Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HS Explores Henna

This project was a total experimentation that flopped in some ways, but the end results were somewhat I pictured in my head.

We started making clay hands using 2 slabs and connecting them together.  We put newspaper in between for support and so our clay wouldn't be too thick.  We also poked holes near the bottom so that more air could go through the entire hand.  I had my high schoolers work in partners to get this all done in one 50 minute class period.  Thankfully the next day we did not have school because I was able to put the first ones in the kiln.  It was perfect timing because I was able to see the massive explosion in the kiln before the other half of my students proceeded.  I quickly realized there were too many variables and this was perhaps too complex of a construction for my students who have little experience with clay.  Quick thinking led me to change my plan instead of scrapping it all together.  I really wanted to do this project, so I decided we would just do 1 slab and it would be flat.  Not my ideal work, but it would do.

After they were fired in the kiln, we mixed some flesh tone watercolor to paint the hands.  We then looked at the history of henna or mehndi in a power point.  We talked about how it is made, the process, the purpose, and looked at many cool examples.  I had my students sketch out on paper the designs they wanted to do before moving on.  They then could transfer on to the clay hand using pencil or could freehand the designs on.  We used many colors of sharpie to do this.  I limited students to no more than 3 colors so that it wouldn't get all crazy!  The results were pretty cool!

This assignment was very open-ended in terms of design and as you can see I got varied results.  From flowery-girly designs to more masculine, tattoo-like designs they all turned out very well.

2nd Grade Tape-Resist Tree Landscapes

I have to start out with saying this was not my idea.  I actually saw 2 variations of this same project on 2 different blogs but now I can't remember which.

We started out talking about landscapes.  Along with that we discussed foreground, middleground, and background.  I knew these terms would be "big" concepts, although when reviewing they seemed to understand.  We also looked at the works of Wolf Kahn.

Then students tore pieces of painters tape to lay down on our paper to make our tree trunks and added a few branches too, if they wanted.  We then used watercolor to paint the background.  We started at the bottom with green and small patches of brown.  We then "painted" the rest of our paper with water before we added color.  This helped to blend the colors together.  We focused on making lines of color to make a "sunset". 

After the paintings were dry we CAREFULLY removed the tape.  How cool was this!  The students thought this was just awesome! 

We then used crayons to add patches of grass, tree bark, and a few leaves.  I demonstrated how to use different pressures and shades of the same color to create a bark texture.  We also discussed birch trees and how they are mostly white with gray patches where the bark peels off.

Here are some results:

Overall my students and I enjoyed this project a lot!  I will definitely do it again.

Kindergarten Celebrates Fall

My Kindergarten classes have been doing many small projects to celebrate fall using basic cutting, gluing, and drawing skills.  I think they have enjoyed these a lot! 

We made grass by cutting fringe on green paper and then added white clouds with crayon.  We also used brown, yellow, red, and orange to make leaves.  The leaves were a struggle for some to make them look "real"  but they did a good job!

We made an acorn using brown paper and with red and orange paper we traced our hands to make leaves.  Tracing and cutting out hands...what a challenge it was!  Many fingers were cut off, but it was ok!

My K kids had their first adventure with paint this year.  We first did a step by step drawing of a scarecrow with crayons.  They had a little trouble getting over the fact that we could not erase!  Then we got to painting.  I put out only warm colors of watercolor for a crayon resist.  They LOVED it!  And for their first time painting this year they did pretty good.

We also did turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Rather than doing a silly "hand" turkey, we did real turkeys.  We talked about the difference between domestic and wild turkeys, their coloring, etc.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paper Sculpture

About a month and a half ago or so I wanted to try this lesson I got at the KAEA conference a few years ago when I was still a student.  I was intrigued about the cool designs and how paper could form such a sculpture that was visually interesting.  I thought my junior high kids would be able to figure it all out.

