New Table Hangy Thingies

My wonderful friend and colleague Sunny Lee Mowery, hooked me up with these awesome giant tubes that she used to make crayon table color mobile type things. When she mentioned on social media that she had some extra tubes, that is of course the first idea I had too! How perfect!

So they were really long tubes. And out of laziness and lack of resources (no saw) I was just going to leave them long. …and then I thought about how much more work it would be to paint and decorate a longer one, and how much more difficult it would be to hang it. So I made a trip to the local big box hardware store and bought a handsaw and and hacked those suckers in half:File_000 (2)That was not easy. But I got a good arm workout!

I took them outside laid them on a tarp and spray painted them. Again, I was feeling lazy… well really it was that I had a LOT of other stuff to accomplish and this felt like something I could shortcut. I even enlisted the help of a fellow teacher/friend from my school, Katy. (Thank you Katy!)File_000 (1)File_001 (2)

I was pretty into the little colorful sun shapes we were making on the tarp…File_008

File_001 (1)This is Ms. Katy who helped me. Yay Katy!! Thanks again!!

The following week, I had my student teacher for this fall, Mr. Romoero, help me decorate and hang them. BTW, I decided to not give them pointy tips and just call them pastels. (You know, b/c I am trying to conserve time here!) Mr. Romero wrote the colors in English and Spanish for me, and gave them a simple little swirl line.

I am pretty happy with the results and love color coding my room. Soon I will have my bins that will also match the color of the table. Colored tables, colored bins, colored pastel table identifier thingies… Rainbows everywhere!!! Below you can see a couple of them hanging in the room. Later on I will do a full room post showing how the room looks this year (not totally ready). File_002

Lesson Planning

IMG_0523My room last year at this time. Now, I have new tables, stools, and will have a smart board upon my return!

School is almost in session here in Philly. I have one trip to take before I am fully back into my classroom. I will be going in this Thursday and Friday to empty out my closet, which is currently stuffed with… EVERYTHING!!!

So the past week and today I have been working on a little list of lessons my students will create in their quarter of art. ( I see about 5-6 classes of my kiddos for roughly 8-10 weeks, and then I get a new group every quarter.) What I have created is a very simple matrix that roughly lines out what project they will be going into each week. The more in depth matrix comes into production weekly as I keep it current to where they are in their projects and may ultimately change things after assessing lessons and their progression. It is basically my rough draft. I looked at the one I created last year, edited it, and added lessons. Throughout last school year, I added notes to the matrix to remind me of stuff in my editing stage. Next year, at this time, I will be doing the same thing. And BTW, the matrix layout is a sort of borrowed design. Another art teacher from a Facebook group posted hers, and I liked it, but it did not totally meet my needs, so naturally I changed it. Pretty easy to make in Word.

Additionally, I have a very rough layout for my studio art classes, which are smaller pullout art classes for students who sign up and maintain their academic performance in their other classes. I don’t fully form that one, because the lessons in that class are very flexible, and usually based on their interests. With the 6th-8th grade studio, I am trying something new. I am having students work on art that will be required of their portfolio should they choose to pursue that for their high school track. I will also have an after school portfolio club in the fall for those who need immediate help and attention for this upcoming high school application year.

Below are PDFs of my matrix. Check it out. Offer suggestions. Borrow ideas. Judge me. Whatever. 😉

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8 week planner 6-8 16-17

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End of the Year! Me, oh my! The time sure did fly!

So, I did not post on this nearly as much as I intended to this year because everything just got so super busy. As I sit here at my desk, while all my regularly scheduled classes are on field trips, I silently agree with myself that now is a great time for a little reflection, with more to come later.

It’s been a rough but productive year. The district had some issues with the substitute teacher service they shelled money out for, and many teachers were called upon repeatedly for coverage. All across the district this was happening. Some teachers got it worse than others. Some principals would cancel entire classes or specials periods to have teachers cover. Naturally this was frustrating and exhausting for many, especially when there is still so much that is expected to get done by us, but that time to get it done is taken away. So that had a lot of people on edge, including myself. Anytime my room phone would ring, I cringed.

I stayed late many days to get caught up. And by the time I got home, I was pooped. Yet still, I had to summon up the energy to organize and plan meetings for the Philadelphia Art Teacher Alliance. It’s a labor of love, though. I love what I do, and I love being able to connect with other people who love art education as well- teachers or advocates.

