for Grade 5
Project-based learning pedagogy
Here are different projects done with grade 5 students for a period of six lessons of forty minutes each. These eleven years old students have experimented with different practices and materials while learning French in their second year in the program. Every week, students must respond to a new problem individually or collectively that allows them to progress in their project. A class is always formed of two phases, with fifteen minutes of language notions and art theory to half an hour of practice. In the seventh lesson, students are assessed with a twenty-minute written exam and they finish the unit by presenting their project orally and interacting with the rest of the class.
Most of these simple projects have been designed from scratch, by getting ideas from different sources of inspiration such as the Chinese and French programs, real-world problems, teacher's past projects and students' lives and interests among other references. Besides the challenging questions that drive these projects, topics have to be authentic and the methodology should let students enough voice and choice in creating high-quality products to be exposed. Due to their A1 french level, content complexity had to be slightly reduced. Nonetheless, most of projects have had successful processes and results while others will continue to be improved by the rookie teacher.
Project 1. I invent an object
Students had to first choose a lamp, a shoe or a trash bin to work on, to then draw the chosen object with different shapes. Later, they had to choose their best invention and do its technical drawing, by writing its measures and explaining its uses. Finally, this whole process allowed students to make a poster of their object as if they were going to sell it.
Posted: September 29th, 2019 – October 12th, 2020
Project 2. From lighter to darker
While studying primary, secondary, warm and cold colours, students started to draw a geometric pattern giving the illusion of a three-dimensional shape. They painted light and dark shades on it while getting inspiration from art works, and they finally presented with the whole class a colored tile from lighter to darker.
Posted: October 30th, 2019
Project 3. An art district
For three weeks, students became architects and urban planners by designing a neighborhood inspired on 798 Beijing's Art zone. They started to draw models of paper houses, then deciding in teams where to display each of them on a street. At last, they had to add up other elements such as trees, cars, sculptures, pedestrians, among other things, to embellish their street and those of the other teams, thus making possible the model of a new Art district.
Posted: November 26th, 2019
Project 4. Peking opera
While studying Peking opera and its characters, its costumes, its instruments, its theaters, students had to draw and paint a new face on a cardboard mask. From there, they made a research on the opera to arrange a presentation in which the mask took center stage.
Posted: December 29th, 2019 – January 8th, 2021
Project 5. My chair
Students first learnt how to draw a chair by measuring the one they use in class while analising the different materials that it was made of. This led them to draw a new one to make a 1/6 foamboard model, later embellished with crepe paper. Students had to finish their model and to reflect on different ways of using their new chair.
Posted: March 28th, 2019
Project 6. Hutong of Beijing
Students were introduced to the hutong, their characteristic architecture and the social life that reside between their walls, through photographies found in a fantastic book of 1989. Thus students had to draw details that one could find in these narrow streets by using the pencil and then the charcoal. In the second week, they learnt how to draw a street in one point perspective by copying other pictures of hutong. At last, they had to finish their drawings and choose the best one to be exposed in a group presentation. This last part of the project was carried out with the French teacher, allowing students to do their own research by extracting information from texts describing the hutong to then write some words and sentences that could accompany their drawings.
Posted: April 20th, 2019
Project 7. The moving body
Students had to represent their own body in movement in two dimensions, by drawing it with a pencil and cutting its silhouette on a colored sheet. In the second week, they had to represent their body in three dimensions, by modeling it with a piece of wire and then with a piece of clay. At last, in the third week, students were asked to finish their four figures while making a setting to tell a story. This project was modified a year later, when showing to the students fours statues of bodies in movement and asking them to choose one of them to draw it on paper. They also had to represent it with aluminium foil, thus highlighting the different body parts studied at the same time in the French class.
Posted: May 29th, 2019 – May 5h, 2020
Project 8. From closer to farther
By studying for the first time different movie shots, students worked in groups to represent two portraits and two still lives art works, well-known in art history, from closer to farther drawings according to the original painting. For near shots, students had to enlarge an area of the artwork, while for far shots students had to imagine the space in which it could have taken place. Each sequence of images thus told a different story.
Posted: June 24th, 2019 – March 6th, 2020
Project 8. What does it look like?
While studying Archimboldo's portraits and reflecting on visual affinities, students had to imagine a face composed by different elements, then the body, and the house of that invented character. In this project, they could vary their techniques by drawing and making collages to present their ideas.
Posted: September 24th, 2020
Project 10. The 56 cultures of China
The Ruixiang primary school is well known in the district as the school of minorities, referring to the 56 ethnic groups that compose China's demography. Students had to draw one or two cultures to then describe and present them in group. The final exhibition took place in the school's corridor.