Monday, July 29, 2013

Pinterest & Game-ifying: Teaching Tools

      I have been doing what I imagine a lot of teachers do over the summer: rest, relaxation, & then (right around mid-July), planning for the year ahead. I already have my curriculum map done (first thing I do before I officially start my summer break), but HOW I implement new projects and ideas is answered best by letting the inspiration percolate up throughout the summer. This summer, I started reading two different books, Teach Like a Pirate & The Multiplayer Classroom, and that got the creative teaching ideas flowing. First up, I decided to revamp my Pinterest boards. I generally use them as class resources thrown up on the Smartboard, but now, the "pirate" in me also decided that metacognitive openers would be a good idea, so I made a board for that. I had originally hoped for some funding for a robotics integration, but no luck thus far. I did find some cool resources online, though, which led me to create a "kinetic sculptures" board. I plan on introducing robotics principles of design within a scaffolded unit, we just won't be able to do any programming, which is actually okay since I am planning this unit for fifth grade. The game-ifying concept comes into play here, because I plan on making this unit similar to a "quest", with options and levels, which I hope will engage the students as much, if not more, than getting an actual robot to work.
      Additionally, I am getting the basic planning done for a huge collaborative tile mural the entire fourth grade will be doing. A partial grant for that came in near the end of last school year, too late for the kiln work to be done, but now this fall, we can get started. I still need to find a few volunteer tile setters, but I have faith that "if we build it..." This is very much a "pirate" concept. You can see the acronym below (citation:, and follow on Twitter #TLAP.
       I also went on a giant purge of "stuff", starting with our neighborhood garage sale at the beginning of the summer, giant pick-up of the leftovers at, then our whole family raided the bookcases and we hauled a bunch to "Half-Price Books" and got some cash. I had a lot of disappointing art ed books, that once I was past the newbie stage, really were just a waste of space. That led me to dive into my LP's, and let me tell you, once I started going through those, I realized how much better my planning and curriculum designing got as I became more experienced. Binders and binders of paper lessons got distilled into two "best of" binders, and I really recommend this process---highly reflective and informative. I eventually went back to my 2013/14 curriculum map, and compared it to the previous maps going back 12 years. Wow--so much more integrated, real-world, and generally, more open-ended now! I am relieved that the latest iteration of the c.m. falls right in line with passion, immersion, etc. I would have totally redone it if necessary, and was prepared to do so. I ended up just needing to fix the robot unit hook and get my resources prepped and stored online for easy access.
       So, I am very much looking forward to utilizing the boards I have updated, and in late fall, seeing how a game-based approach will work (man, that was never in the "Ed" books we had to read in grad school).  A lot of our teachers in our building are into doing a TLAP book study, so I will have nice support there. The game-ifying will be more difficult to implement, but I will post how it is going as the school year progresses.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Am I a Pirate?
   A big book making the rounds in education right now is this idea/book called Teach Like a P.I.R.A.T.E. I always sort of thought that most art teachers are like "pirates": we scrounge for supplies, make alliances with other teachers and technology to further our cause, say "arrgh" a lot (mostly in our heads), and we are a passionate bunch! Is it even possible to be a "pirate" 6 periods a day, 5 days a week? The main take-aways for teaching this way seem to be:

     So, every summer, I try to refill the well of my inspiration: gardening, working on the last bit of my 365 Challenge (making art every day), antiquing, being with my family, just noodling around and seeing where it takes me. As teachers, we give a lot--- & we also get a lot in return; the momentum is really hard to describe to someone who is not there in the classroom. I am pretty sure that I am a pirate---have been for years, and I thank Mr. Burgess for inspiring others to be more like art teachers (the original educational pirates if you ask me).
    I am going to end this post with one more thought, the push to go STEM to STEAM. Back in Leonardo's day, art and science were intertwined; the dichotomy we have today is artificial and limiting. Some of the most recent scientific advances have required very creative thinking, such as looking to how octopuses have sharp beaks attached to gelatinous bodies is yielding advances in better artificial limbs. I think STEAM is very much a "pirate" alliance---messy but workable. When did being an artist and being a scientist become mutually exclusive?
   Maybe, taking the Burgess acronym and making it a little more kid-friendly would help the cause.
Original....P- Passion                                             
                 I- Immersion
                R- Rapport
                A- Ask and Analyze
                T- Transformation
                E- Enthusiasm
Student version....P- Play
                             I- Involved
                             R- Relate
                             A- Ask and Analyze
                             T- Try
                             E- Enthusiasm

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

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The journey of process intrigues me and I am always changing it up.

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