Friday, August 21, 2015

Sketchbooks, Portfolios and a Management System 2015

I am excited to implement artist portfolios this year with my 1st - 5th grade classes. Parents, you can expect to see your child's amazing collection of artwork at the culmination of the year! Keeping a portfolio is a perfect way to measure growth and accomplishment in art. The covers are fairly simple (a Xerox copy) with a place for name, teacher and grade. I added a box for reflection in the top right corner. We'll use that to write about our favorite piece of art at the end of the year. The bottom includes an image I borrowed that was made by Melissa Mercillott about many careers in art. This paper cover was glued down onto the back of a manila file folder using Elmer's glue (I did that after the kids left to make things easier). While we worked on the front of the folders during class, the paper covers were slid inside to keep them "marked."
First grade made a list of lines on one half of the folder front and a self portrait on the other.
Second grade made a list of lines on one half and a list of important color families on the other.

And third - fifth grade made a list of the elements and principles of art while I gave short explanations of each term. Using that information, we played a game in table groups. I gave each group a piece of art to observe and then the table worked together to talk about one element and one principle that really jumped out (even though there were many). The results were shared with the class while we took turns viewing each piece of art.

This year, I knew that I wanted to change up things in the art room and that I wanted to incorporate a sketchbook that could be kept all year long. I've never had much success with sketchbooks and did away with them for several years, however, this year I am excited to give them a try again - and I think the kids are excited about these special books as well! I am referring to them as Drawing Challenge Sketchbooks. Each grade level has a list of 10 topics to work on throughout the year. We will get these out and work on them when we have completed a project or a part of a project, when someone finishes their work early, or I have to be away from school. If you are interested in my lists of sketchbook challenge topics, send me an email and I would be glad to share. Of course, there are also directions for the kids to follow and all of that information is included on the topic sheets as well.

And here is my behavior management plan - Quietest Artists. It is based on a system that the kids are already familiar with and understand because I have been using it for the past 2 years - the "ART" letters. If the class is loud or not listening to directions, I begin by flipping the "A" for the first warning. If things don't calm down, I flip the "R" for a second warning. When the "T" turns over, we stop and clean up for the day. The class has to work as a team and they can earn letters back (except for "T"....there's no coming back from that!) if they work hard to turn down the volume and focus on art making. If the teacher arrives to pick up the class and the letters spell, "ART," then I give a sticker to the class on the chart. 10 stickers = free art day. I am working on compiling an awesome collection of free art activities for this special day and stacking my bookshelf full of games, puzzles, manipulative, etc.! I'm excited and the kids are too!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School Bulletin Boards 2015-2016

The new school year is off to a start and as I have done in years past, I will share my back-to-school bulletin boards below. I never would have thought I'd be displaying a board about "the selfie" but it was really fun to put together. I saw a few ideas I liked on Pinterest, but settled for a simple word bubble with a question for the kids to think about as they pass by it each day. It was a lot of fun to find these artist self-portraits (mesmerizing, actually) and I may keep this going throughout the year and just swap them out from time to time. 
 I have a really large board directly outside my classroom door and always like to put up a simple statement. I was sorta going somewhere else with this initially, but I'm pleased with the way it turned out. It's simple and has a positive meaning. To give you a size reference, I cut all the letters from 18x24 paper.
I love using the yellow paper for my boards outside and inside my room - it's bright and cheery (I think I use it every year). I made these posters several years ago and the kids really like them. We refer to them constantly.
And then a few views around the room......
I like to keep the rules simple: 1. Do your personal best  2. Make good choices. The golden rule: Take care of yourself. 
I use the construction paper (with clothespins attached) to display the projects we are working on per grade level. Sometimes I'll just hang up words for our projects instead of samples. For instance, sculpture, weaving, clay. I'm leaning towards the latter (nine times out of ten) so as to keep the kiddos from getting stuck in the weeds thinking their work needs to mimic mine. 
I hope you have a great year at your school too! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

End of the year: 5th grade

And now, some of my 5th graders work from the end of the school year. These are simple 9x12 weavings embellished with hand-drawn hieroglyphics. The highlight are the Egyptian drawings - inspired by several color copy handouts I gave the kids to observe from. They really enjoyed the challenge of this figure drawing assignment as you can see in the examples. Pencil first, sharpie to make it all pop and then colored pencil. 

