CI - Turkey Puppets

This week's theme for our CI kiddos is all about Thanksgiving, turkeys and the whole works.  I decided today that for art we were going to make turkey puppets!

I printed out some simple feathers onto white paper - had the kiddos color and cut them out.  (A few of them need help cutting, but most of them are capable of doing it on their own.)  Next we glued their feathers to the back of the bag.  Then we flipped the bags over; glued down a beak and two googly eyes (I had the gobbler part already glued down).

Last but not least the kids slid their hands inside the bags and made their turkeys talk, sing, and gobble!

I have NEVER seen such pure joy and excitement out of a group of kids.  They were all grins, smiles, and even vibrating with happiness.  I had no idea puppets were such a big deal for these kiddos - we will most definitely be making puppets again this year!!! 


Rectangular Prisms (3-D Buildings) and Making Thinking Visible

Okay - so I have been thinking about updating this blog for weeks now - but I have been SO busy, that by the time I get home, I just don't have any energy to write a coherent blog message.  Which is kind of hilarious because it is currently 9:30 pm.  I was at school at 7:50 this morning and left tonight at 9:00...... one word:  conferences.

Anyhow, something amazing happened today in my room and I just need to share!

I have posted on here about my exploration into Making Thinking Visible - my struggles and ideas of how awesome it is.  Today I didn't do a thinking routine, but the thinking routines gave me the foundations for a discussion we had today in third grade.

Lets back up a minute:

Last week we reviewed 3-D shapes: sphere, pyramid, triangular prism, cone, cylinder, rectangular prism, and cube.  After we reviewed shapes I told them we were going to draw rectangular prisms - but from the corner and we were going to pretend that they were VERY tall so we couldn't see the top.  This means we would see the front corner, two flat sides, two far corners and the top edges but not the top itself.  (I got this idea for this project here).

I had the kids draw a bunch of arrows - varying in height and size.  Next we drew straight lines down from the tips of the arrows - if the line touched another arrow then it stopped.  Low and behold tall rectangular prisms.  We then decided to add windows and doors to our shapes to make them into buildings!

Back to the present:

So this week we are painting their buildings.  I first thought about making them use certain colors to help them with their color theory - but at the last minute I just let them paint.  We talked briefly about colors that work better together and having a high contrast between the buildings and the sky.  As students worked it seemed more that they just painted with colors they liked and didn't really plan ahead.

This was a little frustrating, but I also had told them to paint however they felt moved to paint, so I couldn't be too upset.  (The only rule I really put on them was that they needed to paint IN their picture and not over.)

So, TODAY is where it got really interesting!  Instead of telling the kids about contrast and how different colors work together - I wanted them to find it on their own.  This is where my new foundation in Making ThinkingVisible helped out!

I took three paintings from yesterday's class (a different class) and hung them on the board before my new group came in, making sure to cover the names. (I also waited till the class left to take them down).  I wanted to make sure students could participate without fear or worry about someone critiquing their work.

I started by asking the kids to pick their favorite one.  No voices, no comments - just look and decide which one they liked best.  Then I asked them 'What made you pick that one?".  This time when they had an answer I wanted them to raise their hand.  When most hands were in the air I asked them to share with an elbow partner.

Next I asked them "Which is your least favorite?" then "What makes you like it the least?"  - I had them share.

Then we went through each picture and students raised their hand if it was their favorite - I then called on a few kids to share why.  For the same picture I asked who liked that one the least.  I, again, asked for students to share what made them decide that.  It was great to hear that some students like number one because of all the colors, but others didn't like it because they found the colors to be too much.  We repeated this for the next two.

While we were doing this I learned A LOT!  Turns out third graders enjoy lots of color - almost the whole class picked the first one as their favorite.  Interesting enough students didn't like three as much because the sky was green and not 'real' (which is also why it was the favorite for some kids).  I then pointed out that number one doesn't have a real sky either.  Hmmmm.....

So as we were doing this I realize that the whole reason I was asking these questions was to see if they could notice which buildings were easier to see - but no one was headed that way.  Most of the kids liked the pictures based on colors or craftsmanship.  This in itself was interesting.  Sometimes I forget that kids are kids and have a different aesthetic on art than I do.  I look at the pictures and find the contrast to be more pleasing, even though I love lots of bright colors.  It was helpful for me to learn this information about my students to see that their color choices were indeed choices and not as haphazard as I originally thought.

I then asked them two more questions:

1) Which one has the best craftsmanship? What makes you say that?

2) Which one is it easiest to see the buildings on?  What makes you say that?

This got even MORE interesting.  Students were all over the place for craftsmanship.  Some decided having white spots made it have poor craftsmanship, while others based it on how much the paint bled into other colors.  Ahh the lens of a 3rd grader.

I was expecting students to pick their favorite cities for the one you could see the buildings best in - being that those they already had a bias to.  Interestingly enough almost every kid in the class picked number two as being able to see the buildings the easiest.

