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.

Organization: Lesson Planbook

I’m refraining from adding “of doom” to the title of this post, but know that I REALLY thought about it.

When I started teaching, it was hard for me to figure out how to organize the information in my planner. I was unsure what I needed to include or how to arrange everything in a useful way. Over the past couple of years I have found a system that works for me, and I thought I would share it here. This is not the only way to organize a lesson planbook, but it is one way, and if you are a brand new teacher this might help you figure out some of the ingredients to help you get started.

First- the book itself: I chose a 2 1/2 inch 3-ring binder. I almost need a 3 inch- but I have decided that would be going overboard. As you can see 2 1/2 inches just barely contains everything I include.

Inspiration/Motivation: I think it is essential to have inspirational artwork included at the very front of the planner, in times of great trial and tribulation, I like to imagine I am in the artwork below- happily raising my arms in the air with triumph while I relax at the beach.

 Quick View Items: In the front pocket of my binder I include a few more inspirational items- thank you notes from my students. I also use this pocket to store my art room wish list, in case anyone decides to give me some money to spend on my art room.

Important Files & Folders: Next I like to include the folders that I need access to throughout the year. I used to keep these in my filing cabinet, but I found that I use them so frequently that it is more useful to have them included in my planner- here I have my supply order file, my lead elementary art teacher folder and my square 1 art fundraiser folder.

The Art Teacher Bible AKA Program of Studies: Also tucked into the front of my planner is the spiral bound copy of our county’s elementary art program of studies. Whenever I am developing a new lesson plan I like to check the good word just to make sure I am not forgetting anything important.

Pacing Guide: After that my binder is set up with tabs for different info. I start with my pacing guide for the quarter- I created my pacing guide in excel then uploaded it to google docs so that I could share it with the other art teacher at my school. It looks like this:

Daily Schedule: My pacing guide is stored in a clear page protector. ON the other side of this page is my color coded daily schedule of classes:

Weekly Planning Calendar: After that I have a section for my weekly plans, which helps me stay organized for the week. I can see my entire week at a glance, which helps me figure out what materials and display items to prep and when. I try to highlight anything that is not a typical weekly item using a bright color or a bubble. I also put anything I need to be thinking about that week on a boldly colored post it note in the upper corner of my weekly plans.

Records- Documentation: Next I include a section for any written records such as anecdotal notes about classroom participation or behavior- it is really important to keep these notes on hand, in case of parent conference meetings or questions from the general classroom teacher.

Grade Level Lesson Plans: After that I have each grade level separated by a tab. Behind each grade level divider tab are the detailed lesson plans that are currently being covered or will be covered within the next month. My theory on how many lesson plans to include is based on the following imagined scenario: If I was in a tragic accident/had an emergency operation/was kidnapped by aliens what would the emergency long term substitute need to attempt to do my job? I decided that one month of prepwork and my weekly lesson plans would get the sub started- after that they are on their own. Here you can see that my detailed lesson plans contain the lesson plan iteself, any notes about materials or possible changes to the typed plan, as well as printed copies of handouts and the powerpoint or smart notebook file I would use to present the lesson.

I have digital copies of all of this information stored and updated in my Dropbox so that I can access it at work or at home on my laptop, as well as from my iphone in case I am ever sick or stranded somewhere. This makes it easy for my to prepare for any last minute subs- except in the case of alien kidnapping or tragic accident- I doubt I would have my phone handy in either of those situations.

Lesson Plan Crate: All other printed info is stored on separate binders by grade level in a crate on the counter beside my desk. When I need to update my planner I take out the lesson we just completed, store them in the binder on the counter and take out the next lesson. This way it is easy for my to keep my plans up to date, and I only have to print lessons if I am doing something new or if a lesson plan changes dramatically.

Post-It Note Planner: The last detail of how I organize my planner is more of a tip- not really included in the binder itself. I- like most art teachers- teach many different grade levels and many different lessons. In order to make sure I dont forget anything important, I try to distill the essential steps of my lesson into one post-it note worth of info. I stick the post-its for the days lesson onto my laptop where I can see them while I am teaching. This saves me running back to my desk to reread a lesson if I forget something in the moment. Here you can see the first day of my kindergaten landscape painting lesson distilled into one post-it note. I started doing this as a student teacher and it really helps me stay on track. I try to keep the post it notes stuck with the original detailed lesson plans, but it is easy to make a new one if the post it gets lost.

