Thursday, October 30, 2014

Autism In The Art Room

At some point in your teaching career you will probable have kids on the Autism Spectrum in your art class. Mainstreaming special needs students into regular classrooms is usually a part of their IEPs. For art teachers with not a lot of training in Special Education, this can be quite a challenge.

It doesn't have to be though. There are  strategies to support children with autism and allows them to have a successful and positive art experience in your art class. And that's something that we're all aiming for!

I recently went to a work shop for art teachers on autism that was presented by The Autism Project. The workshop helped me become aware of the challenges these kids face due to their disability. I want to share what I learned with you.

Here are 10 things that a person with autism wishes you know about them (and may not be able to express) while they're in your art class.

1. I'm a person trying to be happy and successful in school. But social situations are hard for me. I struggle to join and be part of a group.

2. My sensory system isn't reliable.

3. Sometimes I can't do what you're asking. It is not because I don't want to.

4. I'm a concrete thinker. It's hard to be flexible when things are different than how I thought they would be. Sometimes I don't understand other views or choices available. I get easily stuck.

5. Communication is hard for me. I can hear words, but I don't always understand your message. Also, I have a tough time telling you what I'm thinking and feeling. Sometimes, I need extra time to find the words in my head.

6. I learn best with my sense of sight.

7. I'm great at many different things.

8. Waiting is difficult for me. I live in the present. 

9. It is hard for me to hold my feelings in when I'm anxious or angry. I can have meltdowns, tantrums or withdraw.

10. Accept me for me; I will accept you for you.

What are some strategies we can use to help our autistic students who will eventually be a part of our art class?

*Be consistent
*Have routines and be predictable
*Have as few transitions as possible
*Have a visual schedule of tasks to be done in class
*Have close end tasks or projects with a clear finish

I hope there's something here that will work for you in your art class. If you know of any other tips, strategies or supports   for autistic students in the art class, I'd like to hear about them.

Here's a  simple lesson with a literacy component I use in my autistic art class. Check it out here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

3 Helpful Apps For The Travelling Art Teacher

I'm back teaching art at the elementary level after 8 years of teaching at the middle school level. 

My program is now known as 'Art on a Cart'. I have no classroom, no computers and no tablets. I'm travelling from room to room.

If you're travelling like me, you know its tough to incorporate technology into your art program. Never mind having the kids actually make something with it. 

But if you're like me, you still want to use technology, so the kids (and parents) see the benefits of it in the art class. 

What do you do?

Use an IPad and a VGA cord.

As I go from room to room, I can quickly plug into the class room projectors. They are already set up in the rooms that I travel to, so it just takes a couple of minutes at the beginning of class as they're clearing their desks.

And I've found 3 very different apps that have been helpful to me as I travel. One is for classroom management, one involves art history and one helps with classroom presentations.

Keynote- This is my favorite app to use to make slide presentations when I  introduce a lesson. It's easy to do a search for images, save them, then insert into the Keynote slides.  You can sync it (through Bluetooth) to a Keynote Remote  app on your phone and  simply move through the slides for your presentation. The kids also love the animations that can be added to the slides. Here's a hint. There's lots of oohs and aahs when they see the Fire or Confetti animations.


Too Noisy- This is an app you can use for behavior management. It's actually a sound meter. You  set  it to the the level of sound that is acceptable in your class. You then set it to how many minutes of acceptable noise before the class can earn a star. I usually set it for four minutes.

The needle keeps track of  the level of the sound. If the needle moves above your set sound level an alarm will go off. You can set it so the class  will lose a star if the alarm goes off. The kids actually ask me to set this up all the time, they love earning the stars.


Touch Van Gogh- This is an app to use when introducing the  paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. It is produced  by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, so a lot of research went into the information provided by the app. It provides information about various paintings of his, such as where and when a painting was made, what the locations look like today,  the damage to the painting, the colors used and the painting style. You also get an up close detailed view of the paintings. It is a touch screen app so you can chose to have the kids come up and touch the pad to get the information.

Introducing technology can be a trial when you are travelling from room to room. And there are so many choices of apps that are available out there. I hope at least one of these apps is helpful to you. 

If you know of any other apps that would be great for a travelling art teacher, I'd love to hear about it.

Keep Creating!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Printmaking With Recyclables

As art teachers, we're always looking for ways to make art projects on the cheap.  Using recyclable objects is a good way to save some money and still make some great art projects. 

I'm going to show you how you can do a print making lesson with recycled gallon water bottle tops.

Above are the gallon water bottle tops that I use.

The bottle tops have a large surface for printing and a built in handle to hold onto. Having the handles makes them easy to use, even for little hands.

The next step is to get sheets of textured foam at your local craft store. You can then cut to size, then glue on to the flat surface of the bottle top.

You can see the foam glued onto the bottle caps below. There are a variety of textures you can glue on to the bottle tops.

The next step is you're ready to print! All you need is a lesson idea.

I chose to use these printers to create textured skin on an chameleon lesson.

First, draw your chameleon. For this lesson, I used the chameleon drawing template from the website Art Projects For Kids.

Pick out your paint colors. Load up your  printers with paint and start printing.

The bumps from the foam makes the texture on the chameleon's  skin start to  appear.

You can add another color. You can even add another texture, if you chose a different style of foam on your printers.

Create your chameleon's background. And your done!

The bottle top printers are easy to clean off with soap and water. You can even use them again on another lesson.

What do you think of using recyclables for printmaking?

 Are there recyclables that work for you when you teach printmaking? I'd like to hear about it. 

Keep Creating!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Parent/Teachers Night and I Don't Have an Art Room!!!

I've switched schools and have gone back to teaching art at the elementary level. Yikes, no more art room!!! I'm now on a cart in two new schools. 

Well, now, here's the problem. It's Parent/Teachers Night and I have a great presentation. But no where to show it!!!  Also, both my schools are having Meet the Teacher night on the same night!!! I can't be two places at the same time. What do I do? 

Well, here's my solution.

 Use a QR Code!!!

The website QR Code Generator is a great website to use for making QR codes. I find it to be an easy website to work with and have used it before in the past with success.

What I did was create a QR code that linked to the Parent/Teachers Night  Prezi presentation I created when I taught middle school art. Now re-edited for the elementary level.  The QR code was posted in the school library, so it was easy for parents to find. If the parents had a QR scanner on their phone they could scan the code. And they could easily find out what my art class is about even when I wasn't there. 

Oh yea, here's something else. Do you want a bulletin board for Parent Nights that will really showcase all the teachers in you school? Check this out!

What do you think about my Parent/Teachers Night solution? What do you do on Parents Night if you travel between two schools or don't have an art room? Let me know, I'd love to hear about it. You can comment below.

Keep Creating!