Thursday, August 31, 2017

Teacher Life Without The Network

We've been back to school for about two weeks now.  I decided to change things up with my fourth grades and start the year with Ancient Crete and Greece.  I made a Smart Notebook presentation with all these little video clips, and kind of stumbled through it with my first group (it felt kind of disjointed or something?).  I was really hitting my stride with my introductions with the second group. . . and then the network went down.  Which meant no internet.  No showing video clips or external links.  My whole introduction was ruined!  Right in front of the class! So, I decided to act out the links.  Like some weird improv, I danced and galloped and did lots of jazz hands.  And sweated.  Lots.  Did they get the information??? I sure hope so.  
And the network stayed down.  For two days.  Goodbye video'd demonstrations loaded onto an external site for sixth grade, hello demonstrating over and over.  
A class would come in and I'd start with whatever was planned and then realize 'I can't show that/do that.'  It was like someone had cut off an arm or something.  
But somehow we survived.  The internet connection was restored and we kept on keepin' on.
I'm not AT ALL saying the Greece Smart Notebook lesson is a great one (at this point I'm not even sure it's good), but if you're interested, let me know and I'll drop it in my Smart Notebook files for you to use.  And maybe your internet will work, all day.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Glue, Glue, Glue, What To Do?

Alternative titles for this post include "Glue, The PITA For Every Art Teacher" or "Ways To Make Glue More Interesting That Don't Involve Sniffing".  But neither felt very professional (hmmmm, I wonder why?)
Disclaimer: this is not my original idea.  I saw it somewhere, on some blog and I can't find the original poster to adequately credit them (so if it's you, or you know where the original post is, let me know and I will link it to this post).
As I said in my last post, I've been at this gig of elementary art teaching for a while, and glue--uuuuuggghhhhhh.  I've always kept glue bottles separate from table boxes in my room to minimize the mess (they just don't close them!), but lately the build-up of hard dried glue has caused some cuts, and I felt like they really weren't learning how to adequately use/care for glue bottles. (GRAVITY affects glue, children! Just wait, and glue will come out.)
So, in my purge/cleaning fest, I made sure I had one low shelf (low enough for kindergarten to reach easily) empty to carry out this upside down glue idea:

A co-worker had the baking sheets, and I covered them with Contact paper and used Command velcro-like strips to attach them.  The glue bottles have magnets E6000 glued to them.  

I bought two different types of magnets, the craft kind that come 50+ in a package, and some super-strong ones that I found by the Command hooks.  I actually liked the craft kind (that I glued two per glue bottle) more that the bigger ones, which was surprising.

Sorry, my continuing inability to turn photos
means you'll have to turn your head like a
German Shepard trying to figure something out.

Viola! 'This is going to be awesome,' I thought, 'Glue will always be near the tip, ready to come out, the bottles will have to be closed so they won't drip!'  Until I came in the next day and the weight of the glue bottles pulled a corner of the baking sheet down AND whenever you try to put the bottles back up your hand knocks about half of them down.  
Back to the drawing board. 
In that trying-to-go-to-sleep time (when I get most of my ideas, honestly), I thought cupcake pans would work--but the glue bottles are too wide.  My backup idea was bread pans, but I didn't have enough.  So the next day, after a seven hour meeting (great idea the day before school starts), I began hunting for new (so I wouldn't have to clean grease off to get them to stick) cheap ('cause I've got two children of my own to buy school supplies for) bread pans.  At Walmart I found these for 88 cents a piece:

I also bought more of those Command velcro-hook-thingys:

It worked out that three pans hang over each baking sheet, and each bread pan can hold 6-9 glue bottles comfortably.  I've talked to most of my classes about it, and the ones who've seen them are super-duper excited to use upside down glue.

We're going to give it the old college try, this upside down glue idea.  I'll update later in the year.  

Happy first days/weeks everyone! The whirlwind has begun!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I'm Going To Be A Realist Now

Here it is, year 18.  EIGHTEEN! I can't really believe it.  It's my 11th year in my current classroom and you know what? It's TIME, friends, time for a major clean out.  I don't know why, but I've been big time in the purge mood lately.  All summer I've been pitching and donating all around my house, so it's not very surprising that it carried over to my classroom. 
Here's a short list of things I've found in the recesses of my tiny little room: 

  • a clear tub, with lid, full of rusty nails, bits of rusty metal and those old-time all metal kid scissors that don't cut anything (but do cut into your thumb when you attempt to cut anything at all)

  • a crayon box, with 7 or 8 black and one blue crayon that looked to be from about 1962 (wish I had a photo, but I gave it to a colleague)
  • enough random paper to fill two boxes (I'm donating it to our before/after school program)
  • two American flags and one state flag--neatly rolled and in a random cabinet
  • six small paint cans of Sherwin Williams interior paint in different colors
  • soooooo many marker sets, found in the back corner of a cabinet that has no shelving--also being donated to the before/after school program
  • a box, commercially labeled "super absorbent washcloths" [I got so excited!] but turned out to be tiny little bottles of tempera paint.  DONATE!
  • a FULL box of dot matrix printer paper (yes, you read that right)
  • about a thousand plastic store bags shoved into any available spot
  • crayons, crayons, crayons--neon, construction, FX, glitter. . . in 3-4 different areas of the room.  Interesting, because I could never seem to find them when I needed them.
  • enough cottage cheese lids for circle tracing for all 500 of my students to each have their very own
  • a very dusty pan thing with electric cord and lid that I think is for melting something like wax.  I couldn't bring myself to pitch it (I don't even know if it works) so I moved it from one side of the room to the other.
  • the usual collection of random pink markers, Sharpies and erasers that students throw or shove into random places--each one dusty
I'm a slow learner, so it's finally dawned on me that if I haven't used it in 10 years, it probably just needs to go. Here's [part of] the pile I donated to our before/after school program:

My room seems so much cleaner! But after living with it for a week or so I keep feeling like things are missing when I see the corner of the cabinet that I've never seen before in all these years.
Then I look in my neatly arranged cabinet, and all feels right with the world:

Lesson planning will work out, right?  I've done this long enough [maybe] to be ready even though I feel like I'm not, right?!
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