Celebrating the Last Day of Grant Wood AEA’s 2018 College for Kids

The July session of Grant Wood AEA’s College for Kids has come to a close.
Parents joined students and instructors today for the Showcase of Learning and the opportunity to review their class projects, presentations, and performances.
Join us for more learning during next year’s College for Kids. We’ll see you then!

Harry Potter: Fiction, Fear, and the Familiar, and The Holocaust: Interpreting History Through the Diary of Anne Frank

Wednesday, July 19, 2018

Hello! Miss Champion here from Harry Potter: Fiction, Fear, and the Familiar, and The Holocaust: Interpreting History Through the Diary of Anne Frank. Just a quick background on me: I will be entering my fifth year of teaching this coming school year in the Marion Independent School District, teaching 8th grade Literacy. Teaching is my calling, and I love working with middle school students. I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan, and have enjoyed teaching and discussing the culture with the next generation of die-hard Harry Potter fans! I am also very impassioned with discussing and evaluating the Holocaust with middle school students. We have been looking at the historical events that have led up to this unimaginable time in history, while also focusing on the positivity, warmth, and courage displayed by Anne and her family in the stage adaptation of her diary.

We started our Harry Potter class by looking at the “historical” elements that are used in the story: alchemy (potions class), Nicolas Flamel (a real person!), the beliefs and legends Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.07.56 AMbehind magical creatures, monsters, and plants. Students presented their findings to the class. Here’s a student example of Mandrakes, a plant mentioned in the stories, but existing in real life! They were believed to hold magical properties because of their human-shaped roots; an element that is further explored in the books.









Our exploration of Harry Potter continued with identifying theme, and how that theme prevails through all of the stories. Students created a theme house, where the foundation was there theme statements, the bricks were the textual evidence, and the roof was their reasoning why their textual evidence supported their tScreen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.23.00 AMheme statement. Repeated themes were: love, loss, friendship, perseverance, and hope.

Our session is finishing up with exploring Boggarts, the shape-shifting creatures that reflect your innermost fear. Our discussions have focused on how fear manifests itself for different people; as both tangible things like spiders, sharks, and snakes, or intangible things things like loss, boredom, or failure. Students will be exploring what their own fears are, and what shape that would cause their Boggart to take.



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Our Holocaust class began with a historical background on what were the events that led to the rise in Adolf Hitler’s power, as well as an exploration in the form of a digital tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Students were then asked to decide Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.26.12 AM“Who Is to Blame?” for the Holocaust by filling out a pie chart. Student response was varied, but you may notice a lot of green (Hitler), blue (minor Nazi soldiers who carried out their orders without question), and purple (top SS officers who designed the “final solution” for Hitler).

We then used the rest of class to explore Anne Frank’s story, and how her family, plus the other four people lived in the Secret Annex of Mr. Frank’s business. In reader’s theater style, we read through the play adaptation of Anne’s diary. We explored each member of the Secret Annex and what kind of character traits we would use to describe them, and why they might display those type of character traits.

For the final project in The Holocaust class, students were asked to think what lesson we should learn from Anne’s experience and attitude throughout her hiding experience. As most know, Anne’s story is a famous one, and is influential it is still taught today. Students were asked what impact they want to have on the world, and how they plan on going about achieving their influence


The World of Design!

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 12.11.12 PMGraphic Design is full steam ahead with the knowledge and power of Adobe Illustrator! Students have spent 2-3 days learning the ins and outs of the program and are currently creating vector based artwork which isn’t limited to scaling in comparison to pixel based art. Their first project was the development of a hand drawn character which was then drawn as vector art and colored using Illustrator.

Their second project utilizes a typographical composition where they learn about altering fonts and the use of imagery behind text. It’s always exciting to see students putting forth the effort and artistic energy to learn and benefit from learning something new!

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Chris Thilges is in his fourth year of teaching at Linn-Mar High School. He currently teaches several fine arts classes as well as new technology-based courses new to LMHS. Twelve years of teaching art along with a prior graphic design degree and career has enabled Chris to develop dynamic and rigorous projects. His artistic pedagogy takes into consideration student choice and makes meaningful connections to one’s self as well as raising self-reflection questions concerning artistic purpose and function.

Greetings from the students of Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk!

New friendships are being made as we explore the possibilities of charcoal this week! Vine, willow, compressed, pencil…who knew there were so many different charcoal options?! Inspired by Claude Monet and the Impressionists, we took our work outside to view the effects of natural light. Claude and friends called this “en plein air”.

College for Kids students complete charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

College for Kids student completes charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

We chose a spot on campus for our charcoal composition that was pleasing to look at and had a nice variety of contrasting values. We tried to capture the components of light in our composition- highlights, lights, shadows, core shadows, reflected lights and cast shadows help bring our work to life.

A charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

A charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

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Erin Ennis holds a Masters of Art Ed from UNI and is a National Board Certified teacher. This is the fourth year for Erin at College for Kids. She absolutely loves it! During the school year you can find her at  Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids where she teaches Drawing, Ceramics, Painting, Sculpture, AP Studio Art and AP Art History.

