Collaborating with Teachers

March 14, 2013

Anticipating Spring In First Grade

Anticipating Spring In First Grade

One of the best parts of being a guest teaching artist in schools is the relationships that I have with the teachers that I work with. Most of the work that I do is with teachers that I have worked with before.  This means that year after year, as we get to know each other better, we can develop bookmaking projects that can dynamically align to the mandates of the curriculum.  Each year  the projects that I present generally are either repeat projects that are continually refined to serve the classroom needs better, or they are projects that are designed anew, to fit shifting interests of the teachers.

Proposal Sketches for a Healthy Snack Book

Proposal Sketches for a Healthy Snack Book

This past week I started a completely new project with Margo’ s second grade class. I have worked with Margo for years, but this is the first time that she is the primary teacher in the second grade. She said that she wanted to do some research with her students and that she wanted there to be a “global” feel to the project. After brainstorming a bit, we decided that we would reach for the global connection through the children’s snack bags.  Each day for a week the class logged their snacks and noted where they came from. Pineapple from Thailand, bananas from South America, celery from California, Mandarin oranges from Florida, via Chinese origins. We had the concept, then I had to come up with a design that would work in her classroom. What I came up with is illustrated in the drawing above: it includes a pop-up (the snack popping out of the lunch bag), a window to peek through at the habitat of the snack, and two pages for writing. We started the bookmaking yesterday. I look forward to posting images when the books are done!

Alaskan-Animals-book-Sketch

Alaskan-Animals-book-Sketch

Last year I worked with Mrs. Kavney’s first grade class, making a  Dinosaur  Diorama. I loved this project and was looking forward to repeating it. This year, however, Mrs. Kavney wanted the book to be more of this world. She worked up a spectacular unit on following the Iditarod in Alaska, incorporating geography, math, and science. She wanted to have our bookmaking project put another spin on this unit, and she had her eye on studying animals and habitat in Alaska.  She liked the Diorama book that we did last year, so I so I reworked the basic design. The animal is now central, a pocket is included that can  hold standard size paper, which will contain the sentences that the first graders will write about their animals, and there is an area to showcase a haiku that students will write. Of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to somehow incorporate the Northern Lights…which, when I mentioned this to the students, they responded by telling me that these lights are also known as the aurora borealis. I am learning not to talk down to these students…This project was also started this week.  My next post will likely be on the aurora borealis part of the project, and I look forward to seeing how the rest of it goes.

Now, back to prepping.

3 Responses to “Collaborating with Teachers”


  1. Hello Paula, I love what you are doing with kids! I do a lot of paper marbling and might try to marble the paper for the Northern light with my grand kids. I 1998 or 99 I took a course with you in the City. I was the girl from Germany whose presence helped to run the course. In the meantime we have moved to Chatham NY. I am still a bookbinder, teach and enjoy helping to home school 3 grand children.
    Best
    Ulrike

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    • Hello Ulrike! Chatham is about 90 minutes south from where I live..Maybe we could meet for lunch somewhere in between! I will sent an email to you.
      thanks for remembering me!
      I

      Like

      • Ulrike Grannis Says:

        Hello Paula, I will come with a bookbinder friend from here to the big party in Salem next Wednesday. May be you will be there too! Ulrike

        Like


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