Today was the start of a new semester at school. I thought we needed to start off with a great activity–one that would shake off the slumber of winter break and ring in creativity and imagination for a new year. And what better way to do so than have a day-long TASK party.
What is a TASK party you ask?
You can also find a previous post on TASK here.
I pulled out a bunch of supplies I had in my storage room: yarn, egg cartons, craft items, fabric, 12″ dowels, wooden hearts and starts, buttons. I plugged in all the hot glue guns we had. I grabbed the large rolls of colored paper from the faculty lounge. And, I started with a container full of tasks.
This party was to last all day. I have 7 classes. Once I started the party, I only broke for lunch, which consisted of writing more tasks. This was the only place the students faltered…well, and when it came to blindly picking a task. (Many wanted to pick and choose their task. It was hard to stop them.)
It really was a fun day. A few kids fought it at first, but ended up having a good time. I think they need that time to play. High school kids don’t often get that anymore. And bonus, no one was on their computer today. I wish I knew how many tasks were completed today…or at least attempted. It would be fun to figure it out. Perhaps next time.
By the end of the day, my feet were killing me and I was tired as all hell. But, I had a counter full of artifacts. I had a hopscotch board on my floor, and I had 2 body outlines–one in dry erase marker and one in tape. (Just an FYI–certain dry erase markers don’t come off the floor so easily.) I had a roll full of photos of the students making and laughing and creating and smiling. I had a heart full of memories. And, I think it set the tone that creativity is welcome here–and encouraged.
One of my biggest fears/concerns this year when moving to a TAB/Choice-Based classroom was the addition of paint into the mix. Paint is always a scary thing. Kids don’t always wash brushes out and acrylic dries in them. Trays get left behind for me to clean. So much paint gets wasted because no matter how many times you say, “you can always get more”, the kids take enough to cover an elephant. And don’t get me started on those pumps for the half gallon bottles that are always clogged.
Since this year I have everything out for the kids to access, I thought paint, both acrylic and watercolor, should be out too. And, not to toot my own horn too much, since I had put so much thought into organization (and it is working very well), that the paint should get the same consideration. I bought a bunch of clear, empty ketchup bottles for my acrylic to try and combat the too much paint/clogged pump issue. I looked through all the stuff I had and found a couple of racks I could use. And, I appropriated several Xerox paper box lids from the work rooms.
I made 2 areas–one for watercolors, and one for acrylics. So far, so good. Kids have access to it all, except they do have to ask for the canvas boards. They have been taking only the paint they need. They close the caps on the paint bottles. Almost all brushes are washed well. (They have been following the brush washing video I made for them.) The paper paint palettes help so much with giving them less to clean and more time to work.
It seems my fear of introducing paint was unnecessary. Let’s hope they keep up the good work, and good clean-up.
Watercolor station. Includes paint trays (not pictured), brushes, paper, salt, resist medium.
Canvas board size choices, on the wall near
Acrylic paints in their new bottles. There is a small spice rack stand that holds the neutral colors.
Acrylic paint set-up. Brushes, other tools, paint trays, paper palettes and brushes. There is a towel in the brushes box top so wet brushes can dry and not destroy the cardboard.
One of my Brent potter’s wheels had suddenly started to not work correctly. No matter what I tuned, it would either not stop turning when the pedal was all the way off or if I got it to stop spinning, when in the high position it would turn only fast enough to trim pots. Not ideal for students learning to throw.
I called up Brent and told them of my case. Luckily for me, the wheel is still under warranty. The sent me some new parts. I was expected to fix this myself. As you can see from the pictures their part had these blue caps that mine did not have.
I wrote back and told the service person. She told me I would have to strip the wires and attach them, but assured me no soldering was necessary. I then cut the blue caps and stripped both sets of wires so they leads were long enough for me to twist together and cover up. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t a lot of wire there to work with.
But I was successful and was able to fix my wheel.
Things are now spinning properly and only when I want it to.
And when I say I am finally having a great time, I mean that I love teaching and I love my job…every period, every day. While I struggle with the stupidity that comes with all the paperwork and administrative stuff, I do it with little complaint because the rest is awesome.
Why is it so good? Because I love teaching ceramics and because of TAB.
My ceramic classes are all working and learning and having fun. The clay is here. And the students want to be there and are eager to work and get messy. Finally all my non-ceramic classes have started working on their artworks for our Man/Machine theme.And I couldn’t be more excited by all the different interpretations and the enthusiasm in my students.
It is like my classroom is a whole new place. My eyes have been opened and I never want to shut them. I don’t watch the clock any more. I don’t surf the web anymore. I talk with my kids…about their art, about their process, about their struggles, about them. I know it’s only been a few weeks and perhaps I am still in the honeymoon phase with TAB, but I foresee us having a long and happy marriage.
I spent the summer trying to figure out how to set up my room to best serve my students in a TAB environment. Well, it was easier said than done. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy too much. I had a friend that was moving who gifted me a ton of plastic tubs and drawers. I had a ton of stuff from before that I repurposed. I did buy a few things that I didn’t have…like a new drawer unit for magazines, but all in all, I didn’t spend too much.
My room isn’t the best size for an artroom in my opinion. It is long and narrow, and I have rather large desks and 4 potter’s wheels to accommodate. But, I think I have it all figured out.
