Blogging Hiatus

I apologize to everyone who follows this blog for the extremely long time since an update. I am not just neglecting posts- I have been suffering from a chronic illness for many months and am still trying to get healthy and recover. When I finally return in the fall to the wonderful world of teaching art, (which I miss terribly, by the way) I will get this blog back up and running with updates on new art lessons I’ve been writing, student artwork, our experience with creating digital portfolios, classroom organization tips, and more. Stay tuned!

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Lessons: Digital Art-Surreal Story Illustrations

At our school we have an enrichment and intervention block that allows teachers to work with small groups of students to focus on areas for improvement as well as enhance student learning with enrichment activities. Last year I had a one hour planning block during this time once a week, and I chose to use that one hour block to do art enrichment activities with students that would make direct cross curricular connections between art and grade level subject areas. One of my fourth grade teachers agreed to do a creative writing and digital art collaboration. Students worked in pairs or small groups to create imaginative short stories. They wrote and edited their stories during their language arts block, then I worked with small groups of students to create digital illustrations of fantasy elements from their stories. I was inspired by the series When My Baby Dreams of Adele Enersen and these photos from Giggle Berry Creations.

Originally I started out by taking small groups outside to create large chalk drawings on the basketball court blacktop outside my classroom. Students drew and posed, and when they were ready I climbed to the top of a ladder and photographed their scene.The photo below is the best example I have, taken on a cloudy day.

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We found that this worked great on semi cloudy days, but on our first sunny day the cast shadows from the sun in the afternoon took away from their work. I used fundraiser money to purchase five iPads for my art room last year, and we decided to try out taking photos on the iPad and editing them using the ProCreate app. First students posed for their photos by lying down on the floor. I took the photo, then the students changed the color setting of the photo to black and white.4Rfantasy photo 003 bw

To create the fantasy elements of their illustration, they added a second layer to the image in ProCreate and they used a stylus to draw in details like clothing and scenery to help tell their story.Photo 2013-04-05 01.54.44 PM

Students enjoyed getting the extra time to do an art project, and they loved working with the iPads. This was one of the first iPad projects we did in my art room and it was a great success. Here are a few more examples of the finished artwork.

Photo 2013-04-05 02.11.05 PM Photo 2013-04-05 11.55.23 AM

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Advocacy: Hallway Displays

Here are a few of the hallway art displays from this year.

Second graders created oil pastel watercolor resist paintings of community animals using expressive colors. These artworks were displayed outside the school cafeteria where they can be seen by all students as they wait in line for lunch.

2nd grade community animals hallway

 

We have two display cases in the main lobby of our school. Different grade levels or departments sign out the display cases for one month at a time. One month a year I sign out both of the display cases for the art department. The first photo shows how our fourth grade students create art that expresses movement. First we created our gesture drawing series, then we create sculptures of figures in motion using aluminum wire and Twisteez.4th grade figures display case

In the second display case I showed sixth grade students paper maquette sculptures for their Accomplishment Monuments. Each student designed a monument to a personal accomplishment. After writing and sketching to plan their monument design, students created paper models showing the scale of their monument. I included xerox copies of the writing and sketches of their sculpture plan from multiple points of view to help viewers understand the planning process my students participate in each time they create an artwork in my class.6th grade accomplishment monuments display case
Here is a close up of one of our hallway displays of landscape paintings. Sixth graders created landscape paintings that represented a place that was special and personally meaningful to them. Some students chose to paint expressive landscapes using color to show how they felt about their location. Other students chose to illustrate imaginative landscapes-places they escape to in their imaginations. As you can see from both of the sixth grade display photos, student interpretations of the assignments we give are unique and personally meaningful. The paper maquettes and landscape paintings below  show different solutions to the same challenges.6th grade landscape paintings hallway

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Organization: Art Room Tour 2013: General Displays

As promised ever so long ago, I am posting an update to my art room tour from the past. I thought I would break this tour up into different areas, starting with displays. I photographed my most basic art room and art displays before dismantling everything at the end of the school year so that I could share them here.

front board displayHere is a view of the front of my classroom. Each day as students arrive at the art room I greet them at my doorway and when they are quiet they are invited to enter the art room and join me on the carpet at the front of the room. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to receive this big world map rug a few months before I moved into my new classroom. It is large enough to hold an entire class of K-4th graders, but just a little small for 5th and 6th graders. rules consequences and white board display

Here you can see a better view of the information displayed on or near the whiteboard. I always have my art room rules and consequences on display- we review them as necessary. I also always have my ART noise control system on display. This seems to be a pretty commonly used system for noise control in the art room. If student noise is out of hand they lose the T- a warning to control their volume. If noise continues to be a problem, They lose the R, which means a silent all class timeout. Students are asked to put their heads down and take a silent break. Loosing the A means the class is done talking for the rest of their art time. I also keep other general info such as my weekly schedule ad Think Sheets handy on the board, as well as artwork given to me by students, and examples of collaborative art projects I am working on with various classes or work done in my after school art class.white board display

