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First Day of School


As all of my former students know, my absolute favorite, user-friendly handbook with ways to engage any audience of any age is titled: Experience Art: A Handbook for Teaching and Learning with Works of Art by Nancy Berry, et al (1998). One activity that has resulted in very personal and reflective responses from viewers involves selecting a work of art to be a new friend. This will include creating a list of qualities that the viewer looks for in a friend and then matching those with a work of art. How does an artist communicate humor or honesty, or faithfulness? Then, the participants introduce their new friend.

As I think of teachers' first day of school and their desire to get to know their students, I wanted to suggest this activity. I have found we can get more insightful responses from people when we approach them in creative, indirect ways. Instead of the standard "interest" worksheet, perhaps set up 5-10 images of artworks that can include non-objective, landscape, figurative, and still life. And learn what your students value in a friend, how they interpret visual imagery, and their use of metaphor. I can almost promise that you will discover your literal-minded and your poetic students; the tender-hearted and the tricksters. And I think they may even surprise you! We all love those kinds of surprises. Best First Days of School Wishes!

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