Thursday, August 23, 2012

For the love of art...

I, like many people, have been reading old posts.

For the record: While I am gratefully overwhelmed by the massive amount of pageviews this past month (something I mainly attribute to art teachers using pinterest to prepare for a school year), I am slightly sad to see the emphasis on posts that are two and three years old! I hope it doesn't break your heart, pinterest art teachers, but I don't even have the art class jobs anymore. Eeek! So while I still stand by my "stool inspector," I'm not using that system anymore. What excites me is my new systems, new displays, and even my consortium's new standards for visual arts!

As I was perusing posts with pictures of my room (and boy was it UGLY my first year--the wall color, the TV shelf, the dangling lights--a fresh paint job, new TV, CORK WALLS, and colorful displays make such a difference!),
I stumbled upon the sweetest story:

Yesterday, I painted with 9 first grade students during the last period of the day. We had about 15 minutes between classes. It was just enough time for me and Mrs. Yang to set up 9 painting stations, fully equipped with water, paper towels, two paintbrushes, a 15x20 sheet of paper, and a palette with red, yellow, blue, and white paint.

Side note: My students were so excited to paint this week that one student brought paintbrushes from home! Waiting to come into the room in the hallway outside the classroom, another student commented "but she only has 7 paintbrushes!" I assured him that I had paintbrushes too, and every student would get a paintbrush, even if she didn't have enough for everyone in class...

Jumping forward to year five, yesterday was the first day of the second art classes of the year. I had one class of first grade, one class of third grade, and one class of fifth grade. The fifth graders--those students were first graders during my first year. First graders who were so excited to paint that they brought their own paint brushes! As for this year's first grade, amazingly it was another class of 9 and I was painting with them. It's really a beautiful thing!

     The magic of mixing paint with six year olds.

And the third graders. They were the first class of the morning. I was lazy this year and didn't communicate to the classroom teachers about art smocks but these third graders brought them anyway. As they lined up at my door, a few students mentioned the new boy's art smock. "Yeah, it's nice!" I told them, glancing quickly at the plastic apron. It had pictures of art supplies in the pockets. Cute. It wasn't for another three or four minutes that I realized what they were talking about. It didn't have pictures of art supplies; he brought his own supplies to class! Pockets full of markers, scissors, and glue. His own artistic toolbelt!

It's been five years.
Some of the excitement is gone.

But for him, our relationship is just beginning.

It was our first real day of art-making, together. He is precious. He enthusiasm is inspiring. He's one of the reasons I love my job.

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beautiful (OOPS) Bulletin Board!

It's a week into school. 9 days to be exact, but today was the start of the 2nd art classes of the year. With each class finished the introduction and oops, I spent the afternoon stapling all 115 projects onto the two bulletin boards.

I know there are differing views on exposed cork, borders, and asymmetrical displays, but I think the chaotic-overlapping-and-hanging-over-the-edge aesthetic works well for this project.

The kids were already peeking on their way to music class, searching for their oops on the board!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's that you're reading?

Teachers have lots of different ideas about what students should do when they finish early.

In addition to free draw and other art-making activities, I have a reading corner. Students can elect to free read instead of free draw. It's always good to encourage reading!

Our bookshelf is color-coded and organized into three categories. The colored dot on the spine of the book coordinates with the shelf label so students know the correct shelf for returning books. It works, most of the time...

So what are we reading? Here are some books I've collected these five years...

Stories about Art: These are your classic storybooks with an art-related theme. Many of these are well-known and loved by elementary art teachers around the world.

          The Dot
          The Art Lesson
          A Day with No Crayons
          I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
          Mouse Paint
          White Rabbit's Color Book
          Lines that Wiggle
          When a Line Bends...a Shape Begins
          Iggy Peck, Architect
          Beautiful Oops!
          Hands: Growing up to be an Artist
          Harold and the Purple Crayon
          Pantone: Colors

Famous Artwork: The books on this shelf vary greatly but are held together because they contain many works from art history. Some have descriptive texts; others are I SPY or alphabet books. Museum ABC's is a particular favorite. I was given a copy at my high school graduation party with the sweetest inscription. For my students, I love how it shows them how the same idea can be depicted in different ways at different times and in different cultures.

