Friday, July 31, 2015

Reclaiming Clay

As a potter and as an art teacher, it was inevitable that some day I would discover a box or more of dried up clay.  This summer I wanted to get back into my throwing because I have been so busy with school stuff that I have neglected it.  I used to make a lot of pottery and go to art shows.  I haven't done that in a few years.  Wouldn't you know it, just when I finally get into the mood of getting back into clay, I have discovered brick after brick of dried up clay.  What to do?  Naturally, being the computer geek that I am, I hunted for ideas online.  I knew I didn't want to do the hard work of breaking up that clay and putting it into garbage cans to recycle it.  Eventually, I came across a forum that didn't really help but I saw a comment in the forum, that made me think.  I decided to take the guy's idea because it sounded plausible, and give it a try.  Lo, and behold, I have something that works beautifully and I just have to share it with other art teachers and potters.  If you have a box of dried up clay just follow my directions and you will be pleasantly surprised!

 Take clay out of bag.
 Here is my clay and I must say it is hard as a rock!

Second:  Get a large heavy bath towel and soak it in water.

Third:  Wrap the bath towel around the dry clay.  Yes, I know this is messy!  Then bag it air tight into another plastic bag.  I just used good, strong garbage bags.
Fourth:  Patiently wait one whole week!

Fifth:  Take clay out of bag.  It may be a little softer on the outside but it will be perfect once it is pugged or wedged.
Pug the clay or have your students wedge it as they get it.  Just cut it like you normally would.
Seventh:  Enjoy your freshly pugged clay!
Eighth:  Now go out and throw pots!
This really works and that is why I am sharing it.  Thank you wonderful commenting guy on the Internet somewhere, where every you may be!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reflection Statements Using Artsonia

I just want to give a shout out to for providing a good place for students to write reflection statements.  I teach sixth through eighth grade students.  I have uploaded student work to Artsonia for many years now.  It was always a tremendous amount of extra work for me.  Artsonia has made this easier by allowing students to upload their own work and even write reflections statements about their artwork.  I still have to set it up for the students and approve their selections but it has saved me so much time and it has been good for the students to learn the process.  Within this process, I can give writing prompts to students so they can hopefully think deeper about what they are doing when they are creating art.  Some students will continue to do the minimum amount of writing and some will not even get their uploads completed, so I may not have as many pieces on Artsonia as I would if I did my own uploads.  However, I think this ties in beautifully with the new standards and the ideas of thinking about thinking.  Here are some examples from my students this past year.  I have not corrected any errors in their writing and have simply copied and pasted their artwork and reflection statements, so you can see how they are thinking about their artwork.  I highly recommend this to any teacher working with middle school students that has access to computers, iPads, Chromebooks, or student phones.  More can be found at our Artsonia link.

tomeaka's chinese brushwork
Tomeaka1 said this about his/her artwork ...
my favorite part about this project would be the blue pedals.My lease favorite part about this would be the pink pedals.It was hard to paint with out drawing first that's why my painting looks like that.I like working with brushes like the ones we used.If i created this art work again i would use a thin and tiny brush for the out lines then color in the inside why because big brushes don't work very well for the out lines.Things i learned about this project was using big brush's don't work very well.One thing i learned about this art work would be not to use so much paint.
About Me
Stephanie5007 said this about his/her artwork ...
I think that the most difficult part at doing this assignment is putting on the Duck Tape because it was always hard to cut and it was always sticking to me. To be truthful I actually wasn't successful because I made it like you do in the Fashion Angles Portfolio. But other than that, yes, I was successful. Also I would not change a thing if I had a magic wand or something. I think it unified from page to page because, starting with the picture of me, I did it like what is my favorite thing to my least favorite thing. If I was working with collage material again I think I would create something about my favorite brother Derrick Freske. The thing that I learned while doing this project is that I love art.
Hannah10582 said this about his/her artwork ...
I liked drawing the peacock first then tracing it on the scratch paper. I chose to do a peacock because they are colorful. I learned how to use a tool . I didn't like how white showed up when I pushed to hard.

Pastel Fox
Emily13174 said this about his/her artwork ...
I absolutely love how this came out. If you cant tell i love foxes, this is the 2nd project I've done with a fox. It looks really cool,with how there looks like there's movement in the fur. It was actually very simple to create.

