About this Site and Me

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Flower Mound, TX, United States
Hi, I am an artist, wife, mom, gamer and the Elementary Art Educator at Donald Elementary, a sweet and wonderful school in Flower Mound, TX (outside of Dallas). This is a great place to see how we are integrating studio habits with technology and interdisciplinary connections. I also love to share my "wisdom" (Re: Experiences. From mistakes.) about teaching Elementary Art. I love what I do, and I've been doing it for a long time. Creating and teaching Art is what I live for. Enjoy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One point perspective: Flying Boxes

5th grade: Flying Boxes

This year, my students have demanded we focus on Observational Drawing Skills. Of course, this means introducing and reviewing the Laws of Perspective (which I start in Kinder--overlapping, horizon line, etc. Right?)

love love love teaching 1 point perspective! Once the kids get it, the glow on their faces is priceless.

Guiding Idea: Lines can create depth. Students used geometric lines to create flying or infinity boxes. They used Zentangles to create the shading. They could add color if desired.

Dylan is quite happy.
Students used Zentangles to fill in their value.

When they finished, they took pictures of their art with Snapseed for their e-portfolios, and then experimented with filters to manipulate their creation.

ooohhhh how coooooooool!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The best pencil sharpener! *Classroom Friendly Supplies

Ok, as you guys know, pencil sharpeners ARE A BIG DEAL for art teachers. I had blown up a few electric ones in my day. Badly sharpened pencils cause frustration and anger. Not good feelings to have in a way cool art room.

I had heard about these new hand crank ones from Classroom Friendly Supplies...I really didn't believe it when I heard the buzz, but a 4th grade teacher bought one so I got to play with it. It is awesome. (Yes, even colored pencils! See below!)

I contacted the company, Classroom Friendly Supplies, and they sent me one right away for a review. I love it. The kids love it. Easy to use, easy to clean, sharp pencils. Life is good.

The kids are super excited about this, lining up to sharpen a pencil!

Before Pix
Literally 20 seconds later.

"Oh yeah!"

This thingy pulls out, that was weird for me. But I got over it.

It holds the pencil perfectly straight. 

Smaller than my electric ones. This counter was too thick to mount it correctly. The table has a better hold.


Crayola Colored Pencils (4-5 rotations)
PrismaColor pencils (4-5 rotations)
Ebony pencils
drawing pencils (various brands)
cheap-o #2's

Cost: $24.99, (Teacher Special pack of three: $53.97)

WORTH. IT. I am soooooooo buying one for each table!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

on-going Mummy Coffins, 4th Grade

Working in groups to create a lifesize mummy coffin, focusing on pattern and symmetry. The team Scribe keeps all notes and pictures for the group.

Taking pictures for digital portfolios!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bulletin boards. Oh my.

It is week 6 and students are slowly finishing their first art projects. Nothing yet to display on the NINETEEN bulletin boards and two (three) display cases I have commandeered.

What's an art teacher to do?

 Display case #1:
Technology Museum, "How did we survive before smart phones?"
I remember ALL of these.

 I had a blast writing the notes. They are kinda funny.

Display cases 2 and 3: info about the Specials Team:

 yeah check this out. Kathy rocks!

Meet Prudence, ANOTHER fairy who has moved in. A student left her a crocheted scarf. Because it is Fall.

On all bulletin boards: Art prints with open ended, guiding questions. 

What happened next?

What do you wonder?

What is the main idea?

What would you change? etc..

I pulled these from LA curriculum (even though they are standard art critique questions...yeah, I know...)

This gives the classroom teachers talking points during bathroom breaks and hallway transitions, and gives visitors something beautiful to look and think about.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I wish I were back in college. A letter written in love to my Art Teacher friends.

This past Friday was a huge eye opener for me. I hosted an all day Art and Tech inservice for our district's art teachers. I fully expected 5 elementary art teachers to show up and we would play and paint on our devices.


