Friday, April 29, 2016

Things That Make Me Happy These Last Three Weeks of School

Soooooo close, and yet so far from summer.  As we wind down the school year, here's some things that make me smile:

This bulletin board! It's at a turn, so when you come down the hall PA-TOW! there it is, all bright and colorful.  This second grade lesson is a great one for color review. Here's a few close up of this year's birds:

And fourth grade puppets, just hanging out by my kiln cage:

These are amazing and wonderful and always a big hit! I guess I've never blogged about them, so I need to get on it, but trust me, they're fun and I'll try to blog about them soon.
Also, opening a kiln after a glaze firing, is there anything better?!

It's like CHRISTMAS, I tell ya! Hold onto the good things, friends, summer (and sanity) is near!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why YES, That IS a 59 Foot Giant Squid

Welcome to Crazy Town! I know we ALL say it this time of the year, but everything's a little nutso (state testing, the weather, allergies, the end of the year . . . ) and my strategy is always to just run far far away join in.  So, HELLO, fifty nine foot squid! 

To begin this project, first graders drew an animal that lives in the ocean on a 6 x 9" piece of paper with pencil, then (once approved/drawn big enough) that piece of paper was taped onto a 6 x 9" piece of styrofoam for printing. They traced over their drawings, making grooves in the foam that they traced again.  Once it was all traced, a new/fresh paper (with name on the back) was taped to the foam and it was time to break out the Payons (if you don't have boxes and boxes and boxes of these that you're trying to use up, watersoluble oil pastels work as well) and started printing:

I did emphasize to them that they needed to work rather quickly, doing small parts at a time and print before the color dried on their foam.  This also allowed them the opportunity to use any/all colors.  Did they run a bit? Yep! Does it matter? NOPE, this is underwater, friends, so we need that blurry look! Don't forget to brandish the paper:

No idea why she has a drawing on the back where her name should be,
but trust me, she's brandishing that paper!

We printed for a few art class times, then read I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry and looked at some stats on National Geographic.  Did you know that the biggest giant squid ever seen/captured (in Japan) was fifty nine feet long?  That's hhhhuuuuuuuggggggeeeeee! To figure out how really big that is, I took one class of first graders in the gym to use the 12" tiles to measure it out with big roll paper.  No photos of this because with 22 first graders in the gym with giant rolls of paper, scissors, and crayons I had no time for photography. And I also decided at this point that ONE giant squid was enough for all three of my first grade classes.

So, students spent several art times printing away, then choosing one or two prints to take home and leave the rest with me to glue to a giant squid:

What do you think? Four-ish feet down, 55 more to go?
Of course, some students "got it" more than others, but still they're so pretty:

Now to find some wall space for a 59' squid . . . and distract myself from summer vacation that's still not here yet.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Clay Clay Everywhere CLAY

Oh myyyyyyy gaaaarrrrrrsssshhhhh! WHY do I do this to myself?  I was feeling all good about my every-class-clay-project-progress in say, November.  Now I'm staring at May with the following grade levels in the middle of or not yet started their clay project: sixth, fifth, third, second and first.  Ummmm, that's a lot of kids?! And a ton of clay?  One day last week I noticed there was literally a clay dust trail out of my room and into the gym.  Beautiful.
Here's some photos of the madness:

Sixth grade bowls drying to go into the kiln.

Fifth grade projects ready to go home

More fifth--don't even ask about the "knife"

Some more fifth (this is the only class that's finished)

Second grade bells drying for the kiln

Still more bells drying

There's so many classes doing so much that I have to think very carefully about how many tubs and boxes I have to store the projects as they dry, come out of the kiln, dry after painting, etc.  

But the students are so excited.  Sixth grade is glazing bowls this week and next with fifth grade using acrylic paint on their projects.  Second will paint with tempera blocks and seal with gloss medium (same with first).  Third? I haven't decided yet.
And then I got to school this morning to do the super fun opening of a glaze-fired kiln, only to find I never pushed the button to turn it on!  D'oh!!! That's a first.  BIG SIGH, so the kiln is for real firing today. 

The end of the year is so crazy anyway, it's usually best to just add to the madness rather than fight it. I will [however] do my best to push the button and really fire every time for the rest of the year, 'cause I'm running out of time for any more mess ups. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Adaptive Art Welcomes Spring

All you smart art teachers probably already know this, but this was real news to me: did you know that a soda bottle will print flowers?  Amazing!