I look forward to spending my third year in the same school and second year in the same room next school year. My rapport with students will have grown, and I will be more equipped to meet their needs artistically and expressively…more holistically all around too, really. Being in the same room, will allow me more time to focus on refining my lessons, and weeding out the not so great ones. I also hope for better camaraderie with my colleagues in the school building. I LOVE my basement room, but feel a little left out at times… I know… boo hoo, call the wambulance. But seriously, I want to connect with them more, and connect my art lessons to what they are doing in their classrooms more.

Consider this my summer to do list:

-blog/reflect on each lesson.

-write new lessons

-plan field trips

-plan locations for PATA meetings

-reach out to local artists to come into my classroom

-write DonorsChoose project for adaptive art materials and for printmaking supplies

-fundraise!

-visual verbal journal everyday

-refine student self-assessment sheet- one for all to use…or maybe k-2 and 3-8

– think of more stuff to do

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collaboration is Key

On May 10th, I lead our 1/2 day teacher Professional Development, with support from the Philadelphia Collaborative Teacher Center. The plan was to create an activity for our staff to participate in directed towards improving school collaboration and culture, improving team building and strengthening community.

At first I struggled to come up with an idea. Whatever we decided to do, I wanted to be sure staff were collaborating, that they engaged in an arts based activity, and that they could be proud with the end results. Eventually, as I was walking in our quite bare stairwell, I had the thought of mural painting. But how could I create this for the staff to be successful?! Simple- geometric masking tape murals!

The 5'x5' area taped off and taped with paint and supplies in the box.

The 5’x5′ area taped off and taped with paint and supplies in the box.

 

I began by showing a super brief Power Point, showing examples of what masking tape murals look like, discussed how they should divide up their time, and ways in which they could create the geometric shapes. The presentation lasted at most 15 minutes. I wanted teachers to get painting as soon as possible. On each floor I taped off a 5’x5′ area in the stairwells. Staff worked together with all who worked on their floor level. I prepared and provided a tarp and plastic to protect the ground, masking tape (just the basic stuff here- not painters tape), paint, paintbrushes, mixing spoons, paper towels, a yard stick (in case they wanted to get technical), mixing cups, and buckets of water. Once they got to their painting station, they dove in.

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It was so exciting to see all the staff’s creativity on display as they began to plan their designs.

Each floor’s design was so unique, and everyone seemed to work together smoothly to create a finished mural in under 2 hours!! 2 hours!!

 

I still have some touching up to do where the tape took a little of the wall with it, but that’ll be no biggie.

At the end of the day, after painting, I had teachers respond to at least 2 of 4 prompts I had posted. Here are some of my favorite takeaways:

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The post it note post session prompts

Enjoyed about the PD:
“Everyone came together as one. Everyone’s idea and vision was respected.”
“Using creativity and we got to paint on the walls without fear.”
“Great way to collaborate.”
“The painting and a chance to be creative.”

“Togetherness.”

How did you come together as a team?:
“Building off others’ ideas”
“We each expressed which design we liked best, which turned out to all be a radial style.”
“Randomly! We all pitched in. It was fun!”
“Some people created the design, others painted, and some procured support and music.”
How can collaboration strengthen or build professional relationships?
“We had to listen to each others opinions and feedback and take turns.”
“Allow others to shine in their place of strength”
“Collaboration is the key to completion of a project.”
“Finding common ground can help bond.”
“Collaboration builds communication.”

“Letting each other know their ideas are valuable by building a complete idea together.”

How can the PD inspire your work or teachings…?

“Find more ways to collaborate in my classroom.”

“Bringing fun back to learning without pressing to meet expectation.”

“Get another perspective from others.”

“Teach students to recognize opinions and differences. Be willing to work with others.”

“Thinking outside of the box.”

“Teach kids to collaborate and respect each other!”

“Putting together a fun activity to involve students.”

“Teamwork. Unity. Friendship.”
Lastly, a lasting effect the murals have had is the teachers actually using them to teach with!!! In the past week, I have seen at least two teachers using them. And that’s enough for me to call it a lasting success of collaboration, cross curricular connection, and school beautification! I overheard one of our Autistic Support classroom teachers having her students identify letters hidden in the first floor mural, and our 4th grade teacher had her students identifying all the polygons, tetrahedron, etc. She took the project even further and is having her students work collaboratively to create their own mini geometric tape designs!! Way to go Mrs. Austin!!! I love it! I can’t wait to see the final pieces!!