We then spent some time exploring why number two was easier to see -- they all had buildings, all windows, all had doors, and all had the same kind of sky.  Number two had less colors and was most like number three - but number three was still kind of hard to see the buildings.  Students started to talk about light colors and dark colors and how the orange was a lighter color and blue more medium or dark.... this is where I jumped in and we talked about having high CONTRAST.  Colors opposite on the color wheel have a higher contrast and stand out against each other.  Colors on the color wheel that are close to each other have a lower contrast, meaning the colors are more similar.  So the third picture has yellow buildings and a green sky -- yellow and green are close to each other and have a low contrast.  Blue and orange in number two have a high contrast because they are across from each other on the wheel.  The first one uses the same colors on the building as in the sky so it all blends together.

At this point we talked about actively choosing the colors they wanted for their desired outcome.  Did they want LOTS of colors all over, but see the buildings less?  Did they want to be able to see the buildings easier?  I even had a kid pipe up and say that you could use cold colors on the sky and hot on their buildings because they are different.  Totally!

The class today I think had a better idea of what contrast means and what it looks like - I have no idea what their papers will look like... they didn't have a tone of time to paint today.  It will be interesting to see if there are more high contrasted pictures or more color everywhere.


Art and the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program)

Wow!  How has it been almost a month since I posted last?!  Time flies when you are having fun!

The last few weeks have been packed with craziness - I was sick for a bit, field trips, National Testing for the upper grade levels - it's honestly been kind of a mess.

I halted all 3rd, 4th and 5th grade projects for the last two cycles due to MEAP tests.  I realized that their brains were complete toast by the time they got to me and we needed to do some relaxing, other side of the brain thinking in art.  My goal was to not only rest the one side of their brain, but to re-energize and almost reset their day.

My fourth graders were finishing up their collages from their visiting artist and while this is a 'simple' enough task - it wasn't the kind of way I wanted them to use their brains.  Instead we worked on a value project where they needed to mix colors and paint - much more therapeutic. 

We started out by BRIEFLY looking at pictures of the moon at night.  (*Normally I would make the observation part longer, but it is not what the kids needed this week.  Also, the kids are observing the moon in science!  Who knew!).  We talked about what they saw - the colors, the sky... etc.  Next, I showed them how to use a safety compass.  (Honestly, best compasses EVER!).  They drew concentric circles.

At this point some classes were done for the day because I only saw them for 20 minutes - other classes got a chance to get to the paint.  I set out trays with white, black, blue, and purple.  The students painted their moon white, the first ring was their sky color with white, then after that they added a little bit of black for each circle till it got darker and darker and darker.

Students went from loud and squirrel-y to mellow and focused.  I asked the group how their brains felt - many replied with a sigh and a 'much better'.

This lead me to realize that I could help out the grade level teachers as well as the kids.  I sent out an e-mail to the teachers suggesting that they do a little bit of art after their testing.  It wouldn't need to be much 10-20 minutes and it could be as easy as coloring a geometric coloring page.  The rhythm of coloring/painting helps to calm and refocus the brain.  I know that in college during finals I would put out a stack of coloring books and all my crayons in the common area.  Almost everyday I would find the majority of my suit mates bent over coloring books after long bouts of studying or tests.  They would exclaim how much better and more relaxed they felt.

After I sent out my e-mail offering to print some coloring pages - one of the 4th grade teachers e-mailed me back.  She said that their writing assignment that day had to do with some characterization and instead of jumping right into the writing she had them spend some time drawing their character - she said the lesson went smoothly and the students produced a lot of information about their characters!


My third graders have been hard at work exploring landscapes (horizon lines, foreground, middle ground, back ground... etc).  So, again, I decided that wasn't quite the way I wanted to exercise their brains after a morning of MEAP testing.  So, we took a break and did chalk leaf piles.  I have done this lesson for quite a few years now - and they always turn out beautiful.  The students fold a piece of card stock in half, draw half a leaf, cut out the leaf in one long cut!  They should have two stencils - a positive and a negative.  (Sometimes it takes kids a few tries to get it.)  Next they charge their stencil with leaf colored chalk, place the stencil on their paper, smear the chalk from the stencil to their paper.  The students repeat this process with both stencils and then with each others stencils until their paper is filled - overlapped leaves and leaves that go off the edge.

Again, students start out loud and a little over the top - by the time they start using chalk the energy and noise level evens out.

5th grade was a little bit different.  They were finishing some 2-point perspective words and then starting their t-shirt designs for 5th grade production.  So, while I didn't restructure their lessons like the other two grades - their assignments already focused on using their brain more creatively.


Visiting Artist: Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson of Paper Paintings

Her cows are my favorite!
Total awesomeness!  Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson of Paper Paintings came to one of my schools and talked with my fourth graders!!!

Okay, lets back up to before the awesome visit and talk about how we prepared for the event!

A couple of weeks before Mrs. Nelson came I passed out a bunch of pictures (from a calendar) of her work and asked students to look at them - notice them.  We then talked about things they noticed, what the pictures had in common, what was different and even came up with some questions for the artist.