It is called interlocking polyhedrons.  I got the lesson and template from the conference along with a website that helped me a lot.  The website is: http://www.iqlight.com/. 
I enlarged the template and used the 12-piece model.  For some added fun, I allowed my students to paint their pieces however they wanted after they traced them all onto posterboard.
That was the easy part.  I did a practice piece of my own and had no problems but the pieces were smaller before I decided to have my students do theirs bigger.  I also used a slightly different paper.  These 2 small changes sure did make a difference when it came to assembly.  The students had a ton of fun with this project even though it was frustrating for some.  We all ended up working together to assemble them.  Some were better than others, so they were my assistants trying to help everyone out.  It was a great team effort.  Once they were all assembled they went into the display case in the front of the building for conferences.  I got a ton of compliments on how "COOL!" they were and "How did you do that?"  The students were proud of them because they looked really nice and were proud they could accomplish the challenge of the task.

If I do this again, I may have to test paper, size, and if paint affects how they assemble in order to make it easier.

Wire Woes

I have found that students of all ages always show more excitement for 3D projects.  I'm not sure why, but one of my goals is to find more 3D projects using a variety of mediums for all grades.  I'm more of a 2D girl, excluding my love of clay.  The 3D realm is something I want to explore more when I get time.

The first 3D project I did with my HS kids this year gave me many headaches.  Many students were frustrated because it was HARD!  It really wasn't that hard.  Challenging yes, but still do-able.  I wouldn't ask my students to try something I knew they couldn't do. 

Their assignment was to create a wire insect using volume.  I had only a handful of GREAT insects  in the end.  Many students just flat out gave up and handed in poor projects knowing they didn't do so hot.  I'm still wondering if it is something I want to pursue again in the future or not.  Perhaps a different approach to make it "easier" for them can be found.  We shall see.

                                            Here are some photos of the best ones.

This one is huge and my student used extremely tough wire!  I kept the chair in the picture to show the actual scale. I was very impressed!


A Worried Relief...

So as we are entering the 2nd week of November, I am just now doing this journaling/blogging thing that I've been wanting to do all along.  Only by wise advice of a great mentor in my HS building did I finally sit down and just do it! 
My main reason for being so delayed in this journaling project is the reality that I have NO time!  I mean who does, really?  But seriously, my schedule as a first year teacher is insane!  Like I said previously, I have 18 classes and 250+ students a week.  That allows me for a 15 minute break in the morning (time when I usually go to the bathroom and check my e-mail) before my next class comes in.  I have a 40 minute break to eat my lunch and switch buildings before I start my afternoon with 3 hours straight of students.  I don't know how I've managed to get everything done, but somehow it does.  I use every minute of every day to be productive whether that is cleaning up or preparing for the next day.  Many days I've left to head home exhausted! 
My concerns, although at first I was hesitant to voice them as a new teacher, well they were noticed.  I said something to my mentor teacher once and shortly after that the news traveled to my principals and superintendent.  I was not expecting that but it was a pleasant happening.  There have been conversations with my elementary principal through my formal evaluation and just in general about changing things to make things easier for me.  This has made me feel good, knowing that they are willing to work with me.
At first I just accepted the reality that my schedule would be the same until next year, but things may change sooner than I thought!  2 ideas for possible schedule changes in January occurred on the same day.  One idea...cut my Kindergarten classes.  The other idea...see if my 3 students in 5th hour at the HS can change to a different hour.  The reality is I don't want to cut or change anything but honestly I know I can't do it all!  It is just too much!
If I had my choice, I'd use my 5th hour as a plan every day for next semester, knowing that I wouldn't have Kindergarten next year.  Cutting Kindergarten halfway through the year just seems strange, especially knowing that I'll have all of those students in the 1st grade next year.  I am just waiting to see what decisions are going to be made.  I am just happy that some relief that has caused me a tremendous amount of stress will soon be solved...hopefully.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

