Monday, August 21, 2017

Teaching Art Outside of the Art Room

Meet Mallory Hamby, my best friend. I don't use those words lightly, y'all. I firmly believe that there are just a handful of folks in the world who "get" you and when you find those folks, you cling to 'em. Not in a creepy "let's hope they don't file for a restraining order...again" kind of way but in a "I know we've not spoken in a while and yet it feels like yesterday" type of deal. 

I met Mallory several years ago when she was hired as an art teacher in my district. We became fast friends when we discovered our love for all things thrift, kitsch and Pee Wee Herman. You might recall, my friend Stephanie and I throwing her a Pee Wee Baby Shower just a handful of years ago. Since then, she's moved to Tupelo, Mississippi and spends most of her days loving on her sweet baby girl Lydia Dot. During the weekends, she runs Art Adventures with Mrs. Mallory, an art camp for kids! 
Knowing that many art teachers would love to learn more about running an art camp, I asked Mallory if she'd answer some questions for me. Big hugs and thanks, Mallory, for sharing your awesome. I know art teachers who have toyed with this idea will be thrilled to learn from you!

CS: Why did you decide to start teaching art outside of the classroom?

MH: Life happens and plans change. It all started when I took a year off from teaching to stay home with my baby. The plans were for my mom to watch her after that year and I would return to teaching, but life was turned upside down and my mom got very sick and wouldn't be able to take care of her granddaughter. I realized that in order to keep my daughter at home and still supplement our income I was going to have to be creative! It started out as a summer art camp a little over a year ago, just to put my toes in the water. I hated the idea of abandoning my art education roots, so I was determined to make it work. My mom had total faith in me and told me to go for it and not look back, so I did! My husband is a graphic designer and made a flyers, a banner, business cards and yard sign. My first venture into the community to get my name out there was having a free booth at a local kids music and art festival. I let the kids make bubble prints that they could take with them and handed out business cards.
CS: how did you find a space?

MH: The answer to this question has been a huge part of my success. I was extremely lucky in that I had an old friend and fellow artist that owns a local art shop/studio, William Heard. I took a shot in the dark and asked him if he thought it would be possible for me to use his shop for kid's art classes. He immediately said yes! I asked him if he was sure about it several times- having younger students in the shop scared me at first. William works doing art therapy with adults with disabilities in the shop once a week through grants. I was afraid of getting in the way of something so incredible. The fear of stepping on someone's toes was real, but it was such a perfect location and William is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. I realize this was finding a golden needle in a giant haystack and I am super grateful.

CS: How did you let the community know? Did you have connections?


In the beginning, I tried hanging up fliers around town in popular restaurants and local shops, but I soon realized that advertising on Facebook honestly gave me the best turnout. I do have to pay to boost my posts or they are never seen, but it always pays off. My customers message me on Facebook to hold a spot for their child in my classes and pay when they arrive. Also, the owner of the shop/studio where we hold classes is pretty well-known around our small town. Where I live, if you've never heard of someone, you probably know at least one of their friends or went to school with them. Having moved from Nashville back to my hometown has been an adjustment, but I also think that being here has been what has made this work. Besides my Facebook and my Instagram, word of mouth has been powerful! I have had several children tell me that their friend or classmate told me about their experience and wanted to try it themselves.
CS: What has been the response?

MH: The response lately has been incredible! Our town really needs more options for kids to experience different activities- especially when it comes to visual arts. I am thanked often by parents for offering what I offer and they remind me how needed it is in our area. After my first round of summer camps were over, which averaged a dozen students per camp, I started teaching a couple Saturday classes per month that were 2.5 hours each. One class for younger students in the morning and an afternoon class for older students up to the age of 12. The first few months of classes on average only had about 5 students each. Halfway through the year, the word had spread and I was getting an average of 15 students in the morning and 7 or so in the afternoon classes. It has gotten to the point with my younger classes where I am only allowing as many students as the studio can handle, which is max 17 students. My afternoon classes are still smaller, but many of my students in the afternoons return regularly and we are able to sit down and go more in-depth with smaller groups and I always look forward to that.
 CS: What does a typical class look like?


