Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Looking Ahead

Hooo Boy, I made it through another year.  This year had challenges because I came back into the school year balancing being a mommy with being a workaholic art teacher.  But, it was a good year, filled with fun projects.  As I look ahead to next year ( I did say workaholic, right?) there are new things  I'd like to try, and some things I already do, that need a little re-vamping.
1-There's a lot of conversation out there about "Choice Based Art Education".  Now, I haven't done all the research, and I firmly believe that my role as an elementary teacher is to teach a skill set, which includes a variety of supplies.  And, I don't think you can introduce choice without a strong skill set.  And, I do try to offer some choices within projects.  Not much cookie cutter art going on here.   However, my principal is supporting my goal to continue to add choice to my lessons.  My classroom is going to have a "demo" table next year, where 4-5 kids can sit and work with me as needed. 
2- Grouping.  Most of us have the tables broken up into groups of 6-8 kiddos.  I noticed this year, with an especially large 2nd grade, that while some kids loved being elbow to elbow with their besties, others needed space. ( I had one artist who would always come up and sit on the floor- he needed the space).  So, instead of making my tables into equal groupings, I'm going to explore some combinations in which some groups are not made up of as many tables.  so, one group may have 6, and another may be a single 2 seater table.  Still gotta look at lay out on that one.  
3- I have always had a "meeting spot", where my K and 1 meet up with me, and we intro before we hit the tables.  When I move to the new art room, I added bookshelves, and tried for a reading corner.  And, it's ok.  But, here's the dream- and if you can help, or you know someone who can, I'd love it. I put in my first ever Donor's Choose request.  My ultimate dream would be to have a large carpet, with a couple of bean bags and pillows, and a sturdy shelf to organize the books.  I envision a space where we can all meet, but more importantly, where students can generate ideas, read for enjoyment at the end of a project, meet with a small group, etc.  And, I think it's important to have it be a warm and inviting comfy place to sprawl.  Any donations made in the next 7 days, and using the code 100WOMEN at checkout will get their donation matched up to $100.  How cool is that! 

Anyway, those are my thoughts for next year.  If you are anything like me, you've got some of your own reflections- and I'd love to hear them. Until then, HAPPY SUMMER!

Monday, May 5, 2014

(Not So) Sweet Dream Pie

Introducing narrative art to the 1st grade crew is not always easy.  They tend to lean on words to tell their stories, and it's a struggle to get them to draw the action, and leave off the words and arrows (you know, the word tree pointing to the tree in the picture?).  I don't know what made me think of trying this method, but it worked very well, and it's going in the "Keeper" file.  I read the kids the book "Sweet Dream Pie"; a cute story about a group of neighbors who eat too much sweet pie- and their dreams are not so sweet.  We then made 3 lists - a list of characters, or creatures, a list of actions, and a list of places.  Students were to pick one from each list, and create a picture- perhaps a giraffe, jumping rope at a birthday party?  The crazier the better.  This method allowed students to have a concrete thing to draw, but also allowed great freedom of choice.  I did lead them in constructing a "pie".  It was a good review on cutting/basic craftsmanship and direction following, and it gave my more hesitant artists some comfort.

A Giraffe wearing a birthday hat at his party.

A cat, jumpng rope in outer space

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Social Studies Tie In

I know many art teachers hesitate to tie their art projects to Social Studies or Science, lest we be asked to make paper mache' globes, or solar systems. I however have found a few projects over the years that are much richer in content and quality because I tie them to what the students are doing in their classroom. I don't do this all the time, because I have my own curriculum to cover. When contemplating whether or not a collaboration will work, I consider what materials and content my students are already going to be using in art, regardless of subject matter. I also consider time frame. In this instance, 4th grade students used famous Tennsesseans to create timelines in Social Studies.  They already had information, books and knowledge about their person. I was supposed to  cover printmaking anyway, so I had each student draw a portrait of their chosen TN personality.  We looked at the work of Andy Warhol and discussed his celebrity prints.  Each student created several prints (6''squares) from their printing plate (good ole styrofoam) and when dry, selected their best 4 prints, arranging them in a grid. It was a logical tie in, and because the classroom teacher had already assigned the students their person, and the librarian already had pulled the books, I didn't have to worry about having enough information, or settling arguments about subject matter. It worked well.

Oh, and do you use Artsonia?  I do.  And, I don't have a fancy iPad or such to use, so I take pictures with my camera, and upload the old fashioned way.  I find that the best, and quickest thing to do, is to lay every piece out, walk down the line and take all of the pictures, and walk down the line one more time (same order) to write names and take grades.  While the pictures are uploading, I load all the grades into the software program we use in MNPS.  So, I kill alotta birds with one stone, and it's not too time consuming this way.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

File Folder Neigborhoods

I am lucky, in that I see my kids every 3 days, for an hour at a time.  However, the flip side is that there is the potential to go through a lotta art supplies, especially with the Kindergarten crew, who tend to do shorter art projects to begin with.  So, how to keep their interest at the end of the school year, and not empty my supply cupboards?  File Folders.  Huh?  I had a bunch of leftovers, that the office was gonna ditch.  So, I wrote each student's name on one tab, and came up with this.  In MNPS curriculum, Kindergarten is to work on houses this 9 weeks.  They drew their own house, and we've been talking about how shapes work together to make things.  So, on the bottom of the inside, they used scraps, and created a neighborhood.  (3 houses was my requirement, some did more). At the end of art, it was a snap to clean up, and any necessary unglued parts could just be stored with their folder.  The next session, we did tissue collage on the top, to be the sky.  Then, they could continue working on the neighborhood.  Next session, we will finish the sky, by adding birds, bugs, hot air balloons, etc.  I am thinkging just having them draw contour line with sharpie.  And, my final plan is to have them create themself and their friends on the exterior of the folder.  So, there you have it.  Cheap, a great review, at least 4 artclasses of work (depending on how you stretch it) and fun, cause to the K's its kind of like a secret, with the picture being inside.  I'll let you know how it turns out, but so far, I think I love this idea.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coil Pots

I love the coil pots- or at least I have loved this lesson since learning to have the kiddos press their coils into the inner walls of a terra cotta flower pot.  It gives the students the safety net they need to practice a variety of coils, and building.  And, mostly, they all turn out.  Amazing how some are determined to make this much more difficult than it actually is.  All of that aside, it is a fun, colorful lesson just right for spring.  (I use Mayco Stroak N Coat glazes, they fire well, are true to color, and come in a variety of great colors.  Also, a little goes a long way.)

In other news, the 4th graders have been weaving.  Have you visited Cassie Stephen's blog?  Pop on over for a lesson on weaving pouches.  I'm a big meanie- I make the kids take their own weavings off- they've been weaving with me since 1st grade, so I feel as if this should be attainable for them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stamped/Painted Patterns

I gave the K's each a small piece of cardboard which they dipped in black paint, and we talked about finding the side with the bumps (the corrugation).  They were to fill their entire paper with patterns. (The previous day, we had drawn patterns both on the smartboard and on their papers, in order to check for understanding).  After stamping their patterns, and letting them dry, they used tempera cakes to fill in the spaces.  We did talk about color as a pattern, but they were so excited to paint, that they didn't all remember, or have the control to do that.  I think the results were great. And, the kiddos got some really rich colors out of the cakes.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

School Wide Art Show-2014

Here are the pics from our school art show.  I managed not only to get one piece of artwork up for each student, but in most cases, 2! 
Fish Prints

Bird Prints

Cat Collages
Kindergarten Robot Collage

Olympic Artwork
Pattern Lizards
Lizard Display