"The mask project took longer than I had anticipated—four weeks. I meet them three times a week, so it was a total of twelve periods from concept to finish. And I could have pushed it further—I could have had them make the matting themselves. But overall they stuck it out, which means they bought into it. Not only that, but since the mask project, the kids have been more mature in their decision making. We are working with one-point perspective now, and you can see that they are more careful with every decision they make, because they now realize that every line yields a result and that changing that line—even a little bit—changes everything. "The kids have told me often how much fun this was, and that it was a difficult process. There were a lot of steps. As they put the pieces together they could see their mask come alive, and they were excited by that. And once they saw them displayed, it became a bit of a competition. They developed an ownership of the project, and they loved it." "The other teachers were amazed, too. The first time they saw the masks was when they were displayed in the hallway [during the recent open-house celebration]. They asked, 'You're going to keep these up, right?' They appreciated how the masks enlivened the place. My colleagues knew this was bright and bold, and just looked good—and so now they are excited about seeing more. I want my students to take art as seriously at their other subjects, and this mask project opened that door. The students' art can balance the growing reputation of our school for academic achievement. The project also opened the door a bit to seeing art displayed in the school. Our school can have a kind of corporate feel to it, and I think art helps break through that feel." "People are talking. They are starting to see how successful an art program can be. And the kids are different. They have learned that they can make mistakes and it's not failure, it's just part of the process. They are more comfortable and more patient with themselves. And now, every time a seventh-grader comes in the room, I get the question, 'Why didn't you do that with us?' And I tell them we will—next year." "I have to do the masks next year. The students will hold me accountable!"
Earl likes his mask
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