MH: Saturday morning classes are usually busy with children ages 4 to 7. I usually spend weeks prepping ideas for a project, but as soon as they are done with it their favorite part is at the end where we do a looser activity that usually involves glitter, gemstones and glue. It never fails, that messy part at the end is always a favorite. I always take pictures while they work and pictures of finished projects at the end and some of my students really enjoy that part, they feel so proud to show off what they have made! The afternoon classes are calmer, but I still allow them to do something pretty messy at some point and they love exploring the studio and using elements that I hadn't planned on using and I enjoy letting them try new processes. The studio is filled with a large arrangement of donated and sometimes bought or found baubles, feathers, buttons, puzzle pieces, pipe cleaners, you name it. I do tend to see a larger population of girls, but its hardly ever entirely girls. The boy/girl ratio often tends to reflect what theme was chosen for that class. I like to choose themes that aren't super relevant or encouraged in a school environment that revolve around what kids are excited about. I have had classes on movies like Trolls, Minions, Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter and Star Wars and also general themes like Unicorns and Rainbows and Yard Art.
 CS: How is it different than teaching in a class setting?


MH: Sometimes I see glimpses of my old, familiar class setting, but they don't last for long! When the students first arrive for class, I give them a rundown of what we will be creating and give them a demo- this is probably the most similar to a class setting as it gets. After that, it almost feels like an art party. We play music and the students are free to walk around the studio to use different supplies that have been placed on tables. Sometimes, sing-alongs to the music happen randomly. Classes are 2.5 hours long, which differs drastically from the half hour classes I had when I taught in my prior elementary setting. Students are encouraged to loosen up and have the ability to get messy if they want to. Feel the need to use your hands with the paint? Get it out of your system, kiddo! Just really need to let that glitter rain down on your art? Just do it. Need to do a little dance while you brainstorm? Why not. Want to make your art look completely different the route I had planned out for you? Its ok, I'm not grading this and you need to express yourself!  I think the only part that is something I've had to adjust to and figure out how to implement has been discipline. No matter how much some of my students love art and want to be there, sometimes someone has a hard time sharing or being nice about someone else's art. There is that old teacher mindset inside of me that wants to discipline, but the only serious consequence is telling their parent. With that being said, having these classes is still extremely worth it! I feel like I am still putting my passion and art education degree and experience to use, I am able to supplement our income and I am still able to stay home with my little girl during the week. I couldn't be more grateful for that! 
Big thanks to Mallory for taking the time to answer my questions...and, hopefully yours! If you have a question for her, you can leave it in the comments. Also, don't forget to follow her on Instagram and Facebook

Also, big thanks to photographer Lauren Wood for these beautiful images of Mallory and her sweet kiddos. Mallory was recently featured here (eep!) if you'd like to read more. 
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

In the Art Room: A Color Family Display

So there are some things I decided shortly before school started. Let's start with the first: I had too much purposeless decor in my art room. I'm an over-decorator. Just take a peak into my sewing room or my crafting space (yes, these are two separate rooms and yes, I'm spoiled rotten) and you'll know I ain't lyin'. When it comes to my art room, I tend to overdo it there as well. I have a bad habit of getting sucked into the vortex that is the Target Dollar Spot and purchasing every cute thing under the sun. When I bring these colorful happies to my art room, I don't think: Is this going to benefit the art makin' of my students? Is this going to educate and not just decorate? Oh no. Instead I'm all: WHERE'S AN EMPTY SPACE, I MUST FILL IT MEOW. 

I realized the error of my ways over the summer when I came in to grab some things and I took a good look around. All I saw was clutter. Cute, colorful clutter. And in a fit of coffee-fueled redecorating rage, I tore down posters of unicorns, giant maps (why three? WHY?) and reference images that I never, er, referenced. I crumbled it all up into a big heaping wad and stepped back. Immediately I was horrified. What had I done?! My room looked so bare! And that's when I came to my second conclusion:

Eh, you'll figure out what you need as you go. Your room DOES NOT have to look PERFECT on the very first day...week...shoot, man, even month! of school.
Since then, I've slowly started rethinking my decor and redecorating my art room. I made the following decisions: what I use to decorate must also educate; if I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll make it; more 3-D and less 2-D when it comes to visuals. Basically, I want my art room to be a space that really inspires my kids without cluttering their creativity. 
So, what have I created so far? Why, I'm so happy you asked. Here you go:

* My ART room rules that are (hopefully) life rules and inspired by growth mindsets.

