Saturday, March 31, 2012

High School Practicum: Day 1 (2.25 hours)

March 2nd was my first day with Mr. R at the High School. I had a great day learning about the classroom and the classes that I would be observing on Friday afternoons. Mr. R allowed me to introduce myself to the students and let them know who I was, why I was there, and what I hoped to gain from my pre-teaching experience. It was very exciting when he let the students know what he expected of me as well as what he expected of his students. I was excited when he asked the students questions about how teachers actually teach. He asked "So what do we do as teachers?" many answers consisted of "Teach us" or "Show us how to do something". He furthered this discussion by asking "How do teachers teach?" He then made sure that the students knew that I was going to be asking them questions, getting involved with them individually and trying to teach them by being actively involved in the classroom. The students seemed a little stand-offish at first, but I think I was able to connect with a few of them!

I learned that the Introduction to 3D class was one of his largest classes with the most diverse group of students. Each table in the classroom had a different clique of friends. These cliques were very different, and often had a lot of attitude towards the other groups. Mr. R noted that this group of students is very hard to reach sometimes, and has a lot of students at different levels of enthusiasm and artistic talent.
The 3D class was finishing a casting project. Most students were sanding and buffing their silver rings, while others were still creating wax molds or attaching wax sprues. I enjoyed walking around the class, attempting to learn a few names and faces, and to understand the project requirements.

The last class of the day was Introduction to 2D, which is held in another room of the school. Mr. R is lucky enough to have two art classrooms available to him. One room is for two dimensional artwork while the other is for three dimensional artwork. The 2D classroom was very well behaved and seemed to respond to my introduction quite well. I also spent the class time walking around meeting the students and letting them know a little about myself. I hope to teach a lesson plan during the self portrait project for this class!

I spoke a lot with Mr. R about how he runs his classroom and what he expects of his students. Although Mr. R is very laid back, he seems to hold all of his students extremely accountable for their actions and for their work. He hands out all rubrics at one time during the first week of the semester. This way, they know which projects are coming up and can always refer to the rubrics in order to get the best grade possible. They know upfront when the project is due, as well as  all of the requirements for that project.

Mr R. utilizes a lot of sketchbook assignments, which I really enjoyed. It was interesting to see all of the students working in their sketchbooks and making their idealized projects come to life in a larger format!

The first day went pretty well, I am extremely excited to continue my experience!

Interview Question: How do you assess student artwork?

When dealing with assessment in my classroom, I believe in both authentic and summative assessment practices. In authentic assessment,  an art project is assessed by analyzing the piece itself. If I was teaching perspective, I would know if the students learned the correct technique if the lines matched up to the vanishing point and so on. In summative assessment, a body of work as well as the improvement of the artist is taken into account. Things like portfolio reviews, artist statements, and a gallery or blog of all artwork would be analyzed and graded. This type of assessment is becoming more and more popular because of the technology that can also be integrated into the assessment. By creating a website, the students need to design and organize their work in a visually pleasing manner, which also teaches them about professional responsibilities. Even if they do not become practicing artists, they will still need the ability to organize information in a pleasing way, like in a resume.

The way that I will assess most projects, no matter if they are authentic or summative, is through the use of rubrics. By having an organized layout, my students and their parents will be able to see the areas in which they excel and the areas that need improvement. In lesson planning, rubrics fit in great with criteria of the project and the learning objectives involved. By incorporating point values for the integration of each, they will gain and understanding of their work as a whole. In most rubrics I have created thus far, I always integrate a craftsmanship and effort category. Not only is it important that the student be graded on their physical artifact, but it is important that they create that artifact with the correct technique and neatness required for the project as well as the effort and behavior that they exuded in class.

Self assessment will also be a way that I assess student artwork. I want to know what the student thinks of his or her work! If they can use the vocabulary and main concepts in complex ways, or if they understand their strengths and weaknesses. It is important for students to be able to assess themselves in order for them to grow as young artists.

In class, we talked about how  a principal wants to hear that you have criteria and that you have information to support your reason for giving the grade you do. I think that rubrics are a great way to show principals and other teachers what you expect out of your students. For this reason, and that they are easy to organize and understand, I hope to base most of my assessment on rubrics and authentic assessment practices in the future!

