Monday, January 17, 2011

you'd be home by now

I love long weekends.
but I hate the dread of having to go back to work and realizing I should have gotten more work done!

its not that I dread by job. in fact, I have even gotten lots of positive feedback lately. its more the process and realization that its time to get back to the grind. --- last week I was asked to pass in my plan book, the spaces I fill in not nearly large enough to describe everything we do in a forty-five minute period. not to mention, its written in a language I can understand, so I wasn't sure how it would be received. when it was returned, there was a note inside from my principal saying "... if I had had an Art teacher like you when I was in school I might have actually enjoyed it, not to mention I may have even been a tad successful and maybe even learned something about Art!" I was grinning from ear to ear. how awesome!?

the following day was a snow day and I was more than happy about that. I signed up for the Sketchbook Project 2011 and with the postmark date looming at the end of the week, I had a ton to do. seriously, I totally cheated, gluing pages together and tearing more than half out! but it felt amazing to spend a whole working on my art, not an example or practice piece for school. the process was also therapeutic, the movie quote I used for inspiration has been my favorite for years, but now holds new meaning.

after rushing to finish the project, I put it in the mail Friday, after I was at school (on my day off) doing progress reports. when I got home, I had an email stating the postmark date was extended!

this week in room 15, grades 2, 6, and 7 are working on activities learning about Matisse. grades 3 and 4 are working on their "Snowmen at Night." grade 5 is working on Maud Lewis inspired tempera paintings while grade 8 is venturing into positive and negative space!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

calaveras de azucar

yesterday was a good day!
I received an email right after my last post, from the department of education, congratulating me on receiving my license. I was previously only certified to teach grades five through twelve visual arts, so in November I applied for my k through eight license. and now, its official!

after being at school (on my day off) and thinking back to the fall for my last post, I've realized that I have accomplished a lot more than I thought with my students. they all know the elements of art, and can point out the ones they use for each activity. they all know primary and secondary colors, at the very least. which I still think is a big deal, knowing how art was taught before I was here. and slowly but surely, each is learning to take pride and enjoy their work. and I feel pretty good about that.

between november and december, I worked on my fear of glitter.
dia de los muertos, or day of the dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated on november 1st, that remembers those who have passed away. it is a joyful celebration complete with food and great decoration, including skeletons representing those who have died. I love the colors and symbolism so much, that I had all my students working on something related.

grade two painted "calaveras" or skulls with tempera on black or gray paper
grade three (and I think grade five) drew a skull and flowers on white paper, then cut and pasted onto black. adding gems and jewels and glitter.
grade four drew with glue- yet another reason I am nuts- on black paper, a skull with flowers or other details to decorate or describe the person it represented. when the glue dried, we colored around the lines with oil pastel.
grades 6-8 looked at the skeleton from the science lab, and together we drew a skull. many sugar skulls are intricately decorated, so using sharpie, students used symmetry and pattern to decorate their skull. to introduce some bold color, we added construction paper crayons in some areas.

I made sure, at least with the elementary grades, to attach a little info. slip to the artwork before it went home. and I stressed with all grades, the joy and happiness of the holiday. the last thing I wanted was for a parent to complain I was teaching their kid about morbid things.

november also brought my favorite activity of the year.... but I think I'll write about that tomorrow. making sure the layout of the pictures is proving to be a little more difficult than I want to deal with right now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

post from the blue chair

ahh Friday morning... as a "full time" art teacher, I only work Monday through Thursday. (I will be going into school later this morning though, to grade, hang artwork, start prepping a school wide activity, and if I have time, work on my sketchbook that needs to be post marked by January 15th) but the mornings are usually mine, to put my feet up in the hand me- down, lazy boy, blue chair and to drink too much coffee. and today, to figure out how to post student work on my blog!

many of the activities I teach come from the blogs that I follow. leading me to feel like I never have an original idea...I've been trying to alter the assignments to make them more "my own" but again, its hard to feel confident, and not run out of steam week after week, when you are teaching 200+ kids on your own with no curriculum to follow.

we started the year with elementary grades looking at Fritz Hunderstwasser's artwork. especially pieces with faces. he used lots of bright colors, big, football shaped eyes and wonderful, simple, patterns. the entire wall outside the art room was filled with the kid's portraits and a few examples of the artist's work, on open house night. this idea came from art projects for kids. although some of the kids, having never had art with a "real art teacher," thought I was nuts, as did their parents, it was a great way for me to learn names and get a feel for how students approached drawing and coloring.

