Monday, October 31, 2011

Kids are Crazy for Cardboard....

On Friday, I went to the elementary school for the fourth time. It has been pretty difficult working on Fridays because of teacher in-service days, substitute teachers, and early release days. Last Friday I enjoyed working with the first and fifth graders, while the sixth graders were full of misbehavior yet again! Maybe it is having three authority figures in the classroom, or because it is Friday, but these children sure do love to push our buttons!

The sixth graders working on their cardboard projects
The sixth graders were working on their space ships like they were with the sub. This time, they were creating their space ship models out of cardboard instead of paper. These are their projects that will later be covered with some type of material (we were brainstorming ideas for paper mache, foil or just painting them as they are). Most of the students had started their cardboard models in the previous class periods, so they knew how Ms. M wanted them to work with the scissors and cardboard. Instead of using an Exacto knife or box cutters, the children were using one of the blades of a scissors to swipe into the cardboard, bend and break it off. The students were asked to bring in extra cardboard if they wished to work larger (many kids brought in large boxes and worked very big!).  Needless to say, using scissors in a new way made many of the boys in the class think about all of the new ways scissors could be stabbed, thrown and tossed around. One table in particular was not working at all on their models, but instead making gun silhouettes and cutting the cardboard by stabbing into it instead. For the first time we needed to use our classroom management skills in order to keep everyone on task, help those who needed advice on how to cut or measure something, to keep the boys from stabbing their own legs through the cardboard, throwing scissors to friends, and to keep another group of boys from burning each other with the hot glue gun! This time, it was a matter of keeping the children from getting hurt rather than teaching them. I thought the misbehaved with Ms. W around! It was definitely worse today.

Ms. M's project sample and a sample of Piet Mondrian's work.
The Mondrian-inspired work on the drying rack!
The first graders were working with the color wheel and learning about primary colors. They were learning about Mondrian and his work with blue, red, yellow, white and black. The students spent the previous class period learning about Mondrian and how he used series of squares in his work. The first graders already had yellow squares painted on their pictures, but needed to include blue, red and black. Because first graders love to experiement with paint mixing, Ms. M designated different tables to different colors. The black paint and paintbrushes stayed at the tables, and the children moved from table to table instead. I thought it was a great idea, and helped keep the students interested and moving around. It was important to show them how to use the paint brush at an angle to drag the color down the line instead of working with it straight up and down like a pencil. They had gone over this in the introductory day of the lesson, so they were used to the technique, though not all students had the motor skills to really perfect it.

The fifth graders were working on painting another layer on the masks they made a couple of weeks earlier (We were there to help them paper mache their masks). It was fun to see the different designs the students had drawn and what they were putting on their masks. Many students stuck with their original design while other students were merely painting with globs of different colors just to see what it would look like. A few of them really turned out nice! They will be adding different embellishments to the masks as well.

Overall, this day went by extremely fast. Because we were so occupied with the first graders moving all around the room, the sixth graders attacking themselves and each other with scissors, and painting with the fifth graders, it felt like we were only there for about and hour! We also utilized our prep hour with Ms. M to work on ideas for our lesson plan (which we will be teaching in our next meeting) and on how she assesses work. I will be posting a separate post on that soon! Have a great day, and Happy Halloween!

Moving into Outer Space!

This week, Ms. M's class moved from the jungle to outer space. The classroom was stripped of all of the jungle themed projects, and prepped for the new space-themed artwork. I wanted to share some pictures of the new artwork with you!

The new bulletin board design "Art is Out of This World!"
These are the first grade project samples for constructive lines and Mondrian

The fifth grade project sample for contour lines

The kindergarten classes are working on these projects

Some of the fourth grade project samples

Thursday, October 27, 2011


(Press pause if you would like to read a slide or keep it up longer! It runs pretty fast)

For another class assignment, we needed to ask Ms. M how she defines her rules and procedures in her classroom. I uploaded a power point of what she shows her classes at the beginning of the year. Her rules are not just stated at the beginning of the year, because she has had many students since kindergarten. The students know what is expected of them, the rewards for good behavior and the consequences for misbehavior.

In the classroom setting, students sit by others that they wish to sit by. If that is not working, Ms. M will move them accordingly. As of right now, many of the seating arrangements are working very well, and she doesn't seem to have many problems with where students sit.

At the beginning of every class period there is a "police officer" that changes every class.  The names are crossed off of the class list in order to remember who was the police officer at what time. The police officer gets to sit in a computer chair instead of the regular chairs, and picks helpers to hand out and clean up materials. At the end of each hour, the police officer calls students to line up one by one. Ms. M noted how great it is to have organization and order because a free for all does not work. (We learned that the hard way on our first day with the sixth graders!) Ms. M also believes that having her lessons and classes planned out allows everything to go smoother, and when she is not scrambling to find something then the students are more confident in the project as well. 