Next we watched this short video:

After the video the kids were pumped and we set off to decorated some collage papers with crayons, tempera paint and watercolor.  I assigned tables a specific color so that we had the correct color combinations when we went to collage later.

The following week we watched a DVD that Mrs. Nelson sent me.  In the DVD she went through her process from beginning to end - making papers, sketching, under painting, and then collaging.  After the video students did their own "sketching" and under painting.  Normally I am against making all the students do the same exact thing, but this time I decided the students needed to focus on the visiting artist along with the collage process - so I decided they would do our school logo.  We have a die-cut of our logo in two sizes, so I made a bunch and let my students pick which size and where to place it on their 6" square pieces of wood.

Back to the amazing visit:

Mrs. Nelson began by talking my students about her love of art, her journey to where she is now with art, and specific techniques to her collage style - and maybe most importantly she explained that making art is her job, she gets paid to make art! After her powerpoint she demonstrated how she works - she impressed the kids with her ability to work on her artwork on planes, in doctor offices and anywhere she can sit for a few minutes! The students "ooo-ed" "aww-ed" and whispered "this is awesome" "so cool" "best day of art ever"!

So, after Mrs. Nelson demonstrated how to directional rip, placing glue UNDER and OVER each piece, correct mistakes, and all sorts of other tips and strategies - we passed out glue, paint brushes, collage papers and their block of wood.

The students TOOK OFF! It was AMAZING to watch them work.  They totally understood and went for it.  Some students used too much glue, others too little - but everyone learned by trial and error and their projects look amazing.  When we had to clean up all I heard were complaints and moans - which is always a good sign.

I think one of the best things about the day was how much my students loved her right from the beginning.  They brought paper for autographs and gave hugs left and right.  Hopefully Mrs. Nelson had a great day just like my students and I did.


First Adventures with kiddos in CI and EI Classrooms

This is the first time that I have ever had self contained CI and EI groups of kiddos.  All students I have ever had up to this point have been integration for art class.  So needless to say I a total newbie at what I should be doing, how to structure projects and even how to manage the energy.

My very first project with them went something like this:

I cut clear contact paper 12x18 sections.  I then took black construction paper, placed the smooth side of the contact paper on the black, then peeled off the backing - taped down the edges to the table.  I did this so that the students knew where the contact paper was easily and I taped it down so that it wouldn't fold in on itself when the students stuck themselves/paper to the sticky side.  (I did learn to tape down ALL sides really well when doing this -- I only did the short sides and it wasn't enough for many sensory energetic students).  For one of my students who is vision impaired I taped sand paper around the edge of their paper - and for another student in a wheel chair I taped their paper to a giant clipboard.  I want to be as adaptive as possible from the beginning.

Next I prepared buckets with chunks of tissue paper.  When students arrived I asked to see their muscles and asked them if they were strong enough to tear paper!!  They then tore paper into small pieces and stuck it to their contact paper.  This was fun to watch as some students didn't rip, others did, and then there were some that just want to stick their hands to the contact over and over.  It was interesting to watch their different sensory levels.

After students were done with the tissue paper - I prepared another area with white construction paper the same size as the contact paper.  Here I provided students with DARK colored markers and asked them to free draw me a picture.  Some students drew their families in a recognizable format - others scribbled their pictures - but had plenty to say.

When students were done drawing we stuck their drawings to their tissue paper contact paper.  The tissue magically colored their drawings -- students LOVED their creations.  I wanted to hang them in the hall but they all were far too attached to let me keep them.  I made sure to snap a few pictures before they took their creations home.

I did this with both of my groups and while the higher skilled students succeed in this projects - and my lower group struggled a little.  I had two kids in the other group try and eat the tissue paper, one just sat and stared at me, and one laid on the floor all class.

Needless to say it will be a new adventure for me teaching kiddos in the CI and EI rooms.  I am excited for the challenge as I am sure some of my lessons/activities will be amazing and others will fail miserably.  I will post about both throughout the year.


First Project

This student went to Germany and Austria!
I have tried multiple types of 'first projects' over the year - names, portraits, just jumping into projects and others.....

I *think* I may have found a solution - a project I really love for the first day of art class.

This is the 3rd year at these two schools and I really do love all my kids - so much that it bothers me I can't talk with each and everyone about how awesome their summers were.  Which inspired this years first art project - well that and pinterest.

This student went to a water park (I love how he started off the page)

I found this awesome project on pinterest, and while the page is in German - the pictures explain enough.  Each student gets a square piece of paper with a quarter circle on it, they then decorate it and when assembled together the quarter circles form a large circle.

I used the pinterest idea and made my squares with a quarter circle on them.  Then in class I spent 5-10 minutes calling on kids and having them tell me something about their summers.  I wrote it down on a LARGE word web on the board.  It was fun to see what states they went to, what water/amusement parks and all sorts of other cool things.

