Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teacher Research as an Art Educator

I am taking my last required course for my Master's in Education this semester: "Teacher Research".
My one other course is an online elective about Critical Thinking. Spring and summer semesters this school year will be my last three courses and all electives!

I want to share my research questions with you, my cyberspace art teacher colleagues and friends, for your input, guidance and feedback. Over the course of this semester, I will be collecting data in my classroom and therefore implementing activities to facilitate collection. I have a few ideas about what I can do, but other thoughts and perspectives are always welcome. While I am going to class each week, there are no other art teachers and my professor's experience is in reading. She even said that she has never had an art teacher in her course before!

The BIG Question:
To what extent can incorporating visual thinking skills in the art classroom help students become more comfortable talking about art and improve their creativity?

The Smaller Questions:
  • How can group discussions centered on a work of art become more rich and in-depth?
  • What techniques have I discovered that help students work through the creative process?
  • To what extent will students be able to affectionately analyze their own work?

    Thank you in advance for your input, ideas and expertise. It is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reflections on the week and Works in Progress

I have looked forward to Saturday morning all week. More specifically I looked forward to sleeping in. But come 6:15/ 6:20 am, my brain started ticking and I found myself pouring a cup of coffee come 6:30. I slept in... by an hour. My school schedule has got a hold on me! Can't sleep in like I used to!

I have officially survived two full weeks of being a full time art teacher and part time graduate student. I even attended Open House for both schools. While I was more of a smiling face handing out student schedules at the middle school open house, I was pleasantly surprised by how many parents and families I got to meet at the high school. I wasn't really sure what was expected of me, so I put together a few slides of a power point. I briefly talked about techniques, concepts and ideas I hope to cover this year, my grading policy and expectations (come to class with a pencil and sketchbook!) At the end of my seven minute sh-peal I opened it up to questions, which there were few if any, and shook everyone's hand on the way out.

This week I reflected a lot on student behavior I've observed over the age span that I teach. Overall my 8th graders will be the biggest challenge with a wide range of abilities, effort/ work ethic and personalities. I have less than a handful of freshman who appear to think their elective is a joke. Unfortunately this handful is in the same section and they are starting to drag down a few friends who want to be in art. It is really interesting to see how the dynamic changes when someone is absent too. But as the instructor, I need to figure out how to engage these students. Reminding them that 70% of their grade is effort hasn't appeared to help. I'll have to work on that.

Works in Progress...
As far as what we are doing in the classroom, we really just started our first activities in the middle school and have been working on drawing exercises building up to a long term activity at the high school.
At the middle school I have been LOVING my wall mounted projector and document camera. I think I have used both almost everyday. The document camera has made demonstrations sooooo much easier. I can't believe how smoothly the process to create the Kaleidoscope Name Design, or Identity Mandala as I am calling it this year,  has gone. The picture above is a work in progress and I am so excited to see them complete. 

These two are from last year's group of eighth graders. I moved this lesson to seventh to correspond with their study of Ancient Civilizations. I'll be sure to post more when they are done. And I'd like to write about our drawing unit at the high school too. I just need to remember to bring my camera!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Full Week (almost) Complete!

And I am exhausted.
My ankles are swollen. I have a blister on my left heel after the third time wearing my new sandals. My face has broken out from stress and sweat and I swear the bags under my eyes are darker.
But I LOVE my job!
I am so thrilled to be teaching high school. And in the afternoons when I return to the middle school, its like coming home. After a year in the building, I know the kids, I'm comfortable with my co- workers and I am focused on staying organized and getting awesome work done with my students.
At the high school, the kids, for the most part, want to be there. I dove right in and challenged them with forty minute long still life drawings from observation and upside down drawing exercises. I am amazed at their abilities and can't wait to see where their freedom and creativity will take them this year. I will be introducing the first long term activities of the year starting tomorrow with seventh and eighth grade. And using my new projector and document camera!