Hopefully this will be helpful for someone as they prepare for teaching art. No one ever showed me this before I started student teaching, and it even helped one of my coworkers with getting organized, so I think it is valuable information. Happy planning!

Art Teachers as Members of Collaborative Learning Teams

As part of the PLC leadership team at my school,  we have been reading Learning by Doing by Richard & Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, & Thomas Many. Each time our group meets another chapter is presented and discussed. I chose Chapter 5- Building the Collaborative Culture of a Professional Learning Community. I could have chosen any chapter to review, but after scanning through the book I chose this chapter because as a specialist I frequently feel out of the loop. As the only full-time art teacher at my school, in my basement classroom with a busy schedule, it is easy to become disconnected from the rest of the school community. I rarely have time to co-plan with our part time art teacher, let alone meet weekly to discuss plans for student art assessment and intervention. Grade level teams meet at least weekly at our school and work collaboratively to meet the needs of all students, but since these grade-level meetings rely on the specials schedule, specialists are generally left out of the discussion.

I have been working this year to gather the specialists together to form a team with scheduled time to share information and co-plan, but that time has only been able to fit into the master schedule once a month, and it took quite a while to organize. We will have our first team meeting at the end of this month, which doesn’t allow much time for collaboration. Even though it is an improvement to have a schedule time to meet and share ideas, a specialists team meeting does not address the problem of never meeting with grade level teachers to co-plan.

As an art teacher I have my own standards and county-mandated curriculum to follow, so I have no shortage of material to cover, but I would love to be a more involved part of our school’s collaborative community. With our new school-wide, daily intervention and enrichment time, I can think of tons of ways to enrich the academic lives of my students by creating connections between their classroom curriculum and the world of art. Without a direct link to the grade level team planning, however, it is hard to make those meaningful connections outside of my own class schedule and set curriculum.

This chapter of the book examines possible team structures and scheduled collaboration time, and the issue of establishing meaningful connections through logical cross-curricular links was the part of the book that has struck me as most powerful so far. What a fantastic opportunity to share potential cross-curricular art enrichment opportunities. Being plugged into a grade-level team would give me a chance to collaborate to create extended art activities  adding depth and personal meaning to my students’ experience of other subject areas. We are still at the beginning of this transformation into a professional learning community, but I hope to start establishing these connections now.

How many of you are active participants in your school’s professional learning community? How do you contribute to grade level planning? How do address student enrichment outside of your regularly scheduled class times & standard art curriculum?

Here is the link to my Prezi reviewing Chapter 5 of Learning by Doing.

Lesson Inspiration: Sixth Grade Yearbook Cover Designs 2011

Long time no see!

As you can probably tell from the time without posts, it has been a busy winter. With winter break, many snow days, and two winter colds behind me, I think it is time to get back to the work of blogging my artventures. I thought a monthly challenge might be a good idea to help keep me motivated, so this month I will be posting at least one art project or tip per grade level that I teach. I will be starting with sixth grade and working my way backwards. Hopefully this will make up for my inactive blog for the past month or two.

Closer to the beginning of this last semester my sixth graders embarked on our annual yearbook cover design competition. Each year our yearbook editor selects a theme and my sixth graders are challenged to create a cover design that incorporates the theme. This is their first and sometimes only drawing project during sixth grade, and the pressure is on, as every drawing is entered in the final competition. Students have two full weeks to complete their drawings, and the drawings are submitted to the yearbook editor for judging. In years past our editor has even taken these cover designs to her graphic design company and asked her coworkers to judge the work and select the finalists, which is very exciting for my students.  Each finalist gets a ribbon, and the winner receives their yearbook for free, paid for by our PTA. I make predictions regarding which will make it into the top ten, but I never know who the winner will be and it is especially exciting project for my students.

This year’s theme was “Building the Future”, as our school is currently in the middle of a major rennovation. Students were allowed to choose from the following media: colored pencil, marker, crayon, watercolor, and one student even chose to use photoshop to create his artwork. Students were graded on neatness and control of whatever media they chose, as well as their ability to incorporate the theme in their design. I was excited to see the designs roll in, and I have to say, these are the best designs I have seen since I started teaching here three years ago. Below are photos of the finalists’ designs.