Madelyn Barrante Elementary Expericnce

Our schedule

The schedule was one of the more difficult aspects of this experience. The school is on a 6 day schedule. The first half of the year the homeroom classes were divided into day 1/3, 2/5, 4, 6. Therefore we saw days 1/3 and 2/5 students twice a week and day 4 and 6 once a week.

Now, the schedule has switched and day 4 is not 4/6 and day 6 is now 3/5. Days 1/3 are day 1 and 2/5 are now day 2. The students who are now being seen twice a week are slowly catching up to the day 1 and 2 students. Before long they were have surpassed them.

Welcome to a CHOICE classroom

What is a choice based classroom? In a choice classroom students are treaded as artists and work together with the teacher to develop artwork. Students work in studios. In Mrs. Davis's classroom studios are drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, printmaking, and clay. Each station is opened one at a time, starting with drawing. Any station can be closed or taken away at anytime, since students are responsible for taking care of their studio. Students are free to gather their supplies and ideas. The teacher is the guide on the side to guide them with their art projects. I found myself saying many times "I do not have the answer, but I'm sure we can come up with something together". This gives students both ownership and a greater appreciation for their work.

Our Stations


In this stations students collect all of their own drawing materials.


Students have access to images and references that can help them with their artwork. Images are divided by subject and is very easy to locate.


In painting students can choose between tempera paint, tempera cakes, liquid watercolor or pan watercolor. Students get and clean their own paint.


Students have access to many different collage materials.

Ms. B's Dress

This is a mini pop up station to have students draw small pictures on my dress. Since students are making wonderful original work (WOW work), I am not able to take work with me. I have students draw small pictures on a dress to be able to remember this experience.


The sculpture station is just starting to be opened freely. Students had to first finish their attachment test (below) before having free use of this station.

They must look at the materials available and develop a sketch that must be approved by the teacher before they can start using any materials.

The attachment TEST!

When I first arrived Mrs. Davis was starting the attachment test. This "test" is a performance based test to challenge students to solve the problem of how to attach objects WITHOUT using glue or tape. The students had to make a recognizable creature. When they pass the "test" they are allowed to freely use the sculpture station.

5th grade had to use at least 5 different materials and 5 different ways of attaching them together.

4th Grade had to use at least 4 different materials and 4 different ways of attaching.

3rd Grade had to use at least 3 different materials and 3 different ways to attach them together.

1st and 2rd grade had to use at least 2 different materials and 2 different ways of attaching.

Lesson 1 Addressing Empty White Space

My first lesson I taught was on how to address the empty white space. Since students are doing choice work, we give them "5 minute museums", which we look at a piece of art and either open a station or discuss a technique. In this lesson I showed grade 5-1 images of artwork by contemporary artist Debra Stewart. Explaining how she made her subject matter very big to cover the whole page, she worked on colored paper, and that she did not make a traditional background but used different colors to create a backdrop for her flowers. I then showed images of Salvador Dali's landscapes to 5-3rd, explaining how we can create space with a foreground, middle ground, and background.

After the lesson

The biggest issue I had was questioning and taking questions. After speaking with Mrs. Davis she suggested; saving all questions for the end and usually of there are multiple hands up the first few usually answer most of the questions, or is there are only one or two ask students to ask you once everyone get started.

If students are calling out nod not give them attention and remind them to raise their hand.

That you can ask them if they thought the presentation was successful. They will tell you if they are confused or if it wasn't helpful.

Pass out old work before you let them get stated.

Student work
Lesson 2 Juxtaposing and Seamless Collage

I made this lesson after the boys in 5-3rd grade boys found out how funny it is to put different heads on other bodies in collage. The purpose of the lesson was to show students that you can make "funny" work that looks well done and purposeful.

Unfortunately, when I was going to run this lesson, we had a long stretch of either 2 hour delays or snow days. So, more pressing matters came to play and the boys seemed to lose interest in their funny collages.

Lesson 3 Selective Splatter Painting

This lesson came about when many girls and some boys found out how much fun splatter painting can be. Mrs. Davis introduced Jackson Pollock to show how we can make purposeful splatter paintings. I decided I wanted to take this a step further and discuss selective splatter painting. Such as putting stars in galaxy or splashes on the beach.

After the lesson

Only taught this lesson as small group instruction. I didn't feel it was beneficial to do a whole class lecture or 5 minute museum. In the few classes I did this lesson with I felt it made some difference how students thought about adding "fun" things to their artwork, such as splatter painting.

Student work. Splatter shields.
Lesson 4A Having a Plan Part A-Sketching

I wanted to make a lesson about having a plan after watching many beautiful pieces with much potential get ruined by impatience, impulsive brushstrokes, or unwillingness to consider next steps. Giving students the option to sketch out their idea before they commit helps them fill their page, practice their drawing, and have a plan for their finial piece.

After the lesson

When I first ran this lesson I tried to fit part A and part B (below) into the same lesson. It quickly became apparent that it was two much information and I decided to split it into two separate lessons.

Part A was all about sketching. How we can grab a piece of scratch paper and sketch out our idea before we commit to it on our finial piece. I did an optional demonstration in the back of the room. Students gave me ideas of what to draw, where it was, and when and I showed them how quickly we can make a sketch. We also discuss how we can do material exploration on scratch paper. This allows us to try new materials without ruining our finial piece.

I saw a ton of students try this. Even now a few weeks later, students will say, "maybe I should sketch this out first". I LOVE IT!

Lesson 4B Having a Plan Part B- Making the Work

Once students make a sketch, they then have to move making design decisions such as what materials to use and in what order. One of the biggest points I wanted stress was when students get upset or frustrated instead of running paint all across their wet painting or making impulsive pencil marks, just put it away and come back to it or ask a friend what their next step should be.

After the Lesson

Since this lesson just talked about how to order materials and plan for the next part students could answer most of the questions I gave them. I felt this lesson helped to review what the students already knew about ordering materials.

I felt it really helped some students to see that you can use multiple materials in one piece. After this I saw more students adding different materials to their pieces.

Lesson 5 (Grades 1-3) Model Magic
After the Lesson

I felt this lesson went well. It served as an incentive for the students to finish their attachment tests. Even though they didn't have to do the attachment test, they cannot do anything in sculpture until they pass their test.

Almost all of the students that seem to have an interest in sculpture has passed.

Lesson 5 (Grades 4-5) Plaster Craft
5th Grade WOW work
4th Grade WOW work
3rd Grade WOW work
2nd Grade WOW work
1st Grade WOW work

I was SO impressed how fast the students caught on to choice. I brought them down to see the kindergarten WOW wall after I had some student work on it, which I felt helped them to understand why we need to take our time. We discussed what we need to have in our pictures that make them WOW work, such as taking our time, coloring nicely, and filling in the background.

Created By
Madelyn Barrante

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