3-D models invite students to use a range of materials to create an abstract visual representation of a key concept, theme, or personal belief. Students then use elements of visual design to verbally respond to each other’s models. This strategy asks students to transfer between multimodal forms of expression (text/word to visual to verbal) and to practice deep perception and inferencing.
Gather enough craft supplies so that every student has materials to use. Invite students to respond to a prompt. For example: A successful group always… Or A key theme in the story is… Invite participants to brainstorm individual responses on paper and then circle the three most important words. Introduce the task: Your challenge is to represent your response to the prompt through a 3-D model. Use your three key words as a guide; how can you represent your thinking using symbol, color, shape, and line to communicate your ideas? If you want to use words, the only words available are the three you circled on your brainstorm. Give participants a tour of the materials they can use to build their model. Explain that the model can be literal or abstract and provide an example if necessary and establish a time frame. Generally, the more supplies available the more time students need (10-25 min is typical).
Once completed, lead full group reflections on each model while the artist listens, or invite small groups of 3-4 students to lead their own discussion. Questions may include:
- What do you see in this 3-D model? Encourage description without interpretation: I see colorful lines, which cross each other. I see a large round circle on top of a wooden stick.
- What might be an interpretation of these observations? What is another interpretation? And another? What else do you see?
- What do these interpretations invite us to think about the larger concept/question/theme we are exploring?
- (Final question to artist) Is there anything you would like to say or clarify?
After all the 3-D Models have been discussed the full group reflects on the process.
- What did we do in this activity?
- Were the responders’ interpretations consistent with your thinking as an artist? How so or how not?
- Why do people make models? How did making and interpreting 3-D models impact our thinking and understanding of our prompt?
- Think about how the texture, line, and shape of the materials might help you communicate the meaning of your three ideas through your 3-D model.
- What is another interpretation?
- If time is short, just give students aluminum foil to use to create their 3-D model
- Students create a model that represents who they are as a learner.
- Reading/Writing or Social Studies: Have students create a model of a literary or historical character.
- Math or Science: Have students create a model of concept, theory, or relationship. For example, students might make a model of a symbiotic relationship.