One of my favorite 8th grade art projects is my annual Art History project. I like to make these art history projects social media inspired because it keeps things interesting and fresh for the kids. And OK, I’ll admit…I get a kick out of it too, because I use the same forms of social media as they do.
Last year, our Art History project was inspired by Facebook. I loved these, too… If I wasn’t the type of person who gets bored easily and must always try new things, I would have probably done Facebook-inspired Art History projects again this year. But I have heard my students go on and on about Instagram lately… so I decided to switch it up. Instagram it is!
Here are a few reasons why I like this project so much:
- It is a very educational and fact-based project. It brings research-type learning into the art classroom. Kids used books in my art room library as resources. We also accessed the school’s mobile lab for a day. They tapped into their laptops, used search engines and word documents, and came up with a file that included information and pictures.
- It is a collaborative and team-based assignment. I paired 8th graders up and they selected the artist they wanted to do research on from a list of names. They had to work together in a group to get the research done, poster created, and presentation put together.
- The Social Media aspect keeps it fresh and interesting. Based off of how hard the students worked to make their posters perfectly imitate the layout of Instagram, it was clear to me that this social media twist added a layer of interest to the project. It’s also kind of fun to imagine what the master artists would have done if they had access to social media. Would they tweet, pin, post pictures, and blog?
- The Students become the Teachers. 8th graders presented their Instagram posters and written presentations to the 4th grade class. They welcomed the 4th graders in and sat them in seats around the art room. 8th graders compiled a quiz for the 4th graders to complete, made up of questions about their artists that they answer in their presentations. This isn’t just the 8th graders presenting to one another..it’s the 8th graders being role models and teaching younger students about famous artists. As a teacher, it’s awesome watching things come full-circle!
So, we’ll start in the beginning where 8th graders teamed up and did some research on the famous artist they selected. After students collected facts and images from their favorite artists, they began designing their Instagram-themed posters. For those of you who don’t know much about Instagram….it’s a social media tool that primarily allows people to share images. There are a lot of filters and effects that the Instagram can do to alter their pictures, so Instagrammers feel pretty artsy. 🙂
Instagrammers also have a username and a bio on their main page. Students had fun coming up with designs, pictures, usernames, and bios that fit in with their artist. After these posters reached perfection, each team came up with a 3 minute speech about the artist’s childhood, professional development, famous artwork, later life, and other fun facts. We practiced these presentations before the 4th graders came in to make sure they were appropriately long. I tried to encourage students to ‘act out’ the stories within their speeches (like the story of the Mona Lisa getting stolen.) I was really impressed with how easily the 8th graders spoke in front of their peers. Before presenting the projects to the 4th graders, 8th graders compiled a quiz (3-5 questions from each group) for the 4th graders to take.
The 4th graders filed in. Jack and Emilee passed out quizzes and welcomed the 4th graders into the room. They spread out throughout the classroom and most of the 8th graders stood. Emilio was my timer. Mathurin and McCall presented on Andy Warhol. …And so did Jack and Evan! Wonder what it was about good ole Warhol that had the 8th graders battling over him. Ashley and Kai reported on Georgia O’Keeffe.Emilio and Michael presented on Claude Monet.Anne Chandler and Emilee chose Paul Klee.Justin and Sullins talked about Wayne Thiebaud.And Lucy and William presented on Leonardo DaVinci.The 4th graders worked diligently on their quizzes while listening closely to the 8th graders present.When all the presentations were finished, 8th graders invited 4th graders up in groups to take a closer look at their Instagram projects. 4th graders were very impressed. It was great to see everyone interact with eachother. After the 4th graders turned in their finished quizzes to 8th graders, I asked 4th graders to take a blind vote about which artist (NOT team..just artist in general!) they liked the most. Before the vote, 8th graders were able to throw out last minute facts that made their artists sound best (Michael: “Monet used to draw pictures of the teachers he didn’t like!”) After a little playful haggling, the 4th graders voted and Warhol won. I think this had something to do with the fact that 2 teams presented on him. Maybe Warhol’s just the man. Who knows.
The bell rang and 4th graders and 8th graders left the classroom and walked down the halls together, chanting names of various artists.
Watching this whole project unfold was exceptionally cool. 8th graders worked so hard to learn about their artists and put on a show to teach 4th graders about their artists. 4th graders were an exceptional audience…gazing up adoringly at the 8th graders, eager to soak up information. I got to watch this bond take place and see nurturing sides come out. Art brings people together. This was a magical week.