6th and 8th Grade Selfies

8th Grade's Student Example.

8th Grade’s Student Example.

My students have done an amazing job with drawing their self-portraits.  When we started I told the students we were going to create selfies and not one of them complained about our project.  In fact, they were over the moon about it.  Normally, I have at least one of the students moan or freak out when we do this unit. It was great to see the high level of engagement from them.

To find out where they were I had the 6th and 8th grade students create a twenty minute assessment drawing prior to teaching them anything about self-portraits.  I tell them to try their best.  Common misconceptions by students when they draw themselves:


  • eyes in the forehead
  • ears are too small
  • no eyelashes or eye brows
  • curved line for lips
  • hair only on top of head
  • circle for head instead of oval type shape
  • shape of eyes

Afterwards, we compared and contrast a self-portrait from Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh using a Venn diagram.  I explain that self-portraits by these two were their selfies. As a class they totally rocked it out.

Then we did several practice drawings in their sketchbook, breaking down each facial feature.  Some students commented that this was fun.  That was a happy teacher moment.  Afterwards, we used IPads and mirrors to draw ourselves.

I used a new technique that I learned from a staff meeting given to us by the principal.  I call it the Read, Stop, Discuss, and Repeat Activity.  Here is how it works:

  • Put stop signs after a paragraph or sections of text
  • Students stand and face a partner
  • Students silently read to themselves until the stop sign (2 minutes)
  • Students discuss with partner what was read (usually one fact)
  • Students repeat the process until the end of the article
  • Finally, students sit down and discuss the whole article as a class

I was impressed on how well this worked with the students.  I will be repeating this technique with my students again.  Of course, it helped the article was about how Van Gogh’s ear was cut off.

I was a bit nervous to have a sub in the middle of the lesson when we added color and a background to the faces.  I was attending my grand-mother’s funeral.  But it came out ok, mostly unscathed.

Students then wrote their statements about their artwork.  Afterwards, I showed students their before and after portrait.  They really liked the results of their learning.  Their faces lit up when they saw the difference between their before and after.

After we were done with the lesson one of the students asked me if all artists are crazy.  I told him no, I just picked two that had some issues.

Please enjoy the video of my student’s artwork.  If you are interested in the whole unit from start to finish with what benchmarks we hit, please click on the link on my page on Teachers Pay Teachers.


Mrs. Berry

8th Grade’s Student Example.

Self-Portraits and Frida Kahlo

When working with students and creating self-portraits I read a couple of different books about Frida Kahlo based on the age of my students.  Every year, I have my art students create self-portraits, each level does something a bit different.  I want my students to be able to draw accurately and know a little bit of history with self-portraits.  The focus artist that I picked to go along with this unit is Frida Kahlo.  I love her work; it’s very distinct and different.  Kahlo’s work can be graphic so the problem is picking books, poems, and images that are grade level appropriate.

These are some of the books that I use with my students.

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Frida by Johan Winter and illustrated by Ana Juan I read this book to first and second grade students because the story gives a little bit of history about Kahlo.  I also like the images because they reflect Kahlo’s work without the graphic nature of her work.  While reading the story I do tell the students that the page with the volcano is how she feels and there really wasn’t a volcano during the bus accident.

I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by E.B. Lewis This book is new to my lesson this year with my first and second grade students.  I am adding this book because we will be adding textured yarn for hair.

Frida by Camen T. Bernier-Grand This book is a book of poems about Kahlo’s life.  What I love about this book is the use of Frida Kahlo’s paintings. Because Kahlo’s painting and her life are not elementary or even high school student friendly sections of the book do need to be censored for a school setting.  At the end of the book lists a chronology of Frida’s life.  There is also a glossary and sources page. I have read several of poems (student friendly) to my students. My third grade students wanted me to continue to read more of the poems. They were sad when I stopped.  The poems seem to be written as if Frida Kahlo was speaking to the reader.  This book is very intriguing.

If you would like the lesson plan that I use for this unit please click on my Self-Portrait Prezi.  I have also included a link on my side bar of this blog.

“There is nothing more precious than laughter.  It is strength to laugh and lose oneself.” Frida Kahlo

-Mrs. Berry

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