I came in a couple of times over the summer and got rid of things I hadn’t used in years and old projects I was saving for no reason. I started to re-arrange and re-purpose. I have set up what we will need at the beginning. Paint and color will come into play in a few weeks, so I thought since I had some time, I would concentrate on what I needed right away and what had to be put away so it wasn’t cluttering up my counters.
It is a work in progress and I like to think of it as a living thing that will change as the needs of the students change and as we figure out better ways of doing things.
Glaze Station in storage room
Drawing/Paper Media Counter
Different Types of Boards (bristol, card, rail, etc.)
Still Life Drawing Items
Check Out Station for Prismas, Brushes, and Colored Sharpies
Several years ago I made wooden cradles to hold my students’ rather large portfolios. I attended a session at the TAEA conference about building racks and the presenter gave us her plans. Well, they lasted me about 6 years, with some repairs here and there. Had I screwed them together instead of stapling them, they might still be around. Hindsight and all.
At the end of last year, I tossed all but one; I had built 7. This year I needed something new. I looked and I looked. I toyed with plastic drawer units which would require smaller portfolios. That saddened me, but I couldn’t think of much else. I tried to make something out of a window box planter liner and some wooden feet. It sucked.
Then it hit me in the car on the way to the aquarium. Wire storage racks and zipties. My daughter and I headed to Lowe’s (after looking at the fish at the aquarium of course.) They had 6′ lengths and I needed half that. Luckily they had bolt cutters there for that reason.
I ziptied the sides on first.
Then I cut the end of the ties
and tied the last piece down the middle.
I added the upper supports today when I put in some portfolios to check the strength.
As you can see, it will hold portfolios for 2 classes. I have 4 classes that need portfolios. So, I built 2 racks. I just need to cover the sharp tips and they are done.
I am quite pleased with my hack. And, it was relatively inexpensive.
We are starting on our second week of choice in Art 1 when creating a project about informal balance. Today I walked around and talked with the different groups to check in on their progress and to make sure they are on the right track. I want to say that about half understood informal balance and are able to incorporate it into their artworks. About a third of those who didn’t understand it and were not consciously addressing are now able to once talking through things with me. And, well, out of those that are left, some just are making things out of egg cartons, and one group basically said they weren’t going to do anymore, and to just give them a 70. At least they were honest about it.
I am excited and surprised by many. I have to be honest that there are some students that are surprising me in their art. Some that I thought would be the ones making the egg carton alligator are thinking outside the box. While others that I thought would nail this are the ones making the alligator.
Choice hasn’t been easy for me. Not knowing the outcome is hard for me. But, I have to learn to go with it. I will update once the unit comes to an end.
STUDENTS WORKING HARD 🙂
PROMISING ARTWORKS AND OUT OF THE “CARTON” THINKING
beginnings of a truck
plan on using texture to balance
using the egg cartons to make a 2-d work (bas relief)
will balance with color
ARTWORKS THAT ARE “PREDICTABLE” AND NOT OUT OF THE “CARTON”
Yesterday was a bit of a tease. The plumber showed up with my Gleco traps. I was super excited. He got down on the floor and started to do some stuff under the sink. Then all of the sudden he was gone. And I was sad again.
However, he showed up again this morning and picked up where he left off. He finished installing the traps and was on his way. Now, there is one last thing to do because someone in the district doesn’t want the under sink area exposed. I guess the pipes might feel neked.
And, by mid morning, my water was back on!!! Cue the angelic choir!
I am so excited to no longer have to bring buckets on a cart to get water from next door.
I have two words for you. Clay. Trap. That is one thing my sinks need to help avoid another day where 900+ students were mad at me because of a smell that was so beyond my fault. If I had know it was going to be that bad, I would have waited and had them come in during spring break or the summer.
I put in a maintenance request to have my sink drains cleaned as they were started to clog after 2.5 years of being treated like, well, sinks in an art studio. I did my best to keep as much clay out of there, but one can only do so much. I have learned there are other measures I can take as I continue on the clay journey in my sculpture classes. But that doesn’t help what had been done.
I thought it was going to be an easy thing, but apparently, it was not. The drains were full of clay/slip and paint. The plumber had to wet vac it out. He still will need to snake into the wall. The stink from the drains (a cross between sewage and rotten eggs) had gotten so bad that I had to move my afternoon classes to the front of the school, shut the classroom door, and opened the door to the outside. I am sure the plumber was not happy with the cold as it was below 30 degrees outside, but I had to do what I had to do. (I must mention here that when I did return to my room, the smell had lessened quite considerably and it was 56 degrees in my room.)
To maintanence it appeared as if we just dumped clay down the sink. That is not the case–it was run-off from when we washed our hands and our tools. But, that is neither here nor there. What is important is at this moment I do not have running water and I will be halting all painting lessons. Clay lessons will continue, and we will have buckets of water to help wash tools and hands. Life goes on. Clay settles, so the buckets make sense.
They (maintenance) will keep my updated. Hopefully water will return soon. And they are going to put clay traps under my sinks. I am mixed about this. I am happy as I hope this will help, but I will have to change the traps every week or so when they get full.
Lessons learned here… I need to be harder on my kids about how they clean up in the sinks; I need to change the way I run my classroom; and it is more obvious to me that people really have no idea what I do in my classroom.