Third Grade: How We Express Ourselves (Transdisciplinary Unit)

“Fish printing is called Gyotaku. In Japan, fishermen used to make a print of the fish they caught to save a memory of that fish. These days, it is an art. If you want to make a fish print, you take an ink roller and then you take a plastic printing plate. You roll the ink on the plate with the ink roller and then take your fish, put it on the ink, and then you stamp on paper. After that you can take a liner or black pen to add small details to the fish.”

By Dima 3CB

“This is Buchae from Korea. It is used for traditional dance in Korea. It is a really famous dance in Korea. I was inspired to create it because it is so beautiful. First I used stiff paper. Then I painted it. I painted white feathers with pink paint and stuck them to the fan. It painted really well. It was challenging to paint the fan because I first painted the roses, and the leaves and then I made the background, so I had to paint the leaves again”.

By Liza 3CK

Third Grade students have been involved in a Transdisciplinary Unit: How We Express Ourselves. This means that both in their classroom Unit of Inquiry, and in art, we address the same Central Idea :Through examining the arts, people can gain insights into culture”, while keeping in mind, the Key and Related Concepts of Perspective, Connection and Communication. In art, we have addressed questions such as “How is art an expression of culture? What is symbolism? How can art communicate personal stories, values and beliefs?”

This unit provides us the perfect opportunity to address both the ‘Creating, and Responding” Standards, from the National Core Art Curriculum Standards. Students are required to speculate about processes an artist uses to create a work of art, determine messages communicated by an image, and interpret art by analysing use of media to create subject matter.

Our most important objective, is that we are able to maintain opportunity for student agency and choice, as a means of ensuring optimal engagement for all.

In art class, the unit was launched before December break. Students were introduced to art works and designs found in Australian Aboriginal Dot Paintings, New Zealand Maori tattoos, wood carvings and jewellery, Mexican Huichol Yarn Paintings and Ancient Egyptian Wall Paintings. As a whole class students analysed and critiqued examples of these, taking note of repeating shapes, patterns and imagery, and sought meaning. What could they tell us about the location of the artists? What do we already know about these locations, or people, or cultures? What could repeating motifs/symbols tell us about what is important to this culture – beliefs, values and lifestyles?

Students discovered these through observational drawing. Provided with many examples, students were offered choices to investigate those which appealed to them most, through a variety of drawing and painting tools.

During this investigational time, students identified the location of the peoples/cultures on the world map, listened to some stories, music, viewed some dance videos, and delved a little deeper into symbolism in Australian Aboriginal Dot Paintings, working on making connections with all of the above.

Our work before December break was a good introduction to how art can address the concepts of perspective, communication and connection. Meanwhile, in their home room class, students were beginning to identify a culture for their own personal study.

In their homeroom class, students learned to research a culture of interest to them. A summative task was set, for students to demonstrate their understanding of the Central Idea, through a presentation, which incorporated an example of one of the arts from the chosen culture. Students were allowed to choose visual, or a performing art (eg music, dance, drama).

Those who made a strong connection to a visual art, were provided up to three art classes to work on their art piece. Additional time was given, for students to use our ‘action station’ (art area outside the art room) at a time agreed with their home room teacher.

With this, students were able to demonstrate their ability to plan an art work, make decisions on materials and tools they need, set up, and be responsible for, their workspace, and independently manage their time.

It was fabulous to see so many Third Graders choosing visual art as their art form and independently taking responsibility for their own learning. We saw the creation of art works from a variety of cultures, in a wide range of media.

Herewith, a small gallery of some finished products, and a video of our awesome artists in action. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply