Category Archives: organization

A New Exploration Activity

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A New Exploration Activity

I know it has been over a month and a half since I last wrote, but it’s kind of been the same old, same old in my classroom.  But, as the new year and the new semester began, I have many new ideas and things I am trying out with my students.  And, I am going to start with a new to me way of exploring.  I did an activity similar to what fellow TAB teacher Cynthia Gaub does called Around the Room.  I changed it to Exploration around the room: collage and mixed media.

Art 1 jumped right back in when returning from our winter break.  They had new media and techniques to explore and I wanted them to have a new way to explore them.

So, I lined the counters with some large sheets of paper and place a ton of items out for them to explore with: plexi, excess pieces of laminate, and plastic bags for monoprints, cardboard and styrofoam for printmaking, bubble wrap, flowers, feathers, spools, and a plethora of other items for stamping.

I gave a brief introduction outlining part 1 of our exploration activity and then let them go on their way to create some new textures and backgrounds.  At first some were hesitant, but by day 2, they were comfortable and trying new ways of printing with the different methods and objects.

 

Once we were done exploring stamping and printmaking, we learned about collage and mixed media.  Students were then challenged to take what they had made during their exploration and to use them in someway…either as the ground for a new artwork to be placed on top or as paper to be cut up and used in a collage.

Once the students finished with their exploration artwork, the students reflected on what they learned through a technique exploration blog post.

​Here are some of the fabulous practice works the students created.

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I have a few tweaks to make, but I like this way of exploration.  I want to combine it with the other methods I use.  Not sure how I am going to do that yet, but it will come to me.

 

 

It’s Art Show Season

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Art Show Flyer

It’s art show season for me, and probably for many of you.  This is my second year heading up our annual art show.  And, it is the second year my school had an annual art show.  So, um, yeah.  I thought I would share some things that I do to make my show a success.