27 teachers, secondary and elementary filled my art room! I didn't have enough chairs, but what a great problem to have. I have thought about you guys all weekend long. (by the way, can I say how great it was to work with secondary teachers! Loved getting their perspective. We split up way too much, imo.)

Looking around, I saw looks of fear, nervousness, overwhelmed-ness (new word!), excitement and hope. Because now every school in our district has ipads in some way or another. And we need to use them. And here I am, (I am no expert, by the way, I am just loud) trying to guide and assist.

Thankfully, Alan Kohutek, Instructional Tech Specialist, came and talked to us for a few hours. He told them what helped keep me off the proverbial ledge last year: that this tech is just a tool. The iPad will be obsolete someday, the websites and apps we are using will be outdated, so our kids need to know basic art making skills. Like observational drawing, painting, printmaking, weaving, clay, etc. These devices are creation tools, how are we going to use them?

We gave suggestions for incorporating tech in the art room, awesome art apps (go here: ipads in the art room and FISD Techtators) and I pushed for Minecraft. Because if 98% of the kids play it, why can't we use it to teach art concepts? Why does it have to be "a waste of time"? Wouldn't it be amazing to teach architecture?

We talked about how to start, where to go from there, school based frustrations and successes. We talked and the flood gates opened.

I stood in front of my colleagues, master teachers who excel at their craft and awesome new teachers trying to get through their first years of teaching, and I fully realized the enormous amount of change occurring in Art Ed right now. With not a lot of help or guidance but with a whole lot of frustration and fear. Art teachers who are saying in one way or another: what I do in my art room is good. Why do I have to change? As I scanned the room, a bit overwhelmed, I saw a student teacher in the back, quietly taking it all in. And I thought, MAN I want to be back in college!

This girl has no idea. But check out those glasses.
Me and my mom, circa 92, yep;)

Nooo, not really, but at least there, we could sit with our peers and debate and discuss these changes. We would have knowledgeable professors (right?) leading our discussions.  We would all be reading the same literature, and we would have a safety net to fall back on. Once you are in the classroom, it's up to you to grow professionally or resist the change and deal with those consequences.
And this is scary.

And we are not alone. Reading through blogs (see here: rainbowskies and dragonflies and artroom 104) from Art Ed teachers across the country, it's the same thing. Change is here and it is big. East Coast Art teachers are grappling with yearlong assessments of student growth, incorporating STEM into STEAM (STEM hasn't made its' way to Texas that I am aware of?) and Common Core (not ever coming to Texas). We here in LISD are part of the High Performance Schools Consortium, and with that comes implementing 21st Century Learning. And a ton of technology.
And this is scary.

That was last year for me. Last year was rough. I spent most of it filled with self doubt about my role as a teacher. I questioned every routine, every lesson, every hallway display, every use of technology (Like: can I still do Power Point Presentations? Am I allowed? Or does it have to be a Google App presentation? Or a Prezi? Who can answer my question? Substitute whatever words you need. The Answer is below). I was in Full Freak Out Mode. I wanted to do cool stuff but couldn't for various reasons (some out of my control: like infrastructure issues! Some not.). I felt that I was a total failure as a teacher and had failed Art Ed. I had lots of anger and resentment. And I love technology! And I don't mind change, as long as it makes sense!
I considered leaving teaching, for...what...I have no idea...(ok, full disclosure, I considered for exactly 7 minutes. Where would I go?). I was bummed and stressed and had these awful headaches.

Then summer came and I rested.

I read some books about changes in Art Ed and realized HEY! I am kinda already doing that! Yay for me! I played with art apps on my iPad. I chilled.

To my friends: The chilling helped. By taking a step back, I realized a few truths I had quite forgotten or overlooked in my panic (yes, panic. I was having panic attacks you guys. Panic. Attacks.).