Totally a staged photo, I didn't take any photos while students were working.
My adaptive classes are in the middle of a HUGE project right now involving clay castles, papier mache hills, tissue paper flowers and Cloud Clay dragons (look for an upcoming post on that one) and the kiln hadn't been fired yet, so I needed a two day filler lesson.  Last weekend when I was at my state conference, an amazing middle school art teacher (she's retiring--students are really going to miss out on her expertise! But she totally deserves an awesome retirement.) shared this idea (I think she got it off of Pinterest).
We started out with light green paper, a small piece of cardboard and green paint.  Students printed grass while I got five colors of paint on five separate lids (one for each student/one bottle for each color).  Students then printed flowers:

Some added more than others, and we were one Coke/Pepsi bottle short so I substituted an off-brand water bottle that didn't work as well:

The yellow ones on this one are from the store brand water bottle.

We then used the other end of the bottle (with the lid) to make the centers, and one student wanted his cardboard back to add stems:

Again, totally staged photo.

We accomplished all of this the first day. With time left over, I gave each student (there's only five in this adaptive group) a photocopy of four butterflies.  [Let me pause and say that I got this drawing of butterflies many many years ago somewhere--my old district or a conference or something, and I really wish I knew who created it, because it's saved my booty several times over the years.]  Each student colored their butterflies with markers.  The next day they came in and the directions were to cut out ONE butterfly and color the back (this proved to be a difficult direction as they wanted to cut them all out and I was worried about them getting mixed up, but with five students and four paras and two teachers, no butterfly was lost).

After they colored the back of the butterfly's wings, we glued just the body part, keeping the wings up:

After all butterflies were cut and glued, some students had time to add stems and leaves to their flowers (and some didn't):

These spring pictures will really brighten the walls, and the students did a fabulous job!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Collaboration With Classroom Teachers/Thinking About TAB

Last summer I really thought a lot about my teaching, what I consider good teaching and tried to really reevaluate what I've done/plan on doing.  These are hard conversations to have with yourself, because we all have those lessons. The adorable ones, the favorite ones, the ones that get all the praise and accolades. I'm so scattered sometimes--like, I see something shiny and new and I'm totally distracted by it.  New products? I'm your girl (shamefully, I have a stack of these paints brand new/never used that I just had to have--look at the price of these! WHY haven't I used them?!) Blog post that strikes a cord? I might just jump on doing a similar lesson with no connection to what we've been doing (I made a 59 foot squid with first grade today, but that's a whole other post).  Big idea? I love the idea! Have I done anything with it? Nope.  Nothing, nada.  TAB and choice based? Hmmm, tell me more.  Last summer I read every book I could get my hands on (a most sincere thanks to my local art museum's educator resource center for ordering all those books for me!), and after reading all that and talking to people who are staunch supporters . . . .I just can't.  They're seven or ten or whatever and I think they benefit from some direction and more direct guidance.  All that being said, I just did a collaborative lesson with sixth grade classroom teachers over the subject of refugees.  Students read non-fiction literature in their classrooms over the Holocaust, and we read an article about contemporary artists who make art around modern refugees in my art classroom.  Then I gave the students [nearly] complete choice over what sort of art they'd make and what the message was (I didn't allow regular clay, but they could use air-dry, and I was totally fine with papier mache).  They did some pretty amazing work:

Each student filled out an artist's statement to hang on/with their work, so here are photos of the student work, and close ups of their artist statements (with a typed version in the caption to save you the eye strain):

"My project is about refugees and the white figures are people.
I used many different colors, and I don't think the piece of artwork
is for refugees or against them."

"This painting represents the struggle that refugees have
when being forced to leave home."

"it is a symbol of love and freedom"

"This is how most the refugees come into America,
because they don't get anything while traveling."

"I am showing what refugees means and trying to bring awareness."

"it was based on refugees. Some one wanted to
exspress his feeling on refugees."

"I made this to tell people that no matter how
bad things are, always have hope."

"My art work is about a refugee. What inspired
me is looking at other pictures and hearing about
what they are going through."
And some of the 3-D work:

Collaborative piece between three students:
"Albert Einstein was a famous refugee so why not create non other than Albert."

"In nature one of the hardest steps is the first one, Breaking through the egg.
Anyone can do it, you just have to take the first step."

"i chose this because i thought how peaceful origami birds are"

 These will be left up through May and our Leader In Me tour day.  I love the addition of the artist statements, as I think it really engages the viewer more.
For now I'll be over here in a corner, going though new supply catalogs and reading blogs to find new shiny things to totally distract invigorate me! 

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