The zentangle tiger
Giselle412 said this about his/her artwork ...
My favorite part was the background. my inspiration was that I like tigers. if i created a tiger again i would change the ears and add more details.what I learn from doing this artwork was to be creative. I use lots of colors and shapes.
Manga Guy Drawing
Allen829 said this about his/her artwork ...
I liked doing this project because it turned out great similar to my manga computer one. I changed the color of his shirt just a little bit and I added a great background to this drawing instead of a plain blue background. This must have been the best similar drawing I have ever drew. I really liked it.
Haly3 said this about his/her artwork ...
The watercolor project was a new and interesting project. I liked my turtle design but I don't like the color for it. I thought It was gonna be harder. I would of changed the color of the turtle.
My Painting
Myah97 said this about his/her artwork ...
I chose to paint expressionism because I liked that style of art the best over all the other styles and because it expresses your feelings. The most difficult part of this project was coming up with an idea and trying to paint all the small spots in. If I were to change something I would probably change the grey color at the bottom and make it a brighter color. I think I was successful using this style because it expresses my feelings. I'm very satisfied with my final artwork.

Matisse Style Painting
Carma7 said this about his/her artwork ...
Drawing from a model was actually pretty easy except for getting the facial features. What I did with my earlier project made it easier to do this one. I chose the pattern for my painting because I wanted to keep it sort of like the model and her background. If I were to make this project again, I would definitely give it some more detail and put more effort into it. Honestly, I don't like painting like Matisse. I like to do expressionism art and painting in an art style.
random room
Jade1157 said this about his/her artwork ...
This is my first time drawing from a model and I think it look good. I used bright colors to express happiness in this painting. I think using acrylic paint made it easier because you can paint over it. If I could do it over I would use more patters in it. I already knew about color theory but this is a good project for teaching it. I like painting with expressively but my favoret stile is fanticy

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2014 Sturgis Middle School Art Show

Now that school is out I have more time to post some of the things I haven't had time to do in the past.  The annual art show was held two weeks in May at the Sturgis Young Civic Auditorium.  I took pictures of each board and finally have the time put them into a video to share.  This is the result.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Paper Cranes

This spring I learned that our ESL aide recently found out that her sister has cancer.  Many of us at Sturgis Middle School were very concerned.  Money was collected, pop was sold, and all of this really helped as the aide's sister lives in Texas.  I wanted to do something with my students that would be special, involve art, and teach a lesson about working for a larger, greater good.  I lost my sister, Colleen, to cancer and this touched me personally.

Over the past year, many people in Sturgis have become familiar with Lily, our school secretary's granddaughter and the 1000 Cranes for Lily Facebook page.  Many of us have followed her on Facebook and learned more about Fanconi Anemia as we have witnessed her struggles and triumphs.  Last year a friend of hers folded 1000 cranes for Lily and sold them at  a fund raiser.  Over spring break, I started folding cranes to see if maybe I could do some kind of project with my students.  I first had to figure out how I could teach it to all of my sixth through eighth grade students, regardless of ability.  Folding cranes, like anything else, gets easier once you fold one.  As you fold more, they become easier to do. Once I had my planning figured out, I came up with the idea to have the students make the cranes into mobiles.  Some students worked in groups but most worked on their own.  The goal was for each student to make at least 10 cranes for their project.  I sent out an email for broken jewelry and twigs. Our school interventionist brought me jewelry and one of my teacher friends supplied me with twigs.  I had some basket rings, some plastic light fixtures, as well as general junk that students used to develop their mobiles. Two eight grade girls told me they wanted to do something different.  I gave them a canvas and a very original project was born.  The cranes they used on the canvas had been made with paper some of my students had marbled.  

When this project was originally began in the spring, I was thinking of it as a general fund raiser for cancer awareness.  It became more personal when we found out there was a need in our own school.  It was at this point that I dedicated the project to our ESL aide's sister.  I talked with her and made sure she understood why we wanted to do this for her sister.  She is a very private person or I would share her name here.  Most people that know her will know who I am speaking about.  I know that she was touched and since all of this we have shared stories with each other about our sisters.  We raised a little over $400 for here sister.  We also gave her, her sister, and her mother each a crane mobile. This way they can think about each other whenever they look at their cranes.