          Museum ABC
          Museum Shapes
          Museum 123
          Art is...
          Name That Style
          No One Saw
          3-D ABC
          The Art Book for Children
          The Art Book for Children, Book Two
          I Spy: An Alphabet in Art

Artist Biographies: I don't spend much time emphasizing specific artists with my students. These biographies allow them to focus on artists that pique their interests. In addition, 3rd-5th graders are required to fill out one artist worksheet per quarter to go in their art class portfolio. I give class time to allow for this activity.

Artist Biographies come in a few categories...for another time!

Do you have books you love?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back from the printer

I have an addiction. Or three, maybe four.

     1 kuai colored paper
     double-sided tape
     custom printing (with unique fonts)

When I first got into my classroom in 2008,
I started to make posters with class expectations, character traits of the month, flavorful folds, and my name. By the time second semester rolled around, I'd realized my TA had much nicer handwriting. She became my go-to sign maker, creating character trait signs for successive years, job charts, bookshelf labels, and a bilingual color wheel.

Last year, my TA switched departments. With her handwriting out of the picture, I decided to try a new avenue for classroom displays--custom printing. It seemed only natural to enlist the local printer for art classroom needs; my graphic design projects had already made it on t-shirts, banners, posters, and mugs for the school.

Throughout the process, I loved the freedom and possibilities of creating my new class expectations digitally, and the finished product looks amazing in my classroom!

This year, I took on a few new printing projects. I decided the color wheel could use an upgrade. The laminated pieces had a few minor errors and were starting to look a little worse for wear. These posters were printed as rectangles, then I cut the edges to look like paint blobs.

I was also inspired by posters on pinterest. I loved content, but like timelines, I just wasn't quite satisfied with the designs as is. I'm quite picky. I needed them to fit in specific spots around my whiteboard and I preferred a different color scheme. Combine some new fonts (Equestria and GeoSansLight), my rainbow class colors, and a taupe-y/grey background. Ta da! New posters for my art room.

Look really carefully, to the left of the bulletin board. You can see the very narrow space that necessitated custom posters. While I was at it, I printed an extra noise level chart for the secondary art teacher and about 14 extra THINK posters for teachers at school.

I absolutely love the way the posters turned out! Thanks to pinterest for linking me up with the originals and to Theresa Gillespie and Shannon P Long for sharing their ideas.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beginning with a Beautiful OOPS!

Towards the end of my first year, I started building a class library of art books. Stories about art, famous artwork, and artist biographies. More about my favorite books later. My family came to visit that summer and brought a treasure---$100 of children's books I had ordered with the next year's budget.

Year two began with a different book for each grade level (Ish, The Dot, and others). At that time, I thought I would continue with those books every year, one permanently assigned to each grade level. I can't remember if I kept the tradition in year three, but year four brought a different idea. I kicked off the year with one book for the entire elementary school. Art is...

This year, year five, I picked a different book. Beautiful Oops. It's part of my new stash. Broke the bank (or should I say, the budget) and brought back nearly $170 of books from my time in the states this summer. Well this book is unlike any I've seen before. If you haven't purchased it yet, rush out to your nearest bookstore and get it! I'd say order it online but amazon is temporarily out of stock. To call it a pop-up book is a gross understatement. Ripped pages, bent corners, flaps and overlays and crumpled up paper. Each "oops" is creatively transformed into something beautiful. Seemed perfect for art class!

While I want my students to practice good craftsmanship, sometimes you just have to make it work! Your neighbor drips paint on your picture--make it work. Don't like the line you drew in pen--make it work. A smudge and a smear--make it work.

Transform oops moments into a wonderful part of your finished work.

To practice, I asked students to pick an "oops" page from the board. (I clipped up scraps of paper with tears, folds, wrinkles, smears, smudges, and drips---most gathered from scrap piles in the teachers' workroom, a few with additional and intentional markings from my hand.) Students then used markers, colored pencils, scissors, and glue to modify and create masterpieces. Some of the students finished early and wanted to do a second piece. Others added lots of details. One particular first grade boy thought the challenge was too easy. After he beautified the smudge on his paper, he took some markers in hand and made some wild dashes along the bottom, chanting something about more mistakes and more oops. He then managed to incorporate those scribblings purposefully into his scene.

All the "oops" art will take over the bulletin boards outside my classroom next week. They are really quite special! I am more than pleased with the results. Some of the students were so engaged they wanted to continue working on their oops project next week!

(The picture above is also a small preview of some new displays in my room. Check back for more info about my word wall, noise chart, color wheel, and other additions in year five!)

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