And to end out the year, we made some jewelry using the Kumihimo weaving technique. Kumihimo was invented by Japanese fishermen to braid rope. It means "gathered threads." The kids went cuckoo for this - I even did!! It's so fun and EASY! I have to say it was pretty magical. I taught myself how to do it from the Dabbles and Babbles blog before showing the kids. To make the loom, the kids cut out a circle from mat board, which can be a little heavy for them, so I was on guard to help. We traced around yogurt lids. After they drew and cut the dashed lines around the perimeter for the slits, I used a box cutter to draw an X in the center, then poked a very thick pencil through to form the hole. Sometimes the looms just get "tired" after making a bracelet or necklace (even when made from something thicker like the mat board), so have some extra board on hand because your kids will want to make more than one!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

End of the year: 4th grade

These Greek column compositions turned out super groovy - I just love them! The backgrounds were created using an experimental printmaking technique using plastic bags! I really love the juxtaposition of classical vs. experimental. I suggested that students stick to about 3 colors of paint on the day we made the printed papers so things wouldn't get too muddy. On the second day of work, we looked at some handouts I made on Greek architecture, specifically columns. The kids picked one of the orders that they liked best and set about creating a drawing of a column using the visuals to help them. I left the drawing portion very open ended: pencil and/or sharpie, close up view/far away view, one column or get the idea. I even let them choose what color of paper to work on! I was very impressed and will continue to teach this assignment. 

Ahhhhhhh, yes......on to the ORIGAMI!! I know most teachers would typically shy away from teaching anything using origami techniques, but I have been teaching the kids how to build this cube for several years now and have built up my courage! It isn't for the faint of heart, especially when you have 20+ hungry-for-origami eyes staring at you, but they love it! There is usually some heartache and torment during the first day, but once they get over that hurdle, the sky is the limit! I taught myself how to do it quite a while ago and you can too! This is the link that started it all for me......Origami Mommy
I would suggest only working on the folds for Day #1 and the assembly on Day #2. After I have taught the kids the folds, I tell them that I am not going to give them any instruction, but they may play around with the pieces and experiment until the time is up. Some kids don't want to do this - and I don't push it. Regardless, we store our pieces in large mailing envelopes for the next class period. Inevitably, there is always one child who figures it out on Day #1 without my help - and that child becomes an assistant for Day #2 and makes your life much easier! The process of a student helping their peers always leads to confidence building and of course, you gain more assistants in the process because more children are able to finish a cube vs. if you as the teacher are the only one who can help. Trust me, the first few years I taught this there were tears and many disgruntled kids, but I learned through experience how to break it down :) 

Monday, June 15, 2015

End of the year: 3rd grade

3rd graders worked on a 12x12 geometric painting during the last few weeks of school. I still needed to cover tints and shades and found this a perfect way to do so. Plus, it really worked well in getting the kids to focus and discover color mixing since we were still in testing mode. I found it to be therapeutic for them to work this way, plus they had fun mixing and making as many colors as possible! Students traced about 7 shapes from my box of teacher-made shape tracers (Did I mention before how much I love peanut butter lids for circles? They are perfect!). Then I asked them to dissect the paper using a ruler from one edge to another, at any angle, about three times. All pencil lines were traced with black crayon and off they went to paint! I kept six large egg cartons stocked with paint (one for each table) inside a Tupperware lidded container over the weeks so I didn't have to keep preparing them from scratch. That was a nice trick I discovered and will continue to use. Students used pieces of white scrap paper for their palettes. 


A couple of groups had some extra time, so we talked about Aboriginal art and how it's based on circles and dots which fit right in with our geometric theme. I made a handout of Aboriginal art so they could view many, examples. The kids were given those same egg cartons full of paint and a piece of 12x18 paper and asked to paint about 5 small dots scattered onto the surface and then build them out to "pack" the paper. I gave a demonstration and showed a variety of ways to build the painting, making sure to emphasize that my way is never the only way. It was really neat to see the kids get into a thinking trance as they worked!