* The large color wheel I created from painted oars found at the craft store.

* And this here Color Family set of crayons!

I was inspired by art teacher Katie Lynn. She shared this image of a color family on the Elementary Art Teachers page on Facebook. 
I thought her idea was GENIUS...and decided to create a set of my own. Her drawings are so stinkin' cute, they are inspired by the book The Day the Crayons Quit, a kid fave. Big shout out to Katie Lynn for the inspo!
Since I had these "crayon boxes" left over from an art display, I decided to borrow her idea and create this 3-D color family. My kiddos did this very project a couple of years ago and it was a HUGE hit. I'm thinking I need to bring this project back this year...but I'll definitely be going about it a different (and much easier!) way. I'll share that below. In the meantime, here's a video I created back then for this project. 
So what did I do differently this time around? I skipped the papier mache and used plaster strips instead. But let's start at the start, shall we?
 My good buddy the custodian started collecting the paper towel tubes at my school. I like these better than you standard paper towel tube as they are much sturdier. Added bonus: upcycling! (can we please just go back to calling it REcycling? I dunno why, new words for old things always drives me bonkers).
My very artsy mom-in-law was visiting this weekend and I knew she'd be up for the crafting challenge. I cut rectangles of used tagboard (lookie, more recycling!) while she cut the strips of plaster. We found the plaster strips at our local craft store. After I rolled the tag board into a cone shape, I added a bit of tape, fitted the cone over the tube, cut tabs for easy folding and added a few more bits of tape just to hold. 
While I did that, Diana took to plastering. I loved this so much more than papier mache because it dries faster, harder and isn't a snotty, slimy mess. 
 With her help, creating these 12 crayons went by in a blink!
We did find that one roll of plaster just didn't cut it. We ended up using two. We didn't cover the tube completely as the paint would take care of hiding the fact that we didn't. Also, when I hang these at school, I plan to display them hanging up with the crayons in the box...so no one will see the bottom. Altho, now that I say that, it might be fun to make them removable to make them interactive. I'll have to think on that idea.
 I burned a little too much of the midnight oil (2am, ahem) getting them painted and STILL didn't quite get them complete. Diana helped me finish painting the "paper" and the crayon part.
 I used a flat paint brush and watered down black paint for the stripes.
 Done, son! 
 You better believe I contemplated making ANOTHER color wheel with these guys. But I forced myself to stick with my plan. 
 Initially, these boxes were created for the kids' display a couple years ago. I'm so glad I hung on to them. They were created from cereal boxes. 
I just cut off the top, cut a curve, gessoed them a few times before adding the paint. 
 Since they needed "labels", I just painted a black oval and used white for the color fam names. 
 I'm excited to hang these in my art room next week! I'll use Command Velcro strips and they should do the trick. These guys are pretty light weight. The strips have done a bang up job holding up my painted oars!
 I know my older kids are going to be so stoked when I tell them that they'll be creating their own versions of these as well. I foresee a TON of giant plaster art supplies in their future (eep!).
Take that, Target Dollar Spot. Get thee behind me, Satan, er, Target!
I'm so happy I decided to wait and only decorate when I feel it will educate...and it is necessary. More to come. Just know: your art room, if you are lucky enough to have one, doesn't have to be perfect on the first day of school. Go with what is pleasing and needed by your kiddos. You know best! 
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Everyday Art Room: Episode 2

Today is the second installment of my podcast Everyday Art Room and I'm super excited. I'll be talking about my experience teaching art on the very first day some 19 years ago...it was a trip, lemme tell ya. I'll also be sharing the only three rules I have in my art room. Feel free to use the rules in yours! I created these rules images just for you. In my last podcast, I chatted about my 8 routines which you can check out here in case you missed. What rules do you have in your art room?