One of Ms. M's most consistent procedures is counting to three. It is so easy to get the students attention when they know that if she reaches three and it has not quieted down, then they will get a verbal warning, which means the whole class has a strike "1". Her consequences are not just for counting to three, they apply to everything. 

As a class her consequences are:
1.     Verbal Warning-
2.     Lose radio, return to assigned seats
3.     Heads down- silent working
4.     Lose recess

As an individual the consequences are:
1.     Verbal Warning-
2.     Move seating
3.     Lose Police officer privilege
4.     Recess in/ phone call to parent
5.     Sent to office/phone call to parent

 I haven't seen any of the consequences in action except for last week when Ms. W was moving students in order for them to behave. I think the consequences are a great idea because when a student knows what will happen if they misbehave, they often choose to stay away from the consequences.

Ms. M's classroom is very neat and tidy, with a lot of expressive work on the walls. The students are not allowed to touch other student's artwork because they should know how much time is spent on making them beautiful. I think this is a great idea to help save the student's work from being destroyed while it is being displayed. Even early on, students know that art should be respected.

The daily procedures in the room are as follows:
  • Seating Chart-student determined as long as it’s working.  Must remain in assigned seats while directions are being given, then allowed to move.  In the event of a substitute, students will remain in assigned seats unless told otherwise.
  • Moving around the room is discouraged unless necessary.  NO RUNNING EVER.
  • Getting class attention:  1-2-3
  • Assignments
  • Name/ class name on back of art work
  • Finished Box/Class box
  • When you’re done early (free drawing, teacher jobs, read book)
  • Clean up countdown-need to be done by zero!
  • Clean up procedures-clean up your own mess! 
  • Sinks- left for equipment cleaning- right for hands.
  • Police officer Duties and privileges
 (call to line up, chose radio station,  special day- potter’s wheel, hand out supplies, clean equipment (or chose others), sit in rolling chair, help solve disputes, help supervise cleanup)
  • Line up- one class next to large bulletin board, other along cupboards (last class of the day puts up chairs)

I definitely enjoy the way Ms. M runs her classroom. The students seem to respect and understand what goes on in the art room. I will definitely steal her idea of "police officer". It took me until this pre-teaching observation to remember that when I was in elementary school we had a "star child" in my classrooms growing up. It was always fun to be a leader for a day. Like Ms. W also noted, it is important to set guidelines, expectations, rules and consequences right away and stick to them. As I student teach, I think I will use some of these ideas in my classroom as well as working with what my teacher already has set. Repetition is key. The students in Ms. M's room really respond to the repetitive nature of her classroom as well as where the supplies go and how the room functions as a whole. After my student teaching experience, I think that I will have a lot more understanding of what truly works for me. Until then, I will try to use what truly works for the teachers I work with.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Observation #3: Substitue today!

Today I visited the elementary school. Ms. M was absent today, so we were working with a substitute teacher. We also got a lot of time with Mrs. W, which was awesome. It was great to get yet another opinion and advice from another set of eyes.  It was a great day today, although it was filled with a lot of misbehavior! It was exciting to be the "experienced teachers" today because all of the students recognize us, but not Ms. W!

Last week we did not attend Ms. M's class because it was a teacher in-service day. After our second visit, the children wrapped up their jungle themed projects and were working towards a new destination: Space! Unfortunately, my camera was not with me, or I would have more photos for you to see! Next week I will capture more photos of the students' work.
The alien landscapes from the first graders
The first grade students were working on alien landscapes. They had drawn out space-ship themed landscapes and were working on painting them. Ms. W was nervous about the paint because the art room does not provide smocks for the children to wear! Luckily, it all worked out just fine. They were using tempera cakes, a form of the paint I had never seen, to fill in the shapes they had drawn on a black sheet of paper. The black background definitely gave the landscapes a "space" feel. Even though the children got paint everywhere, they do a great job cleaning up and they kept it off of their clothes! And their skin!

The sixth graders were working on space ship models. They were creating 3D models of their own spaceship designs that they will be re-creating with cardboard. Many of the students had a hard time making their ships look like their previous drawings that they had made on chart paper. Once again, the students were on different parts of their projects than their peers. Many students were finished while others were just starting to build with the paper and masking tape. I didn't mind helping students with different ways to work with the tape and paper, but it was difficult to really teach any children because they were misbehaving so badly! So many students were literally yelling, throwing paper airplanes and working on free drawing when they did not have anything done. I later said that it was the longest 40 minute class we could have taught. Many boys were taking advantage of the substitute by not doing as she was saying, or doing something behind her back. Luckily with three sets of eyes, we could catch many students misbehaving right away. Although it sounds like every child was being difficult, it was only two tables that were getting out of hand. The rest of the students enjoyed the project so much that they wanted to keep working on it!

