Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a glimpse and substitute plans

These are the bulletin boards to the right and the left of my chalkboard. I've only wished for a whiteboard just recently when I started teaching perspective... I've been going home covered in chalk dust after demonstrating on the board!

Tomorrow I am headed to my mentor's school to hang out and observe. That means someone will be covering my classes for the first time in my teaching career. At my school last year, I was out once and art classes were just canceled for the day. Needless to say, I am nervous. I have tried to lay out all the details, procedures and materials, and hid all the paint under the counter! I left three lessons for the sub to choose from:

I came across this plan via Pinterest. I followed it back to School Arts and felt like with a little prep, this would be a quality substitute lesson, especially since eighth grade has been working hard learning about perspective. The students will plan a design to flow from panel to panel of a cube template, color and assemble.

While over at the School Arts blog, I noticed that "Miss" at a faithfal attempt left a comment about her Black & White Doodle Design substitute plan. I've always loved black and white doodles and really enjoy the idea of creating a focal point, so this lesson was a natural fit.

Finally, a Jasper Johns "Numbers in Color" inspired name and birthday design, completed using, a pattern, color scheme or theme.

I left everything on the front table, except for the markers, crayons, colored pencils that are in the cabinet behind this table (and I pray are returned), adorned with plenty a sticky note for specific directions.

Lion's Club Peace Poster Contest

I'm a little late posting these... the entries were due in November. But between trying to figure out what I'm doing in my new school, graduate school and life, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I gave students the option to work on poster designs in class for a few weeks after showing the video introducing the contest on the Lion's Club website. I think that could be why I had almost 50 entries! I knew from asking in my interview (if there were any traditional exhibits or contests) that the Lion's Club annual poster contest was a place my principal really wanted our school to be showcased. I have never entered an art "contest" or facilitated one, so I wasn't too sure of what I was doing. Add to that my principal being out the week entries were due and I really felt like I was in over my head. After speaking to a parent, whose son stayed up super late to make sure his entry was in, only to find out that he was over the age limit (above), I realized I needed to do more than just pick a winner. So, when my principal returned the following week and saw the above display in the lobby, I felt pretty good.

grade 8 Honorable Mention
grade 6 and 7 Honorable Mentions
grade 6 and 7 Honorable Mentions
grade 8 and 6 Honorable Mentions

This design went on to represent out school at the city level!  (grade 7)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Looking into the Past: Art of America's Westward Expansion

I have a curriculum!
Very basically, there are three units of study that slightly change focus with each grade level. Each grade explores how "art connects the world," the relationship between "the environment and me" and "looking into the past." The last unit more or less corresponds to what they are learning in Social Studies. This is really exciting as I just enrolled in "Integrating Social Studies and the Arts" for my spring semester. Unfortunately whatever I learn I won't really be able to apply until next school year. This year may be a bit rocky especially since I am currently stuck on planning "Looking into the Past: Art of America's Westward Expansion."

I know very little about that time period in American History... or I did know, but I forget because the last time I talked about it I was in middle school. I spent a few hours today researching online, but nothing is striking my fancy. I am not being forced to do a particular lesson, so I can I can keep researching. I need to find something that is exciting for me, so I can excite my students. Or do I?

What would you do?
What would you teach?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

"Abstract Jacks" was one of my favorite lessons from last year, so I brought it my new school. I realized Friday afternoon that today is Halloween, so I quickly pulled a few designs from each class and hung them outside of the cafeteria. Two teachers stopped by while hanging up the work, one to say I need to go home, its Friday afternoon, the other to say she loved these, how did we do it?

Well, first we drew a few carved pumpkin designs. Then I told the kids the legend of Stingy Jack (or at least the History Channel version) who is reported to be walking around with a lantern made from a hollowed out turnip until Judgement day, hence Jack o'lantern. We tied in some social studies talking about how Irish immigrants brought the legend and the tradition to the US. However here, pumpkins are more plentiful than turnips.
From there, we talked about creating emphasis through placement and how to turn our designs into something abstract by zooming in. We drew right over or pumpkin designs to find something interesting, then began outlining with chalk on the black paper.

