Hello! A very happy new year to you all and what a year it has been! I finished my Masters in Mater Dei (which you can read about here) and graduated with an amazing group of people (check out our class blog). Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of blogging on my part. It has been such a busy year and I really did not want to rush writing blog posts that would lack quality or content. I am back now with so many blog posts planned and I am excited to see what 2017 will bring 🙂
I am dedicating this blog post to artwork in the classroom. I worked on various topics with my Junior and Senior Cycle Religion classes and we decided to look at ways in which we could incorporate artwork into our classroom to make it bright, colourful and inviting. In fact, in 1999, Ingrid Boydston, a teacher in California, encouraged teachers to let artwork and wall displays grow from the students’ learning experiences.
I often log onto Pinterest (which is a visual bookmarking tool) for ideas but in this case, the students came up with a lot of the ideas themselves. Below is photographs of the displays and the story behind each one. I hope you enjoy reading about them.
I taught two Second Year Religious Education groups.
The first group came up with the idea to create a noticeboard which would be a symbol of love. They decorated cut outs templates of their hands which would represent their individuality and the kindness and help they show others. They formed a cross with these hands to represent Jesus sacrificing his life for us on earth. They surrounded the noticeboard with doves, on which they wrote all the Religion teachers’ names. They said Religion teachers are ‘teachers students can talk to or when they feel very stressed’.
With the other Second Year Religious Education group, the classroom I was teaching all of my classes in was their base classroom and they had a big noticeboard to fill. We were half way through the Foundations of Christianity chapter in Junior Cycle Religion, Non Exam Book, Light the Way. The students looked at scripture in the bible that could inspire them with artwork for their classroom which related to the topic we were studying. It was also a great way to show the students how to use a bible. Through biblical study, the scripture we all agreed upon was adapted from John 15:5;
‘I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing’.
We decorated the branches with all of the students writing their names on leaves and their class group in the centre. The scripture was above the noticeboard in coloured paper and I think it makes the classroom so bright and beautiful.
I only taught Third Years once a week on a Friday and we were studying the Beatitudes in preparation for Mercy Day 2016 (it also features when Teaching about the Kingdom of God ). They made this simple, yet colourful poster which hangs on the door of the classroom and has the Beatitudes in block lettering for all to see!
Our school was approaching our annual open night and my classroom was chosen as the Religion room. One of the other Religion teachers, Ms. Mullins had done a beautiful project with her Transition Year Religion class entitled ‘What Makes Me…Me!’ and they made posters of all the people or things in their lives which make them so I displayed their artwork in my room for the Open Night.
My Fifth Year Religion class decorated the noticeboard outside the classroom.The poster displayed what makes Religion here at Mercy ranging from Meditation to Faith Development to Liturgies to Retreats. It features images from Religious life in the school and also has the crest drawn by the students.
My Sixth Year Religion class were discussing growth at the time of this display. We had talked about the journey they were on and their last year here in a school which they have grown greatly in. This artwork truly blossomed with all of the students in groups choosing scripture from the bible that they researched which reflected growth and love in their lives. It was amazing to hear them discuss stories from first year right up to last week and I believe they really all did enjoy this activity. Sixth Year Religion students find artwork very calming and it is a great destress activity for them in a year where they are constantly under pressure. The grass on the wall is a green foam from Easons (€4.99) and the rest of the paper is coloured card from Easons (€3.99).
The displays I have done with students do not cost the earth but they are really effective and would brighten up any room. I did not do Art for my Junior or Leaving Certificate and I would not consider myself artistic at all but I really feel the artwork makes such a difference in the classroom. At first, it was daunting but once the first poster was done, I really enjoyed working with the students. For me, the biggest reward is seeing students engaging and being creative with the tasks at hand, discussing topics amongst themselves that we learn about in class and really enjoying themselves during Religion class.
As mentioned Mercy Day above, I feel it is only fair to tell you all about the contribution of artwork from every student in the school. There are twenty five homerooms in the school from First to Sixth Year and all twenty five classes created cushions during Religion class. Each class had to pick a symbol which represented New Life, and was then stitched together to make one big quilt. Some symbols included lambs, butterflys, new trees and words. New Life was the theme of Mercy Day Mass 2016 which was held on Friday, 23rd September 2016. Following Mercy Day Mass, a unique occasion of thanksgiving for all who provide care to people in need took place the following day on Saturday, 24th September. The Parish Pastoral Council and Bishop Michael Smith organised this ceremony to mark the Holy Year of Mercy by highlighting the very many ways in which people are cared for in the local community. Our students walked in procession with our Mercy Day quilt which was then put on display for the community to see. I was honoured to represent the school with the students on this day. Our quilt now hangs proudly in our school reminding us all of the new life and hope our school brings to our community.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post. As always, let me know what you think or if you have done some artwork in your school link your photos and ideas below 🙂
- New Revised Standard Version Bible, John 15:5.
- Light the Way p.77-116
- Community of Faith Veritas, pages 12-15, 99 and 101-104. .
- Community of Hope Veritas, pages 34-49.
- Love One Another New Christian Way Series 1, Veritas, pages 34-40, 101-107, 110-113, and 115-122.
- New York Times Blog http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/
- Junior Certificate Curriculum online p.21 https://www.curriculumonline.ie/getmedia/c0c1f394-79c8-4455-bea5-c9e014a9945d/JCSEC22_religion_syllabus.pdf