Monday, October 24, 2016

In the Art Room: Wisconsin Fall Art Conference, 2016!

So, never having been a teacher of any other subject, what I'm about to say is completely based on my totally biased and awesome opinion: Art Teacherin' Conferences Are THE BEST Conferences. There. Take that Typing Teacher Conferences (1. Is there such a thing? 2. It took me five minutes to come up with some sort of teacherin' conference to reference without hurting feelings. Sorry, Typin' Teachers. Y'all just don't strike me as the party animal type).
Last Wednesday, I got up at the butt-ugly hour of 2:30 am (that is MORNING, people) because I was so eager to get to the Wisconsin fall art conference and join my soon-to-be best friends. Well, that and the fact that the only decent flight I could find was at that unholy hour. Flying over Wisconsin was a beautiful treat. Can you believe this landscape? 
The WI fall conference was in LaCrosse which is my new favorite town. There's a bar, an antique shop and coffee spot on every corner. That's a winning town in my book. As I was walking out of the airport, my two favorite Wisconsinites were walking in to pick me up: Jen Dahl and Tiffany Beltz. Both Jen and Tiffany worked their tails off to make the WI art conference amazing. Tiffany went above and beyond recruiting fantastic presenters, hand-stenciling over 400 packets for each attendee, baking cupcakes for all involved AND presenting her self! She's a beast, that Tiffany Beltz. I want whatever she's having. Seriously, Jen and Tiff, y'all made my trip a wonderful one, thank you so stinkin' much!
After having a wonderful breakfast with Jen and Tiff, I did my best to lend a hand and help set up. Really, there was nothing to it, they had everything so well organized. That evening, there was a lovely reception for the art teachers who had artwork on display. It was there that I got to meet my online friend Jeanne Bjork. What I loved so much about meeting my folks whom I've only known online is the ease that I can chat with them. It's almost like reuniting with old friends. 
That morning, after a lovely breakfast with Jeanne, I managed to pop into a sessions that looked like so much fun: Stuffed Monsters. Dustin Anderson, Wisconsin art teacher, lead the session and it was so much fun. Big shout out to Dustin for allowing me to crash his monstrous party!
My kids are gonna LOVE this lesson!
My favorite thing about attending conferences: making new friends and seeing what others create. Art teachers are so stinkin' creative, y'all. Go figure. 
Immediately after Dustin's session was mine. I taught two hour long needle felting classes back to back. I love teaching needle felting because it's a craft that EVERYONE can do. It's like having a big ole craft night with all of your new favorite friends. 
We stabbed and stabbed ourselves palettes or anything else we had in mind. My buddy Lindy needle felted poppies onto a pair of leg warmers!
 I do believe I created a bunch of needle felting monsters!
 The following hour long sesh created the same cuteness. Our supplies came from Back to Back Fiber (thank you, Sue!). 
I mean, look how cute! I wonder how many of these were worn when the teachers returned to school. 
I taught over 60 ladies to needle felt! I need to invest in a herd of sheep, y'all. 
After attending a wonderful presentation on mindfulness in the art room, I met up with a group of art teachers who wanted to take the later afternoon to soak up LaCrosse and it's vintage offerings. I had so much fun with my new buddies! We hit LaCrosse Prairie Vintage, a coffee shop and a three story antique mall all before settling down for Bloody Marys, deep fried cheese curd and something called Tat-Chos (um, tater tot nachos aka HEAVEN ON A PLATE). It was so funny, when we were paying the tab, my friend Bonnie remarked, "it seems like it must be so late!" We looked down at our watches only to find it was only 7pm. We'd worn ourselves out!
Bright and early the next morning, I was up and on stage. I was the keynote speaker for the conference (that sounds so strange to say!). I had so much fun sharing stories about my art teacherin', art makerin' and life living journey. Normally, I get a touch of the jitters when presenting but the folks of WI make me so comfortable that it was like chatting with old friends. Love all y'all!
Right after that, I was back to workshop teaching. This time, I taught two hour long sessions on weaving. We explored cord and straw weaving. 
Special thanks to Leah Keller, Frank Korb and Jeanne for helping me wrangle up supplies since I ran out! I managed to overpack my outfits and under pack supplies because #priorities. 
I really gotta say it again: my fave part of the conference: making new friends.
Hanging out with folks like Frank, making new friends and catching up with "old" ones is my most favorite thing ever. Thank you so much, Wisconsin, for having me. I love y'all and had an absolute blast!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 22

Ah, yes. Preparing for a sub. Always a...pleasure. 

Oh, what was that? Not exactly the first word that came to your mind? Yeah, me neither. So I thought I'd share with y'all just how I go about preparing for a sub that will (hopefully) make their life as easy as possible which will make for a happy return for me. Much unlike my first year teaching when I found all of my brand spankin' new markers left decapped and strewn about. It looked like a freakin' war zone where the kids were the obvious victors (I half expected to find the sub laid out with markers sticking out of him like some kid created voodoo doll). 

