Monthly Archives: November 2011

Creating A Lasting Legacy

Awhile back (yes I know it’s been a long time!) I posted about the collaborative school-wide project that I was gearing up for this year.  After a lot of planning, hard work, problem solving and CREATIVITY all of the “pieces” finally fell into place!

A Lasting Legacy (ALL), got it’s start last spring when I was awarded  a $1,000 grant during a SURPRISE all-school assembly!  My immediate thought (after being completely blown away!) was not to buy more markers, art books or supplies for students but to give them an art experience.  As I spoke to the newscaster in my interview an idea began to form.  I wanted to do something big, something that all kids could get their hands on, something…kind of like the unforgettable experience I had when I was a 7th grader in my junior high art class.  I wanted to do a Mosaic Mural!  I also wanted to strengthen the sense of community and belonging, engage students in collaboration and communication, and provide students the opportunity to work with a professional artist and experience a new artistic medium.

Why did I choose a Mosaic Mural?

An effective mural can:

       Give students a voice and a platform to express themselves
Bring people together
Convey a meaningful message
Build success, hope, and school pride
Strengthen the ties between school and the community
Allow students and teachers to collaborate and learn together

AND a lot of other things too!  Students will engage in activities that support both the National Visual Arts Standards and the Framework for 21st Century Skills including: Creative Thinking and Working, Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving, Judgment and Decision Making, Communication and Collaboration, Initiative and Self-Direction, Productivity and Accountability and Leadership and Responsibility.  District curriculum themes including Communities, Working Together, Neighborhood, and Family and Heritage will be enriched throughout the process of creating the large-scale mosaic.

As I mentioned before, it took a lot of work and a lot of planning to get this project to happen.  I’d never written a grant before but after receiving the Channel 5 Grant I was inspired to make it happen!  Many drafts and revisions later I was awarded two additional $1,000 grants; one from the Iowa Arts Council and another from my district’s alumni foundation. I also asked my school’s PTO (who were very supportive!) for additional funding.

After having everything approved both building and district-wide it was time for the students to get to work!  I asked each of my 750 students to create a drawing that depicted out community; school, home, and city.  Concetta and I sifted through hundreds of drawings, sorting recurring themes and images and pulling out unique ideas.  After collaging student ideas together we came up with an amazing design that represents our students and their understandings of community.

Finally we were ready for our Artist in Residence!  I was lucky enough to be able to use our schools ‘multi-purpose’ room as the “Mosaic Studio” so that in the afternoons I could teach K-3rd grade students in my own classroom.  It’s amazing to see how students responded to the studio atmosphere!  It was wonderful to see the way they worked and talked with “a real artist” (yes, that’s what they said!).  I will share more student reflections soon!

5th Grader polishing a freshly grouted mosaic panel!

I’ve just finished the final grouting and am working on sealing the edges of the rounded panels.  The next step is getting our amazing maintenance guys to help me frame and hang the 4 massive panels!  I will share pictures once the panels are hung in their permanent location!

Our community (it's upside down!)

One thing I’d change if I could go back – slow down and enjoy the ride!  I spent so much time planning, organizing and coordinating that I feel like I missed out a bit!  Would I do it again?  Most definitely!

"Spot-Grouting" the heart panel

Check out the full story covered by a local online newspaper here!

 A Lasting Legacy: Ashland Ridge Elementary Mosaic Mural