We were interested in having the fifth graders use self-portraiture as visual way to teach them about inferences. The students were studying inferences in their language art class. In the beginning sessions, we taught the proportions of the human head and face and we had the students practice drawing faces before moving on to their own self-portraits. The students drew their first self-portrait as a 1/2 and 1/2- one side of their face was a black-and-white enlarged photocopy of their faces in which the images came from a photo and then the other side was their own drawing. To capture the physical characteristics and traits of their faces, they looked in mirrors as a reference and some even used their original head shot photograph.
During the middle sessions and before beginning the second self- portrait, the students saw several self-portraits by Frida Kahlo. Many of these works include other images within her self-portrait. These images described her in more detail. The students second work was based on an acrostic poem. This type of poem uses a word for its subject and each line of the poem begins with a letter from the subject word. The fifth graders used their first names as the subjects of these poems. When writing, the students had to make sure that each line represented a character trait about themselves. Once the poems were completed, the students drew their self-portraits which included their face in the middle of the paper and floating around their heads are symbols or objects that describe character traits. Then in the 1″ margins that they outlined, the students wrote their acrostic poem so it would travel all throughout the margins.
Student #1[caption id="attachment_1778" align="alignleft" width="218" caption="Students wrote their acrostic poems in their journals during language arts class with Ms. Terry. They then sketched their symbols and self-portraits in the same journal before enlarging it onto drawing paper."][/caption]
Student #2[caption id="attachment_1782" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="The images surrounding this student's self-portrait are all visual representations of the lines in his acrostic poem."][/caption]
The final self-portrait was a based on a writing assignment that was called “Real Me/My Alter Ego.” The students first wrote phrases and sentences which described themselves. These descriptions included both physical traits as well as their interests, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses that they possess at their current age. The fifth graders then wrote about their alter ego, which could be what they envision for themselves in the future and even imaginary or superhuman traits and qualities. They followed up the writing assignment by creating a 3-D self-portrait. On this standing bust, the students used colored pencils on the left half of the face to represent the “real me.” They used a combination of both oil pastel and cut magazine papers to depict the “alter ego” on the the right side of the face.