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

weekly plans

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.

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!

Lesson Inspiration: 5th Grade Macro Photo Project

Since there seems to be an interest in the 5th grade macro photo project that I shared at the NAEA conference this weekend, I should share the project in its entirety here.

First I shared the Nikon Small World competition photo gallery with my students. Our big idea for 5th grade for the entire year is Globalization or World, and I wanted to show how scientific discoveries and technological inventions have affected the art world and vice versa. We viewed the 2009 competition finalists and discussed how the photos stand as abstract visual artworks, without knowing the actual subjects of the photographs. First we discussed the images as abstract compositions, then I described the macro/microphotography progress and explained that each of the images illustrates something microscopic that has been photographed and illustrated in a new way. Students were enchanted and sometimes disgusted with the subject matter of the photographs- like this one of an anglerfish ovary.

We discussed how an artist can use their composition to draw attention to something unnoticed and make it a significant and visually stunning image. Students then worked in table groups with one digital camera per group, taking turns photographing the art room on a macro level. I gave a very brief photography tutorial that included, turning the camera on and off, using the macro setting, composition and getting an image in focus, then I turned them loose with one challenge: Take at least one macro photo of something you think people should pay closer attention to in the art room. Here is a slideshow of  some of the photos they took.

Students later used their macro photographs as inspiration for an abstract drawing using watercolor resist. These drawings can be seen in the slide show below.

Lesson Inspiration: Metal Repousse Inspiration

Stumbled on some beautiful examples of metal repousse while looking for a mirror in Bed, Bath & Beyond last week. Took a bunch of photos to share with my fifth graders next week- they will be designing metal repousse coins and I couldn’t resist some of these gorgeous textures.