I thought I'd share the transcript of today's podcast in case you are interested. Before I get to that, I want to share the WINNER of our GIVEAWAY! BIG HUGS AND HIGH FIVES TO ASHLEY H.! You've won Barney Saltzberg's latest book, My Book of Beautiful Oops!
I have been teaching art for close to 20 years and what that means is that I have had close to 20 first days of school. Let me just tell you, they never get any easier. Now, there is one first day of school that I remember like it was yesterday and I bet you can guess which one that is. That’s right, the very first, first day of school. Let me paint a little picture for you. I was hired to teach kindergarten through second grade children in Nashville, Tennessee. I moved from Indiana. I moved not knowing a single soul and never having taught children under the age of 10. Something I may have failed to mention in the interview.
Oh, but speaking of the interview. When I was sitting in that interview the vice principal kept painting this glorious picture of this amazing space that I was going to have to teach in. He kept referring to it as something called a portable. I didn’t know what a portable was, but he acted like it was the best thing ever. A word to the wise, newbies or people going out for an interview, always make sure that you ask to see that teaching space before accepting the job unlike yours truly.
When I saw my space, I was like, “Y’all call that a portable, because where I’m from that’s a straight up trailer.” Now, I will say this it was a very nice trailer and, excuse me, portable. When I saw the inside of the space it was clean. It was nice, but it was very institutional. I thought, “In less than 24 hours before my students get here, I need to transform this space into an exciting place where they will want to come and create.”
Taking a little break from that, I decided to walk up and down the halls of the school and just casually pop my head in the classrooms to see, what does an elementary classroom look like. Here’s what I saw. I saw rooms filled with big bold posters that had words on them like, rules and consequences. On the rules’ poster there were these big happy faced children doing the right thing, raising their hand and being kind to one another. On the consequences’ poster, well I think you can imagine the things that I saw. Those faces on the children, they were not happy. I thought, “That’s what I need. I need rules and consequences posters.”
I immediately went back to my apartment and that night I stayed up until 3:00 AM drawing Vincent Van Gogh’s art room rules, poster after poster after poster. The next day, I shared those rules and consequences with my students and let me just tell you, it did not go over well. They weren’t receptive, because they didn’t understand what it was that I was talking about. The thing is, I didn’t understand what I was talking about either. Here’s what your students need from you on those first days of school. They need you. They need you and your actions and your excitement and love for teaching art to set the tone, which will then help establish the rules in your art room. This is Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.
In the last episode of Everyday Art Room, we were chatting about the eight art room routines that will help you establish a really successful school year. Now, I did mention that when you’re coming up with your own eight art room routines, you need to think of the three S’s. Consider your setup, your situation, and your students. Simply because it works well in my art room with my setup and situation and students, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Now, that being said, during that episode, I bet some of you were wondering, “Wait a minute. On the first day of school, she goes over her routines, but what about rules? You’re supposed to cover that on the first day of school.” I have a feeling might, myself included, accidentally confuse rules and routines. They’re two totally different things. Let’s talk about that difference.
Think of your art room as a masterpiece, a big beautiful painting. When an artist approaches a painting he/she first lays down big broad brushstrokes. I like to think of those big broad brushstrokes as the rules in my art room. The routines, well those are the finer details in a painting and depending on your situation, your setup, and your students you might have a finally detailed masterpiece that’s your art room. If you’re anything like me, a little bit loosey goosey/hot mess express, well then your painting and the routine/finer details might cause it to look a little bit more impressionistic/occasionally attacked by Jackson Pollock. Each one of those is different and unique. Just like the art teacher that each one of us are.
Today, we are going to talk about those rules and we’re going to talk about the top three rules, the only ones that you’ll ever need for your setup, your situation, and your students. Before diving in, let’s really dig deep about what rules do. What do rules do? They set the tone. They set the tone for your art room and your students creative space. That masterpiece where the artist is laying down those big broad brushstrokes, he/she is setting the tone with the colors chosen, the lines and shapes put into place. That’s going to be the tone for the entire painting. Think of the tone that you want to establish in your art room.
