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!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New School Year

I have been meaning to post pictures of my classroom and explain what I did to get ready for the school year.  However, I have been so busy that I haven't had time.  Tonight I'm going to share some of the things that I have done to get ready for the new school year.  I'll follow up with more over the next week or so.  My focus has been on classroom management and creating an environment that is fun and organized.  I spent quite a bit of time this summer stealing ideas from Pinterest and creating my own ideas to make my classroom a wonderful place to be.  You might like to know that I had the opportunity to help design my classroom several years ago when we were building our new middle school.  Most of the design of the room is mine.  There were some changes made with placement of the storage, kiln, and office rooms, and electricity hook up for the pottery wheels.  However, for the most part, it is largely my design, minus the color choices.  They didn't go for my colors, but I can't complain as I'm happy with my room.

As you enter my art classroom this is what will greet you.
The painting says it all for me.  I created this painting several years ago to showcase the concept that it takes a village to raise a child.  I believe in this 100%.  We all must do whatever it takes to help get students to become positive, intelligent, caring people that are our future.  Over the years it has been damaged by students that lack self esteem and hurt.  I don't take it personally.  I just repair it and put it back up.  In the painting I have included my little MSU (Michigan State University) person to represent my alma mater.  When you walk into my room there is a bank of computers.
The door is actually to the left of these computers.  As you look at the pictures to follow remember that the trash hasn't been dumped and you might see a knife out because I was unpacking a lot of things.  I don't normally have a knife sitting around my room.  Here are some pictures from around the room.

The next pictures are of some display boards that I am using this year for bulletin boards and also to block out my pottery wheels.  These display boards I purchased for my advanced art class to put up their annal art show.  I have 15 of these that are shared by two students to create their own special display.  I had never thought of using these to block out an area in my art room.  However, when the administration took them and used them in our in school suspension room I thought it might be a good idea for my own classroom.  Over the years, I have discovered that middle school boys like to fool around with pottery wheels at any time.  They are fascinated by them.  The electicty hoses hang down from the ceiling which are also fun to play with, so I decided to hide these this year.  (This was not my choice but it was a safety issue.)  When we use the wheels, I can wheel my display boards out of the way easily and put them back when we are finished.  That whole back area is off limits to my students.  I have a sink back there that I am keeping for my prep area.  My room is quite large.  I wanted to make it smaller because middle school students need to be confined a bit or they will run through the room.  There is plenty of room for them to work and I have actually taken over about a third of the room with my computer area, prep area, and "chill zone" area.

The next pictures are of the area I created for my computer, projector, document camera, and other some other organizational features.

Here are a few more pictures.  In my next post, I will explain some of the organizational things I did this year to create a better managed classroom.  I am excited about this new school year and I am loving how my room is working out.  The kids are enjoying it and all of the new paintings and posters I put up this year.  They aren't even missing the sink as I have three other ones in my room!

I will close with a picture of my old, ugly stool.  I should say it is cute now as I painted it this summer!  I put the words, "Be creative and inspire others." just to remind me of why I am a teacher.  I am not here to make some kid miserable.  My goals are to help kids reach for the stars and discover how art has made the world a better place, and can have a great impact on their own lives.  Have a great school year!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Inspiring a School

I believe the art room is a great place to inspire other people.  For the past two years on our end of the year activity day I have invited students to come to the art room and paint pieces that will be installed around our school.  This past spring I decided to paint core subject artworks for their individual wings at our school.  At the end of the 2011-2012 school year the administration decided to change the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade wings or hallways of our school into Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies, with Science having a lab located midway down each wing.  This involved massive moving of many teachers' classrooms.  The plan was to allow core teachers to work with each other to plan curriculum across grade levels to teach the common core.  When we first got back to school a fellow teacher and friend asked me if I could have my students paint paintings to designate each new wing.  I was extremely busy and just didn't have the time to do it but it stayed in my head, like most things do, festering, until I decided I would indeed do something about it.  I had some of my advanced students work on these at the end of the school year.  They came in for a couple of weekends before the end of the school year and some came in on the activity day.  In addition to this, I decided I couldn't leave out the exploratory teachers.  We worked on a piece for the music wing and just before school started, I called a few of my students and they came in and worked on a piece for the art, technology, wood, and metal wing.  I probably should create two more paintings to make everyone happy, but I am out of time.  They would be for physical education and one for the home economics and life skills teacher.  I need to let them know that I haven't forgotten about them. They are included on a special piece which I will share at the end of this post.  Here is the result of our effort.

My students were so proud of their artwork.  We went online and got inspiration from images we saw and combined those with other ideas we had.  Then the students painted these on their own asking for advice as needed.  I think my students are awesome.  These were 7th and 8th grade students.  They painted on large 24 inch by 30 inch stretched canvas with acrylic paint.

During the school year, teachers have PLC (Professional Learning Community) meetings every Thursday morning from 7:00 until 8:30.  Students have a delayed start at this time.  During my meeting time one morning, I had a great idea and so I sketched out a plan for my students to make a large painting at the end of the school year to motivate our school.  We are the "Trojans".  I took our Trojan symbol and put it with puzzle pieces.  Into the puzzle pieces are all of our classes and sports.  I decided to ask everyone who looks at it a question?  How do you show your Trojan Pride?  Of course this is symbolic and we are all part of the puzzle that makes up our wonderful school.  My students made all color decisions with help from me to make sure the colors were balanced and on the activity day many students came in to paint.  After the activity day, my advanced students that had been working on the painting, took ownership and fixed anything they didn't like, and added all of the lettering.  I think this turned out fantastic and I know they are so proud of it.  This was made up of four stretched canvas paintings that are 20 inches by 30 inches.  We also painted with acrylic paint.  Check it out and I hope it inspires everyone that sees it!  This was put at the top of the stairs and I have received wonderful comments from people that have seen it.