Friday, February 02, 2007

The Archeology Project Goes to Second Grade

This morning I was the guest speaker for Ms. Regi Matheny's second grade classes at George I. Pair Elementary School in West Columbia. I was asked by Rebecca Cibic, doctoral degree candidate at USC writing a dissertation on how children construct meaning through their art and language. Rebecca has been collecting research for quite some time and it showed in the organization of the classroom. First, I shared my artwork. I brought the Archeology Project. Why not? It was created for a hands-on experience. There were plenty of things to touch without anyone having to wait a turn. All the young students seemed quite thrilled. Afterwards, the children were given time to "respond". They each have two notebooks, one with lines and the other without. Their "tools" are markers, pastels, watercolor, pencils and pens. They are encouraged to respond to the artwork using their own choices: images, text, color, texture, whatever suited them. This was followed by a very respectful individual sharing by each student. Each presented his or her artwork, talked about it, and asked for comments or questions. I heard the words "please" and "thank you" more in the time I spent with this group than I ever heard in an entire week as an Artist-in-Residence in other schools. The students asked me to share my embroidery. I brought the "Elements of Architecture" piece on which I am currently stitching. I stitched while the students painted and drew. Thus, I was the last in the sharing portion of the morning. They gave me the nicest "goodie bag" full of embroidery floss, chocolate, and a hand written card. I was quite impressed with the classroom, Ms. Cibic's approach to education, the student's excellent behavior, and the way in which each student responded to questions, searching for new words to describe their work and feelings. It was an excellent morning.

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