I then explained that I was going to give them a square with a quarter circle.  I asked them to rotate their paper till the arch would work with their assignment.  Their goals were 1) FILL the space  2) Use pictures that represent their summer  3) use colors that make sense.  The catch is that they needed to USE the arch in their picture and not just draw over it.  They also only had that one first class to finish it - which turned out to be anywhere from 10-20 minutes.  I encouraged them to either pick one totally awesome thing to draw or combine as many things as they wanted!!!

The braces this student got over the summer is the sun!
This project was totally awesome!  Not only did I hear highlights from my kiddo's summers, then get to hear even more while I walked around - but ALL kids succeeded in their very first art project.  There was no, 'I can't do this' 'this is stupid' blah blah blah.  All the kids were excited to draw about their summer.  It also provided me with a quick glimpse on abilities of my new students, how attitudes have changed over the summer, and the work habits of the students.

At the end of class I made sure to have students write their name and teacher on the back - then I put them on a bulletin board.  I love that there is already artwork up in the halls, and MANY teachers stopped to look and express their happiness of having artwork up as well!!!

Top Left: A baseball game  Top Right: One of those scary funnel water rides and camping.  Bottom Left: Plane rides and amusement parks.  Bottom Right: The Zoo and Mackinaw Bridge.


Go. Be Awesome.

I have spent the last few days in my classroom(s) preparing for the new year!  I am super excited about a few small changes to the art room.

1) STOOLS!!!!!! Okay so maybe I am a little too excited about this purchase (shout out to all you awesome parents who purchased their kids artwork from our Young Masters program last year!).  My room at my home school is pretty small and once it is filled with 28 kids - some sitting, some standing.... Basically the chairs stick out and we all end up high-stepping over them - or tripping.  The stools can be pushed UNDER the tables when kids stand!  YAY STOOLS!

2) Go.  Be Awesome.      Enough said.       Okay, I will explain.  My awesome friend, Lisa, who I have known since 5th grade (she teaches in North Dakota - middle school - bless her) inspired this little diddy above my door.  Years ago we were visiting and she pulled out her laptop to check something and in the corner there was a small label that simply said "live with purpose".  I can't remember if I asked her about it or not - but it stuck with me.  A small little reminder in a location you always pass - a reminder to live with purpose.  I decided to transfer this to my classroom with a little more pizazz and a little less philosophy.  Go.  Be awesome.

3) A new layout.  I had never thought about putting my tables like this, but when the custodians put back my room after the most amazing wax job, they put it back like this.  I love how much extra room there is to move around - more room at the sinks, more floor working space.  The cons if this arrangement might be that kids are too close and end up in each others space or are too close to their  goofy friends.  I am going to test it out and see where it goes.

4) (there is no picture for this).  Today at our District wide kick off assembly our superintendent was recapping positive things from last year..... improved test scores by so much percent, awards to awesome teachers and staff, number one art Ed blog..... Wait.... What?  Yup!  My blog ended up on the highlights roll from last year.  I was surprised.  It was pretty awesome.  



A New Beginning

It's that time of year, summer is done, but not quite over.  There are still a few days left to enjoy afternoon naps on the couch or by the pool on sunny days.

This is the time of year where I get excited and nervous.  This fall will start my 6th year of teaching and while I don't pretend to have this job anywhere near mastered, it also feels kind of silly that I get so anxious.  I start to have dreams where I show up and have no idea what I am doing, that the kids are out of control and they won't listen to me - that I miss the first day of school because I have it written down wrong.  None of these things have ever happened, but clearly they are things I fear - perhaps all teachers have these thoughts/feelings.

While these things run through my subconscious, my excitement grows as I put my room back together after the summer deep cleaning, and plan lessons.  

As I start to plan the beginning of the year lessons, I remember and realize that my kinders will need to be taught how to put caps on markers, how to use scissors (including what scissors are allowed to cut), and so many other things we forget we learned at some point.  Kinders at the beginning of the year are a lot like a pack of energetic puppies - they love school, have no personal space, and totally out number you.  The older kids are a bit easier to plan for as they can hit the ground running since this is our 3rd year together - but new seating charts, new classes of kids, and a new art room set up will require some instructions.

Actually, if I am to be frank - while I love the start of the school year with the new beginnings and  seeing how much the students have grown emotionally, mentally and physically - I DESPISE the first 3 or so weeks of school.  It's a lot of rules, procedures, reminders, practice and enforcing it all.  I prefer when we all get in a groove and the kids have tested all (most) of the rules, we have established expectations and we can get on with art.   The first few weeks can be exhausting and tedious, but are totally worth it for a smoother year!

Keep posted to Organized Chaos for a year of projects, stories, and pictures.


Arts Education

An art educator friend of mine pinned the following video on Pinterest and I can't quit watching.

It is short.  It is powerful.

Watch.  Digest.  Support.

At one of my buildings we will have a new Principal in the fall.  I was lucky enough to meet and go through a conference/workshop with him and a few others from my building.  Something he said struck me, "We are educating kids for jobs that don't even exist yet."  While I have heard this before, for some reason it stuck with me when he said it.  Perhaps it was because my mind was exploding from all the Making Thinking Visual learning I was doing - but yes!  Yes!  We are educating kids for jobs that don't yet exist.

