Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Winter Break! Now, Let's Talk Shop . . .

Paint shirts! Who uses them? I do, but I know many art teachers who avoid them all together. At my old school we used old lady polyester shirts that were hilarious and totally awesome, but now, at my current school we use former man business button downs that have seen better days.  They get GROSS.  Like, sweaty-kids-after-recess gross, sneezed-on-coughed-on gross, rubbed-all-over-the-table-and-floor gross.  Thus, they come home with me for some real washing periodically.  Christmas break is a definite time for paint shirt washing. Several years ago I also made the switch from sponges to clean tables (ewwww) to cheapie wash cloths to clean tables (much less ewwwww), and they make it home for washing as well (as they seem to always be full of paint).


After years of washing cloth diapers (five or so) I learned that the rinse and spin cycle is truly a friend of mine.  The rags and shirts seem much cleaner using a rinse and spin cycle or two prior to washing.  Isn't this a fun and informative post?!  That's why I get the big bucks (totally kidding).

Speaking of big bucks, I made a Gelli-printed sketchbook to house all my documents and information for my new position as elementary division rep:

Cover

I literally used leftover demonstration pages from my sixth grade Gelli print unit from last year:

Inside cover with a pouch for writing/drawing instruments

I had to add an extra strip of Velcro for when I need to tighten it down.
I used some more scraps to make folders on pages that double as tabs:

That's a built-in bookmark and an article copied from School Arts that we were
discussing in our collab group one day.

Hard to see in the photo, but the folders DO function as tabs.
It was a fun project, and I hope it comes in handy.  Enjoy your break, friends--rest, relax and re-energize for the next semester!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Isn't There More Research on This?

Maybe there is, but I'm not having much luck finding it. . . it's come to my attention that sometimes my classroom teacher friends are questioned on "letting students color." How it's "a time filler" and "maybe not the best use of students time."  Some Google searching on my part gave me some articles, but not what I was looking for: academic articles with data, real research and hard numbers.  Not exactly art integration, but information on what coloring, cutting & gluing do for academic achievement and overall student performance.  While I'm not a fan of coloring sheets, I do see value in students creating, coloring and cutting/gluing.
The Crayola rep that served our area (for years and years) retired, and I don't know her replacement's name, so I don't have Barb to email.  I sent out some feelers to the university that sends me student teachers, but they're doing finals (maybe already on break?) so no response yet.  
Not just to help out teacher friends, I'm really curious to see the numbers on this.  Anyone have any scholarly article links you could point me to?
Thanks art teacher internet friends, and hold on, winter break is just around the corner!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Painted Elephants on Parade



Here are our adorable little clay elephants!  Aren't they just so amazing?  Warning: this will be a photo-heavy post.

So, we started out with our bisque fired elephants:


And we colored them with the Crayola Metallic FX crayons (a heavy coat of color worked best):




Next we used black block tempera to paint over the crayon.  I use black cake tempera so often that I keep them ready to go in some extra trays I had--you'd be amazed how often black tempera by itself really comes in handy.




Finally we used (plastic) raffia to string them together.  



Many students forgot to add their hole (du-oh!) or their hole closed up (awwwww), and it was still okay.  They're still cool.  Some students came up with creative solutions to this problem, and some didn't want them on the raffia at all (still totally fine).  I liked this lesson because everyone found success and none of them looked alike and they all had personality.

Metallic crayons + black block tempera=SUCCESS!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Adaptive Update (Aftermath of Factory Art Time)

Remember the painting art factory my adaptive group did? I was storing those papers away (this is when a hoarding nature really comes in handy) for some fish collages:


I like to give them plenty of choices in adaptive (some of them really struggle with speaking/responding to the teacher), so I gave them the choice of making a fish collage or a robot collage (using paper from the 10 lb box of paper remnants that is like CHRISTMAS, seriously, you should order one if you've never.  I think I get it from Sax or School Specialty).



Last week's group was all about the fish:


While in this week's group every single student wanted to make a robot:



One is a bit of an abstracted robot:


Our schedule is one where we see our adaptive group every day (minus Wednesdays/our collab/late start day) for a week, and a big bonus of giving them choices is if they're done with one collage and time remains, they can do the other one.

Happy robot needs some Sharpie details tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Take Your Letters Home, Please

Remember my fifth grade pop art letters? The ones one class was doing first? My other two (last two classes) are finishing them up now:



While the plaster was fast, there's nothing like papier mache for details and smoothness and overall wonderfulness:



Drawing popular items/logos with pencil on dry letters.

As I've said before, I have students do a layer of newspaper papier mache, then yellow pages (from the phone book), then (finally) a layer of school paper towel. This ensures students get good coverage and can see where they've added a layer.  When I first started I just used newspaper, and students truly had a hard time knowing where their new layers started and ended.  I'm already worrying about when NO ONE gets phone books anymore (I may have a hoarding stash of phone books going in a corner of my room for that day).
The students and I did a brainstorming session on what's popular today.  We had a discussion about how Minecraft may be popular for Tommy, but Instagram is more popular for Paige, and that's OK.


YouTube was popular for many of my fifth graders.

Students are finishing up their paint right now and my room will be so much roomier when they all take them home. 




If I had a fifth grader, I'd be using some Command velcro type adhesive to attach these to my child's bedroom wall.


Waiting on final details (done with permanent marker).
And if I had loads of sculpture display room here at school, I'd probably display them for a while.  But I don't.  The students are so excited about them, it's probably time to take them home!

Monday, December 7, 2015

It's Come To This


By mid-November my hands were already cracked and raw.  No amount of lotion was helping, so I've resorted to rubber gloves.