When I set up the display I had each mobile numbered.  This way I could post which students created them.  These are the numbers you see on the ceiling next to each crane mobile.  The larger mobiles were made by groups of students.  The mobiles sold for fifty cents a crane or best bid.  Some of the larger crane mobiles were real bargains as they had many cranes on them.  I also posted the story about how the idea for the cranes came about.

As the cranes were put up on display, the space became magical.  I wondered if the students would leave them alone and for the most part they did.  We actually had the cranes up for a whole month with very feel problems.  We put them up on Friday, May 16th.  I told our school secretary that it would be nice if Lily could see them.  I knew she couldn't be around people, so she would have to come in when the building is empty on the weekend.  Lily came in and her mother took this awesome picture.  She is looking at a large branch full of cranes made by several girls in my advanced art class.  When they saw this picture, they were tickled to see her looking at their mobile!
Finally, since school is out, I have had the time to put together a video showing the cranes.  I hope they can help spread some additional joy.  It was a magical time walking down this hallway for a good month.  I will never forget how beautiful the cranes looked and what a peaceful feeling I got every time I went out into the hallway.  I know other people felt the same.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013 Partners in Art

I am always amazed at the end of the year when I have to make selections for the annual middle school art show, the St. Joseph ISD, and Partners in Art.  My students are so talented and truthfully the art program at Sturgis Public Schools is top notch.  All of the art teachers, at every level, are so dedicated to their profession and craft.  The other night I had the pleasure of attending the Partners in Art celebration held at the Sturges Young Civic Auditorium.  I hadn't been to the party for three years because we had parent teacher conferences on the same night, so being able to attend the exhibit was just wonderful.

Partners in Art is a program put on by the Sturgis Arts Council.  Area art teachers select artwork from their students.  These are matted and framed and then area businesses can rent them for a year.  The rental cost is basically to pay for the framing.  Students get their artwork back with the frame a year later.  It is a wonderful program and a huge honor for any student that is fortunate enough to get selected.

I have put together a little video of the event so I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Creating Art for My Art Classroom

I am always trying to get my students motivated to create art.  I think the best way to do this is by creating art myself.  Over the summer I created some artworks to hopefully inspire them in some way.  I have always used these to decorate my classroom to try and dispel the cold, ugly look of the painted walls.  So here are some artworks that can be found in my room that are used to inpsire my students.

I am always trying to motivate students to be their best.  I feel they have the power to become whatever they choose, hopefully someone that is productive and positive.
This poster was created a couple of years ago at vistaprint.  I highly recommend the website for their prices and usability.

With this little drawing, I am just trying to get students to think about their compostions.  How are they using the space?
 This came out after a college student that I used to have in art at the middle school posted on her Facebook page, "Earth without art is just "Eh."  I had never read that before but I thought it was cute and so true.  When I looked online to find art that had that statement I didn't find much so I created my own on a canvas  because I knew my students would enjoy it.
The color on this upload is a bit off but this was just for fun.
 This was created to inspire students to focus on their behavior while in art class.
 This was to help students think about developing their skills in art class.
 I find that many middle school girls love fairies so I wanted to inspire them to create.
 Even the "chill out zone" can be a place to find inspiration in my classroom.
 I created this painting to showcase our mission statement.  After it was created I had my students paint one for every classroom at my school.  They are all different and inspirational.
 Clustered here is an eclectic grouping made from a friend, a student, and myself.  All of course can hopefully inspire some of my students.
 This summer I decided to create an art class bill of rights because in our maddening, testing, world I think artists need to unite and know that being creative is a wonderful thing.
 Enough said,  I want my students' imaginations to go wild and lead them wherever they can find a place to be creative.
 Art can be simple but say a lot and I want my students to always look for the bright spots in their art.
 This was made by a student of mine.  It was an idea of course pilfered from the Internet and Pinterest.
 Imagination is where it is at.  If you cannot use your imagination, you are probably doomed to be very boring.
 I always find inspiration from other artists including Laurel Burch.  I love the shimmer of metallic paints as well. I just wanted my students to understand blending and layering with this one.
 This was purchased at a family reunion to help raise money for the next family reunion.  I bought it to inspire my students.  It is large and very fun.
This is what greets my students when they come into my artroom.  I believe it takes a village to raise a child and I am an important part of the village of Sturgis.
 Learning is what it is all about.  I teach and hope my students learn something from me.  I am always learning from my students.
Hopefully, seeing some of the artworks in my room will inspire someone else to create art.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Say, "Hello" to My Little Friends