Now, with that in mind, I want you to listen to this. I did a little bit of googling and just out of curiosity I googled “elementary classroom rules” just to see what our fellow teacher and buddies were up to in their teaching spaces. I came across pretty much what you’d expect and a lot of rules I’ve used in my art room before. Let me go over the top three.
Walk in the classroom. Okay, walking’s important. We don’t need to be running anywhere except outside and in PE. I can go along with that. Second one, raise your hand to talk. I have most definitely had that as a rule in my art room. Be kind to your classmates. I love that rule. I mean that’s like a life mantra. That’s not just a rule. So, those, of course, are setting a tone. Here are some other rules that I came across, which also set a tone. I’m going to read these to you twice. I’m going to read them to you once and then I’m going to read them to you again with the tone that I think they were written in.
Here’s the first one. Listen and follow directions the first time you are asked! In my mind, here’s the tone with which I heard that rule. Listen and follow directions the first time you are asked! Here’s another one. Do not get out of your seat unless you have permission! Here’s the tone. Do not get out of your seat unless you have permission! The last one. Raise your hand before speaking. Do not shout out! Raise your hand before speaking. Do not shout out! The funny thing about that rule, I feel like that rule is shouting out.
All right, do you understand where I’m going with this? The tone that those three rules set, imagine being a student in that classroom. Imagine the tone and the climate in that classroom. Imagine that being your learning space for an entire year. So, when you’re coming up with your rules really think clearly about that tone. Read your rules out loud and make sure they are going to help you establish that creative, exciting, and wonderful space that you have.
Many people also have a tendency, like I said earlier, and myself included, to confuse rules with routines. They end up with a list of rules that entirely too long. The one about walking into the classroom. I feel that’s more of a routine. You need to show students how you want them to walk into your classroom. This is our routine for walking in. This is our routine for walking to gather supplies. This is our routine for walking to exit. That’s not a rule.
Let me share with you the top three rules. The only ones for your setup, situation, and students that you’ll need. When I was coming up with these I decided to think of it more, not as a rule or a set of rules, but as a life mantra. I want these to be life rules. Rules of life to live by. When I was coming up with these I thought of the KISS method, Keep It Simple Stupid. So, here’s the acronym I thought of using the word ART, of course. A for ART is for Aim. The R in ART is for Respect. The T for ART is Trust. My three rules, Aim, Respect, Trust.
Now, let’s go over what I mean by each one of those three words and three rules. I’ll do this with my student. Let’s talk about the A, which I said is Aim. I want all of my student to aim, to try their best and aim to do the right thing. I can’t ask more of them than to try their best and to do the right thing. The R is for Respect. I want my students to respect themselves, their artwork, their classmates, and the art room. It’s one thing I know about people and students, they cannot have respect for others or what they’ve created or art supplies or space unless they first have a respect and a love for themselves. So, establishing that self confidence and that respect for themselves comes first in that R of respect.
Let’s talk about trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in your ability to learn. I’m currently reading a couple of books on growth mindsets. I feel it’s got a solid connection to what we do in our art room. We want our students to know that they can grow and they can learn. Things aren’t always going to come easily. They never will always come easily in life, but if they trust in themselves, in their ability to learn, then they will be able to grow.
Those are my three art room rules. Ones that I feel like, regardless of your setup, your situation, and your students these would work well in your room. They might be shown or displayed a little differently from room-to-room, but they will most definitely set a tone. A tone that we want our students to create and live and learn within. Thank you so much for letting me share my top three art room rules with you.
Tim: Hello, this is Tim Bogatz, the host of Art Ed Radio. Thank you for tuning back into the second episode of Everyday Art Room with Cassie Stephens. As we told you new episodes will be arriving every Thursday so make sure you subscribe iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you love the show, please submit a rating and a review on iTunes, because this helps other art teachers find the show.
Also, make sure you check out Everyday Art Room on the Art of Ed website under the podcasts tab. You’ll find the full transcript of this show links to Cassie’s blog, AOE articles, and resources that can help your teaching. It’s all of the artofed.com under the podcasts tab. You can also sign up to receive weekly emails whenever a new episode is released. Now, let’s get you back to Cassie, as she opens up the mailbag.