  1. I start collecting works at the start of the year.  I know some teachers prefer to have the students curate the show.  That’s not my style.  It is a matter of choice.  My co-worker this year had students submit what they wanted.  I am curious to see how that goes.  In any case, I find that starting at the beginning of the year helps when it comes time for mounting.  You can start mounting whenever you want.  No need to wait until the week before or the week of.
  2. I print out rosters for all of my classes with a blank grid.  As I collect artworks, I check off a box for that student.  This helps me make sure I have something from almost every one and it helps when it is time to make labels.
  3. I mount all my work on black construction paper.  There are a few examples that need white mats, but for the most part, black is good.  I don’t have a lot of extra money or time for fancy mats.  The works look good on the black construction. And, it is easy to do.  I don’t mat works that are on canvas board.  Those get hung as is.
  4. I make all the mats have a 1″ border.  I created a tool to help with mounting.  It is a 1″ wide “L” I cut from chip board.  I can line it up with one corner of the black mat, spray the back of the artwork, and then use it to guide the artwork on to the mat.  It really has helped to cut down on the time it takes to mount over 200 pieces of artwork.
  5. This year I had my aide help me out with labels.  Last year I bought a large pack of Avery return labels.   The labels fit perfectly on the 1″ border of the mat.  I only put the student’s name on the label.  My aide downloaded the template and uses the list I have created on my rosters so she knows how many labels to make each student.
  6. For 3-D artwork or non-matted work, I put the name labels on 3″X1.5″ bristol board tags.  These get either placed by the sculpture or tacked on the wall just under the artwork.
  7. If you have ever told a high school student to tell his or her parent something, you know most likely whatever it is will never get relayed to them.  So, I thought a great idea was to send invites to all the parents/guardians of the students who have artwork in the show.  Here is my template. (Please note, the original was made in pages and that does not upload to google docs so well.  The font on the original is a script, which makes it look a bit more fancy.)  I put 4 invites on a page and print onto white cardstock.  I found some envelopes at Michael’s that fit the invites perfectly.  The counselor’s secretary was super nice and printed out all the “to the parents of” labels for me to make addressing them easier.
  8. I also send invites to the superintendent, the deputy superintendent, the head of HR, all my principals, the middle school art teacher, and the teachers and staff at the school. Their invites are the same, but I leave out the part about their young artist having work in the show.  I think it is nice to formally invite my colleagues and administration.
  9. For other advertising, we do a couple of other things. A student created a poster this year to hang all over the school.  A huge banner is being created to hang from our school’s balcony.  The poster is being run in the announcement powerpoint at lunches.  We shared the poster with our district PR person.  He came and took pictures of the students getting things ready.  He will run these pics on the district FB group.  I think it will also go in the local paper.  We have the poster running on the front page of the district and the high school websites.  My principal set up an all-call to remind everyone about the show the night before.
  10. Every art show I have been to has some sort of food at the opening.  This show should be no different.  I have talked with the culinary teacher, and her students are going to create some yummy treats for the event.  This adds a little something extra to the show.
  11. This year we we also be adding some music.  I have talked to the band director and he agreed to have some students play some nice music during the show.  He will set up on the balcony overlooking the show.
  12. We are having the show on a Friday evening, so I had to take when to set up into consideration.  I am taking the day off for school related business.  I have also hand-picked several students to help me hang all the work during the day.  I contacted all their teachers and asked them if they could miss their class that day.  I found last year it was kind of a pain to have new students each period helping out.  I felt like a broken record and things were getting forgotten and nothing was smooth.  I thought having the same group of responsible students all day would make things easier.
  13. We will hang all the work using poster tack.  It works well on both our fabricated wall tiles and our cinderblocks. We have a few easels for larger paintings, and we have a place to hang framed work.  I saw another teacher this year get the little wads of tack prepared in the days before.  I haven’t done this before, but it seems like a great idea.  I will ask my aides if they want to do that.
  14. All the sculpture work goes on round bar height tables we have at the high school.  Last year I had an abundance of brown burlap, so I cut it to use as table cloths.  (I was smart and bagged them up and hid them in the faculty work room for future use.)  We will use those again.
  15. A cool thing I like to do, which unfortunately I didn’t get to this year–yet, is create QR codes for seniors.  It is nice to have a little bit of info about our senior artists near their work.  Students give brief responses to questions like what is your favorite media, why do you like art, and what are your plans after graduation.
  16. The last thing I like to do is go in over the weekend after the show and take a high-res picture of each artwork.  I then edit them, put them in a slide show, and put the show on youtube and my art website.  This way, those that couldn’t make the show can still view it.  It’s a long slide show, but it helps to advocate for your program.

I know this seems like a lot, but if you start early enough, it is pretty easy.  Organization is the key, in my opinion.  I am a pretty organized art teacher, and it really comes in helpful for events like this. As I said in the beginning, this is what I do.  I am sharing in case you needed some help on ways to make your show set-up easier.  Use what will help you.  Ignore what won’t.

Relax. Take a deep breath.  And happy Art Showing!!!

Day to Day in My TAB Classroom

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A post on my art teacher’s fb page asking about how a TAB classroom works at the high school level got me to searching my blog for a post on how I do it.  I found numerous posts on why I do it, the themes we have used, and organization of my room.  While those are very helpful, they don’t really talk about how my classroom is run–the day to day.

I have said in the past that my classroom is a living entity, and that is as true today as it was when I wrote about it; and it will be true tomorrow and for years to come.  I have to ebb and flow with the needs and wants of my students.  Otherwise, I am taking away something important from the students and not living up to the pedagogy I believe in.

The basics of running my classroom include: introduction of theme, brainstorming, inspiration, demos, time to plan and work, due date, reflection.

