Thursday, 1 May 2014

Perfect fit.

Our school choir will be attending the massed school choir event later this year. One of the songs relates in some way to M.C.Escher (I'm not sure how but I can't wait to see!) Anyway our music specialist asked if I would introduce Escher to the children. So we have interrupted our normal programme to have a quick look at the beautiful intriguing work of Escher.
I have been showing the classes this video - it's not too long but really demonstrates what Escher was all about and how his work links to mathematics.

Although we have taken a bit of a detour by introducing another artist in the middle of a project it actually works really well, a perfect fit in our current programme. Most classes will be almost ready to start their printmaking project, which will be a simple tessellation of a square tile decorated with lines from our investigation of Paul Klee's work .
Printmaking can be a bit of a messy nightmare in a classroom studio with 28 to 32 kids in a class. SO I have come up with a system that uses printmaking stations and allows kids to focus carefully on the printmaking process without other children around them pressuring them for their turn or making a mess of the printmaking area.I majored in printmaking at uni and am the daughter of an artist who also did a lot af printmaking so I can be a bit fussy with how the printmaking is done! I've seen some teachers just let the kids 'go for it' but I'd rather they learn the process well and the importance of keeping the area clean etc.)
I set up printmaking stations and children go to these to print ( containing the mess to a couple of areas ) I have created a set of numbered cards, each child gets one and this tells them which printmaking station they will go to- red green or blue and the order in which they will go. Once a child has finished printmaking they return their card to me an I call out the next number ; green 4 your turn - a bit like waiting in line at the licensing place or medicare!

While children are waiting for their turn to print they go on with another activity. Sometimes this might be a written component reflecting on their own work so far or responding to an art work by an artist related to the topic we are covering. This time they will be creating their own 'Escheresque' tessellations.
Most children have been creating simple square tessellations where a segment is cut from one side of the square and slid across to the opposite side and taped in place to create a template. Here is video tutorial if you'd like to give it a go at home!

One year 7 boy who was intrigued by the tessellations and wanted to try something a little more challenging so we did a quick search and found this video tutorial on how to create rotational tessellations. It is a step by step how to for a computer and we were trying to do it without the programme using our ruler, pencil and a piece of card. So he and I worked together to try and figure it out - it was a bit tricky and he tried hard to make it work and is going to keep trying at home. It was quite challenging. (I'm glad to say I did manage to figure it out. ) I've included the video just in case you want to challenge yourself and have a go - maybe you have the programme it refers to!
Today at recess the boy I mentioned and his friend came to show me that they had figured out the rotating tessellation. 

Well done Alex and Amir!

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