The fifth graders were working on a very exciting project. They were working with contour lines and creating abstract, fluid shapes with sharpies on glossy paper. They had to free hand the lines, and contour them to different shapes that they had made. The students were finishing up the sharpie lines and were starting to color with fine tipped markers to color their abstract designs. While some students were coloring, others had a lot of drawing to do. Those who had a lot of drawing left were the students who were misbehaving all class period. One table had to be separated from each other for being too loud and rowdy. I didn't even notice the first time that Ms. W moved one of the students. She quietly went over, told the student she had to move, and led her to a new table. She then allowed her to have a second chance, though it was taken away after she became too loud and rambunctious yet again. Another boy had to be moved as well, and then they finally behaved. It was very interesting to see how something so subtle could do so much!  I wish I had my camera so I could show you how great the artwork was turning out. There were some great designs happening! These contour line drawings started to look very psychedelic!

Although the day was full of creativity, my favorite part of the day was talking with Ms. W! She was a Stout alumni who graduated in 2004 with a BFA in studio art and BS in Art Education. Ms. W just finished a long term substitute position at the High School in the same district that Ms. M teaches. She currently has her license to substitute teach, but let her teaching license expire. She found that she enjoyed her studio art to be much more fulfilling. In the past seven years she has worked in the medical field and has created her own artwork in her studio. She paints and does commissions for others as one of her sources of income, which I think is pretty amazing.

After school was out, Ms. W was talking to us about her disciplinary experiences. It was very nice to hear some real world stories in the different schools that she had taught for. The high school had some great stories about how to deal with high school boys, who are over six feet tall and full of attitude, who misbehave or are disrespectful. She said it is hard to look like an authority figure in high school, but you can still be effective. She noted how it is a good idea not to react to any misbehavior, to just deal with it as it comes. She said it's all in the tone of your voice, not in the reactions or emotions you show. Staying calm and not getting a rise from anything is her secret that she learned in her days of student teaching. Once a discipline outline is set, and the students know that they have consequences for misbehavior, she said it is very easy to tell them that they made a bad choice by misbehaving. She uses cleaning her art room as a punishment and makes the students come in before, during lunch, or after school for different intervals of time depending on the crime. The students know that if they misbehave they will be spending the time in the art room cleaning. Ms. W says it is great because her room gets cleaned for her! She has made students organize paint by color, scrub the sinks with toothbrushes, alphabetize resources, and other tedious jobs around the room. I really enjoyed her insight, and will be keeping some of her techniques in mind!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Did Ms. M become an art teacher?

 For a classroom assignment, we needed to ask Ms. M why she chose to be an art teacher. Like many others, she was inspired by her high school art teacher. She thought that her art teacher had an amazing job and knew that she could do it too. She enrolled her freshman year as an art education student and never looked back! She mentioned that right out of college it was much harder to be an art teacher because everything was still so new. She had to think about everything for much longer and plan things out much more in depth because she did not have the knowledge that comes with years of experience. Ms. M was very motivational when she told us that it gets much easier!

The only drawback that Ms. M made us aware of it that although she gets her creative outlet by working with the children daily, she does not have much time (or really much motivation) to create her own art work. When she gets home after a day of school, she is either working on a new project for the students, or using her time to spend with her family and live her life as well! As she was speaking with us, she made sure to tell us that this is not necessarily a huge draw back at all. She loves working with the children and enjoys watching their minds work (That is one of the things that I love about this pre-teaching experience as well!) The thought, "What if I do this....?" is always so fun to read on childrens' faces.

As a follow up question, we asked what parts of the profession have changed in her years as an art teacher. She was immediately answering us back when she described how we have to prove ourselves as art teachers in order to be considered a worth-while class. This is most likely due to the changes in the curriculum as well as to the lack of money that schools are receiving. In order to prove herself, she found that she has more busy work in order to truly write everything down and make sure to show what objectives the students are learning and how she is tying her classroom projects into other classroom subjects.
Ms. M finds herself working on project samples for class instead of her own work.

