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Project Runway ... Franklin Style!

At a recent National Art Education Association conference, I got lucky. No, I didn't win the lottery, but I did get to meet, and take a workshop with, Tim Gunn of Project Runway. And boy, that has been one the highlights of my life.

If you watch Project Runway, you should know that Mr. Gunn is exactly the same in person as he is on the show. He is a nice, kind man and was willing to even take the time to take pictures with us. But, the best part was getting to be designers--yes, designers--with Tim Gunn, runway show and all.

SINCE BEING A "DESIGNER" WITH TIM GUNN was such a terrific experience for me (and so much fun), I thought that, at the end of the year, it would be fun to have my students do a challenge with all our leftover scraps and recyclables from the year. The class that would experience this was a small mixed class of seventh- and eighth-graders.

After dividing the class into four groups of three, I explained what Project Runway was before presenting their challenge. Some students had seen the show, so they had an idea of what to expect, while the others had no clue--and I think they were pleasantly surprised!

Then came the challenge. Each group was given a black plastic garbage bag that had multiple items in it. Not in the bags were glue, tape, scissors and a stapler, but these materials were on another table where students had access to them as needed.

Students were told that once the challenge starts and they look in their bag, they had to create a piece of clothing, decide what their inspiration was from the materials they received, pick a model, and a spokesperson. All three in the group had a say in the design.

Each bag contained a piece of fabric, approximately 36" x 36", and a piece of bulletin-board paper, approximately 36" x 48". Some bags had bookmarks with tassels, some had old CDs, there were maps, ribbons, foil, and a multitude of other supplies that I took out of my bucket of leftover "stuff." The kids couldn't wait to open the bags and get started. But, before they did, I went into my Tim Gunn mode and announced, "Designers, you have 45 minutes for this challenge--make it work!"

Off they went to create their incredible designs. After they unpacked their bags, it was good to see that each group had a discussion about what they were going to create. One group started with Dylan being the model, but that changed quickly to Sydney. I don't think he felt very comfortable knowing that he would have to walk the "red carpet," a.k.a. red bulletin-board paper! Despite this hiccup, I was pleasantly surprised to see how involved the boys were. I did not hear any arguing or disagreements, but I did hear a lot of positive conversation and laughter.

Like Mr. Gunn, I walked around the room, briefly speaking with each group as it worked, giving small suggestions here and there. The students were very creative with the materials, and trying very hard to think outside of the box. When they had 15 minutes left, I recommended that they start finishing up, as they had a runway show to put on.

WE ARE A K-8 SCHOOL, and very fortunate to have three art teachers: one elementary, one middle school digital art and myself, who teaches visual art to all the sixth-graders and one mixed class of seventh- and eighth-graders. We invited the digital art class to view our fashion show and judge the designers' creations.

The fashion show took place on our patio for lack of a better location. It was quite windy outside, so we lined the "red carpet" with ceramic bowls and boxes of clay--we couldn't have it blow away! My students did a practice run, then they were ready for the real show. Our audience was extremely respectful and did a great job judging.

The kids really had a great time doing this. "I loved this project," said one. "It had a lot of wonderful things ... like having people design your clothes and coming up with a work of art. It was hard though, with the materials we were given."

"It helped us to express our creativity, and have fun," said another. Saying that her experience was great, one young lady explained, "You had to use your imagination and get to work with your friends and classmates. We were being timed, so it somehow seemed like a mystery to solve," and her classmate added, "We learned how to work fast, how to value time, strive for success, and never give up."

Another student was thinking more globally: "The project was a creative idea that really helped me think. By doing more projects like this, people can communicate and create better skills in general. Plus, it was really fun!"

Isn't that exactly what we want our students to experience as summer approaches?

Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Florida.


Middle school students will ...

* work collaboratively with their team.

* create a piece of wearable art within a time limit with limited supplies.

* create an artist's statement that reflects their influences.


* CREATING: Generalize and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

* PRESENTING: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

* RESPONDING: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

* CONNECTING: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.


* Fabric

* Feathers

* Paper

* CDs

* Foil

* Found objects

* Ribbon

* Plastic bags

Caption: I was beyond thrilled to meet Tim Gunn in New Orleans.

Caption: Emma and Arnaldo working hard.

Caption: Designers at work.

Caption: Sydney walking down the red carpet in "Rock and Roll" outfit.

Caption: Erica, "Starlight Star Bright."

Caption: Talia, "Outer Space."

Caption: Examples of materials found within the bags.
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Title Annotation:creative COLLABORATION
Author:Lubiner, Glenda
Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2019
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