Friday, August 30, 2013

Fifth Grade Goes Underground

Learning all about the Underground Railroad and the quilts, that is.  This awesome lesson I learned all about from a great, fabulous art teacher named Keeli Singer.  She teaches at a intermediate school in my state, and does many many many presentations at our twice yearly conferences (many on the last minute to fill in for people).  So, here's the lesson:
I started out with a brief smartboard presentation (that you can download here if you want the whole lesson) about the history of the Underground Railroad.  One of the links took us here where we got to see what it was like (on a very small scale) to be a runaway slave.  Another link took us here to see some of the quilts used as codes for the journey.  Students took notes in their sketchbooks, and chose which quilt pattern they wanted to use to make these:

OH! I just love them, thank you, Keeli!
They planned out their design in their sketchbooks:

Star Pattern

A very creative version of the Crossroads Pattern

Drunkard's Path Pattern
And then traced over them with permanent marker onto clear Shrinky Dink film (we bought the generic stuff through an art supply catalog, and I cut them down, getting 2+ a little extra per sheet, which I'll later use in sixth grade. IMPORTANT, I did the hole punch for each student before I gave them their shrinky dink page).  Their shrinky dink page was 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, but I had made their design box a little smaller in their sketchbooks, so they had to decide to color all the way to the edge or leave a clear border. This was hard to photograph, I kept getting a big glare:

Before color was added. 

After color was added (different student work).


With color.
This is the awesome, but also a-pain-in-the-rear part: I then took them to our project kitchen, heated the over to 350 degrees and shrank them on a piece of cardboard.  Here's what I learned: 1) I am impatient, and kept taking them out before they were fully shrunk.  I finally learned to leave them in a full four or five minutes. 2) It's important to know which side was colored on, or the color can come off during the shrinking process.  This was a SUPER BIG BUMMER, and several students in my first class had to totally redo theirs.  By my second class I learned to put a small piece of masking tape on the colored side so that side would be UP when I baked them (I took the tape off before they went in the oven).

Tape on (upper right hand corner)
The first class got theirs back today (minus the ones who weren't finished or had to redo).  I have tons of fishing line, so I put them on before they got to my class and they wore their necklaces home to remind themselves that there are still people out in the world that need their help. They shrunk to about 2 x 2 inches, and the color sort of compacted, so they're just amazing:

Sheesh, they're just so PRETTY.  And the students loved them.  I also pulled this book to read to them from our library:

But with all our redoing, we ran out of time today.  So maybe Tuesday's class will get to hear the story.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kindergarten Cuts a Spiral Party

I love kindergarten.  They're so wild, untamed and full of personality.  Rather than fight it, I tend to go with it (I have them last, right before they go home, so they're wound-up-five-or-six-year-old-kind-of-exhausted on top of it all).  
We start out cutting right away (the second time they come to art), and this is the follow-up lesson: PARTIES! 

 I show them how to cut the corners off of squares (6 x 6 inch size) to make sort of circles, and then cut spirals.  I tell them that the scissors are their car, and the paper's the road and when they get to the edge they need to turn. I also demonstrate what happens when I LOOK at my road (no cutting off) and when I'm too busy talking with and looking at my friends (cutting off part of my spiral). For the few that struggle with cutting them (everyone tries on their own a couple of times) I draw the spiral for them to cut on.  They make many different colors of spirals and glue them to black paper with ONE dab of glue.

They carry them home the same day (no need for names or cramming them into the drying rack).  Once home, they ask Mom or Dad to tape them to the ceiling and voila! instant party.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Second Grade Likes Themselves

This year, I started out second grade by reading I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont (same author as I Ain't Gonna Paint No More).  

This book was new to me, I found it at the library while searching for books for my 2 year old. I always like to start the school year on positive notes of liking ourselves, being polite and kind to others, etc, so this book was just perfect.  
After reading, students got a piece of 9x12 white drawing paper and a smidge of white Model Magic or Cloud Clay (depending on what I grabbed).  They then drew themselves and used the Model Magic/Cloud Clay to add a detail.  The ones who focused and worked hard to finish turned out very well.  I ended up giving them two class periods, because after rules and procedures the first day, there really wasn't much time left.  Here are some of the great work from my very likable second graders:

Model Magic hair

Model Magic hair

Model Magic lips and necklace.

Model Magic hair

Model Magic clouds
 From here, we'll go onto more self portraits and add pattern :-)

Monday, August 19, 2013

We're Really Back

Aaaaaa, the first full week back to school.  It's starting to get REAL 'round here.  I always forget how frantic the pace of school is until I'm back.  One 30 minute class followed by four 40 minute classes, quick lunch and plan (and pumping for the baby if you're me) and another three 40 minute classes per day make for a tight schedule!  I've taught for a few years now, and sometimes it's amazing what just hits you. For example, today while introducing fourth grade to our regional artists (George Caleb Bingham, Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood) I went ahead and showed them all three projects they'll be making.  In college, Dr. Smith always stressed to never show finished examples, (or they'll copy) so I always thought it was better to leave them with some mystery.  Not that the objectives weren't clear (they were, I hope).  Was it a real rule Dr. Smith was telling us about? Or just his own opinion?  I guess I'll find out.  Today I just thought it'd be better if they had some time to think about it.
Speaking and thinking of objectives I have to get better about posting my learning targets.  The posting of learning targets was a new thing for our district last year, and I'll be honest, I just get busy and forget.  I do think it's a great idea and goal to post them and refer to them with students, I just need to make a habit of it.  How to remember?  That's my real problem: I get so caught up in the lessons, preparing for the lessons, that it never enters my mind.  Looks like I'll be sticky noting it until I remember it.  I'll update in a couple of weeks and see if I got any better [spoiler alert: don't hold your breath].