Cassie: Now it’s time to dip into the mailbag. All right, this first question ties in pretty well with what we’ve been chatting about. It says this, “Cassie, you talk a lot about your art room, but you don’t talk very much about kids misbehaving in your art room. Do you not have kids that misbehave? If so, how do you make that happen?” Oh friend, I could only dream of an art room where all the children were perfect angels sent from above, but let’s be honest, that’s not the case. Each and every art teacher struggles with students. It’s just how it is, but it’s all about how each and every art teacher handles that student that’s causing disruptions in the art room. Let’s talk about that.
First of all, the most important thing to do when you have a student who’s interrupting your art room is to not take it personally. Remove yourself from the situation. Pretend that you are rising above being a little fly on the wall watching the madness happen, because regardless of the behavior, it’s not you. There’s something else going on. Your job is to first of all, stay extremely calm despite the fact that your blood pressure might be rising.
The second thing you need to do is remove yourself from the situation and just know that this anger or misbehavior, even though it might look as though it’s directed at you, there’s something else going on here and it’s not you. Your next action is really important, because all eyes, not just the eye of the child misbehaving, all eyes are on you. Whatever you do, however you decide to handle that situation, it’s important that you do it with extreme calm. Usually what I’ll do is I’ll lower my voice, I’ll talk very calmly. I might ask the student to go take a break. I have a time out area.
These are things that we will definitely be covering in next week’s episode when we chat about consequences. We talked about rules, but we haven’t yet talked about what to do when students break those rules. Don’t you worry, we’re getting there next time. Remember, keep yourself calm. Know that this behavior, this misbehavior is not geared towards you that there’s something else going on. We all have issues with students like this and the key is knowing how to handle that situation, which, like I said, we will be chatting more about next week.
All right, one more question from the mailbag and this question is one that I get quite a bit, which I think is really funny. Here we go. “Cassie, how do you have time to do all of the things that you do? You seem to get a lot of stuff accomplished in a short amount of time.” Oh, man, I take that as a big old compliment and I also take that to mean that I have all y’all fooled. I will let you know, I am a big time waster of time. In fact, that’s what my second grade teacher Mrs. Cheek wrote on my report card, “Cassie Stephens needs to work on her time management skills.” That’s how I read that even though Mrs. Cheek was a lovely teacher and never spoke like that. She had a teepee in her room y’all. A teepee.
I will tell you this, but I do, and I probably don’t even need to tell you this, I do consume a lot of caffeine. I don’t really believe in keeping clean house. It’s an artsy house. It’s got stuff everywhere. I ain’t got time to clean. I also don’t have children, that frees up quite a bit of time and we don’t have cable or a functioning television. Don’t get me started, but with those three things, or without some of those three things, I am able to get some things accomplished.
I will also let you in on a little secret. When I’m doing something, like creating a needle felted piece or painting a picture or sewing an outfit. I’m not doing it for just that reason alone. I usually have several layers to that project. If I’m sewing a dress, let’s say that has a Russo style print on it, that’s because I’m going to be teaching my students about Russo. If I’m coming up with lessons on Vincent van Gogh, we’ll just throw him out there, then I’m probably also coming up with something that I can wear in my hair or an outfit that I can create or a painting I can make from my room that will help reinforce what I’m teaching.
When I put together my passions, like sewing or creating, together with something like what my students will be learning about, then I’m able to do, I guess you could say double duty. Although my students refer to that as something else, but I digress. I hope that helps to clarify, but let me just say, I don’t have a magical time machine and I am a hot mess. So, there you have it. If you guys have any old questions, you feel free to send them my way. You can send them to everdayartroom@artofed.com. Chat soon.
It’s been awesome chatting with you guys today about the top three rules, the only top three rules you’ll ever need for your setup, your situation, and your students. Remember, think of rules as being the tone. The tone that you want to set in your art room. Also, when coming up with those rules, remember there’s a difference between rules and routines. Rules are the big, broad, beautiful brushstrokes, kind of lay the foundation and set the tone for the masterpiece that’s your art room.
Routines, well those are those teeny tiny finer details and just how fine those details are, well that’s up to you and the tone you wish to set in your art room. My top three rules that I shared with you, A is for aim. Your students are aiming to be their best and to do the right thing. R, well that’s for respect. They first need to have a respect for themselves, before they can have a respect for their artwork, their classmates, the art room and the art supplies in the art room. Lastly, the T is for trust. Your students need to trust in themselves and their ability to learn. With those three rules in your art room you will set a wonderful tone for your students to not only flourish, but create. This has been Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Etiquette


