Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Five More Ways to Inspire Your Students

    Here are five more artists in my Top 10 inspirational artists. Use them to inspire your students! They all suffered a disability and continued to create art!

    - Claude Monet gradually lost his eyesight to cataracts. His vision was restricted to mainly the blue range. He continued to paint in a more predominately blue palette.

    -   Toulouse-Lautrec had short, deformed legs as a result of riding accidents in his youth. His disability restricted his mobility, but he still continue to paint despite the challenges.

    -   Frida Kahlo wore a body brace due to childhood polio and a horrible bus accident when she was eighteen.  Many of her paintings reflect the physical pain she suffered through most of her life.

     -  Chuck Close, an American painter who was paralyzed in 1988 is a quadriplegic. 

    -  Dorthea Lange an American photographer who walked with a  limp due to contracting polio at the age of seven. She spent her life traveling the world photographing mostly the disenfranchised.  

    -  Al Capp an American cartoonist (L’il Abner) suffered a leg amputation at the age of nine.

Can you add to my list?  Do you know of any others artists who have faced a disability? Would they be an inspiration to others?

What Works-Keeping Track of Comings and Goings

An art room can be a very exciting and busy place. But with one teacher and 26 students you can’t always keep your eye on everything and remember everything. There are a lot of distractions in an art class.  One student may ask to the bathroom and two minutes later another asks to go to the nurse.  But within those two minutes, you may have a glue spill in the front row  and a broken pencil in the back row. It is a lot to keep track of. Is there an easy way to keep track of it all? How do I remember who has left the room and who’s comeback with all the distractions and excitement going on?

Well, I have  found a little white board  hanging on my doorknob can be very helpful.  When a student leaves the room, they sign their initials. Signing on a white board is not something a student will forget or overlook doing. What middle school student doesn’t want to leave their name or initials somewhere? 

If someone asks to leave a few minutes later, I can just look over to the doorknob and see if there are already intials there. I can then make my decision if I can let someone else to leave the room. It’s a quick and easy way to keep track in an busy art room.   

Would this work in your art class? Let me know.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Warm Ups That Are Easy and Effective

Do you want a easy and effective Warm Up? Here it is!

Warm Ups are a great way to get your students settled and focused on the work at hand. But since time is so precious in my art class (sometimes only 1 quarter) I need a quick and effective Warm Up. I do two types- written and oral- and they are always based upon the  Principals and Elements of Design. This post is an example of the oral Warm Up.                                 
I have the selected art work projected onto the on the front board when the students walk in to the room. Next to the art work is the title of the work, the date and the artist who created the work. Below that I put one of the Elements or Principals that the students are to describe in the art work.

Here’s an example-

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893 
Warm Up Question?- Space

I have a word wall in the back of the room with design vocabulary. The students look under SPACE and find- Deep; Shallow. Then they write the vocabulary word on their mini white board that describes the space in the painting.  Which for The Scream would be- Deep.
                         Mini White Boards

Here's a closer look at the single line whiteboards.

When everyone is done, I’ll go around they room and see what vocabulary answers the students wrote on their mini white board.  Then I ask them to tell me WHY they chose that answer. 

This Warm Up is a great way to expose students to art, artists, design vocabulary and Higher Order Thinking. And it only takes about 5 minutes.

I love my 'mini' white boards! 

What do you think? Do you like the 'mini' white boards? Would they work in your class?

5 Ways To Inspire Your Students? Part 1

Do you want to inspire your students? I say “Yes!” We all need someone to look up to and inspire us when times get tough. Here is are the first 5 of my Top 10 list of artist who have faced physical and emotional challenges. Not only did they  face their challenges, but they continued to create art. Let your student know that if they face challenges,  they can be over comers too!

1.       Manet had a leg  amputated and still created beautiful pastel flowers and portraits.

2.      Renior suffered a severe form of arthitis and his last paintings were made with brushes strapped to his wrists.

3.    Edgar   Degas  lost his sight. He continued to create wax models of dancing girls and horses.

4.      Vincent Van Gogh was considered ‘mad’ by his contempories.  He became one of the world’s most beloved artists.

5.    Claude   Monet gradually lost his eyesight to cataracts. His vision was restricted to mainly the blue range. He continued to paint in a more predominately blue palette.

  I will have another post soon of 5 more physically challenged artists who continued to create.

 What do you think?  Is there an artist you know about who would be an inspiration to the students in you class?

Meal or Medium?

