SharkDog became an instant classroom sensation--and learning opportunity.

SharkDog became an instant classroom sensation--and learning opportunity.

My fourth grade students coined a new phrase: “That’s so Shark Dog!” This phrase refers to an art piece that was transformed from a mistake into something brilliant. The story of Shark Dog is similar to probably hundreds of stories that come from the inside of a classroom, but because this teachable moment was mixed with technology and creativity, it can be shared with the outside world.

While working on a drawing of a dog taken from the many examples I had available for my 4th grade students, Mickey tossed his sketch aside in frustration. I went over and looked at his discarded paper and was immediately dazzled with its almost cartoonish rendition of a dog…or was it a shark? Whatever it was, I loved it.  I said: “Mickey, if I were going to try to draw a shark/dog, I couldn’t have come up with anything better.”

The rest of the class became curious and asked to see Mickey’s sketch. I held it under the classroom webcam so it could be projected larger than life on my interactive whiteboard. They all agreed that it was a perfect drawing of a Shark Dog. Mickey still wanted to try to draw a dog again for his art project, so he let me have this adorable little sketch.

I showed it to my other sections of 4th graders as they came to art that week. The first group loved Shark Dog so much that they suggested it should have a theme song. That sounded good to me so, I cleared the interactive whiteboard and began taking notes on lyrics from the class. Students came to the board and added, crossed out, erased and rearranged words as they brainstormed together. They came up with lines like, “Shark Dog has laser paint eyes and barks until sunrise. His teeth are as sharp as his brain and I want to go where he hangs.” By the end of the period we had something that could be set to music. I opened up Garageband on my classroom computer and found a short jingle from the library that matched the groovy feeling the image inspired.

After learning about the Shark Dog sketch and his new theme song lyrics, my next section of 4th graders volunteered to record the song. Students sang into my usb microphone over the Garageband jingle straight into my computer. They performed their part of the song as a solo or in pairs, pausing the recording to switch singers to involve as many voices as possible without compromising sound quality. We did many takes until we were all happy with the results. The rest of the class was able to watch and give feedback during the recording progress by viewing the software that was projected on my IWB.

I introduced Shark Dog and played his finished theme song to the next group of 4th graders. They loved it and immediately asked if they could make the video for the theme song. Why not? I tossed a green chroma key sheet over the standing chalkboard in my room and grabbed a camera and tripod. I had students pretend that Shark Dog was behind them as I filmed them dancing to the music in front of the green screen. We were able to replace the green background with images of Shark Dog in iMovie software. See my wiki for instructions on using the Green Screen effect in iMovie 9.

To add variety and to reinforce the Pop Art theme of our art project, I opened up Photo Booth and turned on the Pop Art effect and recorded a few students with the built in iSight webcam. Then we even gave Shark Dog a chance to “sing” in his own movie using blabberize.com.

Fourth graders were drawing dogs in preparation for their Pop Art (actually Pup Art) paintings in the style of Andy Warhol. Near the completion of our Pup Art project we watched a video to help us Get to Know the artist that inspired us. (Please note: this links to a segment of the 20 minute movie). In this video the class learned that Andy Warhol would purposely give ambiguous instructions to his apprentices to see if their interpretation would lead to new ways of seeing things. In a way he was looking for brilliant mistakes. Isn’t that so Shark Dog?

I took Mickey’s discarded sketch and used it as my teacher example and completed it as a painting along side the students. It now hangs prominently in my art room reminding us all to transform mistakes into masterpieces. And our Shark Dog video with original theme song has been added to the Fugleflicks collection as a testimony to my creative students.

See our video here.
See the Pup Art Gallery.
Learn more about Tricia Fuglestad’s art program.

Tricia Fuglestad, NBCT, is a K-5 Art Teacher at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights, Ill.  Her art-related, student-created Fugleflicks videos  have won local and national awards and have been screened at international children’s film festivals. Tricia is also one of the top 10 PBS Teachers Innovation Awards winners.