In this unit students will be exploring architecture! Students will explore various examples of architecture with the focus remaining on their own ideal/dream home. Students will take on the role of those who create architecture, such as architects, the firms they work for, project managers and urban planners. Through this process students will design their own dream home, build their homes then combine their homes to create a city. The main focus of the unit is Transformation. How does an architect transform a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional structure? How does an urban planner transform a design into a city?
Lesson One: “My Dream Home” Students will look through images of homes which feature interesting architectural designs. We want students to think about which designs they are draw to and what features that can use as inspiration in their own dream home design. What’s the first thing you notice? Does it look like a home? What kind of home is this? Who might live here? How can you tell? What do you think about the colors? We also wanted want students to think about where their dream home might be located? Where is this home? Why is it there? Does the house fit into the environment? After looking at and discussing the images the students will be given a new sketchbook to draw their dream home in.
Lesson Two: “Planning like an Architect” Students will reference their dream home designs and make revisions by creating Plexiglas prints. Students will begin by looking at and discussing more images of interesting architecture. What makes this home unique? Why might the architect have built this? Students will then think about the work designs that their peers have made and draw further inspiration for their own revisions. Students will then draw their homes again, adding elements or changing features, on Plexiglas to create a print of their new design.
Lesson Three, Part One: “Architects Build” Students will use clay to translate their two-dimensional designs into a three-dimensional structure. Students will begin by forming the foundation of their home, then work their way up creating the walls, windows and doors before finally adding the roof. Students will use clay and clay tools to build each part of their dream home design. Students will need to consider structural support as well as the parts of their home that they might not have draw in their design such as the back or interior of their home.
Lesson Three, Part Two: “Architects Build” Students will use a cardboard platform, found objects, paint, drawing tools, and glue to create the environment around their dream home. Students will begin by considering where their home is and what’s around it. Is your home underwater? Is there another house near my in a neighborhood? Is there grass and tress around your home? Students will begin by redrawing their home, focusing on where their home is and what surrounds it. Once students have completed their new drawing they will begin creating their environment. Students will use found objects, paint, drawing tools, and glue to create the environment around their home. Students will then receive their clay homes once they have been fired and they will use paint to decorate their homes. Finally, students will add their dream home to their environment to create their completed diorama.
Lesson Four: “Let’s Build a City” Students will collaborate to combine all their dioramas into a city. Students will begin by exploring urban planning and necessary elements a city needs to function. Students will work in teams to determine what structures they would like to build to add to their city, such as a school, city hall, park, etc. Students will then work to create the structures they chose to add to their city. Students will then evaluate what they have built as a class and determine anything that their city still needs to make it great. Each student will build at least one structure to add to the class city using cardboard, found objects, glue, tape and paint. Students will then collaborate to name and plan where everything they have built will go in their city using a large grid.
Methods for Integrating Literacy, Numeracy, Technology and Other Relevant Subjects
Literacy: Throughout the unit we engaged students with literacy by asking them about their artwork. One of the consistent threads throughout the unit was a focus on developing a story and a plan and then creating your artwork to tell your story. Each lesson students talked to the teachers and their peers about what decisions they were making and why. We also incorporated literacy through the use of a discovery board where students would write what new things they had learned and add it to the board. We also encouraged students to write while creating the blueprints and label each section and item. Finally students incorporated literacy as they named each of their artworks for the final show.
Numeracy: Numeracy in teaching is about more than numbers but rather it focuses on logic and reason. Numeracy was addressed throughout the unit beginning with the first assignment, where we focused on planning as the first step in the process. Numeracy continued into our lesson on mono-prints. In this lesson students created mono-prints that showed revisions they would like to make to the dream home design they drew in the previous class. We taught students all the steps to creating a mono-print and students created multiple variations on the same idea. We addressed numeracy again when we learned about architecture and structural supports. We also addressed numeracy and logic each time we started a new project. With each new project we talked about the steps that architects go through in the creation of a project beginning each time with a sketch. Numeracy was especially present during our lessons as city planners. During these lessons we focused on the systems and structures within a city and how those different aspects work together. We also asked students to address function and perspective when creating their blueprint designs.
Technology: This semester students worked with more traditional art materials of paint and clay and didn’t use technology directly. Rather, technology was incorporated through our use of PowerPoint presentations and documentation.
Strategies for Classroom Management relevant to Lesson Taught in the Unit
In our teaching experience we learned very quickly that you need routines to manage classroom behavior. Every morning the students begin with circle time with their classroom teacher, Brittany. During circle time each student would share something about the topic Brittany began while saying good morning to each other. Beginning the day the same way helped set the tone and get students ready to listen when we took over. When we took over we also made sure to begin the same way each time, with an update on where we were in our journey as architects and city planners. We really wanted students to embrace their roles and so each day began with an update on where we were in our process and what the next steps for an architect or city planner would be.
Brittany also has assigned seats for each student at group tables, which we made sure to utilize. Not only did this allow students to work in their familiar space but we could also be confident that she had placed students who work well together at the same group tables.
To regain the students’ attention we used a call and response technique where we sang the first verse of the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song and the students responded with the second verse. We used this technique successfully throughout the semester wherever we needed to regain everyone’s attention for a number of reasons such as making announcements, controlling the volume in the classroom or moving to a new activity. When students responded with the second verse we expected all eyes and ears to be on the speaker. If we didn’t have everyone’s attention we would gauge what percentage of the class was following expectations, for example “I have 75% of eyes and ears on me, I’m waiting for 100%” and wait to have the entire class’ attention. In cases where we were having trouble getting the class to settle down and pay attention to the speaker we would talk about respect. We wanted the students to understand that it was important to be silent and pay attention to the speaker because we want that same respect when its our turn.
We also established a system for cleanup. In situations where students were using messy materials such as paint or clay we would assign each student at the table a job, such as cleaning paintbrushes or collecting clay water cups. By assigning individual jobs, students were able to stay on task and finish quicker and we didn’t end up with 18 kids at one sink. When supplies were cleaned they were returned to plastic bags at each table where Andie and I set them up before class and collected them after class. We also established a routine for after clean up where students would return to the circle up mat. When everyone was at the circle up mat we would do a reflection activity before releasing them to recess.
Plans taught in the Unit
Attached below is the lesson 1 plan. Click the link below to see our class blog containing photos and documentation from the lesson.