As y'all know, during those first days of art, it's mission impossible to cram in all of the rules, routines, procedures (and more) that we need to cover...while making sure that the kids have fun and create! With 30 minute art classes, the struggle is super real. I hate to bog down each day with too many do's and don'ts without any actual doin'. So I try to build on each day. On our first day of art, I shared with my students this routines video I created with just some of my fabulous and fun coworkers (thank you, ladies!):
But my routines video just didn't cover it all. I mean, we now know how to walk to my art room, enter, take a seat, go "shopping" for supplies, clean up and line up...and that's a lot. However, after showing the video and diving in to my first projects this week, I started taking notes of some behaviors I noticed that I was not too keen on. Here's what I wrote:

* Raising hands. Okay, we all know (kids included) that our students are to raise their hands to talk. But there seems to be some missing information here. First of all, HOW do you raise your hand? Do you wave it all around like you are swatting an onslaught of flies? Um, preferably not. Second, just cuz your hand is up, that don't mean you get to talk, friend. These are things that I took note of this week...and decided to work on improving.

* Interrupting. Ugh, a pet peeve. We lose so much time with this one! So I decided to address that in my video as well. 

* Staying in your seat. I want the kids to talk to me...I want to talk to them! But, as you know, once one kid is up THEY ARE ALL UP and in yo' face. Some of my classes have close to 40 kiddos. We cannot have that many people up and roaming the room. 

* Silent Signal. There are just some times when I need the kids' ears. And there are other times when I need their hands empty and their undivided attention. I decided to address that as well. 

With my notes, I rounded up whoever was available for 10 minutes this morning and filmed what I've dubbed Art Room Etiquette. This 3 minute video will give me a way to quickly address issues. Here it is:

After I play this video next week, I will readdress my rules. Now, like I shared before, I consider my "rules" to be more life rules...not necessarily what I'd otherwise label routines or procedures (or, in this case, Art Room Etiquette). I'll also share this etiquette video which will be followed up by our chat about consequences. More on that next week!

I'll def keep y'all posted...in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you! What do you do at the start of each school year? Are there undesirable behaviors that you are already noticing? I normally just get irritated at these little things...which eventually become big things in my art room. This year, I'm keeping a list of anything I see that I want to encourage and anything I want to change. My goal is to be proactive while having fun. Here's hoping these short videos do the trick!
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Monday, August 14, 2017

DIY: Art Room Decor

If you recall from this post, I recently picked up a bunch of oars (or paddles, whatever you fancy callin' 'em) from a local big box craft store. Initially I was just going to paint the primary colors...but they looked so good, I decided to do the secondary colors as well to create a large color wheel. I finished off the color wheel last week and thought I'd share it with y'all today. 

In case you missed the Paddle Painting Mayhem, here it is in 60 seconds or less:
 If only I could work that fast! I do consume a ton of coffee...but I've not reached Level: Lightening Fast...yet. 
Because the grouping of paddles ended up being so stinkin' big, I had to completely rearrange my art room to find a wall space big enough for it. That meant a complete overhaul of this part of my art room. I was fine with that, as I was ready for a change. In fact, this summer, when I popped by my art room, I noticed some of my displays were falling. In a fit of annoyance, I tore it ALL down. You can see what this area previously looked like here. Getting rid of the previous displays forced me to rethink my space and my displays, making both more intentional. 