The next class, we did an observational drawing of a real little pumpkin, under 15 minutes, using contour line and calling attention to using value and intermediate color to create the illusion of form. We reviewed some of the goals and did a "sandwich critique" with a partner (I got that idea from Artful Artsy Amy) Finally, we took out the pastels and finished!

of course there was a mustache!

The photos are not the best... I am not in practice using my new-ish camera, but you get the idea.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Multi-Media Fall Tree Landscapes

I originally saw this activity on Art Projects for Kids where it was geared towards upper elementary. I felt like it would be a good fit for seventh grade because I have such a wide range of abilities in each class. I definitely think I will do this lesson again, but I would like to find a way for more students to bring it to a higher level and perhaps take more pride in their work.

Students first started with an introduction to "multi-media." From there, we painted a simple landscape and were encouraged to blend and mix colors, taking advantage of watercolor crayons and paper towel as tools. We reviewed "abstract" and "warm colors" to create a second painting of nonobjective colors.

I am not a huge fan of the black outline in this, but this student was absent during the last step, so this is what was left to take a photo of.

The next class we reviewed "multi-media" and created a list of what we had used thus far, adding what else we would/ could use that day. Students were encouraged to use any idea he or she had that utilized the particular materials at their table.
First, trees

then, leaves
and maybe some stuff from the scrap box
success for students with special needs.

these two are twins in two different classes... very interesting

Where Did October Go?

This week I really started to feel the craziness...
Monday was the seconding meeting of the Sketchbook Project Club.
Tuesday was pretty awesome. My job for our fundraiser was to sit outside, on a beautiful fall day, and keep track of how many laps kids did on their bicycles. Each student asked sponsors for a flat donation or so much money per lap walking, running, roller blade-ing, scooter-ing or biking. The money goes to the PTO who in turn purchase equipment, like ceiling mounted projectors, for the teachers this year. I really hope I get one! -- I also had a city wide mentor meeting in the afternoon! The rest of the school week went per usual... feeling all over the place with classes and students at so many different places.
Meanwhile, its a little after mid-term graduate school wise and I feel like I will be holding my breath for a few more weeks. I spent the majority of this weekend working on the book I am self publishing for my Critical and Multicultural Analysis in Children's Literature and the Arts class. Above is an illustration I did of the two characters in the book. The girl on the left is me, circa eighth grade, and the girl on the right is my best friend. The story goes back and forth between our points of view while experiencing a tragedy. I find it really rewarding to be publishing this story but right now, I can't wait to be done!

Thankfully, I found time to relax this afternoon and carve my pumpkin for Halloween tomorrow! I really couldn't tell you the last time I actually carved a pumpkin. I think its been years. It was fun and I am happy with my little, silly kitty.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

another latte please!

taken @ the Brattleboro Art Museum (VT) the day before hurricane Irene
Wow! graduate school + teaching part time + life = busy, busy, busy!
I am in the middle of grading our first assignments. Its crazy that some of you are finishing your first nine weeks and are getting ready for new kiddos while I am just finishing the first assignment! To be fair, its a new schedule for me. I see the kids once every four days for the most part and, not thinking, I picked some time consuming activities. This week we will be moving on to some one or two day fall themed stuff to rejuvenate our creativity. I for one am looking forward to using watercolor crayons and pencils, oil pastels and black paper!

Tomorrow is also the first meeting of the first ever Sketchbook Project Club! I just put together a quick slide show of rules (boo!) and my book from last year (yea!) as I only used materials I had in my classroom i.e. watercolor cakes, sharpie, colored pencil, magazines and glue. I also bought some Citra- Solv so I can teach them how to do some image transfers. I am really wicked excited! I even got myself a sketchbook so we can all work together. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

cha, cha, cha, changes.

First classroom EVER

NEW classroom
We are FINALLY starting to get some art work done in my classes!

We are finishing up our first full week of school and after today, I will have met all of my 300 students at least once. (I previously quoted that I had about 600 students. thankfully that was wrong, but it would have been nice to know before beginning school.) I am starting to get into the swing of things, but the first few days were nerve racking.

The last three periods of the day are designated to "specials." Each period a different grade goes to their "special" for that day. One day they may have health, the next PE, the next art, the following music, and for our sixth graders, "student support" (a class lead by the guidance counselor, focusing on current issues (i.e. bullying) or study skills and organization).

