Mosaic Madness: Teachers and Students Pursuing Their Passions

  • Learning
Fanny Sosenke, Middle Grades Math Teacher

Students are always surprised to hear that that I have other passions besides mathematics. I am often involved in art projects outside of school, and Minimester provided me with the opportunity to spend a week creating mosaic art with middle grades students. I taught this class with Hilary Harnischfeger, a middle grades art teacher. We spoke in the fall about my passion for mosaic art, and I took a mosaic art class to keep learning techniques to later share with students.

A trip to see the hat mosaic exhibition at 23rd Street

A trip to see the hat mosaic exhibition at 23rd Street

To spark inspiration, students began this course by researching mosaic artists and looking at mosaic art. They then learned the techniques and processes for creating their mosaic art. Finally, students started on their own mosaics. They used a hammer to smash tiles, as well as a mosaic tile cutter for more precise shapes. After creating a design on paper, the students learned how to transfer it to their mirror tiles, as well as gluing and grouting techniques. Those who wanted a different color for their tiles used spray paint to get the right color.

Adding pieces to the mirrors

Making a mosaic

Many of the students in the class were also in my math class and it was fascinating to see another side of them. A girl who usually doesn’t want to ask for help during math class was wary of smashing the tiles and using the tile cutter. I offered to hold her hand while she used the tools and slowly let go when she felt confident about doing it on her own. We talked about how she should transfer this to math class. It’s OK to have someone hold your hand while you solve a math problem as long as you can then be ready to solve it on your own.

Another student started by spreading tiles on the mat without a plan. We discussed the fact that even in art it’s sometimes important to follow a plan, same as when solving a math problem. She ended up designing a beautiful, well thought-out mosaic.

In addition to learning a technique and creating art, this class provided students with the opportunity to interact with students of different grades. We had students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade and they all collaborated in ways that they wouldn’t normally outside of Minimester.

A mosaic in progress

One student, Sia, shared that she “enjoyed being able to be use tiles as art, because using tiles makes it hard to try and portray an image, but it was fun as you had to try and fit each and every tile in this picture to make it work.” Sabrina loved making the mosaics and said, “the entire process was really fun, but I think the-before-the grouting step was the most fun. It was like making your own puzzle.” Eleonora loved “smashing the tiles with a hammer.”

A finished mosaic

Mosaic Madness Minimester was one of the things I love about working at Avenues, a place where I have opportunities to be creative.

Finished mosaics


  • 6th Grade
  • 7th Grade
  • 8th Grade
  • Art
  • Arts
  • Middle Grades Program
  • Minimester