So yes - "normal" things are needed - reading, writing, math, history, science and so forth.  It is all needed and important.  I am a huge advocator of well rounded educations - I choose a liberal arts college (Go Norse!)  Anyhow, I strongly feel that while we need to teach the basics of these subjects and encourage kids to grow further and further - I also feel that we are desperately missing a huge section of education.  Where is the education on helping kids learn how to think, how to problem solve, work together, try again and again when something doesn't work out right?  This is where Making Thinking Visual and Arts education need to be emphasized and encouraged.

While kids need concrete quantifiable skills for the real world - they also need things like perseverance, problem solving, critical thinking, the ability to work productively in a group - giving and taking constructive criticism.  Students need to know how to write and speak, but they also need to be able to have innovative ideas.

Kids need an education system that is aimed at giving kids skills they can use to adapt to the work environment.  Jobs today are not what they were 20 or even 40 years ago -- the same goes for the future.  Kids need an education system that provides them with the opportunity to think and to reason - not to memorize and report (while there is some basic need for this, as some skills need to be mastered - it can't all be feeling and thinking).

I honestly believe that an arts based or arts integrated education is the way to get this accomplished.  Is it the only way - probably not, but I feel it is the most natural and non-forced way to achieve this.  One of my schools is arts integration - we don't plan connections, but rather provide opportunities for connections.  Students and teachers make organic connections between disciplines which then provides for a wider and deeper understanding of subjects - which often leads to other connections and deeper questions.  It is a beautiful thing.


Making Thinking Visual - Cultures of Thinking

So I have been attending a workshop called "Cultures of Thinking".  It is with Mark Church and based out of the idea of "Making Thinking Visual".  

My brain has been squeezed and expanded on many levels. The workshop started out not as I had expected, but in turn have found it to be what I need. 

I have always had this fascination about how art provides kids with a chance to problem solve and critically think- however I never thought about all the other opportunities to enhance students thinking and learning. 

It's all about providing time and opportunities for kids to think - actually think, reason and explain why and how they are thinking that. It is hard to really explain, because it is not a concrete thing, but rather an organic action that ebbs and flows based on the kids and their responses. 

Our discussions have been deep, confusing, enlightening and amazing.  Our readings have echoed our conversations - my favorite part so far is: "Instead of covering the curriculum and judging our success by how much content we get through, we must learn to identify the key ideas and concepts with which we want our students to engage, struggle, question, explore and ultimately build understanding.  Our goal must be to make the big ideas of the curriculum accessible and engaging while honoring their complexity, beauty, and power in the process." Making Thinking Visual - pg 26

AMAZING!  This is always what I struggle with - thinking time versus curriculum in the 50 min I have once a week.  I would love to have my normal 50 min and then 25 minutes or so later in the week for a humanities class where we could devote time to history, connections, all sorts of awesomeness.  Realistically, I will somehow need to balance and thinking and product. 

I am excited to explore this - I will succeed in some lessons and fail in others. Together my students and I will make new connections, learn to think, learn to truly listen - we will think to learn. 

It will be a brave new world one lesson at a time. 


Last Day

It's already and finally the last day of school.

As I type this - both my classrooms are packed up for the summer.  Posters are down, boxes are stacked, bookshelves are covered, and that pile of crap that I have meant to 'put away' since sometime in October has finally been taken care of. 


My rooms feel so empty, so foreign -- it's like cleaning out your dorm room and realizing that it was never really yours to begin with.

There are so many things we did this year - so many great memories.  At the same time I feel like there is so much that I didn't accomplish, so many projects and ideas that are still on the 'inspiration/to do lists'.  (Never fear, most of them are pinned ;))

Good bye classrooms.  I shall see you soon -  I shall be excited, ready, and my patience restored! 



ArtShow2013 was a huge success!

I don't even know where to start.

I like to have students pick their best work from the year to display at art show - but I don't have the room to keep portfolios for 500 or so kids and I don't like keep artwork instead of sending it home.  So, what I do is this:  When we have completed two projects I have the kids pick which one they did better on and send the other home.  We do this all year so that we always have something picked out for art show, but artwork also goes home. Often times students pick artwork that I don't feel is their best work - and if I ask them why they pick it, their choice is clear.  Students that pick a project that has an end product that is less than their best often pick those because of the process - which is just as important.

I love doing it this way because it creates a great variety of work for ArtShow - giving both parents and I a year review of what has been happening in the art room. 

When we get about a month out from art show we start finalizing projects, signing labels, double and triple checking class lists.  It takes about a month to gather all the projects because kids are sick, at Dr. appointments, on vacation, and any other reason for missing art.

Once projects are finalized I added signed labels and QR codes to each and every project.

Yes QR codes on each project.  Why? Other than because I'm crazy - I am always trying to advocate for my program, reaching out to parents in anyway possible.  Each QR code leads parents to this blog, and specifically to the blog post about that particular project.  I could have made it easier and put the same generic QR code on each project, but that seemed pointless.  My goal was, and is, to communicate to parents about the lessons behind the projects - so to make it easy on them each QR code was specialized.