Students have a choice when they go to music class. They can focus on general music or chorus. This is pretty great because the other option would be to have chorus after school. This set up provides an opportunity for more participants. However, our first two days of "specials" were spent in the auditorium asking students what he or she would like to do and then placing the students in different sections from there. This process required me to speak to an auditorium full of kids I had never met before, introducing myself (the 3rd art teacher in 3 years!) and what (which I still don't really know) I will be teaching this year. Then, after the kids said ya or nah, it was a free period. Can you imagine the volume of 115 sixth graders in one room? Granted they were sitting every other seat, but here I was, not knowing a soul, trying to make a good first impression and having no clue what to do with myself.

It all worked out though. And between the confusion (for me at least) the first few days, and the assistant principal giving me a pep talk in the sense, to make sure I don't give the kids an inch in the beginning, I was already going into survival mode.
But I have been pleasantly surprised.

Hopefully I am not jinxing this as I type, but the sixth grade, when not in one room together, has been well mannered, has kept at a nice volume (even while passing in the hall!), are creative, and each adds to the class dynamic. One of my eighth grade classes was rather loud when we finally starting creating, but the more I looked around and listened... it was about what they were doing. The students were really excited to be in class!

I am super excited to see what everyone comes up with for their first assignment. I have many new names to learn, and only seeing them once a week will be difficult. So, all of my first lessons are centered around IDENTITY. Grade 8 is working on Kaleidoscope Name designs, found in Arts & Activities. Grade 7 is working on Identity Mandalas (focusing on creating visual symbols) and Grade 6, starting next week, will begin an Identity Grid, as seen on We Heart Art.

On a related, yet side note, my new school gets funding for after school clubs. This is one of the things that makes the school community and starting from the interview, I expressed an interest in having an Art Club. Between then and now I had this grandeous idea to have a "Sketchbook Project 2012" Club. --- I participated last year, and yes, the only people who looked at my book were people I knew, but for a middle school kid, how AWESOME would it be to say you participated, and even put it on an application for college?--- The idea would be super expensive, even with a group discount, so I put the idea aside.
I heard yesterday that some important people liked my idea (especially since the project goes on "tour") and they are willing to help find the funds to make it happen. I am super, duper excited for this endeavor and will be working on a flashy flier over the weekend, for sure!

Friday, September 2, 2011

if you like *free* stuff...

Another reason why I feel like I am in an alternate universe (see previous post)
The recycling center I have been going to every couple of months for supplies for my classroom HAS TO CLOSE!!!
Extras for Creative Learning has been amazing over the last few years, especially as an art teacher without a known budget. I have picked up everything from furniture to paper and pencils. And now, very suddenly, the city of Boston has shut it down!

Not only is this center a great resource for teachers and artists, but it is awesome for the environment. Much of the supplies donated to the center would otherwise occupy a landfill. Instead, it is there for us creative folk to think of another purposes for it.

Please, check out the website, and if you are as upset by this as I am, please feel free to write Mayor Menino. I did! I don't live in Boston, but this has been such an incredible resource for myself, as well as other art teachers, teachers, and artists in my area. In fact, just today, at the center, I met a puppeteer who was looking for supplies before her beloved recycling center closed too...

I know for now that supplies will be stored somewhere, but I hope that in the very near future that ExCL finds a new home.

THank you for your support!

E.T. Phone Home?

Lately I feel as though I am in this alternate universe.

At home, I have two new sets of neighbors across the street, one next door and one downstairs. (I live close to the city, one with many, many, colleges) At work, I have moved from private to public school... I have moved classrooms, I have said goodbye, I have gone to orientation, I have meet new people in my building... I am going back to college. I am gearing up for classes and am hopeful for a new routine.

A part of me wishes I was gearing up for senior year of college again. I know, I did my student teaching spring semester, but sometimes, I wish I could do it again. Enjoy all the little moments. All the parties and events. All the school activities, the senior art show, my own show, the kids' art show...

Now, I am thinking about the spring art fundraiser, that I will be in charge of for the first time. I am thinking about making the best, first impression on these middle school kids....
To be completely honest, I pretty much hated middle school. I suppose I enjoyed it more than the beginning of high school, but middle school held some of the more difficult years of my life. All the more reason why I put pressure on myself to be the best I can be for these kids.
Whether Mr. Paul, in middle school, or Mr. MacPhee and Ms. Bell, in high school, realize it, art class was a time for me to be myself. I could relax. I could ask questions without being in fear of being ridiculed. I could make things I felt proud of...