We'll see how it works with the day-to-day mayhem of everyone painting (right now Mr. Hodes is doing most of the teaching).  But if they're hurting in November/December, January/February would be ugly.  It seems so old lady, though.  Like, something my grandma did in 1978--wearing rubber gloves while washing the dishes.  Well, maybe if I'm bringing payons back, I can also rock the rubber gloves, look?!  Anyone else have some hand saving tips when washing a million paint brushes a day?
I remember reading something about health issues in education once (lots of back pain, stress related things) and I wonder what some common art teacher problems are.  I find it amazing when I see an art teacher wearing head-to-toe white. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  The only white thing I own is a blouse I wore to my brother's wedding.  It's never been worn in my school building.  Everything I own has paint on it. Totally not kidding--every pair of shoes I have has yellow paint on them somewhere.  I once dropped a tub full of [open] fingerpaint, and a giant blob of orange flew up and plopped into my hair.  I spent the rest of the day with sticky blob of paint drying and flecking out of my hair.  Is there real art teacherin' going on if you can wear white all day and it's still white at the end?  Maybe everyone else is just neater than me. So those seem like common art teacher problems to me: paint on all articles of clothing and dry, cracked hands from paint brush cleaning . . . I'm sure there are other common things--do you have any stories to share?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

So Many Good Things

So many good things happening lately: my student teacher is rockin' it (way to go, Mr. Hodes!):



I was just elected the elementary division rep for my state art teacher organization (I am feeling so honored/excited/privileged to be in this position and I'm really looking forward to doing my best for the elementary art teachers in my state).

Mr. Onehappyartteacher and I are figuring out ways to keep our two year old in bed allllllll night (and early morning).  Yay for sleep!!!!

Also, I was contacted by Scholastic Instructor Magazine about writing up the Klee + Math lesson.  As I've said multiple times, it is totally not my lesson, but Mary Franco (who came up with the lesson) gave her permission for me to write it up (and give her the credit, because she's awesome and totally deserves OODLES of credit), so that should be coming out in the spring sometime.

And my sixth graders are working on a quick-and-fun clay project.  We've been studying the art and culture of India.  As anyone who's been working in a school for more that about 10 minutes in December knows, you're either going to fight the Christmas is coming crazy or join it.  I'm too tired to fight (see above with the whole two-year-old-not-sleeping-thing), so we're making tiny clay elephants:



I made a video how-to for my students with my new document camera I got at the end of last year through a grant.  Because it's still so new to me, I (once again) ended up without sound, so I had to narrate as it played, but it was awesome to be able to replay it multiple times as needed on the Smartboard:



The plan after they've all been fired is to do a crayon resist with black block tempera over to mimic the painted elephants in Indian festivals and celebrations.  I'll try and post an update after we're done, but I'm also giving Mr. Hodes full reign for the little bit of time he's here.
Enjoy the Christmas crazy while it lasts, friends, the January/February blahs aren't that far off!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Painting Factory in Adaptive

Sometimes, we just do factory day.  A day where we all make crayon rubbings using warm or cool colored crayons, then we all paint over them with the opposite color scheme.  We don't write names, we don't worry about "it's mine" or "but that one's not mine".  We just create like an art factory.



Art factory is what my adaptive art groups did for a day or two (we'll use them in collages later).  It's sometimes harder with the adaptive groups to get them to stick to a color scheme, so I stole this idea from a genius para (you know the ones, the shining stars at their jobs):

I just cut a scrap of paper that was laying around the paper cutter
so only 3 paint pots show.  I can move it around for warm colors later.
Scrap paper, scissors--sometimes the easiest things are the greatest, you know?



I'm still undecided on fish/underwater collages with these or robot collages.  Most likely, I'll let the students choose!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tessellations: Everyone Rotate, Translate and Reflect

It's been a while since I've done tessellations with sixth graders.  I've done my multiplication + Klee lesson many times, but it's been several years since I've spent time on just tessellations.  I use the Tessellations DVD, and I have the posters too.  We watch the whole video (or almost all of it) without working (because otherwise they just copy what he does).  Then we make our tessellation piece using index cards:


And we trace them in our sketchbooks to practice.
This proved vital for later when they "lost" their piece.
Well, go cut one out of your sketchbook--problem solved!
One class (my CWC--class within a class, more SpEd students) did translation tessellations where they just slide:




Tracing with Sharpie.
That group used color sticks (those things by Crayola that are just the colored parts of colored pencils without the wooden part) to color them:



And then they added their henna hands that they'd already made:




Another class did rotation tessellations, which I totally screwed up for them.  I had them make them and practice them in their sketchbooks and trace them on green paper:



The problem came when I tried having them trace them on patterned paper to cut and glue and only after they tried it did I realize it wasn't going to work.  Art Teacher Fail.  So we quickly had to erase and re-trace them with the index lines facing down:




Of the three groups, the reflection group turned out the least best, and it was totally my fault.  Here's some finished-or-nearly-finished reflection tessellations with or without henna hands:






Tessellations are good things, but not figuring out the screw-ups before hand are NOT good.  
The group that did reflection tessellations (the hardest ones because they have to flip the piece their tracing over back and forth) traced them on red paper:


Students could add details with sharpie if they chose.

They then used construction paper crayons to color them (oh my goodness! I love those crayons so very much!!!)






They just finished today, adding their hands:



And then one of my students used the crayons to do this:


--which led to a great discussion about Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty.

It's been a long, tedious road for my sixth graders, so they're due for a fun clay project next!
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