6th Grade Portrait Silhouettes

I wanted to try something simple, yet personal to see what skills my 6th graders have.  By having K-12, I can see what skills my older kids lack that I need to make sure my lower grades are exposed to them.
My 6th graders paired up and did their silhouettes using my projector on the wall.  This was a fun, yet slightly difficult task for some of them.  They had trouble standing still so some lines were pretty wiggly.  We fixed those and I helped some of them do the outlines quicker than they were able to do.
After that we created a 2-inch grided square pattern on the silhouette part only.  We then created 5 2-inch squares as a template for practicing our designs.  I gave students free reign for the designs as long as they had 5 different ones.  They then transferred their designs onto the portrait making sure that no 2 boxes next to each other had the same design.  I had them use colored pencils and stuck to a monochromatic color scheme.  The grid and monochromatic color scheme were 2 new things we covered.  This project took many weeks since I only have them for 40 minutes 1 day a week. Although they turned out great, I could tell that towards the end they were done with it and ready to move on.
I hung these up in the hallway this week.  I intentionally had the students put their names on the back so that we could have a "6th Grade Guess Who" to see if the students and teachers could pick out who was who.  I thought it would be fun since the school is small and everybody knows everybody.  It's funny how some of them are easy to pick out.  I've had some good comments on them and they've only been up for 2 days.

Chalk Mural

I was approached by the KAY sponsor at the HS about doing a sidewalk chalk mural to welcome those attending the regional conference we were hosting.  I was all over it.  With more thinking, we decided to do a mural on the brick wall of the building where the attendees would be entering.  The theme was "There's no place like Kansas."  I found a great picture and was totally on board to have my 3 HS classes crank out this 12X8 foot mural in 3 to 4 days.  Little did I realize what I was getting myself into...
I had my 5th and 6th hours help me sketch out and grid the picture on bulletin board paper.  Doing a grid was a new experience for my students, so it was a good teaching moment.  After explaining how the grid works I got many "ah's" so I knew they got it.  That was the easy part.
Once we headed outside, the craziness began.  The first day was too hot, the second too windy, the third too cold.  I also had troubles getting all of my students to connect with this project, therefore many students did nothing.  That was the hard part...managing those who were working making sure it was being done right, and keeping track of those who weren't working so they wouldn't wander away.  Yes, I was working with high school students but it seemed like I was working with my 2nd graders.  In the end the result pleased the students and the sponsor of KAY, although I could have done a lot more work on it.  But at that point, I was over it.
We were looking hard for BOLD colors of chalk. and even though they looked bold they were definitely pastel.  We made it work with what we had and I was glad for it to be done with.  

Here are a few pictures of our progress.


I have decided to start this blog as a reflection of my day-to-day life as a new, young art teacher.  A mentor in my high school building keeps telling me I need to journal my stories, ideas, and frustrations and I have decided this would be the best way to show my journey.

Anyway, I am a K-12 art teacher in Meade and it is my first year.  I have 2 rooms, 2 buildings, 2 principals, 18 classes and 250+ students a week.  It is safe to say I survived 9+ weeks of my first year which is a HUGE triumph!  Some days I wonder if I'm surviving, but in reality taking a look at the big picture, I really am.  I have learned a ton so far through experience, trial and error, and mistakes which is what learning is really all about, right?

I have my K-6 students once a week for 40 minutes.  I have a junior high class of 7th and8 8th grade combined every day for 55 minutes, and 3 high school classes every day for 55 minutes.  I am THE art teacher in the district...the one and only.  I LOVE my students although they give me an equal amount of grief and love in the day-to-day operations of school.  I sometimes wonder if my 5 year olds and 17 year olds are one in the same...at least it sure does make for some interesting stories, some awkward moments, and some great laughs.

My planning for the year's lessons started off strong and I quickly discovered that most of my students lacked the basic skills necessary to complete most tasks I had in store.  As I first panicked, I realized I just needed to re-vamp my teaching strategies and simplify my ideas.  This is still a work in progress for me as I struggle through the day every now and then.  Sometimes I wonder if my expectations are too high...
My schedule gives me little time to prep/plan, so my lesson "planning" has become a sort of "on the fly approach" which is so not my style.  However, because I am by nature a long-term thinker I am looking into the rest of the semester and into the next semester for more long-term planning through themes and ideas. 

As I continue surviving through my first CRAZY year as a teacher, I hope to learn, share, grow, and love with each and every one of my students and fellow teachers.