Multiculturalism in the classroom

 How will you teach diversity through art?
 In my classroom, I hope to teach diversity through art in a variety of ways. By teaching a diverse group of artists, styles and materials, I will be able to introduce the complexity of the diverse art world while introducing the study of art history into my classroom. I hope to plan at least one lesson for each age group around the complex idea of diversity, unity, multiculturalism and acceptance into my curriculum. It is not only important to teach lessons about different cultures (like teaching an African mask lesson, or a Native American beading project) but to also incorporate the idea of the diversity found within the classroom, and how that diversity is an exciting and important concept. Through art, I hope my students will be able to create visually appealing images of tolerance and acceptance while also gaining knowledge of different areas of the world and different times in world history.

What is complex/difficult about teaching multiculturalism?
Introducing the concept of multiculturalism can be extremely challenging due to it's close relationship with bias and stereotyping. It would be important for me to introduce projects and research methods for each project dealing with diversity and multiculturalism because I want to make sure that my students are not using stereotypes or bias opinions in the artwork. Teaching diversity through art is not only to create beautiful artwork, but to open the minds of the students and to get them thinking critically about our community and our world.  I want to make sure to promote tolerance and acceptance, not bullying or jokes. Depending on the ages of the students, it would be important to have in-depth conversations about the obstacles they face on a daily basis and how those obstacles relate to diversity across the board, not just multiculturalism or race. I would want to emphasize that diversity can be found in every person not only for their backgrounds, but for their interests, traditions, religious practices, life experiences and personality traits.

I hope to be a positive influence on all of my students during my career. I hope to give them a voice that they feel comfortable with expressing, and a voice that they know is important. By teaching diversity through art, I think any student can feel empowered to make a difference in the school, community, and the world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A talk with local Principal, Mr. W.

The presenter for today's class was a local high school principal, Mr. W. He was a great speaker and had some amazing insights for us future art educators. We had such a great conversation with him about interviewing, resumes and the job application process. He had some amazing advice! I wrote down almost everything he said because everything was so exciting and important. Talking with him today made me feel like there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel. For some reason, I had the "aha" moment of "I am actually going to be a real life teacher!", as if I hadn't known that before. Our class had a great conversation with Mr. W. I want to walk you through some of the important topics he covered and some secrets he let us in on!

Mr. W has been in education for 20 years. He has spend the last 9 years at his High School as the principal and athletic director. He began his career as a social studies teacher but eventually worked his way up to administration. While he was applying, he thought that the interviewing process would be exciting and fun. He has found that the opposite is true. He said interviewing is one of the hardest parts of his job!

Secrets and Tips:

1. Be nice to the secretary upon entering the office for an interview. Their opinion will be told to the administration, so a small conversation can go a long way! 

2. Be articulate. Be rehearsed but don't sound rehearsed!! 

3. Make sure your resume is grammatically correct. He is always surprised by the number of applications that are not well written. Spell Principal correctly. NOT Principle.  Those resumes automatically go into the reject pile.

4. Make sure to personalize your cover letter to the school you are applying to. He encourages using the same cover letter, but make sure to tweak personalized information. He has had applications that are addressed to the neighboring high school sent to him!

5. You will get noticed by your cover letter. Take the time to put yourself into the letter. Don't make it too long, but give the administration a snap shot of who you are. It is your place to explain why you are a good candidate.

6. Resume content is what will make you stand out from other applications. Anything relating to working with children or the arts is the most important. Things like volunteering, summer school programs, subbing, youth groups, and coaching are all important experiences. They are looking to see that your first love is working with children.  Also, putting your licensing information at the top of the resume will help them see what you can teach, and will often save them a step, which they like!

7. Letters of Recommendation should include the administration from your previous job or student teaching experience. Without the administration's letter, he assumes that you aren't credible enough for a nice letter from them. Also, only give the required amount of letters. Never give four letters if they only ask for three.

8. Sending attachments of your resume etc. can be a downfall. Always opt for sending a packet of your application materials. He said that there are many baby boomers and "old farts" in the administration departments of schools that are used to paper applications more than electronic ones. Play to their preferences and to the security of knowing that they will not lose all of your information if it is all neatly placed in an envelope!

9. Employers are looking for the general characteristics of a good person. If you are honest, hard working, responsible, reliable it will most likely come across in your application and the interview process. Take the time to give your voice to your materials!

