Monday, April 25, 2011

Steal like an art teacher

I didn't just use Phyl's project for 4th graders, I stole most of her Matisse lessons for the month.

Second graders created Fish-Ish, inspired by both Ish and Matisse. Ish was already one of my favorite books, and one I read to classes at the beginning of the year. I liked the emphasis on it for this lesson, though. Students had a pretty hard time painting the background. I think I will make it simpler if I do this lesson again. However, by the time we added the fish bowl, table and leaves, the project came together fairly well.

I also used Phyl's lesson for "Wild Beasts." Like hers, we talked about how Matisse was a fauve, which means wild beast. We used bright colors and patterns, in the style of Matisse, to paint our animals.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I've been rethinking how I do things recently. I've never had students keep a portfolio. I evaluate student work, keep the best or at least the best from each student for different exhibitions, and send the art home. Everything sent home has a note attached that tells about the lesson, and, in most cases, a rubric evaluating the student work and the students' behavior during the lesson. Sending art home is my primary method of parent communication.

However, a few lessons this year have seemed to fall flat. If all their work was kept in a portfolio than students could go back and rework projects they didn't like. They could improve their grades in many cases, as well as be prouder of the work they create. I've always liked the idea of a portfolio before, anyway. It kills me to see drawings folded or stuffed into backpacks on the way home. I'm not sure how the storage works, though. Do the students keep their projects in the portfolio the entire time? Do they just put it in the portfolio when the class project is over? I also don't know where I would store the portfolios.

I did not have a school wide art show at either school this year. With only being at each school for a semester, it just seemed like too much. Plus, parent involvement tends to be very low. I just couldn't see going through all of the work of hanging work from each student to have only a handful of parents come to the show. However, we just had a district art show, with the opening on Tuesday night. I included about 75 different artwork between my two schools. It's a pretty big deal. I had 7 students come from my first school (which was a bit cheating, since five of these were from sibling groups.) Two students came from my current school, including one of my winners. I really talked up the opening, and several students said they would be there. The day after the opening, students kept coming up to me, explaining why they couldn't make it. I understand that it is hard for parents to take their students to the show. One student told me that his mom only had enough gas to take his dad to work. I realize other parents do not have cars. It really got me rethinking the school wide show. Yes, the district show is a big deal, but it is pretty far from my schools. I doubt that the kids feel as special about their work being included if they can't make it to the show. While I might not have a lot of parents make it to a school art show, it would at least be possible for them to get to the show. As an alternative, I'm thinking about a parent art night, where parents create art with their students.  I guess I could potentially do both.

Of course, all of these thoughts may not work out anyway. Our district is consolidating schools next year. Our superintendent just released his final recommendation to be sent to the school board. Both of my schools are on the list for closing. At this point, teachers have been reassured that they aren't planning on cutting any positions. With 11 elementary schools closing, I can hardly imagine that specialists like pe, library, counselors, music, and art will all have positions. At the very least, I will not be at the same schools next year.

This photo has nothing to do with this post, of course. Every post should have a photo, though, and this is my old dog, sleeping in my daughter's doll bed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Matisse Still Life

This lesson was taken from Phyl. Her students' paintings turned out so phenomenally. I was excited about the lesson with my fourth and fifth graders. And then, things weren't going so well. Either students weren't mixing any colors or they ignored my directions of mixing the colors NEXT to each other on the color wheel, which of course became mud. The more we worked on them, the worse they seemed to be. So, I gave up. We started our clay projects and moved on.

Then, I pulled them out to grade. I realized that, more than anything, they just weren't finished. We pulled the paints back out for one final day of painting. Much better. I think we all needed to step back from them a bit. Maybe the kids were bored. Maybe I was bored. This time, I also emphasized outlining items with black.

And the rest on exhibit in the hall. We have these boards above the kids' lockers for display. It's kind of weird to me looking UP to the work, but at least the kids do not have their hands on them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Circle Painting

I first read about circle painting here, though I've seen it on several blogs since then. I liked the idea of a collaborative project, and decided to use this project with my pre-k through first grade. I would certainly do this project again, with any grade level, though it worked out better with first grade than the younger groups. This was really just due to a few students in class, who are on the more messy side. Some of the other students were more likely to get frustrated at this grade level. The students were very proud of their work.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Firing Hazard

This is my current room set up. My kiln is in a corner of my classroom, rather than in a closet or another room. While I know that I am fortunate to have a kiln, it still seems a bit scary. Would this make anyone else nervous? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Clay Storyteller

Clay Storyteller, originally uploaded by ashmom.
I unloaded the kiln Friday. I've never experienced anything like this, so I wondered if any of you had any experience with this. There are bubbly places on the ends of the feet. Do you see what I'm talking about? Two storytellers had these darker bubbled places. They were placed next to each other on the top shelf of the kiln. If you have any suggestions or insight, please let me know.
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