And maybe, just maybe, thats why I have become a middle school teacher. I always wanted to be. I always, even in college, knew I would be in secondary edu.(at time higher edu) in some capacity.
And now, after the pressure of "new professional" orientation has passed, and having asked a few questions of my very down to earth, approachable principal, I am confident. I have so much freedom in the material that I present, as long as it meets the frameworks, I know I can do this... So many people say that your first year is survival mode. Its not until your third year do you really get idea of what you are doing... So where does that leave me?
In this alternate universe, knowing what I want to bring, knowing a few things about the material I want to present, and learning the rest along the way.
Really, what better place is there?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the closet, part II

I think, I think, I am done organizing the supply closet.
This is what it looked like before I started.

Now, six or so hours later, I have a much better idea of where things are.
Table with the paint pumps is on wheels! Portable supply table, what, what!
Everyday supplies in labeled box tops
Tempera near the bottom, acrylic near the top, print making and pen & ink in the middle
All that dust covered yarn stayed put. Other textile/ 2D materials filled in the open spaces, with 3D supplies on the bottom shelf.   
School starts in two weeks. I am planning on going up to Vermont (and maybe getting "hurricane-ed in" ) to try to relax before new teacher orientation next week. Now that the closet is done, I think I am in good shape. My goals are to finish some bulletin boards and get the first few weeks outlined.

What are you/ have you done for the first day of school?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the remix edition

Beware of the supply closet!
Today I tasked myself with organizing the supply closet. After making friends with the custodians on my way in (so nice and helpful! score 1- new art teacher) I learned that just recently did they go through the 20+ years of accumulation in there. To be fair, it was pretty organized, and I am sure I could have gone the year without doing it, but as the new kid, I want to make sure I really know what I have to work with. Plus, organizing the materials to the way I feel I am going to work, will make it that much easier. (I have totally hid all of the 3D materials behind the door!)
Before I attacked!
After Day1
I have started to make piles of like items to be placed together on a shelf. I am debating if I should make a library with all of those books. My concern is that they are either instructional or have naked people and would need to be set aside anyhow. 
 Check out all that yarn! And it is totally covered in a thick coating of dust. Its tragic. I hope I have enough courage to try weaving on some cardboard looms.
My thought is to organize left to right, 2D to 3D. I have plenty of cupboard storage in the classroom as well, with one so far dedicated to paper, and two others for kids' work. That leaves me two to organize and possibly rearrange. I know the kids are in middle school, and therefore more capable, but I am thinking that caddies with markers, crayons, everyday essentials, be stored in one of those cupboards, (more accessible) will save some time during our short 50 minute periods.

You'll notice a bunch of empty spaces in those pictures and thats because its all been  placed here:
Spread out over the front four tables, ready to be sorted tomorrow.
I have to say, I am pretty excited to paint with my middle school friends. In those plastic bags on the bottom left of the bottom picture, are never before (seemingly) used liquid watercolor!
Also sorting today I found all of this:
Tons of wack- a- doo assorted wire! I will have to make a wire based sculpture or perhaps turn a gesture drawing into a wire statue.
Finally, I found some of these:
I think they have to do with hook and rug, or perhaps jewelry making, as I found others in a box of those things, but I really don't know what it is. Do you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Job Jitters

I am a part of the TeacherArtExchange list serve through Getty and I sent out an email earlier today asking for advice. It dawned on me that there is an entire community of art teachers in the blogosphere, so I thought I'd post it here too and see what you all think. also, I hope my crazy mug shot caught everyone's attention! :)

After working at a small, private, Catholic, elementary and middle
school for three years, I am starting in September at one of the five
public middle schools in my city! I am super excited as I have been
trying to get my foot in the door for years, and am really thankful
for this opportunity to keep growing as a teacher.

I will be transitioning from about 250 kids, grades 2-8, to upwards of
600 middle school aged kids. I'm nervous to say the least. I know I
have been hired because I (appear to) know what I am doing, but with
no curriculum in place to follow, just the MA state frameworks as
guidelines (which I've basically taught to in the past) I have to
start from scratch again and I'm a little overwhelmed. Aside from an
introductory name design or mandala, I need to start organizing some
units and/or lessons and nail down what supplies I have to work with.

