Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of Year Finds

Last post of 2009 & a good year in total. I'm ending this year's worth of posts with 3 unrelated "finds". Heard about a classroom management guru called Marvin Marshall, and the title links to his simple, straightforward list of teaching procedures to help a classroom run smoothly (first thing-the expectation for entering a classroom, which made me happy because we start art with "a beautiful thought"). Find #2-another place educators can create websites for free (free hosting also), and even have blogs (it's called Weebly). If I had not already invested a lot of time and energy in redesigning my own web pages (and getting some code written), I would go this route (simpler, faster). The final find for '09-a fellow teacher's blog, "Making Teachers Nerdy", has wonderful resources and sense of humor, too (a former tech integrationist put back into the classroom goes all-out on project based learning--hello)! Okay, here's 45 online art generation sites from that blog (bonus link).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Recyclable Sculptures Before Break

Since we started after Labor Day due to school construction, school went through Wed., Dec. 23rd. I had anticipated students being absent and some off-task issues, but just like the good driving weather we've been enjoying, I was very pleasantly surprised! My third and fourth graders are wrapping up cartooning units, and the fifth graders are halfway into a sculpture project from recyclable items brought in (nobody tried a toilet paper tube face like the pik, but cardboard tubes were a hot commodity in fifth grade). All the classes were very engaged, creative, collaborating and problem-solving, and I felt like my holiday present came early. Which brings me to the Reggio Emilia method of teaching preschoolers (see title link); I have to say that having students bring their own materials for the sculptures created a positive buzz, and definitely made my art room the most "happening" room to be in. Note to self: keep these units in the same spot for next year's curriculum map. Here's a resource for planning such a lesson, including downloads, from the Collaborative Arts Resources for Education.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Archived Webinars

Found another cool tech site, an online magazine called "Tech & Learning", so naturally, I signed up for a free subscription (can be digital or print format). Much more interesting are the archived "webinars" (see link). Additionally, I joined a Wiki for "21st Century" art educators. Am I one of those?... Anyway, my students have been working on narratives to accompany their cartoons, because I felt that supporting writing skills is important in art, making the cartoon unit a natural integration fit. The web source I liked best was at ReadWriteThink: "Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Genre Study". We spent time brainstorming captions from, used the "plot mountain" PDF (all on SB), then went into the comic layout sheets.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Speed of Creativity

Wicked good resource for tech integration on the title link. Plus, here's a video prepared for the Department of Children, Schools and Families to engender a debate about 21st century schools, personalization, etc...I have yet to give this latest cloud computing app a spin, but here's the link to Aviary.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiered Design Challenge

Fourth grade students had a "design challenge", where they could choose one of three design categories for their project. I like to call this type of curriculum "tiered" instruction (see title link), others may prefer "differentiation". Regardless, students love choices, as evidenced by the lovely results---all rendered in colored pencil.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tunnel Books

Third grade finished their tunnel books and they all came out great! The title links to a 3D book gallery. At left is one of my favorites, but I could have easily chosen dozens of others. For the first time this year, students even made the figures jointed or moveable, and the students came up with all those ideas on their own. Of course, the original paper engineering has to be origami (here's a lovely resource to start with, including math integrations).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kinetic Typography and Vimeo Channels

Personal tech challenge for Christmas break: make a kinetic typography video. I've been loving them for several years now, and Vimeo even has a whole "channel" devoted to them. "Creative Gremlins" has a thorough tutorial online, also, but there's a goofy ad running down one side, so you'll have to Google for yourself (in the interest of keeping my blog kid-friendly). Speaking of Google, we're all excited at my house to get an invite to get on the Wave! And, while I'm thinking about it, here's a link to beautiful typography resources.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Beyond Elements and Principles

Instead of going all "Black Friday", I went cyber-sleuthing for more curriculum ideas, and came across the post-modern art ed thoughts of Olivia Gude (see link). Her basic premise is that DBAE, focused on mainly the elements and principles of art, does a disservice to art students. I am a hybridizer by nature, taking inspiration for curriculum and my own work from many sources. Yet, I don't think teaching elementary students about the "10 types of line" drawn 4 different ways is a bad thing for instance, because students then have a visual vocabulary to start with. Plus, although a high school student may get "recontextualization", would anybody younger understand the new principle? I appreciate Gude's thought-provoking ideas, though. Also, here's a video which speaks to the 21st century student we all have.