  • INTRODUCTION OF THEME:  This is just that…I tell the students the theme.  At the start of a unit, I turn to the kids and tell them the theme. simple. easy.  Themes we have used this year include:  man/machine, interior/exterior, power, pressure, home, environment, light, sound, surrealism, self-portraits.
  • BRAINSTORMING: A few of our themes have not needed brainstorming–like self-portraits.  But, for the most part, we brainstorm as a class.  We are a 1:1 school with MacBooks, so I have the students use a program called Padlet to help them develop ideas.  This helps in several ways…it allows for multiple points of views, it helps to give a voice to those who are shy, and I can link the brainstorm board for those that need to go back and review.
  • INSPIRATION: Currently I am helping my students get some inspiration.  Many of my students haven’t been exposed to much art, so thinking outside of the box is often difficult for them.  I like to help them see what could be possible within a certain theme.  I create pinboards with a myriad of examples for my students.  I hope in the future to change this by having my students find the inspiration and creating the pinboards.  I’m just not there yet.
  • DEMOS: Part of running the TAB classroom includes giving short demos on various materials, tools, techniques for the students.  When I introduce something new, I do a quick 5-8 minute demo and I record it.  I took a page from Apex High School and created my own media portal.  I post all the videos here so students can go back and reference if they were sick or if they need a refresher.
  • TIME TO PLAN AND WORK: The majority of time spent in my classroom is dedicated to this.  At the moment, I don’t require students to plan by sketching or the like because it is not something I always do.  Some students plan on their own, while others don’t.  I am seeing that the reason for this is that they don’t know how.  This is something I am working on and planning on adding in the future (as soon as I figure out how…).  Many of my students experiment as they go, working through ideas and finding solutions–just like many artists do.
  • DUE DATE: I’m going to be honest here, I like having due dates.  I think they are important.  They help to keep my students with wandering minds on-task.  They are important for future endeavors.  I think it is something they have to learn.  I use a soft due date and a hard due date.  There is a week between the two due dates.  Basically, the day after the soft due date I introduce the next theme and we brainstorm.  During that week, those that have finished with the current theme can move on and start planning/working on the new theme; those that need a few more days can finish up working while thinking about what they want to do on the new theme.  I have found the soft/hard due date works for my student population, and it helps keep me in compliance with a few district/campus policies.
  • REFLECTIONS: During the first semester, each student created a website using Weebly.com.  As a class, we talked about 8 different behaviors that artists have.  Every 2-3 weeks, the students chose 2 behaviors and wrote about how they were or weren’t showing that behavior.  It didn’t matter where they were in the process of an artwork.  It was helpful for them to see that the processes they were going through were what was changing them into artists.  When the second semester started, I introduced the artist statement, and the students reflected at the end of each unit, writing an artist statement about what they just created.  I realized that many were not ready to move on to this and were producing better reflections about themselves and their work talking about the behaviors.  I give them a choice at the end of the unit about how they want to reflect now.

MEDIA CHOICE:  I have set up my classroom so that almost all media is out in the classroom and easily accessible for the students.  We started off the year with b/w drawing media.  From there I added color media.  Next was printmaking, then painting and collage.  Starting in the second semester I opened sculpture and clay.  At this point in the year (10 weeks to go), students are allowed to choose whatever media they want.

I know that not every TAB classroom works like this, but this is what works for my student population and for me.  I hope as I continue with the TAB pedagogy, I am able to allow even more freedom to my students.  I keep a list of running notes of things I think will make it run better next year.  What demos did I miss this year that would have been good?  What if I spent more time on each behavior individually?  How can the students get more out of blogging?  Things like that.

There are never two days alike in my classroom.  In fact, even when I do an intro day, no two classes are ever the same.  It’s a good thing.  It keeps it interesting to me.  It keeps me on my toes.  It keeps me happy.

Setting the Stage…The Paint Stage

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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.

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Watercolor station. Includes paint trays (not pictured), brushes, paper, salt, resist medium.

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Canvas board size choices, on the wall near

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Acrylic paints in their new bottles. There is a small spice rack stand that holds the neutral colors.

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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.

My “New” TAB Classroom

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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.

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Ceramic Corner

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Ceramic Corner

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Glaze Station in storage room

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Drawing/Paper Media Counter

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Storage

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Different Types of Boards (bristol, card, rail, etc.)

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Still Life Drawing Items

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Check Out Station for Prismas, Brushes, and Colored Sharpies

 

 

My Portfolio Rack Hack.

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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.

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I ziptied the sides on first.

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Then I cut the end of the ties

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and tied the last piece down the middle.

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I added the upper supports today when I put in some portfolios to check the strength.

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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.