QR codes are EASY to make.  Goggle "QR code generator" and you'll get LOTS of hits and websites to make the codes for free.  Put in your desired URL (or other info), generate the QR code, download - simple!

Now, I tried to make this as easy as possible on myself and opened Microsoft Word, downloaded a return address label template, imported the QR code - copy and pasted putting two QR codes on each label.  I did this for either a full sheet or half a sheet depending on how many I thought I would need.

Then I sat on the floor in my house, cut and stuck QR codes to each corresponding project.  My cat Phineas was so helpful in this process!

The day arrived to set up ArtShow2013.  This year I got to be in the Cafetorium, because 2nd grade production was done earlier in the year.  I LOVED being in the Cafetorium.  I had WAY more room.  I spent the day putting up grids, clipping artwork, setting out clay pieces on their own labels.

It looked AWESOME.

After everything was set out I then needed to set up my light graffiti booth and my stop motion animation area.  I asked two teachers with teenage daughters if they would be willing to volunteer sometime to art show.  They both agreed and I was thrilled!  I had one daughter on the stage, in the dark with an iPad, flashlights, ghost light, and an iPad app called, "Slow Shutter".  Here families could make light graffiti together.  When I told students there was light graffiti on the stage - their eyes got wide and immediately they were dragging their families to the stage.  I used this app instead of a camera because it allowed families to e-mail themselves the photo right after it was made.  This way I didn't have to try and figure out which went with what family.

I also had a table in the corner set up with Stop Motion animation.  Students were introduced to it the week of ArtShow and were eager to share with their parents how it worked.  Families worked together through out the night to create the video below. 


Kindergarten People

Every year with kinders I use drawing people as my way to see how the kids are progressing.

The 2nd or 3rd project in the year I have students draw the best people they can without any pre-teaching.  I use this to see if they are at a scribble stage, cookie people stage..... etc.  The next class I ask the students to color in their people - I look to see who selects colors, who colors in, who colors over, who sticks with one color crayon.... etc.

Then midway through the year we draw people again.  This time I ask them to draw people with their heads at the top of their paper and toes at the bottom.  We do an example drawing where students help me fill in eyes, nose, hair, ears, mouth, fingers.... on and on.  The students do another drawing and color the next class.  I specifically ask students to pick colors on purpose and to color IN their picture instead of over.  At this point most students have graduated past cookie people and have full bodies -- and most will color IN their picture, but many still pick random colors.

At the end of the year we read "Giraffes Can't Dance" and talk about how they know the animals in the pictures are dancing since the pictures don't move.  It is really interesting to listen to kids try and explain what they see.  After the book we have our own freeze dance party!!!  I play different types of music and the kids dance around - when the music pauses so do the kids.  I have them look around at how they are standing -- bent arms, bent legs, tilted heads....

Then I have the students draw people again - I ask them to draw at least one arm and one leg to be bent.      Next class, just like before, students color IN with colors that make sense.

At this point in the year I am looking for better motor control, the ability to use their favorite color on shirts/pants/shoes instead of faces and hair.

1-5th Grades -- Stop Motion Animation (Week 1)

I have always wanted to do a stop motion animation project with students but was overwhelmed the the amount of equipment I would need -- cameras, tripods, computers, computer software, a computer lab.... times however many groups I would have.

Then came iPads and iPad apps.  Sometime during the summer or fall I found an app called 'Stop Motion'.  It's a .99 cent app that is super user friendly that creates stop motion animation -- you can do all sorts of things directly in this app to have a full video of awesomeness.

Now that I found the app I just needed enough iPads - which was almost as overwhelming as needing ALL the extra equipment.  Lucky for me our building purchased a few iPads for teacher/student use.  I claimed the iPads for two weeks in May to try out stop motion animation!

I waited.  I planned.

May came and suddenly it was time to load up the iPads with Stop Motion and pray to the art teaching gods that my lesson plan would work.

The week before I drew out some backgrounds on some old file folders and asked students to color them when they were finished with work.

I also took some GIANT white paper, an iPad, and a ruler to grid out the sight lines of the camera.  I had students color this grey.  

The day came to put all my planning to the test - about 20 minutes before my first class walked in I tried to download the .99 app only to find no way to purchase the app and download it on each iPad.  (rightfully so, the school ipads did not come with a credit card on file).  I started to panic.  Would I really need to buy 10.00 gift cards for each one for a 99 cent app?!!?  Then I got smart.  I gifted Stop Motion to myself 4 times and redeemed them on each ipad.  WHEW.  That was close.

How I set it up:
3-5 kids in a group depending on how many students are in class (I had 6 stations)
1 Large white paper with grey trapizoid
1 background
1 iPad loaded with Stop Motion
Pattern blocks
1 ruler to angle iPad

I explained how the app worked, their job, how to rotate through being the director, and stressed as much as I could to NOT MOVE THE IPAD OR THE BACKGROUND.