It's time to get serious about classroom management.  This past summer I spent a lot of time trying to create a new plan for my classroom.  I wanted to create a special environment that any student would want to be in.  I started by creating art for my classroom, searching Pinterest for ideas, and brainstorming by myself.  I worked really hard to come up with a plan for the school year.  I wanted my room to stand out as a place where excellent things happen.  I wanted a new plan for my classroom that would motivate my students to behave and want to create art.

I ended up with two new friends.  They are Class Dojo and the "No Yell" bell.  Seriously, if you don't have these, get them.
I absolutely love Class Dojo.  I am using it two ways.  I use it to monitor student individual behavior but I also have each class set up as table behavior.  I have two classes on Class DoJo for each of my classes.  I did this because I wanted to create a reward system that was fun for my students and would force the ones that don't like to clean up to clean up.  When my students come into my classroom they know that they must be seated when the bell rings in order to get a point.  I have very few tardies anymore.  There is less wasted time getting students to settle down because they know I am giving them points if they are quiet.  Class Dojo is so easy to set up but what is really nice is I can constantly change the positive and negative behaviors.  I have added things like "turning in quality artwork" to "volunteering".  Students know that I am looking at them and thinking about their behavior and it keeps them on their toes.  Luckily, my sixth grade students already knew about Class Dojo because a couple of their exploratory teachers had been using it last year.  My seventh and eighth grade students were unfamiliar with it but loved the cute little avatars.

At first, some of my 8th grade students thought it was silly and they were going to get many negative points.  I told them that this was going to be their behavior grade.  In reality, after they saw some of the rewards the students were getting they started to take it more seriously.  I have a class of 31 8th grade students with only 6 girls in it.  Many of the boys are students that aren't really into school and have many behavior issues in most of their classes.  I discovered that Class Dojo is really working for them.  One day Class Dojo was down and the difference in attitude and behavior was amazing.  I was so happy when the Internet was back to normal.  I display Class Dojo on my projector so students know which tables are getting points and even which students are getting points.

My reward system is interesting.  I told students they could negotiate what their reward would be with me.  I have a giant bucket of Dum Dum suckers, Little Debbie type cookies bought at the Dollar store, trinkets from Smile Makers, and any combination of those.  Students can also bring their music for a week or go make a movie together and replace one of their projects.  Students can replace a project with a different type of art project.  I am open to negotiate with them and make them feel like they really got something great!
Some 6th and 7th grade students decided it would be fun to learn about pixelation.  They got to create a stop motion animation of people.  I also let them work with Sam Animation and One True Media.  So, while they were having fun, they were still learning!  Here are two videos made this week from students who chose this as their reward:
This first one was made by sixth grade students.

 This one was made by seventh grade students.

When a table of students win an award for getting points on Class DoJo, I allow them to have these trophies on their table for a week if they want to kind of "show off" that they are special.

If a student wants to have their music for a week, I have them put the trophy in front of them so I am reminded that they earned the privilege.  Class Dojo is so much fun for my students and even me.  It makes my classroom run smoothly and my "No Yell" bell alerts students to listen or clean up.

The NO Yell bell is digital.  It has 7 sounds on it.  I use two of the sounds.  Number 4 sounds like some alien ship.  I use it to alert students to the fact that I need to say something.  It is highly effective.  Often times students don't pay attention to their teachers which causes teachers to escalate their voice.  I am no stranger to that one.  The No Yell bell stops that behavior.  The students settle right down because they know I need to talk with them.  I use number 6 as our clean up bell.  It is like a clicking sound and then a buzzer like you are running out of time.  When that bell goes off my students get right to work on their clean up jobs.  I have color coded the tables and I have a chart on my white board that I rotate the colors on so that each week students have different jobs.

I have even more things to share about how I set up my room this year but I will save that for the coming weeks.  I hope this helps anyone out there reading my blog.  Your two best friends could be Class Dojo and the No Yell bell.  I know they are mine!