10. It is okay to be nervous for the interview! They know you will be nervous, they understand, and they expect you to be prepared, even if you are nervous. If you are prepared, your nervousness will go away, or be overpowered by your love for teaching. 

I hope you enjoyed reading these little pieces of information, and checking out the little cartoons that I found online!

 Mr. W sure did have a lot to tell us! I'm so thankful to have the chance to hear his advice.

Why did Mr. R become an art teacher?

When I asked Mr. R why he became an art teacher, he had a very long explanation. He gave me a lot of background stories on his education in high school and college, and basically told me it was because he always loved art, and this is where his life took him.

 Mr. R is a great teacher. I know this in only two hours of observing him. His students seem to respect him not only for his artistic merit (he has a BFA in Painting and a MFA in Ceramics) but for his demeanor. Mr. R doesn't overuse compliments, rather, he uses constructive language and a lot of questions to get his students thinking. When he does give a compliment, or a good critique, it means a lot to his students. This is something that I would love to learn to do, as I know I tend to say "Good work" and "Nice job" too much! For young children, I think this is a good habit, but for high school students, I agree with Mr. R that they need to be their own judge of their work.

While he was in high school, Mr. R had a horrible art teacher. In a whole semester, he created three rings in an art metals course. He said he wasn't the best student in the world, but because he was good at art and kept to himself, he always got good grades. As an upperclassmen he was casting all of the younger student's rings. He said to me, "Does it make sense for a student to be casting a student's work? No". I definitely agreed with him. Why should a student take a course if someone else is going to be doing all of the work for them? In college, he found himself taking art courses because he knew he loved it, regardless of the types of instruction he had in high school. Knowing that he always excelled in art, he enrolled in the art education program. I think he chose art education in order to become a a better teacher than what he had...

Throughout college, he enjoyed his career, but was still on the fence about teaching. For his practicum experience (like I am doing now) he had to have 50 hours in the classroom. He was told by his cooperating teachers to sit in the corner and take notes. This made him very intimidated because he couldn't get any hands on teaching in the 50 hours he had to observe! Even now, he is very adamant about his practicum students and student teachers to be very hands-on because of this. During his observations, he was in math, science and social studies courses. He rarely sat in on an art class, if ever. He was told that his experience would tell him if he wanted to a teacher or not, even though he had been in the art education program for three years already. Although he was intimidated and scared, he stuck with it. In his student teaching experiences, he had a negative experience with many university personnel and was actually withdrawn from his placement! Eventually he worked to be placed somewhere else, and after years of struggle in the program, he graduated and applied for the job at the local high school.

Right out of college he subbed for almost a year in order to gain experience. He actually applied to be a truck driver, and due to having a ticket on his record (they wouldn't hire anyone with a speeding violation or anything) he didn't get the job. He said, "If I would have gotten that job, I am positive that I would be a truck driver for the rest of my life". I think I am lucky to be observing someone who has overcome a lot of trials in his professional life. He's had to work hard to be where he is! Although I don't think he is the type of person to declare his love for working with students and seeing their minds working and learning, I do think that he has a passion for what he does, and that is all that matters!

First Day in the High School

On Friday, March 2, I had my first meeting with Mr. R in the local high school. It was very exciting to get to see where I was going to be spending at least 15 hours before the end of the semester. Mr R. had me introduce myself to the students in both of the classes I will be visiting each week, and he made sure to let them know what he expects of me and what they should expect from me as well. He also stated that the students are to utilize me for my age, being only 21 and so close to age as most of the students, I can be a reference regarding college, university art programs and so on. Some of the students seemed very friendly and happy to have a new face, while others had a little attitude toward the whole situation. (I'm sure they have seen many Stout teachers in their hallways over their high school career!) Overall, it was a great first day, and I enjoyed getting to know each student and which part of their project they were on.

The first class I observed was a beginning 3D course. The students are still working on their first project, casting rings. The high school has an amazing room for 3D art, with all of the equipment for casting, polishing and soldering metals. It was such a great environment, it made me jealous that I didn't get to experience something that great while I was in high school! The class had about 25 students that were all in different parts of their project. Most of the students were working on filing and sanding their rings, while a few students were finished with their ring altogether, some were still carving their wax molds, and other students were just finishing the investment in the casting canisters. One student asked me if I could show her how to work the buffing machine, and of course I wanted to be able to do that, but because it was my first time in the room, I made sure to ask Mr. R to help us both so I would know where all of his materials were. I actually learned more than she did when he was demonstrating how to use the machine and which steps to do first!