So, sit back, cap those markers and let's talk subbie plans.
I learned that when I'm out for several days, I need to have a high quality lesson for the kids. I began creating recorded sub plans last year when I was out for a stretch with jury duty. I was thrilled to hear that my sub loved the idea of recorded lessons and that my kids enjoyed it as well. I've not looked back since. Here's my latest sub vid: 
 Not even gonna pull your leg: this kind of sub planning takes time. A lot of it. And planning ahead is not my bag, baby, so the struggle to create such extensive plans is real. That being said, if I can do it, you can do it. Or just use my plans cuz my mama taught me how to share. 
Here's a peak of what was left for my sub: a recorded plan and, if all else fails, a story board version. This also will serve as a reminder of the steps to follow for those early finishers or Forgetful Franks.
 I loved having a cart to load up over the course of several days. This allowed me to add to the cart in between classes. It was also nice to wheel out of the way.
Since I'm super visual, laid out everything in such a way that made some sort of sense (hopefully!). Having everything labeled with the same color sticky note was key. 
I tried to be as thorough as possible...but you always forget something. For that reason, I made sure to let my fellow teacher buddies know that I'd be out and to be sure and check on the sub. 
It's so nice to have the time to prepare to be this elaborate...but, let's face it, this is what sub planning looks like in an ideal world. 
 Often times, we only have time to prepare the bare minimum. For that reason, it's important to have a Sub Tub stocked with the basics: Emergency Procedures, Class Lists, Schedule and Basic Sub Notes. Also...simply sub plans that can be used for all grade levels. I have several books for my sub to read to my kids as well as "how to draw" sheets that he/she can bust out in a pinch. 
But this time around, I decided to go's to hoping it works out! I'll be certain to share the Monsters of Creativity mural once complete. 
My sweet friend Julie also offered to cover my sewing club I had a cart ready for her as well. 

What do y'all do to prepare for a sub? What are your Must Have's? Love to share ideas!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

In the Art Room: Monsters of Creativity

Fall means art teacherin' conference time which I so totally love. What I don't love is prepping and planning for taking those days off. I mean, I gotta create content that's educational and engaging both for the sub and the kids all while using materials that aren't too difficult for someone who just might not have an art background. I recently shared with y'all a bunch of my sub videos. Because I'll be out for the next couple of days attending an art conference in Wisconsin (can't wait, y'all!), I created this lesson and thought I'd share it as well.
 It's been my goal this year to introduce my students to contemporary artists with a focus on street artists. I recently did that with our wings mural project. This go-round I wanted my kids to meet the street artist who goes by the name Phetus.  
I think my students will love his colorful and humorous monsters...and hopefully be inspired to create their own!
 My hope is to display their monsters in a grid-like manner such as this. We're calling our display Monsters of Creativity. This will be showcased right outside the art room. Kinda fitting, no?
 I had so much fun creating my own examples for this project. I just love these!
Tomorrow, in Art Teacherin' 101, I'll be sharing with y'all just how I prepare for being absent and what I believe to be the essentials for a sub. 
Fingers crossed my subbo has a great time and that the kids create monsters...and not behave like them. 
 I'll be certain to share a follow up to this blog post and let y'all know how it all goes. Until then, put that tongue back in your mouth and...
Make something monstrous!
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Monday, October 17, 2016

In the Art Room: You Be You Mural Complete!

So, like, at the end of August, I shared with you my You Be You lesson inspired by the wonderful book of the same title by Linda Kranz. I did this project as apart of our kindness and growth mindsets theme with my first through third grade kids. It was fun, easy and a great way to reintroduce the elements of art as well as drive home some super positive warm fuzzies. 
Unfortunately, I suffer from a serious case of Squirrel-itis and got sidetracked from assembling this mural. However, right before Fall Break Eve, I conned my special area buddies into "helping me" with the mural (two hours later, my friend Ali was still glueing and outlining the fish in blue...thanks, buddy!) and getting it up on the wall. Yay! Another Mammoth Mural in the books.  
In case you wanna give this fun lesson a go, feel free to use the video. You are always more than welcome to use any of my videos in your art room. I try to update weekly (with an Art Teacherin' 101 going up every Wednesday-ish). If you subscribe, you can stay tuned. 
So...true fax: this mural was only supposed to be a You Be You tribute...but with so many fish created, I had to create a second mural. This one with the title of Linda's first book in the series. By the way, when the murals went up, the edges just felt a little meh. I picked up that cute border at Joann's and added it today. I think it makes a big difference. 
Right after the mural was hung...I discovered another bin of third grade fish sitting there all, "hey there, forget something, Stephens?" Looks like I have more fish to add to the mural!
When I have my students create large murals, we usually create huge sheets of pattern papers. We call this our Painting Party. I throw papers down on the tables and either I'll start a pattern motif of the kids will. They are to repeat that pattern until their paper is full. Once complete, I remove the paper and replace it with another large sheet. This gives me a nice big stack of fun papers to use when assembling the kid's murals. 
First grade fishes just swimmin' and swimmin'. 
After the murals were hung, I realized just how much our school walls (and ceiling!) are devoted to the artistry of our awesome kids. I think it's vital to showcase ALL student artwork (not just a hand selected few) for several reasons: 1. It tells your students that "Hey! You are awesome! Your artwork is amazing! You deserve to be seen by all!"; 2. It showcases your art program and the importance of the arts to your parents, faculty and staff. This is just one small nook that is full of their work from this year! You can see more of their monochromatic selfie mural and the fourth graders' radial prints
I think my favorite part of this mural is the message. I'm a big believer in you doing you. It took me entirely too long to really listen to my inner voice. I have spent a good portion of my life doing what I thought I was "supposed" to be doing and being the person who I thought I was "supposed" to be. Letting go of that notion and really being comfortable with who I am, what my interests are and where that takes me is now the place I find myself. I want my kids to get there faster than I did. I want them to know it's awesome to be who they are cuz There Is Only One You so You Be You! 

Thank you, Linda Kranz, for the powerful message!
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