Born Digital from Oakes Media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Designer Animals vs. Holiday Art

We're wrapping up a big drawing unit in fourth grade, and as I watched the students color, blend, and shade beautifully with their colored pencils, I thought about all the bad holiday art that was forced on elementary students ages ago (like that infamous hand-traced turkey, or snowman made of cotton balls). To be sure, even in first or second grade, I knew we were getting ripped-off cognitively and creatively! Watching my students working so diligently, even the day before a holiday break, just confirmed my whole "education through the arts" premise: make it accessible and interesting and great things will happen. The fourth grade had choices of what they wanted to do, but the title links to the resource we had the most fun with on the Smartboard, "switchzoo"....For those of you who must have a turkey--try to make one out of tans, as you follow along with "Grandfather Tang's Story" (an integrative lesson which shows that "holiday art" can be so much more).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


We've had a lot of fun saying "Yupo", and fifth grade really nailed laying down textures on the first day. The second stage of using watercolors on Yupo was more challenging. Very quickly, I found that controlling the water was the number one issue for students. Secondly, finding images within the watercolors required a lot of 1:1 brainstorming. The project took some unexpected turns, but the student discussions of what they were experiencing with the media validated the effort. Elliot Eisner summarizes the 10 lessons the art teach, and this lesson seemed to touch on many of them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Doing DaVinci

Every year, it's a struggle to design a good drawing unit that the kids emotionally vest in. This year, my fourth graders had a drawing "design challenge" choice of either designing a rocket ("10,000 Rockets" competition was the inspiration), a font, or a designer animal (by combining at least two types of animals). Choices help the students get excited about a project, but the biggest scaffolding success was relating the drawings of Leonardo daVinci (see link) to our drawing and designing process. Specifically, drawing simple shapes first, drawing lightly, refining/layering--all easily visible in daVinci's drawings, especially his invention drawings. So many students have watched or heard of "Doing daVinci" on the Discovery channel, and it made the artist from over five hundred years ago seem modern and cool! ( & I left all the info. up on my Smartboard after the introduction discussion so students could interact with the images at leisure)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Free Tech 4 Teachers & Blog Options

Although I' m very fond of "blogger", I have played around with Wordpress (visually sweet but not as easy), so I realize that some educators may want other options. The title links to a tech blog for teachers, for instance, that reviews those apps and sites most helpful for educators. Additionally, there's Edmodo, which is a "micro-blogging" platform some may find more useful (for posting/entering assignments for instance). Plus, there's Blogmeister, which helps classroom bloggers connect with each other. So, options abound, and it seems like every day, a beta version of something new is being offered on the digital frontier (okay, that was corny, but apt). And, let's not forget the JingProject or setting up your own Ning.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Voting, Videos, and "One-Day Clay"

Yesterday was voting day, and the music room next door to me is a community polling venue. Our vocal music teacher becomes a cart-based gal that day, while band (one one side), and myself (art, on the other side), try to be a little quieter for that one day. Well, also happened to be the day for my fifth grade to do "one-day clay", where we roll-out a slab, make a container, and get the art room back in order in 45 minutes (see title link for the inspiration artist). This is not a quiet activity, and I can only wonder what the folks on the other side of the collapsible, noise-permeable wall thought! To add to all the activity, I was trying to help a student edit video and upload it to our newspaper club blog. Multiple roadblocks included having an upload error on Blogger, then the file just over the 100 MB limit for TeacherTube (arrgh!), which was my work-around, and so I made a quick edit in iMovie and so hoping that it works.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Taaffe Repetitions

Finally--the halls are filling up with color! Well, it was the essential concept for the month of October, so that was a contributing factor. I was much happier with the Taaffe-inspired art the fifth grade did this year as opposed to last year. I think I did a better job of reinforcing how repeating images naturally start to create patterns, and also, I tried to check all of the pieces before they were glued down. At left is one of my favorites. Here's a cool Powerpoint on repetition, among other design principles.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stencil Paintings and Fall Colors

The third grade stencils are coming out great, as are the linoleum prints the fourth graders are doing. The title links to a stencil wiki. I'm posting just one example of the art, and for fun, look how much the colors seem to be influenced by our fall foliage (ex: my backyard)...As I was hanging some of the pieces in the hallway, several teachers commented on how "happy" the art displays make them. I'm also adding this link about displaying artwork.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Webtools and Adrinkra Symbols

It's been a nice week, especially our 70 degree, autumnal, colorful day today. Still trying to parse whether I go web hosting on my own (easier to modify), or stick with the district server (free). Regardless, title links to a nice resource. So then, decided to extend my third graders stencil unit which had an Adinkra "symbol frame" surrounding their compositions. The students were spellbound by the video of these textiles being printed (easy to find on "you tube"). Plus, they loved picking their symbols, which was a pleasant surprise. So next week, we will do an extra Adinkra drawing, which will also give the absentees time to catch-up on the original project. So, I whipped up an example while basking in the last warm sun rays during my lunch.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Using Google Docs for Self-Assessment