A very notable point that Ms. M made was that creativity is also a life lesson that many children need to learn. If they don't learn it early on, how are they going to differentiate themselves from their competition in the real world? It is the creative mind that sets many "geniuses" apart from others. Creativity is a life skill and must be taught to the children at some point, so why not earlier?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Education Photo Montage

This is a picture of a photo montage I put together for my Foundations of Education Course. I think everything I wrote in it is still true today. My professor actually used this in an academic journal article that she wrote. Thanks Dr. Klein! Also, I thought it to be a fun lesson plan idea for high school students when learning about digital imaging and composites. It was very easy to make! This concept would be a great self portrait idea!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Elementary Art

Here I am in the art room waiting for the students!
Today was my second meeting with Ms. M's elementary art students. Once again, we met with first, fifth and sixth graders, as we will do every Friday meeting. My partner and I are lucky enough to visit from 12:30 to about 3:30 every Friday, getting two full hours to work with the children and forty minutes to visit one-on-one with Ms. M. It is very helpful to have a prep hour to be with our cooperating teacher so we can have some discussions about teaching art, past projects, and other things. I think getting to know the cooperating teacher is just as important as working with the children because we get to learn from our experiences, and from someone who has been doing our future career for years.

The students placed masking tape as the "resist"

The lines created by the tape will be "constructive lines"
The first graders had finished their crocodile projects (I updated my last post with a picture!) and were moving onto the next project today. Ms. M introduced the concept of "constructive lines" and the idea of a "resist" project. This means that the students will be working with straight, geometric lines and will work with a sort of tape or stencil to resist the excess material being applied to the surface. The students reviewed different types of lines like horizontal, diagonal and zig zag lines. The children learned that if they used masking tape to create these lines and colored over the masking tape, the masking tape would resist the color and not allow it to hit the paper. Because they were using masking tape over glossy paper (so the tape would be easier to pull off) the markers being used to color the shapes created did not dry very quickly. Next week, we will get to see the finished product after they pull off their tape. Some children did not finish coloring today while others finished in time to free draw or work on a creativity challenge.  The only thing that was a struggle in the first grade classroom was that the students wanted to tape their eyes, mouths and faces with the masking tape as well as draw on their own faces and others. One girl drew a mustache on herself, another table was having a marker-poking fight, while another just decided to draw on her face. It was as if one student had tried to draw on their face and didn't get seen by any of the three adults in the classroom. If one student saw that they didn't get yelled at, then the idea spread like wildfire! All of a sudden there were markers on faces everywhere! As soon as Ms. M said something the students stopped, and had to go wash their faces. Even when I tried to tell those having a marker-poking fight to stop and keep their markers on their papers only, they didn't respond like they did to their own teacher. Ms. M noted how hard it probably is for a substitute teacher to come in for one day and work in that type of situation. Children definitely respond best to those that are in a true authority position, not just visiting student teachers or substitutes!

Here is a mask that was done in class
The students loved saying "It's not snot"
 The fifth graders were working on a new project with masks. This was tied into the jungle theme as they talked about different symbolism and cultures that used masks. Although Ms. M said that she probably won't be able to get away from Halloween masks due to the time of the year, she was happy to get the masks into the curriculum because the fifth graders look forward to doing them each year. Using a plastic template, students used paper mache paste and paper. The paper used was stiffer than the normal newsprint, but the children were still able to apply it to the surface correctly with a bit of extra pressure. This project was fun because the students had already been introduced to mask symbolism and designs, as well as what they were going to do for the project. They had created a few mask designs on seperate pieces of paper, and were allowed to work on those for the remainder of class after creating their masks. It was a very fun lesson that the students seemed very excited about!

An in progress landscape the 6th graders were working on
The sixth grade class, which often has students who get their work done at different paces, were still working on their projects from last week. This was the last day to work on them and to glue their vines on. It was an easy class to work with this week. The students seemed excted to free draw or to work on the creativity challenge if they were finished, and many were determined to get done with their drawings, even if they didn't finish by the end of the class. The sixth grade class is the group that I can tell has different personalities and different "cliques" of students that are either driven to do well, or to use class as a free hour to talk to their friends and goof off.

Today I learned that with time there comes more confidence in teaching, because today I already felt more comfortable with the students, cooperating teacher, and my abilities to truly "teach" the students how to do something. I'm getting very excited for me and my partner's lesson plan that we get to teach to the students. We will be working on getting that in order this week. Ms. M received some gourds from a friend, so we are hoping to tie in a fall theme while painting and adding to them. I will be updating this blog as soon as we finish the lesson plan.

Also, photos will be added to this post and the previous post after I upload and organize some photos I took today (Currently Updated as of Oct. 13!) I will also be answering some formal questions in a new post that is required for my blog posts for my class. Check back again soon for more information! I also added many new pages on this blog for inspirational artwork, my artwork, the student's work from my cooperating elementary school, links of interest, and creativity challenges. As soon as I get all of these things organized properly I hope this blog will be easy to navigate and will hold an abundance of information!