According to the website WorldHunger.org  these are the statistics for hunger the year 2012:

There are 7 billion people in the world; of that, about 925 million of them  are hungry; which equals to about 13.1% of the world; or in others words; 1 out of 7 person in the world goes hungry every day.

I never would have given a second thought to statistics like that until a few years ago. I volunteered to  oversee a summer school for students in a third world country. The people  live in extreme poverty- no running water, no refrigeration,  no electricity or heath care.

Just  having clean clothes  and a meal could be a daily struggle. It was a harsh reality. And it gave me  a different perspective on possesions and life. I’m truly thankful I can run to the store, get a good meal or a new pair of shoes at any time. 

It made me see that sometimes we just take things for granted. And it also changed the way I approach art.

The autumn after I returned  a fellow teacher asked  if I would do a printmaking project. I told her I would stop by and talk to her about it. Well, it turns out she wanted me to do printmaking with food- apples, potato, etc.  After seeing how some people  struggle with just getting food, it really bothered me to use food in an art project.  It just seems so wasteful.  I agreed to do a printmaking project, but refused to use food.

Later, another  teacher approached  and congratulated me on my choice; another told me I was making a big deal out of nothing. But I stuck with my choice.  Actually, since I  coming back from that trip, I have never done another art project using food.

What do you think?  Am I making a big deal out of this? Do you think it's OK to use food in your art projects ?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let's Work Together

What Works in the middle school art room is what this blog is about. I know from experience that meeting with your art collegues may not be a priority in your school district. There are so many new initiatives being implemented and art class  may not be on the top of the list. Unfortunately, art teachers work in isolation a lot of times. We may never venture out behind closed doors and exchange ideas with colleagues.  Well, exchanging ideas should be a priority.   It’s great to bounce ideas off one another, to learn a new method, trick or technique  that works. We thrive in creativity  and have lots of ideas. There are art teachers out there who would love to share what they do and let their collegues know what works in their art room.  This blog will be  a spot that will to share, inspire, engage and inform all you middle school  art teachers out there on  what works in the art room.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Design Process- a sure way to solve a problem

When you start out with a new class of students, don't you want them to all be on the same page? I do.  I start out by explaining  the design process we will be using to complete the projects we work on.  If students know what is expected of them  in  solving a design problem; it leads to less anxiety. They can all focus on the steps they need to take and everyone is on the same page.

I have created a poster that explains the process we use.  It hangs right up on the front board. Nobody can say ‘I don’t know what I’m suppose to be doing.’ All the steps are right there in front. I have taken some ideas from the engineering design process, but have made changes to make it  my own to reflect my art class. My Design Process has six steps. Only the first step is my responsibility.

1.  Define Problem (this is my job)- what problem needs to be solved?

2.  Imagine- think problem through and develop possible solutions

3.  Plan +Create-work on rough drafts

4. Test + Evaluate- Ask yourself “Does your solution solve the  problem?”

5.  Communicate Solution– create final work

6.  Improve- reflect on and improve solution by critique

What do you think? Would this work for your class?  Do you have a design process you use?

Seating Arrangements - What's The 'Right Way?'

Do you need a lot of help figuring out what works best with adolescents? I do. That's why I  read a lot about classroom management.  In fact, I've read quite a few articles about the 'right way' to arrange seats. One article will say, the teacher should decide where students sit because you need to show them you're in charge.  Another article says, let them pick their own seats.What’s the answer?

Well, through a lot of trial and error,  I've decided to let them pick their own seats. Why, you may ask. Well, I need something that is of value to them, that I can use as currency if some sort of problem  needs to be dealt with in the future. Being with their friends is something that is of great importance to adolescents,  so sitting next to their friend is their currency.  And it's my collateral to ensure proper behavior (most of the time). There is only one demand  I have. If it is a small class they should sit up close to the board, no sitting in the back. Even if I see a bad combination, I’ll let them choose to sit together. I’ll just gently ask, “Are you sure this is the best seating combination for you?” They have to be the one who decides at that point. If there is a problem in the future, then I get to decide the seating combinations.

Does this solve all behavior problems?  No, but it does make them think twice.  They know they may lose the chance  to  sit next to their friend if there is a problem.

What do you think? Should the teacher or the students decide the seating arrangement? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome !

As a teacher, I want to always be a learner. But, as an art teachers we usually work in isolation. We don't have a chance to communicate, collaborate and learn from other art teachers. There are art teachers out there who probably have ideas I can learn from and utilize in my classroom.  And I may have ideas you can learn from and would work great in your classroom. So let's use this blog as a sounding board of ideas. Let's communicate, let's collaborate, let's learn from each other what works!