I've changed my template to allow full screen viewing of embedded videos, but note that you need to "mouse around" to find the text-embedded links!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Techno-Constructivist

In my research/ramblings for more classroom integrations, I found this fabulous art curriculum blog with lovely links and tutorials embedded. Best part is the self-title, "Techno-Constructivist". I love that term!...Also found this blog, a little higher-level, but still a goldmine for a T.C. like me!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Craft In America

Okay, I've been grading, a LOT. This got me wondering about why there are some students, not many, but a few, who just don't take care with crafting whatever we are working on. Exemplars are readily visible, 1:1 reinforcement and guidance is implemented, but still feel that more thought could be put into getting the idea of craftsmanship across. I'm going to look at the PBS series on this topic for future curriculum inspiration on this topic.Also related, using project-based learning, like art, to engage students. Okay, I'm adding something else I found on a rainy Friday the 9th, an interview about crafting beautiful work.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grading and Drawing Blinders

The first month flew by, as always, and now I have nearly 750 art projects to grade (luckily, using a 4 point scale), and already feel like I am falling behind. Unlike last year, I decided to use the blind contour drawings my third graders did as a drawing exercise only, not part of a bigger project, and I am really glad I did that. Instead, they did tangram pictures from one piece of paper, embellished with line, and the drawing with blinders activity was paced last in the unit as a way to reinforce the importance of really LOOKING as they are drawing. It was cool to see students cheer when they "got" it! I felt sort of like "Yoda" as I circulated throughout the room cajoling students to relax, focus on the object, keep their "blinders" on, etc.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Adobe Resources

I started the day trying to find cool, new ideas for teaching "Illustrator" & "Photoshop". "Lesson Planet" does not even let you preview things for free without entering a credit card! Thank goodness for Adobe, and in addition to the lesson plans linked to the title, there's Adobe TV--both free (of course, the programs cost you, but still....)I'm planning on using the computers as centers this year, so I want to create 3-4 projects students could do independently all year long, rotationally.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Online Art Games in LiveBinders

I was planning on writing about how nicely the zentangles are coming along, but then, I found this resource called "LiveBinders" where people put online content organized in virtual binders. The title links to just one binder I found as a tremendous resource--interactive art game sites. I previewed most of them (many are old friends), and they are high-quality, really good for elementary to middle school.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thinking About Animation Again

Now that I'm finalizing the list of art club members, my mind is plotting how to do more stop motion animation. Check out the Lego one at this blog. Also see this "portaportal" of computer graphic tutorials...Really going to try to rock the tech in upper elementary art this year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Apps to Love & Week One

Hey, that first week came and went ultra-fast! The glogster posters were a big hit on my Smartboard, and I've gathered a few new cool links. One is "Fotopedia" (see title link). It's like a collaborative encyclopedia for photos. The other is an app to automatically share links, it is called FLINKIT. I also decided that the zentangles were a worthy opening week exercise to get students thinking about LINE creatively (check out Haring Kids at the link).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Late Start but Super-Ready

Got the SB running (though it still "ghosts" due to wiring, but that can wait), got the printer cartridges in, posters are up, class lists (all 27 homerooms) are entered in my hard copy and online Gradebooks, & everything starts on Tuesday the 8th! We had our two teacher workdays and parent open house last week, then three days to recuperate and say goodbye to summer. Every time the school year starts, I get ridiculously excited and can't sleep. Looking forward to even more technology integrations, building up the hand skills with the problem-solving and self-monitoring. Once again, art will be on Artsonia, art club will do the yearbook cover and Rotoball, and I'm resurrecting the newspaper club (but it will be blog-based). Stay tuned because 2009/2010 should be a hoot!See the title link for my latest crazy idea--The Shorties. For opening day rituals for art, see this from ART:21.

Friday, August 28, 2009

2009/2010 Curriculum Map

Some folks wanted to see my full curriculum map, so I grabbed a screenshot (how-to is linked to posting title) for you. The numbers refer to our district art standards (aligned with the state standards).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tech Glitches and Decor

I've been back to school four times this August, and still have a few tech glitches to iron out. The big one is my Smartboard. A new PC was delivered to my desk, but the original SB "dongle" (see title link for definition) that was in the old PC tower is now missing, so the SB does not work.
After that unpleasant surprise, it was still nice to "decorate" my art room. I always let my own kids pick the posters out, keeping a good mix of old & new. Additionally, I put back out my "art library", and "art chart" (a simple positive reinforcement system).
Here are a few others...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Glogster Poster

I designed an interactive poster to show the first day of school using a cool site called "Glogster".
I also created one about LINE.
And another about COLOR

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Color Theory & Collaboration

Well, I went to my first official school meeting of the new year, then that got my juices going about new ideas. Found this cool animation, which also speaks to the idea of our meeting topic, PLC's: common goals, working collaboratively, all based on helping the student. As an artist, I see these concepts very visually:).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wordle of Curriculum Map

If I've done this right, a "Wordle" of my curriculum map should show up in this post.The title link explains the "how".