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nominated for a Liebster Award

Well, what do you know? Someone out there is actually reading my little blog. Kristin at This Old Art Room nominate my blog for a Liebster Award.  There are several steps to receiving the award (should I be so lucky).  
To accept this award, I have to do the following: 
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me. [done]
2. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator. [check]
3. Share 11 random facts about myself.
4. Create 11 questions for my nominees.
5. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers. 
6. Contact my nominees and let them know that I have nominated them

Here are the questions for me from Kristin:
1.  What is your favorite food?
    At this point in my life, anything bought, prepared and cleaned up by someone else.
2. What do you collect?
    Children--I have many, therefore no collectibles, because they would be broken by my collected/collective children.
3.  What did you want to be when you were little?
      A second grade teacher, a mom, and Wonder Woman.
4. What is your biggest pet-peeve?
      The "pajamafication" of America--why are adults wearing pajama bottoms in public?
5.  What is something you've always wanted to learn?
     How to crochet beyond the first row.
6.  What is your favorite movie?
      Bubba Ho-Tep
7.  What would be your ideal Saturday night?
     A glass of wine and adult time with my husband (uninterrupted conversation, not the X rated "adult").
8.  Are you a dog or cat person?
     Both, although I've only had cats for the past 12-15 years.
9.  If they were going to make a movie about your life who would play you?
     My husband says Christina Hendricks, but I think it would probably be more like Amy Adams.
10.  Did you play sports?
      Not if I can help it, although I do like to run.
11. What is your favorite creative activity?
      Currently into sewing non-stop, I was on a knitting kick for a while, but I developed quite an eye twitch from knitting late at night.

11 random facts (thank goodness they don't have to be interesting facts)
  • I'm an avid reader, and I'm snobby about what I read.
  • If there's such a thing as Ice Cream Addiction, I'm sure I have it.
  • I've run four marathons.  Very slowly, but I did finish!
  • I'm unsure of my own eye color (blue? green? hazel? I can't really tell)
  • I despise filling glue bottles--it's the only part of my job I really don't like.
  • I've always enjoyed that School Smell.  You know the one.
  • I'm the oldest of my siblings, but everyone always thinks my brother's older because he's the bossiest.
  • I truly believe everyone should wait tables at some point in their lives (including you, Mom).
  • My lifetime goal is to never, ever wait tables again.
  • I keep stamps in my wallet at all times.  I feel somewhat panicky when I run out (I wonder what that means?)
  • When I'm on runs (for exercise) I practice what to do if I come across a dead body (first, call 911, stay calm . . .) I don't think I want to know what that means.
11 Questions for My Nominees:
  1. Who do you most admire and why?
  2. If you could visit outer space, what would you wear?
  3. If someone wrote a country song about you, what would be the title or a line from it?
  4. What's your favorite car that you've owned?
  5. What was your first paying job?
  6. Who's your favorite cartoon character?
  7. What's your best childhood memory?
  8. Are you a gum-chewer, a mint-sucker or something/nothing else?
  9. Letterman or Leno?
  10. Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
  11.  What's the best thing about your job?

    Drumroll, please! My nominees are:

    Now, off to tell my nominees.  Happy back to school, everyone!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Regrets, I've Had a Few

School is starting next week for students, this week for teachers.  It always seems to sneak up on me, and this year it definitely did!  I'm usually in this strange mind-set of disbelief, and can't believe I'll really have to go to work every day for the next nine and a half months!  As always, I spend the days before I return mourning all that I'll miss, and thinking of all that I'm looking forward to.  Here's my list of things I'll miss this year:
  • Sweet, kissable baby cheeks available for kissing whenever I want.
  • Games and "play doe-dough" with Sweetie Pie several times throughout the day.
  • Leisurely mornings in my pajamas with no worries about having to get two young children anywhere by any certain time.
  • The mental vacation summer gives me to let my mind wander to whatever I want, which usually leads to some great sewing projects and artwork of my own.
  • The ability to go into my backyard and enjoy my garden (weeds and all) whenever I feel the tiniest amount of stress (which happens when you're home alone with two under three).
  • The state of my classroom that awaits me: I was NINE MONTHS PREGNANT when I was packing up, and didn't really care what went where or how it looked.  I've got the energy to regret it now.
And the things I'm looking forward to:
  • The camaraderie of my co-workers, being around adults for at least some part of my day (in my world right now, anyone over age 9 or so practically qualifies--imagine the stimulating conversations, not revolving around poop or pacifiers!)
  • The structure of the school day (and I've got a pretty good schedule for this year!)  I'll get to eat lunch most days, which didn't happen most of this summer.
  • New ideas and lessons for third, sixth and maybe second grades.  So much comes up throughout the school year that's new to me and exciting--this year I don't plan on being pregnant, so I'll have the energy to enjoy and try more new things. Oh, and I have two or three things I wanted to do with fifth grade last year but ran out of time, so I want to start their year with them this year.
  • Upcoming events at my local art museum and art teacher conferences, (never a bad one), I always learn something.
  • Being a professional.  It's fun. I worked hard for it, I intend to enjoy it!
The aforementioned garden is in a bit of a shambles this year (again, the nine-months-pregnant-in-June thing got in the way of timely planting).  I was out there watering this morning and planning all that I'll change for next year.  That's exactly what we do as teachers--as soon as something doesn't turn out, we re-examine and make changes in our strategy for next time.  I love that.  Especially as art teachers, we get the chance daily for do-overs. ("Painting didn't go so well with Mrs. Smith's class yesterday, so for Mrs. Brown's class, I'm going to __________________ today.")  We're the queens (or kings) of our little classroom domains, and we can make them as magical as we want.  What other job is as great as this one? 

Pin It