Repeat after me:
  • I am an artist who teaches. 
  • I believe in the importance of Art Ed.
  • I am smart and capable. I can do this.
  • We are all on the same technology journey. It is not a race.
  • I am already doing 21st Century Teaching in my room, and I need to promote and model what I am doing.
  • I need to let kids make more choices and stop telling them what to do every step of the way.
  • The iPad is a tool like a paintbrush is a tool.
  • I will no longer allow other people's negativity, ignorance and/or stubbornness to get in the way of my awesome teaching.  
  • I will take my time with these changes and remember the students come first.
  • The answer to my "freaking out question" above (backed up by the LISD Tech Dept): When it comes to using tech, use what you like. THERE IS NO MAGIC APP OR WEBSITE that is perfect for everyone. If you love Animoto or Educreations or iMovie, great. If you like Schoolweb, use it. If you want a Google Site, do that. If you use Weebly, great. If you don't want to blog, you don't have to. But don't expect a one-fit-for all answer. You are a professional and you have options (but hey, ahhhhh, read the Terms of Service first. Just saying.). 
.....I am no expert. I am just loud.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oct. Inservice. aaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Think of me peeps.

 Friday I am teaching another "tech in the art room" inservice (professional devel) to a group of LISD Art teachers, elem and secondary!

I thought it would 5 of us sitting around playing with our iPads, but there are 23 coming and that means I better have my act together. Omgeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Would it be bad to just play Tricia Fuglestad's videos all day?




Thank you, Alan Kohutek for coming and talking for us about technology! We are excited! You can't  tell, but really we are!

There were 27 Art Teachers in my room with all kinds of devices and we rocked it! How to use iPads, Cool Art Apps, Minecraft, Google Apps, Google Sites and Blogger....omgeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

This is one tired girl.

We are engaged and enthusiastic, not bored. I promise.

"Appy Hour", Oct.

Parent "Appy Hour" in the Art Room: teaching parents how to use the apps we are using in the Art room. Great night, awesome time!

Sketchbook Express

Everyone is really happy, I promise. We don't look it, but we are. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Allowing for Choice. And letting go of control. *shudder*

This post is about allowing more student choice. You will find no tech talk here. 

Remember this? This is how we spent the first 5 days of school: the kids told me how they want the art room to be (terrible grammer, but you get it) and what kind of art projects they wanted to do:

From this....

I am a super control freak. And I am letting the kids decide their art journeys. Yes. 

Think about this: when we went through high school and college, we were handed a syllabus. How come we don't do this with younger students? "Hooking and surprising" doesn't work. My kids are waaaaaay more excited when they a: know what is coming and b: get some time to think about it.

Soooo...these posters went up.

...to this.

I took all their ideas and desires, plugged in some of my curriuclum and genres/techniques they need to cover and now this is hanging on the wall. There is one for every grade level. Not sure how this iwll work, but I am hopeful as the kids have 98% ownership.


A few years ago, I got sick. I mean, like, sick sick sick. Like I lost 9 weeks of school. (Young teachers: Stress is a killer!) It happens and I hope I am all better now. When this hit, I was forced to give up my ultra-control of the incredibly high-expectations I had for my program (do you notice all the me's and I's? That was part of the problem!). Beautifully mounted art hanging in the halls, intense, integrated lessons planned for the entire year (ugh yeah), coming up with every possible solution to every possible scenario...yeah I had to let that go. A bit. You think?

My journey has been allowing (forcing) for more student choice. I am not a TAB teacher, although I have nothing against it, it is just not for me. I have brought in some of their methods without realizing it, however.  I am slowly opening my room to more student choice and less prescribed lessons. It is not easy. I've been doing it this way for a long time.

The first thing I did was pull out my notes and sample lessons from college, and I noticed that I USED TO ALLOW for more choice! 20 years ago, I was doing what I want to now! So that was funny. Duh. /facepalm.

With all the changes happening in the world of education, this is one I am pretty excited about.