Friday, August 7, 2009

Adding More Blog Gadgets

Although I am almost done with my curriculum map, I got a bit sidetracked cross-referencing all my online references for use in my art room, etc. So now, my Delicious bookmarks have Stumble-Upon on them & vice-versa, ditto for Voicethread; hopefully, keeping these in the "cloud" instead of on scraps of paper or district server will be more useable. The latest blog addition is the Slideshare sidebar gadget. I've got to remember that embed codes need to be added using the HTML feature in blogger, not the "add by URL" feature (do you like how I'm adding crib notes into my own blog--that's because I know that I'll forget). Also, I need to be sure the tags need to have an "opening" and "closing" to work. I do not write code, but with a little help from my son, I was able to figure out where I went wrong the first time. As far as my school webpages go, I'm adding WordPress functionality to them for updating ease (there's some coding instructions at the WP link).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Curriculum Map

With school approaching, I'm revising my curriculum map for 09/10. I might even post it if it looks good. Webpage redesign is also almost done. I will link it up to the blog once it is uploaded, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Art 2.0 Blogroll

Seems a lot of us are blogging, and the title links to the "netvibes" master blog list. Once again, you could spend hours looking at all the great info!
I also added my newly re-bookmarked delicious stuff (heavy on printmaking and tech right now) to the "art site" list on the right, but you can link here, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Imagine Nation

Follow the title link for arts advocacy information from "The Imagine Nation". Here's an excerpt:
Voters are most responsive to statements that link imagination to success in today’s knowledge economy and the 21st century, with more than half strongly agreeing with these statements.
In total, almost nine in ten agree that using the imagination is important to innovation and one’s success in a global knowledge-based economy (89 percent agree, 59 percent strongly) and essential to success in the 21st Century (86 percent agree, 58 percent strongly).
Statements that discuss combining the basics with the arts or the cultivation of the imagination are also compelling, with over half of voters strongly agreeing. Further, the majority of the electorate strongly agrees that an education in and through the arts provides students with the opportunity to develop their imagination...voters reveal strong support for an education that balances the basics with developing the imagination and inclusion of the arts...
Also, see this fun video.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Art Ed 2.0 Manifesto

In addition to accessing Craig Roland's "Art Ed 2.0 Manifesto" via the title link, I've also included the tech site of the annex
Here, you will find multiple pages of valuable educational resources to integrate technology with art curriculum, plus innovative resources.
Also, I just added Google Analytics
to my blog, in an effort to see if anyone is visiting, "lurking", resourcing. If you are out there, I hope you find some useful information!
Two more meta-link resources from The Teaching Palette and Princetonol to utilize (allow yourself several hours because they are amazing).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stumble Upon

I've added two gadgets at the bottom of my blog, a YouTube video scrollbar & the StumbleUpon link. In less than 30 minutes, I've gathered 20 ultra-cool links for art reference, teaching inspiration, etc. StumbleUpon is addictive (my son's very words, and he was right:).
See the demo. linked to my posting title.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zentangles and Art as Meditation

I've been toying with introducing "zentangles" to my students as a "line" exercise, but also as a way to slow everyone down/bring thoughtful intent into even the simplest creative action (i.e. drawing a line)...I thought about this more today, after my graduate seminar in watercolor was drawing to a close. A few of the students (all teachers) had expressed stress over using watercolor, but then found some relaxation in the repetitive process of layering color. So, how about layering line in zentangles? A related quote:
"When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: 'Only stand out of my light.' Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light."
-John W. Gardner (1912 - 2002).

& Check out the title for a cool link related to creative "Flow": an idea generator widget (it's customizable).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Art Book Links

Now that we've had our family getaway, I'm back to seeking cool links. Thanks to the Getty Listserv gang for the following art book ideas, like "fatbooks":
And, check out the cut paper art of Beatrice Coron!
I'm getting ready for an art show this week and teaching a grad class, so this might be it for the week!