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Kehinde Wiley inspired…

Ever since I first saw Kehinde Wiley’s work I wanted to do a student project based on it. I have seen a few other teachers’ lessons, but I didn’t totally gravitate toward them. So I came up with my own, based on a lesson with different content I saw in a students teaching art show. This project was done with a 7th/8th grade class.

Sooooo, here’s how it went…

First students looked at a presentation on Kehinde, watched a video, and did a compare and contrast.

Next, students looked at black and white copies of western art and chose a pose they wanted to recreate. Using the iPads, students photographed each other in those poses. I printed the photos in black and white.

Students took the photos and traced them onto transparency film with sharpie. I chose for them to trace, because I wanted them to feel successful in their art, and they have not had but two art classes in their elementary and middle school times. Also, there is a good deal of attention and care that needs to be paid when tracing, so they were tasked to being careful observers of the lines and textures, and deciding what was important to trace.

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Following that, students used acrylic paint to mix there own skin tones and clothing colors. I made a laminated palette because kids kept taking way too much paint.

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Lastly, students designed a patterned background and could use any medium of their liking to add color.

The transparency portrait was paired with the pattern background to make the final piece. 🙂

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Pretty darn happy with these. What do you think?

Cool Jobs

On Tuesday, February 23, 7th grade students had the opportunity to go to an Arts related job fair called “Cool Jobs” put on by Fresh Artists. Students heard from a furniture designer who uses unconventional materials, a mural artist, an architect, and a culinary artist. It was so interesting to hear all the stories and we are so grateful to have been included in the fair. I hope some of my students feel inspired to pursue a career in the arts! And maybe next time we will get to see the shoe designer, photographer, print maker, and all the other exciting art jobs!!

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pARTners are making it happen!

pARTners

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with my pARTners* from Methacton High School. Mrs. Ferenchak & Ms. McCauely are the cosponsors of their NAHS and have worked with their students to help provide some supplies for the Nebinger art room. I am very grateful for their contribution! They plan to continue fundraising, which of course, I am continually grateful and super ecstatic for.

It was so nice to meet with the students and learn a little about them, all while enjoying my favorite bagel in the whole world at Panera Bread. I wish the seniors much luck in college!!

Sidenote- After we parted ways, I went to the Container Store…because it was right there…It was my first time. Oh. My. Gawd. I was in color coded organization heaven! Anyone who knows me well, knows I love to organize my art room. This place will break my wallet for sure. So many ways to organize!!

*pARTners is a pilot program started with the PAEA (Pennsylvania Art Education Association) and PATA (Philadelphia Art Teachers Alliance). This amazing program was developed by Robin Brewer to help support teachers in settings where they have little to know budget (such as the SDP). In this pilot program, teachers with a National Art Honors Society in the suburbs were paired with a teacher from the School District of Philadelphia who is also active in PATA.

Audubon to …Castle! James and James!

I audubon-cover.pngam so excited about this project. 4th graders were introduced to James Audubon and we have begun to read the picture about him written by Melissa Sweet. After choosing a photo of a bird they liked, they began to sketch the bird in their sketchbooks, and were introduced how to draw the birds beginning by looking for the shapes that make up the bird. To assist with that, students were given dry erase markers to trace the shapes on the laminated photograph. I think all their sketches are fantastic, especially so for kids who are drawing from observation for the first time ever! They were very apprehensive about their drawings, and I think a lot of their self esteem is low regarding their ability in art. But I truly believe they are doing awesome. And I told them that… but they were still hesitant to believe, and then I reminded them, that I would never lie about their art. I will always tell them what could be improved upon and how to do that. Those bird drawings are simply gorgeous to me. I hope they start to see that too. File_005

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Next week we will use are drawings to cut out layers of bird shapes on card board to assemble a bird sculpture a la Jame Castle. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Art Partners Finale

We finished up our time with our resident artist Donna Backues recently. It was an amazing few months, where every Friday Donna would come in and work with my 6th-7th grade studio art students (a pull out class for extra art). For 90 minutes each session, students worked intensively with Donna to complete a collaborative Batik piece, which is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until the end of January. In March it will be on display with the Young Artists show at the School District of Philadelphia’s headquarters at 440 N. Broad St.

The experience of working with a resident artist was fantastic and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to bring this to my students. I am certain they learned a lot from Donna, as did I, and they gained a tremendous amount of creative growth from the experience.

We completed our time with Donna with a final trip to the PMA to see our work on display and to enjoy some lovely cake! Thank you Donna for all your hard work, and thank you Philadelphia Museum of Art for the experience. We are quite proud of the Nebinger art work on display!