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J.D. Floyd sixth-graders use art to learn geography

J.D. Floyd K8 sixth-graders, from left, Raquel Libell, 12, Naphthalie Stinfort, 12, Najanae Maura, 13, and Eliana Torres, 11, polish an Indian mandala mosaic. Geography teacher Kevin McManus explained that mandalas are “floral and geometric designs that repeat themselves.”

Photo by PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE

J.D. Floyd K8 sixth-graders, from left, Raquel Libell, 12, Naphthalie Stinfort, 12, Najanae Maura, 13, and Eliana Torres, 11, polish an Indian mandala mosaic. Geography teacher Kevin McManus explained that mandalas are “floral and geometric designs that repeat themselves.”

SPRING HILL — Stepping onto the J.D. Floyd K8 campus, a visitor might be confused as to whether he is visiting a school or an art gallery. Bright, colorful, interesting pieces of art are on the outer walls and in gardens.

They are mostly the work of sixth-graders, under the direction of geography teacher Kevin McManus. This year students have completed 18 projects that are displayed around the school.

"We cover India," McManus said, explaining the Indian mandala mosaics out of mirrors or broken tiles. Mandalas, McManus explained, are "floral and geometric designs that repeat themselves. They tie in with mathematics."

Some of the creations are mosaic reproductions of masters' works. The children produced two copies of Van Gogh's works and a Picasso. McManus was a little worried that the Van Goghs would be a little too ambitious, but his concerns were unfounded.

Starry Night hangs near the front office. Café Terrace on the Place du Forum and Picasso's Weeping Woman hang on the outside of the concrete building where his classroom is located. The walls were blank and white. To McManus, a blank, white wall is an empty canvas.

McManus teaches all the school's sixth-graders, tying geography into math, art and English. "The children do research and PowerPoints on the artists," he said.

Some students see the value of supplementing their geography lessons with the art.

"They teach us about some of the paintings famous artists have made, and by reflecting them through mosaics, they give us a glance of history through glass and stone," said sixth-grader Vivian Eddy, 12. "Artists lived in different countries, and they're reflecting what their countries looked like when they were growing up."

Sixth-grader Hannah McInnis, 12, identified her favorite project. "I like Van Gogh's Starry Night." She said doing it taught her "that Van Gogh is a very famous artist and was famous because of Starry Night."

Besides Van Gogh, Hannah said she also likes her teacher. "Mr. McManus is a really good teacher because he takes his time to work with us."

Sixth-grader Raquel Libell, 12, who enjoys putting in the mosaic pieces at random, likes the way they look and said, "Since we're doing the mosaics, it makes our school prettier."

J.D. Floyd sixth-graders use art to learn geography 05/04/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 2:42pm]
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