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Skating Party 2018

Middle School
Bringing Artwork to Life

Middle School students visited the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) last Friday to participate in Middle School Director Kathie Freer’s culminating work for the Connie Towson Ford Teaching Innovation Fellowship. The fellowship opportunity, offered annually by CMA, was brought to Kathie’s attention by Ruffing parent Cyra Levenson, Director of Education and Academic Affairs at the museum. Kathie was one of ten educators from across Northeast Ohio accepted into the year-long program. Designed to help teachers leverage the museum and its collection into their teaching, fellows participated in and collaborated on workshops, lesson plans, curriculum and teaching materials that incorporate CMA artworks.

Together, this museum-based learning community explored questions like: What does it mean to bring an artwork to life? How can the museum provide an innovative gallery experience for students? How can art ignite classroom learning and serve as a learning tool across grade levels and disciplines?

Kathie’s object-based/inquiry-based experience merged Harper Lee’s 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird with three museum pieces: two photos from The Jazz Age’s Riches to Rags photo exhibit, one abstract expressionist painting, and one contemporary piece. She included Kelly Ladd (history teacher) and Kate Bennett (art teacher) in her concluding fellowship project, not only to add their expertise but also to support the small-group design in which three groups of students were assigned one piece of art to examine.

Kelly concentrated on two photographs: Portrait of a Young Man (1931-1937) and Portrait of a Young Woman (1936) by James Van Der Zee. These photographs provided an opportunity for African Americans to see themselves as the center of the universe during the 1930’s, as white Americans could. Students connected characters from To Kill a Mockingbird to the dignified man and woman in the photos.

Kate concentrated on the abstract expressionist painting, Alabama (1960) by Norman Lewis. The painting was based on a nighttime Ku Klux Klan gathering at which members gathered around a car with headlights. To Kill a Mockingbird was written the same year, takes place in Alabama, and provides many of the psychological and emotional impulses portrayed in this painting. The painting was juxtaposed with the poem The Mask by Paul Lawrence, adapted by Maya Angelou, and Man Ray’s Kiki, Noire et Blanche as seen at The Jazz Age exhibit.

Kathie concentrated on the contemporary painting, Rage Against the Machine (2008) by Robert A. Pruitt. Students listened to “Testify” by the LA band of the same name to meld a fantasy world somewhere between a music video, steampunk tutorial, and pre-colonial African exploration.  If you look closely at Pruitt’s piece, you might ask yourself if the woman is holding a club, croquet mallet, or John Henry’s hammer. After a detailed reading, students used character mapping techniques to show what the female characters in To Kill a Mockingbird think, see, hear, say, feel, and do to take action.


Pumpkin Party Fall 2017

What’s going on in the Art Room

Extended Day Children’s House is exploring how line can be used to suggest a path of movement. A variety of artists, including Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, were shared. Each child took a line for a walk while inventing pattern and exploring watercolor washes of color. Next, the artist Piet Mondrian will be explored along with a collage project.

1st Year: Students are exploring line, shape, texture and pattern with the creation of a real or imaginary animal painting. Artwork from a variety of artists was shared, including Albrecht Durer’s “Rhinoceros” etching. While listening to music, students are also creating an abstract work of art demonstrating line and rhythm using black line and watercolor paint. Next, students will create clay animals based on their drawings.

2nd Year: Students studied the love/hate friendship between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Fusing both artists styles and with the use of Montessori metal insets, students are creating shape studies with bold expressive marker and paint. Imaginary Places inspired by the artist Joan Miro are up next.

3rd Year: Students use reflective symmetry to produce monsters or aliens from writing their names. They look at repeated patterns from a range of cultures and historical periods including mandalas, ceramic tiles and African printed textiles before using their names to create a more complex radial design. They consider how to use complementary colors to enhance their designs.

4th Year: Students are creating bold black and white images of animals. They are thinking about contrast, balance and the mood created by the lines and patterns they use, adding background elements that either reflect the habitat or the character of their animal. They have looked at Japanese textile designs as well as examples of 1960s Op Art.

5th Year: Students are exploring how the human figure is depicted in action. They have looked at Olympics sport pictograms, Jacob Lawrence’s ‘Runners’ and Keith Haring’s stylized people before developing their own images of figures moving. They are considering how to enhance the sense of motion either by distorting the figure or through pattern in the background.

6th Year: Students are painting decorative letters based on medieval illuminated letters, combining patterns and symbols to reflect their interests and aspects of their personalities. They are learning how to use acrylic paints and how to hone fine detail skills. They have studied font styles and images used in manuscripts such as the Book of Kells.

7th Year: Students are learning the principles of one-point perspective, using line in a formal manner and seeing how artists since the Renaissance have used perspective to create the illusion of distance in their paintings and drawings. They are practicing by drawing both a room interior and a cityscape exterior before producing a final image of their choice, which may remain in black and white but can incorporate color.

8th Year: Students are using black ink with a range of tools (pens, brushes and sticks) to create an expressive landscape drawing where the marks they use represent textures and rhythms in a landscape. They are studying the ink drawings of van Gogh to inform their artwork, noticing the variety of marks he made and how these marks produce a sense of depth and energy.


Grandparents’ and Special Persons’ Day


Middle School Spring Trips

7th Year Travel Week

8th Year Quebec City Trip


Art Show Preview

The art show will be on Saturday, May 20, 11 am to 1 pm, following the Great Kids Race. Artwork will be displayed by all children in our Extended Day through 8th Year classrooms. Here is a sample of what you may see.

International Week February 2017

This was a fantastic celebration for the entire school community – filled with fun, experiential and educational opportunities for the whole family!

Lace up your Skates 2017

The whole community – including young alumni – hit the ice and had a blast!

Pumpkin Party Fall 2016

Thank goodness for sunny skies, great music, fun games, and a plethora of donuts and cider!  This event was such a success due to the amazing support of our PA and Ruffing Community!


International Day of Peace Assembly

Ruffing joined schools all over the world in celebrating International Peace Day by singing “Light a Candle for Peace”. Click here for a video.


The Journey

We would like to thank our parents who came last Saturday morning, September 17 to experience The Journey. They enjoyed navigating through the classrooms, being students, and receiving lessons from our Toddler Community classroom through our Middle School! We had 40 parents in attendance and some really great feedback:

“I was smiling the whole time, it’s such a happy place.”
“There is so much advanced thinking at such a young age.”
“There is a growing sense of ownership. The children become owners of the school and owners of their life.”


Ruffing Montessori School   |   3380 Fairmount Blvd Cleveland Heights, OH 44118   |   Phone: (216) 321-7571   |   Hours 8am-4pm M-F   |   After Hours Phone (216) 321-0913