One student is the Director at a time.  The director's job is to make sure all body parts are out of the shot- take the picture - then tell group to move pieces.  I set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes (depending on group size).  When the timer goes off directors change.  The director doesn't get to boss around what the movers do - their only job is to clear the picture of body parts and take the picture.  The group works together to make ONE long video - the video DOES NOT change when the director does.

The lesson worked even better than I expected.  The kids used the app with little help or instruction.  I did find that the older students did a better job being patient and moving pieces a little at a time - the younger kids seemed to get excited and make larger movements between pictures.

Towards the end of class I have groups clean up their stations while I collect their iPads and turn on the projector.  When everyone is cleaned up we watch their movies on the digital projector.  (All you need is an adapter that goes from your iPad to VGA cable for the projector).

Overall the lesson was a complete success - I have parents e-mailing asking what app it is, students are begging to do it again next time (which I already have planned!)

2nd Grade -- Jasper John meets Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Back, way back in the year right around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day I had 2nd graders combine the positive ideas of Dr. King with the amazing paintings of the Jasper Johns.

We started of by watching part of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Next, we brainstormed words that were positive.

Students then picked a word and wrote it in thick bubble letters on a piece of paper.  The thicker the bubble letters the better, if the letters are too skinny it will be hard to read.

The next class we looked at paintings by Jasper John and I asked them, "How can we see his numbers even though his paintings are messy and he doesn't outline?"  It took kids a while to figure out how to explain what they were seeing.  Once students voiced the idea that he used different colors on the edges - so the inside edge might be yellow but the outside is blue.
Jasper Johns

I passed out primary colors with white and showed students how to freely paint by double or triple dipping their paint brush.  I tried to stress that they needed to make the background different than their letter so we could read them.

Honestly, this lesson didn't turn out exactly how I had planned - but students LOVED it.  They really got into making different colors and painting making it hard to read many of their words.  Even though the end product wasn't exactly what I had envisioned, the project taught more than I expected.

2nd Grade -- Fall Collage Scenes


3rd and 4th Grade -- CD weavings

Last year at the end of the year our building Tech came to me with a box of CD's asking if I could use them.

SURE! I said.

Fast forward to this year and suddenly CD weavings are popping up everywhere - Pinterest, other art teachers in my district, blogs.  I decided to jump on the band wagon and give it a try!

I started kids out with a CD, or rather their LOOM.  Next, I gave them a piece of warp thread - it was my wingspan,  about 5 ft.  Students put the warp thread through the middle of the loom and tied a TIGHT square knot on the back.  Next, students wrapped the remaining thread through the middle, then around the outside edge, until they ran out of thread.  Then, students counted how many strings they had on the front - they needed to have an ODD number (most had 11 or 13, a few 9).

IMPORTANT: The tighter the warp thread is on the loom the easier it will be to weave.

Next class I showed students how to measure a piece of yarn using their arms as a measuring stick - finger tips to shoulder, then how to thread the yarn on a tapestry needle. (HINT: my mom taught me this-- don't use the end of the string, instead make a little loop, pinch the top of the loop to make a bump, put the eye of the needle on the bump, wiggle the bump a little and it will slide right into the eye!).  Do not tie on the needle.  Students learn quickly to pull the thread not the needle when pulling weft thread tight.

Students then pick a spot on their warp thread, put the needle under, over, under, PULL - pull till the end of the string almost goes under that first warp thread.  Hold down the end of the weft thread while you continue with the needle all the way around - over, under, over, under.... when you get back to the beginning the weft string will overlap the end and hold it in place.  Weave till you run out of string.  When the string runs out - end it on an 'under' movement.  Measure new string, start where the last string ended and keep going!  (video to come)

The first couple of strings were the most thought provoking for the students - but after that they CRUISED!  In fact students would beg to take them home to work on them and would exclaim with excitement when they would return to finish them!

To be done students could either weave to the very edge or stop about an inch short and color with Sharpies.

I will totally do these again!

- Make warp thread TIGHT.
- Make sure there are an odd number of warp threads.
- Make students thread their own needles.
- Don't let students tie on their needles (unless absolutely needed)

4th Grade - I Am Poems

I originally saw this project either on Pinterest or a blog.... I can't remember anymore.  The original post was with a 1st grade class where the kids painted the background, a candid picture was taken, and a sentence was added.  I LOVED the personality of these and decided to make it a little harder.  In my old district the 3rd graders created these fantastic poems based off the book "I am America" that I decided would be PERFECT for my project.

So, the first day I had students watercolor their paper using liquid watercolors and salt.  I asked that they do abstract paintings - using only lines and shapes, no smiley faces, no Michigan S, no suns, no hearts (I realize hearts are a shape), and so on.  The students were so intrigued by what the salt did to their paintings that they didn't even think about adding cute-sy images.

Day two I had the kids write down 15 things about themselves on a piece of paper - I gave them 10 minutes to do this.  I asked them to write a word or two for each thing, no sentences.  (Have you ever watched a 4th grader compose a sentence?!? oh boy.)