While walking around the room, I learned that the students had many sketchbook assignments prior to casting their rings. I love the way Mr. R utilizes the sketchbook assignments and rubrics. At the beginning of each class, he hands out the rubrics for all of the art projects in the semester. It is the student's responsibility to hang onto these rubrics and turn them in with each assignment. If they forget or lose the rubrics, they can easily be found online. (Although he said many students get their grades knocked down because they forget that they can get them offline)

After the 3D class was finished, we moved across the hall to the 2D room (It is awesome to have two separate spaces! Once again, they are very lucky!) for beginning 2D class. This is the class that I will be preparing a lesson for. Because I have a specialty in drawing, I will be working on an introductory lesson for the self portrait or a woodcutting lesson. It should be very fun!

On Friday, the introductory 2D class was working on a Kandinsky inspired abstract drawing. Using colored pencils, the students were coloring various shapes throughout their compositions. It was interesting to see how many students had a meaning to what they were creating and how many were just drawing whatever they wanted. Once again, this was the first project in the 2D class, but they had many sketchbook assignments and thumbnails to turn in to Mr. R.

This will be a very fun class to work with because there seemed to be a more cohesive group of students. The 3D class had many visible cliques, while this one seemed to be a bit more fluid. Maybe it is my comfort zone to prefer 2D, or maybe I was more comfortable at the high school after an hour, but I really enjoyed the last class of the day.

For the last 25 minutes of school, each student in the high school has a study hall period where they can work on homework. Mr. R provides a sign up sheet for students to enter his room and work on their art projects. Over 32 students were in the classroom, and were all working on something different. Ceramics (throwing, hand-building and glazing), art metals (soldering and finishing) and 2D art were projects being worked on. Everyone was asking Mr. R where things were, and for various instructions. It was very hectic, but Mr. R said that he is used to it, and that he has a great group of students who are very responsible. This last 25 minutes will give me a lot of time to ask Mr. R about his job and any advice that he has for me in the future. I was able to ask him why he became an art teacher, and the influences he had while becoming an art educator (I will write a specific post about this!)

I really think I will enjoy my time with Mr. R and the high school students. It should be a big difference between the elementary classroom last semester!

Another Guest Speaker, Special Education

On February 26th, our class was able to host a local special education teacher. She spoke to us about ways in which we could work with students with special needs, their aids and other special education personnel. She also gave us insights on modifying art lessons for students who happen to have special needs.

She was a great representative for students who just happen to have a disability or handicap. She mentioned how no student ever chose to be the way they are, but they are people all the same. Using people first language was a way that she made sure we respected the children we were speaking about. A child with a handicap is not a "handicapped child" and a child with autism should not be called "autistic". By stating that they are a person, a student first, then it doesn't label them in a way that could be disrespectful. She had a great perspective as a special educator. She called all of the students she works with "our" students, not just "my" students. Essentially, the students she works with are every teacher's student because everyone in the school works with them.

We learned more about IEP's or Individual Education Plans and how as art teachers we should go to every IEP meeting that we can. In order to understand the students (which is key to helping them learn) we need to know how to best reach them, which is discussed in IEP meetings. At these meetings and IEP is created as a documents to inform the student's teachers of their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, as well as the goals for each class setting.

My favorite part of the presentation was her advice on reaching students in the art classroom. Modifications, or differentiations that are made to each lesson in order to accommodate a student with special needs is key in lesson planning and ordering supplies. She mentioned how we should look into purchasing large handled brushes, lower tables, different chairs and other materials that help students with special needs. Inclusion of students with special needs means that the student deserves to be in the general education classroom with his or her peers. If there is a reason for the student to be separated from the class to have an adaptive art class, or to work with an aid, that will also be arranged through their IEP, or on a daily basis. In some instances, our visiting teacher told us that some children just cannot be in that class for the day depending on their mood etc.

It was a great presentation that really got our class thinking about how to better reach students who happen to have special needs. I love advocating for these students, as I think that many of them excel in art class, in a more tactile, hands on environment that it provides. One day, I hope to be a great teacher who really gets to know all of my students,

Friday, March 2, 2012

Art Advocacy

A few weeks ago I mentioned how my class was making videos to emphasize the importance of the arts and art education. Here is my original video. I hope you like it! The associated music is "When you grow up" by Priscilla Ahn.


