Art teacher Bailey Smith has done something truly amazing. Instead of having her seventh-grade students work on one large mosaic mural to impress parents and administrators, she allowed her students to make their own designs.
This gave her students a real art experience that allowed them to be expressive instead of merely being worker bees on a group project that would teach them only technical skills.
I cannot put into words how happy this makes me.
TIP: If your school administrators are pressing for one large mural or installation, consider having your students all make mosaics on the same sized square backer, say 10 x 10 inch, and then mount all these mosaics together in a “crazy quilt” arrangement. The juxtaposition of colors and themes in composite mosaic display can easily be more visually interesting than one composition.
It’s important that students actually learn Art in an art class and not just studio skills, especially when the students are young.
You shouldn’t miss opportunities to plant seeds that can later bloom and shape a life.
Class Mosaic Project
Baily says she has been doing this project for five years.
One of the best things about the project is that the mosaics are displayed in random places around the school making it a scavenger hunt for the other children:
As a final piece to the project, I take their character’s bio and a photo of the tile and make “wanted” posters for the hallway. The other grades love trying to find where the tiles were placed from the wanted posters, it’s a bit of a scavenger hunt those first few days that they’re up.-Bailey Smitth
I have to come up with things that will captivate them, the only time I’ve ever had behavior issues is when they’re not engaged with what they’re doing. So projects like this are key for them.-Bailey Smith
The students want to take things home to show off, they want that tangible thing to show their family or hang up in their room. They don’t want to spend half a semester creating something that they don’t really have an honest investment in. The community mosaic hat’s in our building was done in the 70’s and our current students have no interest or attachment to it… it means nothing to them. It almost disappears into the background. Even though individual projects mean a bit more work for us teachers, I feel like it’s so much more valuable in the long run to create experiences that every student can engage with and look back on positively.-Bailey Smith