An Art Campaign to End Bullying

 A colleague, Tom, recently asked me what sorts of projects I teach to my Advanced Art Class (8th grade, year-round Art).  Tom is a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant artist who tends to approach teaching and art-making from an Art History standpoint; he asked me if I teach my advanced kids about creating “in the style of” etc.  As part of my Master’s degree, I had to define my Teaching Philosophy. . .And, Tom’s question made me think even more about it.

Honestly, I’m more interested in concept over technique.  It isn’t that I don’t believe in the importance of technique, but it is more that I am trying to push my students outside of their “realistic art = good art” boxes.  My students hear a lot of ideas, and even have a lot of ideas. . .But very few of them are confident in their ideas. I’m trying to develop their psyches, I suppose, in such a manner that they are unafraid to attempt to depict what they see/feel/observe.

When I’m designing projects I tend to think about the concept, then what artists really illustrate said topic, and then, finally, what skills my students need to develop in order to execute their work. Somewhere in all of that, I’m able to rather easily incorporate standards.

This upcoming January – May 2013, my school is participating in the No Place for Hate campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to bring attention to both bullying behavior, and solutions for ending such behavior.  Part of my students’ contributions to this campaign will be a series of anti-bullying posters. I began the project this term as I want as many of my students as possible to have the opportunity to participate.

It also seemed fitting in the face of the most recent tragedy, to focus on how treating one another with kindness overcomes all sorts of obstacles. I’m not going to get up on a soapbox (I have too many opinions about the political response to the tragedy). . .But, I will say it is sad we live in world wherein it is easier to obtain a weapon, than it is to obtain mental healthcare. 

Here is how my students and I went about this project.

1. We defined bullying as a class.

2. We watched this -amazing- video:

3. We defined the word “bystander” and discussed how being a bystander contributes to bullying.

4. We identified the difference between “snitching” and “reporting/getting help” (snitching is when you tell on someone for the purpose of getting them in trouble. Reporting is when you are trying to help a victim).

5. We discussed ways in which students can anonymously report bullying (leave a note with the front office staff, make an appointment with a counselor, leave a note my reporting box; you also can say hey “look out for [victim]” and not leave the name of the bully).

6. We looked at several different anti-bullying posters and campaigns in a Powerpoint.

7. Students brainstormed in groups to define slogans and themes for their posters.

8. Students assembled in needed materials to set up a scene.

9. Students photographed their scenes.

10. Students used their photos, pixlr, pixlr-o-matic, tagxedo, and sourced royalty-free stock images to create a final poster.

11. Students uploaded their completed work to our Edmodo group wherein we participated in a group crit.

12. Here are the first few completed works; I’ll keep updating as they finish (I blacked out any faces to protect student identity)

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