Next I read them "I am America".

After we talked about patterns in the book - how it was worded.  Does it make sense to say, "I am blue jeans?"  -- What does that mean?  Does it actually mean the person is made of blue jeans?!  We discuss and when I felt like the kids got it I introduced the next part.

On the back of their paper students write 10 sentences combining their ideas about themselves and the wording from "I am America".  So, for example if I wrote, "green" on the front, on the back I might right, "I am bright green fresh cut grass."  Or if I wrote, "cheese pizza" on the front, on the back I might right, "I am gooey hot cheese pizza".

My goal was to get students to stretch their sentences to be more than "I like pizza".  Most students enjoyed coming up with words like, dazzling  shimmering, bold, loud, awesome... etc.

The next time I saw students I booked the computer lab and I had students type their 10 sentences.  I figured this would take 15-20 minutes.. BOY WAS I WRONG!!  Have you ever watched 4th graders type?!?!?!  WoW.  It took them a full 50 minutes and even then some were finishing up.

I had students type all 10 sentences first, THEN if they had time students were allowed to go back and change fonts, colors, and sizes of their text.  We printed them out and kept them till next class.

The very last day of this project I printed out pictures I took of them, handed them their poem and asked them to cut neatly!  Then they arranged their poem AND their picture to make a unique composition.  Last but not least - it all got glued down.

These are breathtaking to look at.  The contrast between the bright background and their black and white pictures are perfect.

This project took many classes to do, but the end product was well worth it.

**NOTE** To protect images of my students the pictures presented are cropped and do not show full project.


Principal Fires Security Detail to Higher Arts Teachers

If I could embed this video/story I TOTALLY would.  If you have been following Organized Chaos over the years, I am pretty passionate about the important of the Arts - that the Arts are a fundamental part of humanity.  I feel as though I am always trying to convince and prove that what I do is more than cutting and gluing.  Here is another real world story where the ARTS are saving students, where people are finding themselves and their futures in ARTS education.


Principal Fires Security to Higher Arts Teachers

Paper Weavings (k,1,3,4)

Weaving was one of the classes in college that made me realize that I wanted to be an art teacher.

Weird, right?

Weaving was the first class where everything made sense.  It was the first class I had ever had that I didn't struggle to understand processes, concepts, or anything else.  In my entire school career it was the first class I had where I felt smart.  I have some learning disabilities that make retaining oral information difficult for me - so most classes are tough and lectures were a nightmare.  Weaving was the first class where everything was explained with examples and showing/doing it -- it totally made sense to me.  It was in my weaving class where I realized that other kids who learn just like me are actually smart and they need a space to feel smart - where it doesn't matter if letters move, or you can't read fast, or if numbers just don't make sense.   Art is for everyone, but especially for those kids who aren't 'smart' based on their state test scores.

I could go on -- but back to our weavings.

So, for as much as I LOVE weaving - I have never woven with students.  The idea seemed overwhelming to me.  I struggled with how to organize the materials and be available to help students as they had questions and needed assessment.

At last I decided to jump in and see how it went.

It went WAY BETTER than I expected.

Kids are born weavers.

Kids that I expected to struggle with weaving because the struggled with other art skills -- SOARED and kids that I expected to breeze through it struggled a bit.  Why?  I am not completely sure.  I think it has something to do with the combination of fine motor skills, ability to recognize patterns, willingness to correct mistakes, and other crazy brain functions I can only pretend to know about.

For the Kinders and 1st grade kids I made very simple looms.  I provided students with their "warp thread" precut and attached at the top.  I gave them strips of paper they needed to weave over, under, over, under until they filled their paper.  We then either glued down the flaps or I taped the flaps on the back. Students LOVED seeing their weavings get longer - many even made patterns with the paper they picked.

For the 3rd graders - I had them make their warp threads.  We spent a class with rules and pencils to make sure their warp threads were even and in the right spaces.  A few students had to redo theirs when they quit and did it halfway trying to take the easy way out -- instead they had to do twice as much work.  Once their loom was done I left them pick which design they wanted from some patterns.  I showed them how to read the pattern one line at a time, then weave it -- next line and so on.  Many students caught on after a couple of lines, a few students needed some extra help.  They did GREAT!

4th graders made their own looms as well, but instead of weaving a pre-made pattern, I had them create their own.  Each student got a sheet of paper with 3 grids on it.  Students colored in full squares to make their designs.  Once all three designs were complete, students picked their favorite to weave.  Again, I showed students how to read their patterns one row at a time - off they went.

Now, after our first rounds of weaving I have decided that I love doing paper weavings with the younger kids and yarn weaving with the older kids.  While the grid weavings are neat - they were frustrating for many students because the paper moves around a lot, causing their patterns to distort. I had students glue them down in the end - but it was hard to glue flat without warping their weaving.  Although, I have to admit that the students had very little issue with the grid weaving concept because of Minecraft.  I had TONS of creepers woven.