In the photo above you can see how I display the most important information related to the lesson. On the whiteboard to the left I post the daily challenge- what we are trying to accomplish with our art lesson. This information is broken down into the individual standards we address as stated on our elementary progress reports. Students are assessed in five different areas: the art making process, skills in media techniques and craftsmanship, personally meaningful content, and understanding of art history, aesthetics, and vocabulary, as well as effort. As I introduce our work for the day I review the specific items on which students will be assessed. I also include a teacher or student example of completed artwork so the students have an example of what they are expected to complete, including the quality of craftsmanship I intend to see.stitchery techniques chart

In the first photo you can also see that I have a chart rack where I display the media techniques my students are expected to learn. I like to keep the techniques related to the current media on display at all times so that my students can refer to it as needed while they work. Above you can see an example of my stitchery techniques chart.

I also have three bulletin boards in my classroom that are always on display. The one I refer to the most is my color bulletin board. I need to update my color wheel so that I can fit more of the color families on this bulletin board. It would be nice to have room for tints, shades, and maybe analogous color family examples too.principles and color bulletin board display

You can also see in this photo that I have the elements and principles on display at all times as well. In the following photo you will see my elements display. I love the elements and principles display cards from Crystal Productions- they are small enough that you can have them on display at all times, but large enough that there is a clear visual example of the element or principle that I can refer to when discussing something new. The Elements and Principles headings were printed and decorated by my student teacher last year. We laminated them and I am saving them to use again next year.

elements and big idea bulletin board displayHere you can see my second bulletin board- What’s the Big Ideas? Each of our grade level program of studies is focused on a big idea. Students explore the big idea for their grade level in every art work they create. At the beginning of the year my big idea bulletin board displayed an example and big idea label for each grade level. Second quarter I switched to just examples, and my students discussed how the examples might relate to the big idea for their grade level.

finished early and ipad station bulletin board displayLast you can see the bulletin board near the back of my room where my iPad station is located. This year I was lucky enough to purchase four iPads with money I raised through our Square 1 Art fundraiser and after school art class over the past two years. The iPad station is used when students have the option of creating an alternate assignment to the one we are currently working on. the iPads are located on a half circle/horseshoe table at the back of my room, and the bulletin board displays the icons for various apps we have installed on our iPads, as well as the iPad rules for student use.

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Year in Review-Most Popular Posts in 2012

I received my annual report stats from WordPress in my email yesterday and was a little disappointed in myself for dropping the blogging ball this year. I was barely able to keep up with posting before, during, and after the big move to my new art room, and I think that lull left me less than enthusiastic about returning to the art ed social networking and blogging world. I have been extra involved in my school systems professional learning community for elementary art teachers, as well as leading professional development opportunities, and mentoring new teachers, which has taken away from the amount of time I have spent interacting with other art teachers online.

Rather than dwelling on what I did wrong in blogging this year, I thought this might be a good time to focus on what went right, so I reviewed my most popular posts during the past year and thought I would share them again here. Since I plan on posting more frequently and focusing on my areas of strength, I thought a review of my most popular posts of the past before rolling out new posts this year.

Top 5 Most Popular Posts in 2012

1. Organization: Lesson Planbook

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Thanks to Pinterest this post has become quite popular. This year I also posted about making the transition from paper lesson planning to digital. 

2. Organization: Art Room Tour 2010

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Also my made popular by Pinterest, this is also my most popular post of all time. The popularity of this post has inspired me to start doing an art room tour at the beginning of every school year. I know I missed the beginning of this 2012-13 school year, but stay tuned for an updated art room tour coming soon!

3. Lesson Inspiration: Sixth Grade Yearbook Cover Designs 2011

lc yearbook cover 2010

The popularity of this post displaying some of the finalists for our 2011 yearbook cover contest made me think that I don’t post examples of student artwork frequently enough. I know that what I appreciate most in other art teacher blogs is images of completed student work. I plan to post more images of my students’ work this year.

4. Organization: Storage Room 2010

storage room

Another tour post that was extremely popular, thanks to The Teaching Palette’s Art Room Showcase 2010: Space Organizing invitational. You can check out the Flickr feed including all entries here. Like the Art Room Tour post, I plan on posting an updated Storage Room tour soon- stay tuned!

5. Lesson Inspiration: Metal Repousse

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I was shocked when I discovered that the images from this impromptu post had reached the front page of the Google image search- a proud moment in my digital footprint history.