Second Session for College for Kids Underway

This week students started the second session of the 2018 Grant Wood Area Education Agency College for Kids.

This is Grant Wood Area Education Agency’s 31st year of bringing college experiences to local middle school students this summer as more than 1,000 students from East Central Iowa begin taking courses through College for Kids.

College for Kids has a rich history of providing gifted and talented students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade the opportunity to interact with a challenging curriculum in a college setting.  This year attendees come from 35 different area schools including Alburnett, Anamosa, Andrews Christian Academy, Belle Plaine, Benton, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Valley Christian School, Center Point-Urbana, Central City, Clear Creek Amana, College Community, English Valleys, Highland, HLV, Iowa City, Iowa City Regina, Iowa Valley Community, Isaac Newton Christian Academy, LaSalle Middle School, Linn-Mar, Lisbon, Marion Independent, Mid-Prairie, Monticello, Mount Vernon, North Cedar, North-Linn Community, Regis Middle School, Solon, Tipton, Trinity Lutheran, Vinton Shellsburg, West Branch, Williamsburg and Willowwind.

aerial photo of college for kids attendees

There are two sessions of College for Kids available each summer. This photo was captured using a drone during the June session, and a similar photo will be taken of students in July as well.


Writing our Stories and “Hamilton”

We have been busy these past two weeks in both Hamilton and Writing Our Stories!

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.13.43 PM.pngOur Hamilton class contains a wonderful group of students whose creativity and passion for the musical never cease to amaze me. I wouldn’t challenge any of these students to a Hamilton singing competition as many know the lyrics inside and out!

Last week, we dug through historical documents, listened to show’s music with attentive ears, and watched portions of a documentary about both the historical Alexander Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of this musical masterpiece. This week, students are taking a cue from Miranda and creating their stories based on a passion of their own.

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.13.25 PM.pngWriting Our Stories is full of fantastically creative writers and thinkers. In class, students explored new characters, new writing styles, and new sources of inspiration daily. During our time together, students shared their work with small workshop groups and sometimes read their writing to the entire class. Each day, I’m amazed at students’ eyes for imagery, the complex characters they create, and the new worlds they explore with their writing.

We also used Coe’s vast resources to our advantage and took a trip to the art galleries in the library. Pictured below are students drawing inspiration from the art they saw, creating complex characters and narratives based on the tone, detail, or style of a piece of art. I loved hearing the different details and genres students created daily.

For both classes, it is energizing to be in a room full of imaginative, warm, and witty students. It’s been a great two weeks!


Author Bio

Mackenzie Kaspar is in her second year of teaching College for Kids, after attending sessions herself many years ago. A graduate of the University of Iowa for her undergraduate and Master’s degrees, she teaches Language Arts at Kennedy High School and has a passion for reading, writing, musicals, her friends and family, and, of course, her students.

The Magic of the Blue Dye – Indigo Day

IMG_20180627_071949566Indigo was known throughout the ancient world for its ability to color fabric a deep blue.  Egyptian artifacts suggest that indigo was employed as early as 1600 B.C. and it has been found in Africa, India, Indonesia, and China. Indigo is plant based and fits nicely into our goals promoting natural dyes for the bulk of our classroom projects.

Applying dye to,Shibori techniques, Kumo and Kanoko.

Applying dye to Shibori techniques, Kumo and Kanoko.

I challenged the class to use one or more Shibori techniques to create their favorite design on cotton flour sacks using only indigo with white being their backdrop.

Students demonstrate Indigo tie dye application.

Indigo tie dye application is demonstrated to the class utilizing Kanoko and Kumo techniques.

The results are stunning.


Artistic Creations Using Altered Books and Art Boxes

Altered books, also known as Junk Journals, is a way to recycle old hardcover books into new works of art. Students choose a theme, sometimes inspired by an original book title/topic or by a personal interest. Artwork is created in the book by painting, drawing, collage, cutting, and paper-folding. At times the text or original illustrations/photographs act as prompts for the alteration. Altered books are unique and personal! Each book reflects the ideas, beliefs, and interests of the creator.



Art Boxes are 3-D collages. Each box is a collection of images and objects that reflect the vision of the maker. Inspired by Surrealist Joseph Cornell, each art box represents a dream, fantasy or individual perception of reality. Each student chooses a theme that is meaningful to them. Their challenge was to interpret this idea in images and found objects. Art boxes are like secret worlds in which the viewer is invited in to solve the mystery.


Jim Jacobmeyer has been a C4K Art and Design instructor for 31 years, 1987-2018. He is a veteran Art, Gifted & Talented and Alternative Education teacher of 44 years. Jim has taught K-College levels. He has a BA in Art Education with an MAT in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Alternative Education and G&T. He has taught in Sydney, Australia, Waterloo, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, IA.