Monday, June 29, 2009

First Day of School Ideas

You know, it seems like summer is just beginning, but I've been researching ideas for next year nearly every day. I just found a cool idea for a more organized form of doodling called "zentangles", follow the title link to see more, including galleries.
For the younger kids, I'm thinking about "tangrams" and found a PBS site to use with my Smartboard:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Garage Sale Musings

Spent most of the day getting ready for the annual neighborhood garage sale. Goes without saying, we manage to have a lot of stuff, even with quarterly donations to "Purple Heart", "Goodwill", etc. I suppose part of the problem is that my whole family creates art, loves to antique, and we own way too many books... So, I got thinking about all the "recyclable" projects I do in a school year: altered books, recyclable castles, most "art club" projects (which has a budget of $0.00), wire armatures, etc. Every art teacher I know is extremely good at finding valid uses for obscure donated items (one year I got several boxes of small square & circular plastic tags, hey---we did Calder inspired stabiles with them). Anyway, I always save our myriad magazines and WSJ papers (so good because the kids aren't tempted to read them instead of covering the tables) for school use, in addition to always being "on the hunt" for garage sale finds like yarn,wire,& reference books.
Follow the title link to an amazing site featuring gorgeous art created from junk (hope your summer reveals treasures in unexpected places).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day & Animation

Spent some time adding features to my blog (see "art sites", ArtEd2.0 badge). Took a few minutes to figure out. I've also decided to try my hand at some more animating this summer, in addition to the watercolor stuff I have yet to start. If I get brave enough, I might even think about entering either my animation or student created work (pending some tech upgrades in my art room) in the "Shorties" next year (follow the title link).
And "Happy Father's Day!" to all the dads.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Online App

I'm not new to "cloud computing": I've been known to use GoogleDocs, PixlR, and other applications that don't need to be downloaded. One of our district technology people recently sent me this (link directly from posting title):
It is a weird hybrid of Photoshop (less many of the more obscure filters that I prefer) and Illustrator (with less brush options). Still, I like the idea of utilizing something that marries features from both programs and does not have to be downloaded onto my school computers. I'm still on the fence about this app, but I am leaning towards using it with my whole class via Smartboard. I admit that I like it better than "ArtRage". Some of these free apps eventually become tiered fee scenarios (I ended up having to get "Voicethread Pro" for instance once I exceeded the free upload limit, and I like using "Voicethread" to describe grade level projects).
For lower grade levels that may not have access to Adobe programs, this could be a good fix. For older students, I still think that the "CreativeSuites" are important if students are preparing portfolios or need commercial art program expertise for future careers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

First Summer Break Day: Routines & Rituals

A drizzly day, so much for some much anticipated gardening time... I played scrabble with my daughter, my son had a friend over (more a tech conference than a playdate at his age), and my mother-in-law also spent the day. After checking some dribbles of school-related emails, I eventually found myself looking for lesson plan ideas for next year. Each year, I go through the same rituals that ease me into a summer frame of mind: a)file all the old paperwork that I let build up on my drafting board at home; b)shred the older paperwork to make room in the filing cabinet for the newer stuff; c)give a cursory once-over to my art curriculum map while the year is still fresh in my mind; d)plan a few replacement projects. I also wash my art room apron and put away my "Bucket Boss" briefcase I lug to school everyday.
Today, it is a bit cool, but the sun is out. As promised, we are going to the movies. Later, the garden weeds have really gotten a jump on me with our longer school calendar and the rain.I actually find weeding to be very relaxing. I'm also getting ready for an upcoming art show and have some watercolor examples to finish for a class I teach next month. I've already decided not to be a daily blogger, but perhaps weekly, let's see how I do.
P.S. the title post is linked to an art from shredded paper site :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

End of the School Year

Well, another year draws to a close. In many ways, this was my most successful year ever. I implemented a digital gallery and got 100% of my students represented (nearly 700 images). We reached almost 10,000 hits in one calendar year. At the beginning of every class this last week, I started with a slide show of that class's art, and it was really cool to see and hear the positive feedback from each group (some classes were reverentially quiet, others whooped and applauded)!(see title link to "Artsonia")
I also had my art club involved in an international, collaborative animation ("Rotoball 2009": It was hard to pick up a program like "Flash" on the fly, but I did, and the art club students did a truly amazing job with their creative claymation, and then, turning each of the hundreds and hundreds of frames into a rotoscope.
My fourth grade made two clay bowls instead of one this year, and the donated, second pieces raised over $270 for "Empty Bowls", an international effort to fight hunger through the arts (
I am already thinking about which projects I think are "keepers", and where I'd like to see more innovation (hint: more technology). As an elementary art educator, I often feel the limitation of time & funds. Those hugs and handmade cards, those smiles and the excitement of wondering where this intriguing journey will lead keeps me psyched even though I admit, I'm tired.

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