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Organization: Digital Lesson Planning with Evernote

This school year I am trying to make the final transition to entirely digital planning and organization. I have always been a promoter of technology use in the art room, and I have always used the computer to maintain my scope and sequence, but I have been holding onto my physical teacher binder filled with paper plans. Since the beginning of this year, I have been working to organize my lesson plans digitally in an effort to finally transition from my teacher binder to a well organized digital filing system where all lesson plans, power points, example images and lesson notes are easy to access from my computer.

After reading a post on The Teaching Palette, I decided to give Evernote a try. I like that Evernote can be arranged in notebooks, which is a similar style to how I have been organizing lessons in binders ever since I started teaching. In the past I have always had a binder for each grade level, and as I have updated or created new art lessons over the years I have printed each revised lesson and replaced the old copy with the new one in my binder. The grade level binders includes the lesson plans in our county’s format, post-it notes with ideas for adaptations or alternate art media, as well as any handouts, planning matrices, reflection documents, rubrics, or example images. I have a large portfolio drawer system where I store teacher examples of completed artworks for each project, as well as any posters I might have made for display during the project. Digitally I kept the lesson plans, powerpoints, handouts & other documents grouped in grade level files on my computer and stored them in my Dropbox, so that I could edit and reprint them as needed.

Over the summer I started thinking about how to better organize my digital files so that the most updated versions of each file were easier to find. Over the past 5 years I have accumulated so many different versions of my lesson plans, and have remade powerpoints each year as I have found better ways to present info, new artist exemplars to display, and refined my techniques for each lesson.  Even the transition from powerpoint files to SMART Notebook files for use with my smartboard has dramatically increased the number of files I have stored in my Dropbox.

This year I have started using Evernote to organize my grade level binders and files. I started by creating an Evernote notebook for each grade level I teach. I also included one for general info, such as my daily schedule, scope and sequence, weekly planner, lesson plan template file, program of studies and seating chart templates. Additionally I created notebooks for art advocacy ideas, contemporary artists, and art room ideas.

Each grade level notebook includes a note page for each unit that I cover for that grade level during the year, as well as units that I have used in the past that I want to save for future use. The note page is labeled with the lesson title as well as the number of class periods I expect the unit to take. The note page includes a photo example of a completed student art work, Simplified notes on the daily lesson steps for each day of the unit, the official lesson plan with full details, the SMART Notebook file or PowerPoint file that includes images for class discussion, and the handouts, planning matrices and reflection documents for that unit. Essentially, I am transforming my paperwork binders into a digital master binder that stores all of the information in one place. When I update a lesson plan or file, I delete the file link in Evernote and insert the updated file or document. In the morning when I arrive to prepare for the day, I set up my computer, open the Evernote program and when a class arrives I simply click on the file that I need to use during that class period. The file opens directly from the Evernote note page, without me having to hunt it down in a long list of files and documents on my computer.

This system has made it very easy to share all of my information with my student teacher and my mentee, the new part-time art teacher at my school. I have shared all of my teacher related notebooks with them and we are all synched digitally so that any time I update a note or notebook, all three of us have the most updated version. My student teacher quickly got on board and has used Evernote to create her own notebook and shares that notebook with me, so that I also have her most up-to-date files. I also shared my notebooks with my best friend who is an art teacher at a different school in the same county as me- since we frequently plan our year together over the summer, this was an easy way to share information with each other.

Since all of my work files are stored on the cloud via Dropbox, I have Dropbox and Evernote installed and synched to my work laptop, home laptop, iPhone and iPad. Now I have access to all of my files and my organization system wherever I am. This has made planning from home and preparing for emergency sub plans so much easier this year. I don’t have to lug my lesson binder or work laptop home at all anymore.

My goal is to have my entire collection of lessons, handouts, documents, and images organized using this new Evernote system by the end of this school year. I will probably still keep a basic planner on my desk, in case of observations or emergencies (such as power outage or internet system woes), but I have rarely refer to it for my own needs this year.

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Video Tutorial: Coil Baskets made from recycled grocery bags

Today I spent many hours recording, editing, and uploading tutorial videos that show how to create a coil basket using recycled grocery bags. This is a beloved final project for my sixth graders every year, and they were eager to work on their coil baskets from home, but wanted to have the instructions available on video in case they had trouble working independently. I set up my flip mino on a mini tripod but i really need something taller so that I can film over my own shoulder- the mini tripod has to be located so close to my hands that it can never really focus completely.

At any rate, in the past my students have only had xeroxed handouts that showed hand-drawn pictures of the coil basket weaving process, so this is a dramatic improvement, and the videos could potentially be played by my substitute as a review while I am at a day-long meeting on Thursday.
The tutorial is broken down into brief segment to allow student to select the specific step they are having trouble with. I have seen many coil basket ideas that involved recycled materials, my favorite being the Spiral Foundation, but this picture tutorial from Clever Nesting helped me the most.
I used to spend tons of money from my budget purchasing coil rope core for this project, and now Our coiling core is free AND earth friendly!

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