By the way, I created a video of my desired art room routines...and showed it today on our first day of art. That's what you see on the big screen. I'll do a complete blog post about that soon but in the meantime, you can check out the video here:
It was a huge hit with the kids today and...IT WORKED! Yay!
Having this big space also allowed me to hang my ART room rules. I shared them recently here. You can hear me go over them a little bit in the video above. I plan to do a more extensive chat about my rules soon...they really tie in with the growth mindsets that we are working toward in my art class this year.
After I hung up the oars, I noticed that I had enough space to allow for the tertiary colors. So I cut out some cardboard with an Exacto knife, painted them and attached them to the wall with hot glue. The oars were hung up with Command Velcro Strips and have worked like a charm!
Over the summer, I managed to pick up several folk art pieces. The Mojo Man and the Big Love signs are by my friend Bebo. The other paintings are by Okra Girl. I painted the Stay Sharp sign using a wooden picket fence I found when shopping for those wooden oars. Here's a video of how that was created in 60 seconds or less:
 I'm currently addicted to painting all things found in the wooden aisle of my craft store! 
 A couple of art teacher buddies have really taken off with these ideas and I love seeing what they create! One buddy painted the saying, "Draw Light Until You've Got It Right"...how perfect for those pencils!
Another painted hers into crayons, hung it horizontally and it is going to display her art jobs. Y'all better believe I'm doing that very same thing! Great minds, I love it.

By the way, if you have not entered to win the book giveaway, GET YOURSELF OVER HERE AND DO IT ALREADY. Please and thank you! 
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Sunday, August 13, 2017

In the Art Room: Best Back to School Projects, Part 2

Hey, friends! Tomorrow is my first day back to school where I'll have kiddos in the art room and I'm super excited. One thing I love about this time of the year is coming up with fun projects that kick the school year off right. Last week, I shared some of my favorite Dot Day projects which I occasionally use as a theme for my back to school art projects. Today I thought I'd share my favorite collaborative back to school art projects. There are a lot, so get ready! 
But before we get to that, I have some exciting news. Recently, on our Wednesday night Facebook LIVE chats (to join the fun, like/follow here), the one and only Barney Saltzberg joined us. We had an absolute blast chatting with him. You can still find our conversation archived here. He has a new book out, My Book of Beautiful Oops, and is GIVING ONE AWAY! Yay! To enter to win your FREE copy of My Book of Beautiful Oops simply do the following:

* Leave a comment below. Tell me what your plans are or what you are doing on these first days back to school. Inquiring minds wanna know!

* Leave your email address. This way I can let you know when you win, yay!

It's that easy, y'all. Big thanks to our buddy Barney for this wonderful book and fabulous giveaway. Now, let's talk Best Back to School Art Projects.
I love kicking off the school year with a good book. You Be You and Only One You by Linda Krantz are two fabulous books to bring to your art room. This is a project that can be done with all of your students...and will leave you with a beautiful work of art to showcase their efforts. More on this mural here
You can find out just how we created these fish here
Feel free to bring this how-to video to your art room!
I am in love with this wild, wacky and colorful mural that was created by my kindergarten through fourth grade kiddos. It's Okay to be Different is a favorite book of mine by Todd Parr. This mural has been up for a while now...and it still remains outside my art room door. I think it's a great message for all. You can find out about this mural here
Here's a short video to share the process!
You can read about our process of creating these funny faces right here
Monochromatic selfies are a super fun way to start the school year. I've done this a couple of different times and with a couple different themes. You can find out more about how these were created here
This video really helped my students during the creation of their selfies.
Last year, we used our selfies to create this large J.E.S. sign for our school. 
On year we even made our selfies into a world map! This one took some time to do...and wasn't easy but sure was pretty once it was complete. 
Our heart mural is now a couple of years old and still hangs proudly in our school office. I love it, it's really stood the test of time. And who doesn't love the message of LOVE? You can see more about the completion of this mural here
The details on how each heart was created and by what grade level can be found here
Speaking of love, this mural was created by all of my students...they actually made it one year while I was out on jury duty. It was so awesome to come back to some amazing art! Here's the complete blog post. 
Here's the video I created for my sub to share with my students.
And here's the second video in that series. 
Probably one of the more popular posts on this blog has been this wings mural project. It's a GREAT back to school project because it's low-mess and low-stress (until you get ready to assemble that is...and then it's HOLY COW, WHAT WAS I THINKING?!). But once it's up, you won't regret it! Deets here
Here's a video I created to share with my students...feel free to use in your art teacherin' world!
I hope y'all have gotten a couple ideas for your return to school...I'd love to know what you and your sweet kiddos are creating! Also, don't forget to enter to win Barney's new book. Just leave a comment about your first day and don't forget to include your email address. Have a great week!
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