the trials and problems the students do, and can determine where they'd deviate from the workshop plan ~ which will make it easier for them to teach a similar class to future students. So here are a few of the Sample Journal Pages. I asked Tim to show his page (just as the other students were doing), to give them an idea of what he felt might constitute a good journal page for their future journaling at their forest site, EarthTeach.

Some of the kids were so enthusiastic that they actually sketched and journaled during their lunch break, coming back with enhanced journal pages, and ephemera ~ a leaf, flower petals ~ that they had collected to fasten to the page.

After lunch, we moved on to haiku (basically, a 17-syllable nature tone poem ~ with a few other rules thrown in for good measure). This proved a challenge for some of the students, as did rhyming 4-line poetry, but everyone improved over the course of the next hour or so, and when I asked for volunteers to read their journal pages, haiku and poems, there were plenty of proud offerings. A couple of kids had written particularly nice pieces but were too shy to read them aloud, so I asked their permission to read them for them. All the kids were very appreciative of each others' work, even applauding a couple of particularly evocative pieces.

Here's a tip, by the way, and I do this with adults, too ~ I like to have people read their haiku or short poems twice. There is often a lot of good stuff ~ a subtle rhyme, an unexpected connection, a surprising idea ~ in a poem and there isn't time to appreciate it the first time you hear it. A second reading allows the listener to really take it in, and discover nuances or ideas they may have missed the first time around.

The poetry and haiku were transferred to fresh pages, and the kids practiced my new Fun Font (I had created at least four, and as many as ten examples of each letter ~ or they could create their own version ~ see on some of the Sample Journal Pages) to fit together into words, sentences, titles and captions. Then they tried an illuminated capital ~ a fun way to dress up a journal page which satisfies the doodler in all of us.

And, oh yes! I showed them how to shade spheres and make eyes that look three dimensional and alive.

BTW, in case you're wondering about all these interminable, upbeat, positive comments and observations about the kids fromTim's class at John Muir School ~ these truly are not exaggerations. Oh sure, sometimes I had to ask them to quiet down, sometimes there was a short session of wrestling or running before class or during breaks, and of course there was some giggling and kid-to-kid restlessness and playfulness that had to be quelled (or sent out to the playground) on occasion.

But a comment like "Okay, now, I want to see 44 eyes [that included the teachers] looking up here at me right now!" (I learned that one from Tim) or "Hey, guys, we're on kind of a tight schedule and if you talk while I'm talking I'll have to keep saying it again and then you won't have time to try this technique..." or "Okay, I'm going to give you a ten minute break while I get ready for the next project, but I want you back in here and sitting quiet at 10:50." Then they'd quiet right down (or shrug into jackets and head for the door). I sometimes heard Tim's gentle reminders when I was occupied with one-on-one coaching. Tim had prepared them well, and they were determined to become good journalers. And they always returned punctually when given a break.

So Day II went well. Now, I had to make it through Day III with spillable water, breakable (and expensive) paintbrushes, waterbrushes and watercolor pencils, and a possibly frustrating new technique for twenty live-wire kids who so far had been VERY well-mannered and focused.


Bonny said...

Irene,I've been following this journal class in virtual time with you and your students, and I've loved every minute of it!
Your students have all done AMAZING work!! I'm actually learning from some of their examples.
I wish I could be thee, too. It sounds like so much FUN!! You are a wonderful teacher to make it all come together for them.
Can't wait to read about Day 3!!!

Irene said...

Hi Bonny,
Thanks! Aren't they cool kids?
I'm about to start on Day III, so put on your Reading Hat! (just kidding!)

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