one of the unique qualities of our school, at least this year, is that three schools in the community closed and we merged into a new school with a new name. I had a feeling this would be a big transition for the middle schoolers, having built a sense of community and friendships over the years, and in their last year or two before high school, everything changed. so my first activity with them focused on who they are. we viewed examples of mandalas and looked at how colors and shapes represented aspects of a person's life. they then brainstormed things in their lives that could fall under the categories of heroes, goals, beliefs, passions, gifts and skills. after, students began sketching visual symbols that would represent those things. finally, on a twelve inch circle, they composed those symbols, with a drawing in the center that represented them as a whole. -- this took multiple weeks, even meeting twice a week, but I felt it was a good stepping stone for the middle schoolers. each class they had something to talk about!

I had so much fun in october! so many great fall ideas that I went straight through november with the scarecrows and pumpkins.
After learning about primary and secondary colors, both second and third grade learned about overlapping to show space and intermediate colors like yellow- orange and red- orange and drew these great pumpkin patches! again, I think this came from Art Projects for Kids.

fourth and fifth grade worked on "Scream" portraits after finding the elements of art in munch's scream, for most of october. I would post pictures, but I don't want to place student's faces on the internet. to make their portraits, the computer teacher had the kids take screaming pictures using photobooth, and we cut and pasted them into our pictures. the activity was a huge hit! everyone who visited the second floor loved stopping to look at the "scream" poster and then the students' work.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

in the art room with the candlestick!

happy hump day
this is the second day in a row that I forgot to pack my breakfast. yes, breakfast. I am usually at school by 6:45 in the morning and don't enjoy eating as soon as I wake up. thankfully someone had made banana bread over break and left it in the teacher's room, up for grabs. I didn't feel bad taking the last piece this morning.

speaking of break, I did NOT accomplish what I needed to over the week/ week and a half, mainly planning. I was too busy visiting my family and being a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding. you know, living... needless to say, this week has been spent trying to stay one step ahead of my classes.

one of the difficulties of my position is that I do not have a solid curriculum to follow. each year my job has expanded to teach more and more grades and I become more and more overwhelmed. I have two, huge, binders going of lessons I have taught and I frequently reuse them. this year I have tried to incorporate more seasonal and intermittent "crafty" lessons, especially since I am teaching elementary art. I've tried to keep certain lessons, techniques, or artists for just one grade from year to year, like folk art in fifth grade, keith harring in seventh grade, value and form in eighth. its been a struggle to develop a curriculum as a one woman team.

currently I have second and sixth grade learning about Matisse. so far we have "drawn with scissors" and created collages using my box of scraps. tomorrow grade six will be starting a long term painting, beginning with observational drawing of a Matisse inspired still life. next week, grade two will be looking at the same still life, but focusing on the "goldfish" in the clear containers... I am going to cut fish shapes out of orange paper and have them float in blue tissue paper. I even found in my closet some blue stones that are meant for an aquarium and plan to add those!

I learned today though, that I don't have enough "art teacher junk." I have more than enough fabric, as I continue to get donations for my own work (which never gets started) But I don't have too many random things to make a good still life. I need to start going to yard sales and pick up candle sticks and old fans and fun stuff like that. I suppose I'd need some money in order to do that...

I will post pictures of some of our seasonal activities from the fall and the holidays, when I figure out how to do that. I'll also post pictures of middle school one and two point perspective activities if we ever finish.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Here it is: post number one!

I had a blog in high school, long before the days of facebook and google. I remember sitting at our family's first mac when the bulb in the screen burst or popped or whatever it did when the screen went black and you could no longer see anything...

my laptop may be considered out of date at this point, having been purchased when I was a senior in college, but it serves the purpose of checking email, searching art teacher blogs, looking for inspirational books and typing lessons and self assessments. its been with me (as well as my friends and family) since starting the journey of being an art teacher. after graduating from college, the public school positions were hard to find, at least near where I wanted to live. after two years, working at an after school program and summer camp, I found a part time job at a small, private school. now, I'm there for my third school year, four days a week! the name of the school, the staff and even the combination of students has changed over the years, but I am still the art teacher, trying to make it work as a one woman department.