Today in class we watched the movie, "Harsh". It was a very interesting film about two schools that were presenting the topic of aesthetics. Although the movie was a bit dated, it still resonated the same topic. What is aesthetics and how do we teach it to our students? Should our students even have to study aesthetics?

The answer, through DBAE is yes. We do need to teach aesthetics as well as criticism, art history and art production. The most important part of the discussion of aesthetics is to find the meaning of art. What is it? What is it not? Sadly, there is no true definite definition. Art is something that will always be evolving, changing and rotating. This does not mean that it is not a worthwhile subject.

In the movie, a high school art teacher lectured to his class about aesthetics and aesthetic experiences. He gave each student a clear cup of water and dropped one drop of red food coloring into it. As the color burst and expanded in the water, the students were asked to describe, with figurative language, the aesthetic experience. Some descriptions were very insightful! One girl said how the clear water was the Native American people and the red drop was Columbus, spreading the purity with disease and famine. As an assignment he had the students describe two aesthetic experiences from practical experiences they have everyday. They also had to describe a piece of art in an aesthetic way. It was interesting to hear how the words used were related to the study of aesthetics, but it did seem a little dated in a sense.

The middle school from the video was studying art in the community and how public art is different from art you would hang on your wall at home. They studied the purpose of these pieces and got into groups to role play the impact that the art has on the community and authority figures.

In my classroom, I hope to incorporate aesthetics in a specific lesson or plan like these teachers did. Until today, I hadn't ever thought about making it a specific discussion, which I think was very effective. I am currently taking a course called "Aesthetics" on campus, so between ARTED 308 and Aesthetics, I am really re-thinking what art is to me.

There will never be a universal definition of art, but I can make my own definition, and my students can make theirs. By educating them in the arts, and art theory, they will have the opportunity to define art for themselves and learn from their peers and me as their teacher to truly gather an understanding of art in our world.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Speaker Ms. L.

Our last guest speaker was Ms. L. from a local elementary school. She was an amazing woman who really gave us an idea of what it would be like to teach in our own classrooms someday. She had some great insights and opinions that she shared with us, and I wanted to reflect on her visit in this post!

Ms. L couldn't emphasize classroom management enough. She finds her classroom best managed when she is organized. Some of my classmates have observed in her classroom and found that she has a system for everything. Although it seems like a lot of work, she goes through the day pretty effortlessly. When I have my own classroom I hope to set up an organized system like Ms. L who says it helps her immensely in time management, not to mention it keeps the children on task. She has even organized her room in specific ways in order to most efficiently manage the traffic patterns of the children as they move about the room!

One of my favorite quotes of the day was when she said, "I am the teacher of children. Art is my subject, but I also teach organization, social studies, math, science, reading, and social skills". She has great insights on being a specialist in her field who also teaches other subjects through the medium of art. Her biggest task is to manage the children and make them feel safe and welcome. She is a huge advocate of the responsive classroom as well as professional learning communities. She had some great literature for us to read into about these trends in education as well.

Ms. L sees over four hundred children every three days in her classroom. As a specialist, she gets to stay with the children as they grow up from kindergarten to fifth grade. Unlike a general education teacher, she spends all of their elementary career with them. What a rewarding experience!

The advice that she gave us as future educators was to make sure to have a management plan. Be consistent. Be firm. Be flexible. Have a routine.

Over the course of her visit we talked about curriculum in her school as well as how to differentiate lesson plans for students with special needs. She had some great insights for us and was very inspirational and motivational. What a great art teacher!

Micro teaching

A few weeks back, my class wrote lesson plans to share and teach to our peers. I adapted a lesson plan that I found on and loved it. It was a kindergarten printmaking assignment that incorporated reading and a Smart Board activity. I hope to get a chance to teach this to the children in my classroom someday! Here are some pictures from the experience! Thanks to Jen from Draw The Line At for the inspiration, and the advice on paper size etc.

Here was the finished product! What a cute peacock.

 We used large marshmallows for the peacock feathers and little marshmallows for the "eye" of the feather. Our hand in the form of a "C" was the peacock body! It was fun to make, even being 21 years old, I can't imagine how much a 5 year old would love it.
The smart board activity was a memory match up game with pictures of real peacocks.