Saturday, December 22, 2012

Middle School Art "Choice" Day

First of all, this was the longest week on record! I was as bad as the kids, anxious for Winter Break, but had a crazy schedule and a cold to contend with before making it to Friday.
As I looked around my classroom yesterday afternoon though, I realized how lucky I am. Despite my hemming and hawing trying to figure out what to do this week, my kids were so content with what they were doing in the art room. That was a good feeling. And as I took a step back and observed, I realized that I am so lucky: I have a job that I love, great students and a supportive staff. The tragedy in the news mixed with the feeling of the holidays made this week surreal for me, but in the end I'm glad I had that little moment to step back, enjoy and be thankful.

The week before any week long vacation is a crazy place for "specialists." This week was no exception with rehearsals for the Winter Concert in the mix. First, as I think I have explained here before, we have four to five sections of students in each grade. The sections are then divided between chorus groups or non chorus groups. (So when they go to music, they either sing or study general music. Its an alternative to after school chorus) Monday, Tuesday AND Wednesday, all the chorus sections skipped their scheduled special and rehearsed. I wound up with a couple of blocks free and caught up on some grading. Secondly, our PE teacher has a group of students in each class who are PE Leaders and lead their class in warm ups each session. As a reward, the week before a vacation, if their specialist teacher says its okay, they have permission to go to the gym. So then, if I didn't have a chorus group in my class, I had kids going down to the gym! I didn't have a full class of students all week. I think its a great reward, and the time was totally needed to rehearse, but it was a wash of a week. What do you do?

"Choice" Day
Choice day in the art room is kinda like elementary school centers. Except its more free flowing and self guided. I gave each class the option to work on or finish up outstanding assignments and these choices:

    Crayola Coloring Page
  • A few years ago, as a newer teacher, I created holiday themed drawing puzzles. I took three crayola coloring pages, put a grid on each, cut up the grid and labeled all the pieces with a letter and number coordinate. I then made a blank grid. The idea is to have students transfer what they see in each little square into the corresponding square on the blank grid. I usually have one or two students each year who LOVE them. In fact this year, I had one high school student take a copy of each puzzle!
  • Tessellation coloring pages: self explanatory, but the outlines are printed on see- through paper and look like stained glass when completed.
  • "Free" draw: I take out the now enormous stack of how- to- draw books I've collected. I also have a deck of "idea cards" in a little recipe box that the kids love to pick through.
  • Art Games:
    Jingo Art Game
    • Art Technique Bingo. The game was there when I inherited the classroom and came into good use the last two years. I made up a vocab. sheet to go with it as some of the clues can be difficult (lithography?) I three 8th grade boys skip going to the gym so they could stay in art and play bingo with me! 
    • Tangoes- basically a red and blue set of tan grams that came with challenge cards. You see who can complete the puzzle the quickest. Very popular this year
    • Cloodle- the drawing part of the game Cranium. I had a group of five 7th grade boys really get into this year, were keeping score and everything.  
I think Choice Day was a great success this year. It was a nice break I'm sure from the regular school day for the kids, and from my point of view, still educational and art related. And its heart warming to know that I have started some little traditions between the holiday puzzles and bingo, that the kids can look forward to every year.

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