Does anyone have any advice for organizing a middle school curriculum?
What materials (and brands) are a must have for a successful program?
More over, does anyone have any advice for a first year, part time,
middle school art teacher (whose going back to school part time

Feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Goals for the 2011/ 2012 School Year or Activities (techniques/concepts) to Revist

F.Y.I. It has been ingrained in me since my days at UMD with my all my art education professors, to say "activity" instead of "project."

Looking through my photos, I think I have posted about most of the lessons I documented last school year. There are a few however that didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, for various reasons. So, with a new school year (at a new school and with new age group) just weeks away, I think I will make a list of things I'd like to "re-do" or try again.

I tried a pattern (strips) pumpkin paper weaving last fall, with 3rd grade.
Ultimately, like any activity, there were fantastic woven pumpkins, while others were finished, but not entirely correctly. I'd like it to have a higher success rate.
see at the bottom left and top right
A few things didn't work:
1. Being the "new" art teacher, I only had these students for a few weeks at this point, and I did not fully know their capabilities. Some knew how to weave, some did not.
2. Timing- if I recall, this "one class period" lesson I found in a Scholastic book, took us two class periods.
3. Not having the right words- something I struggle with is phrasing directions in an appropriate, "kid" language, while still using the correct art terms and formal language.

If I did this again, I would possibly do some lead up, practice weaving sorts of activities. I think I would also make the pumpkin warp bigger for smaller hands. I would also nail down the language that would work best, before presenting the material.

As I will not being teaching 3rd grade this year, my goal would be to teach weaving this winter. There is a TON of yarn at my new school, and pre- notched cardboard looms begging to be used! The one other time I taught weaving, I had 12 kids in the class and I made the looms myself. I think making a small tapestry during the cold New England winter will be a perfect activity for my seventh or eighth graders.

Observational Drawing

Now transitioning to all middle school, all the time, I need to get into a different mind set. Middle school kids get it stuck in their head that art, and in particular drawing, is only good if it is realistic. While I don't agree with that, and will try to change their minds over the course of the year, I do want to give them tools to become better drawers.

These two observational drawings are done by 5th grade students. I feel like the process worked well and I would like to use it with my middle schoolers this year.

I had a couple of boxes at the back of the room, filled with the random nick nacks only art teachers could have. (Seriously, a fish on a stick!) I randomly called on a student to select an item. I encouraged certain sized items, but the choice was theirs. They then brought the item to a table in the front of the room, and the class sketched. After a few minutes, the next student selected an item and placed it behind the previous item. As a class, we made observations using key terms, and added the new item to the sketch. We continued this process until our square was filled. Over two classes, we did about 4, small sketches. 
We had also talked about value and had previously completed a "shattered" value, abstract drawing. I feel like the transition from that activity, to this drawing helped the kids understand the concept more completely and then were able to practically apply the idea. I feel like there could be more contrast in the values in these drawings, but then I have to remember that this was 5th grade! How great is this 5th grade drawing!? And, in just 2 classes?

So back to middle school, a goal for the year would be to complete more activities that build drawing skills.

Two little characters that when placed next to each other, evoke fear and anxiety in the hearts of some art teachers. --I tried this past school year, I really did. Not until the end of the year, but I did try.

Actually, both 3D- ish lessons we did came from There's a Dragon in my Art Room. We made abstract cardboard sculptures in 5th grade and Louise Nevelson inspired shoe box top reliefs in 6th grade. Unfortunately I do not have photos of the cardboard sculptures, as we finished them about a day before the end of school. However, I managed to collect so many pieces of cardboard, that I lugged two boxes full to my new school yesterday.

There are two reasons why I feel like I avoid 3D activities:
1. The "engineer" part of my brain is not strong. I feel like I would be unable to answer construction questions.
2. Managing 100+ student works is like trying to flamenco dance. I don't know the steps, I don't know how to contort or balance. Chances are I am going to fall or step on some feet. However, with practice, the dance can be beautiful.
So for the new school year, my goal is to learn, plan, and manage a few more 3D activities.

Seriously, how cool would a wall of these be?