Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hershey Kisses and Coal

I am still a little in shock that we completed the week relatively unscathed.
I pumped myself up for a long week of behavior issues, attitude and anxiety after students received their progress reports and we all waited for the holiday break. (Thats awful, but like a big game, you have to psych yourself out) Maybe I got used to the high energy of middle school students before vacation, but the week was calm while students continued to work on their value drawings.

I didn't want to be a complete scrooge, so Friday we took it easy.
I started class, when technology was working for me, with the Disney short, Paperman. If you have not seen it, go do a quick youtube search. The imagery is beautiful and the story is classic Disney. There is no dialogue, but much like the images students have been working on, it is a visual language.
As the movie came to an end, I passed each student a baggie with three Hershey Kisses and a black piece of paper (my dorky art teacher self referred to the paper as a lump of coal... nerd). I asked students to try not to eat all the candy, but leave at least one to try to draw on the black paper with charcoal.

It was not an easy challenge. However I was not met with resistance... either students now know me too well or really didn't mind. I forgot to take pictures through out the day, so the selection above was from my last class. 

I wanted to try it out too! Thats my drawing above. 
The last twenty five minutes or so of class, students chose their own art adventure. I had these handouts and supplies available. The top half of this handout came from Tiny Art Room. I added another challenge and re-phrased a couple of things.

All in all, students were entertained, I snuck in some learning and we're now on VACATION!

Friday, December 20, 2013

What do you do to Recharge?

A couple of weeks ago around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, I felt blind- sided by a cold. Sniffles and aches; I was in bed by 7 o'clock. I debated taking the next day off, but we had a school wide meeting about a new state initiative that the high school art department was asked to pilot. I felt obligated to be there. (I am glad I was since I was singled out in a crowd of 100+ teachers) Plus the rest of my day would feel like cake with only 44 minute classes. I then debated taking the following day, but I had Art Club and I hated to disappoint, especially after not having club due to Thanksgiving.
Sooo, that Friday it was.

I hate sub plans.
I left a "creativity test" that was a sheet of Xs, asking the students to change as many x's as possible into something... a windmill, a shoe... whatever.
Next, the students were asked to complete their homework (due that day) or continue sketching for their long term value drawing. Not the most exciting or productive substitute plans. But some took advantage of the time. In case of emergency, I had left the substitute with outlines of shoes, asking that if students were not participating, that they should select an outline and practice realistic shading.
When I returned on Monday, the room was in good shape and it appeared that a few students took the time to work on homework or the alternate shoe assignment. My co-worker said the sub was great and the students mentioned that she even tried to engage them in conversations about some of the pieces hanging in the room. (*sigh* thank goodness)

As for me, by Friday morning I was feeling WAY better. I had gone to bed super early the nights previous, but felt like I could use a solid "mental health" day.

I stayed in bed til almost 7am. I made myself a massive breakfast of eggs and home fries, did two loads of laundry and packed for our weekend away. That left me almost three hours to paint...
I even think I finished my first painting since returning from Nantucket.

I have been working slowly on this painting since September. It is only 5 inches by 7 inches.

Having the time for myself was an incredible way to kick off the weekend. I brought my sketchbook up to our weekend away and in between watching movies and reading, planned the companion painting to the piece above. The time away from home with nothing that had to be done, was really rejuvenating. Our friends were up too and before we came home, we had an awesome brunch together. The three days were just what I need to get back into the swing of things at school and to power through to the holiday break.

What do you do to Recharge?

Monday, December 2, 2013


There's this comedian who writes for SNL and has a stand up routine or two. I totally can't share it with students, but he has one joke about being at a party as a high school student and yelling "Scatter!" when the cops show up. I always have his tone of voice in my head when I tell my students to SCAMPER.

. . .
What on earth is SCAMPER?
It is only the greatest and most amazing acronym I learned about in my graduate career. And as an education major, you know I learned a whole bunch of acronyms...DESE, NCLB, MTEL, MCAS, DDM, SMART, SSDD...

SCAMPER is an acronym to help one through the creative process.
I was first introduced to it through an assignment for my Creative Thinking course last year. We were asked to gather a bunch of stuff from our kitchens and design a system. I grabbed a steamer, chopper, rubber bands, can opener, baster, cheese grater and a flashlight/lantern. I was so stumped. What could I create that had a function with this junk? I played with it for over two hours before I quit and went to bed.

I thought that a clear mind and a new perspective may help to solve my problem. I also really tried to consider SCAMPER'ing. How could I use these words to help me?
And then I got it... I magnified my objects, took some apart and endlessly rearranged to come up with

a rocket ship that launches a space station (and if I remember correctly, harnesses energy)

I felt like I had such a break through.

SCAMPER is perfect for that road block situation.
Or for where my students are right now in the planning process of their long term value drawings. Many are using some printed references and wanting just to copy the image. I have challenged them to SCAMPER. Or for those that have one sketch that is just "eh," SCAMPER helps them to look at their work through a new lens.  
For me to go through the creative process and experience first hand how awesome and helpful SCAMPER is was totally a benefit. If I could make stickers and put them inside each of my student's sketchbooks, I would. It is a great tool that I can see the benefits from in the planning process.

Go SCAMPER everyone!