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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Divergent, The Hunger Games and Star Trek. Oh, and Elementary Art Ed.

 Best winter break evah! 

In between delicious naps and sleeping in, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmm, I just finished reading, oh, sorry, I mean, inhaling, the "Divergent" series (yeah, yeah I know. The third book. But this is young adult so there ya go). This trilogy  about yet another futuristic dystopian society was a great, fast read. I will confess, I am not a young adult and I cannot wait for this movie in March.

This I how I felt after reading "The Hunger Games". I was so engrossed, so fascinated, so nauseated, so...


UGH.Why does our future have to look like THIS?

Trust me people, I do not want to wave bye bye to my great-grand-kids while they are trying to save themselves from small children with assault weapons/zombie apocalypse/alien invasion/demon factions in skimpy bathing suits/robot uprising/widespread and contagious catastrophic disease (thanks a lot Stephen King!)/ gluttony and/or famine/thermo-nuclear war/massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions brought about by global warming and the rising of the oceans/ Monsanto/ the Four Hoursemen/life size fire ants... ok, that one I am a little sacred of. See ya kids! Have fun storming the castle! I'm outta here!

Almost every thing envisioned about the future is, just awful. I mean, why bother?

I have friends I know- I KNOW- are secret Doomsday Preppers (only because theirs is the house we are running to, you know, just in case) and I totally understand that unsettling times lead to fears about the future, but I do not want this for my future offspring. Do you guys? Really? Sure it's fun to read about. And yeah, Tris and Katniss are the bomb. But can you imagine your sweet great-great-grand-daughter, who kinda looks like you, running from a robot toddler? With zero electricity? But somehow they have computers? I don't.

When I picture the year 2060, I see a beautiful and exciting future, one with promise and light and knowledge and butterflies and unicorns...oh wait...

I prefer the future in Star Trek:
See? Isn't this nicer?
(Note to fellow geeksters: I am referring to the future of Star Trek (Original) and The Next Generation, not from the novels and other spin offs. Yes, I am aware of the horrible wars on Earth, but moving on...
 Hopefully by now you guys totally understand that I AM A MAJOR GEEK. In college, 1989, I wrote an awesome paper for sociology using Star Trek TNG as a metaphor for our modern society. It was incredible and I am still proud of it, what, 30 years after? ouch.)

Ahem. Sorry.

This future is about exploration, scientific discovery, diplomacy. World problems such as famine, poverty, disease, catastrophic weather have been eradicated through technology and compassion for humanity.

In this future, all knowledge is important. Education is valued. The Arts are valued. Here is a solution to a terrible option. It might seem naive. But I don't think so.

Art is, has always been, the mirror for society. We are showing you what is going on, what is coming. 

Leonardo da Vinci's sketch of a flying machine. 1488. Would have been considered science fiction.

And CHANGE IS HERE my friends. BIG change. Like it to not, strap yourselves in or jump ship.
There has never been a greater need for quality Art Education, taught by certified and trained Artist-Teachers in our schools. All levels. Accessible to every student.
With Art Teachers who aren't afraid to learn. 

How many of my fellow art teachers are afraid to use technology in their rooms, terrified that it might replace or worse, confuse us? How many of us just say NO to any new idea? How many of us are feeling desperate and unstable, after years of being the best teachers, the strongest teachers, the Teachers of the Year?

I did. Although I am a gamer,  I was totally anti FaceBook (narcissistic!) and Twitter (OMG Narcissistic!!) and texting (really??? you can't CALL me?) until...my kid wanted a Tumblr at age 15. I decided to Google it. And booooyo am I glad I did. That forced me to open my eyes. I understood then this virtual cyber world was not going away. It was in my house.

Right. So I play this but hating texting. Go figure.

It's in my classroom. It's in my sweet elementary school. Younger and younger kids have iPhones and tablets. Their own FB page and email accounts. Complain all you want, it is not going away.

Face it, the kids coming to us are different. In 20 plus years, I have never taught a group like The iGeneration (That could be a whole other dissertation/post!) Are you kidding, within 2 years my entire pedagogy (ugh, hate that word) has been upended! Do you know how unsettling that is???
Technology has leveled the playing field for our kids, and un-leveled it for teachers (thanks, Wooten, for this quote).

So I tried social media. I tried blogging. I tried Google Apps. I tried using an iPad. Baby steps--learning the lingo. Asking Google for help along the way. Asking my kids for help. Taking technology courses offered though my district. Feeling like a ding dong. Feeling pretty good.

My school is super fortunate. We have iPads for all the kids and our district provides a super secure server for them to use at school and at home. I know this is not the norm in other 1:X campuses. We are super fortunate, and hopefully we are trailblazing for other school districts.

Yes, using new technology in the classroom has it's challenges (IOS 7. Grrrr.), but for the most part, it has been a blessing. The transition has been smooth, and dare I say, fun?  I believe, more than I ever have, that I am making a huge difference in the kids I teach. They are making a huge difference in me as well.

Sometimes, ignorant (Not stupid. Ignorant.) people smirk or roll their eyes when I tell them I am an elementary art teacher. Because, to the ignorant, I am not a real teacher. I don't do anything of great value. Because, art is fun, but not really respected.
What they don't realize is that I am exactly where I need to be to affect change. Change for good. So maybe we don't hand over a terrible future.

You want to change the world? You want to make it better? You want to make a difference in thousands of people? Teach elementary art. Yeah, I said it.
 Talk to 5 year olds about the wonder and awesomeness of the future. Get them excited to solve problems we cannot. Teach them to create and value beauty in the world, from the smallest creatures to ships for space travel. Teach them how to express their ideas, their dreams and desires through art.

You cannot change an adults mind. Too late. You affect change with the young. It can be for evil (*tobacco industry*) or for good. All I know is as much as I love seeing Katniss shoot her bow to survive,  I would prefer my grand-kids didn't have to.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Happy Happy, Happy Break!

Have a happy, happy Christmas and New Year!

Enjoy the break, we all need it! (Especially us Texans after being off for two days with Ice Storm 2013. Right??)

I plan on resting, eating good food, hanging with family and friends, playing video games and painting. There are some great movies out and I really want to spend as much time as I can with my girl as she is halfway through her senior year of high school. *sniffle*

I hope this time brings you contentment and gratitude of lacking nothing. And some lazy, lazy days.

This will be me by December 28. Cannot wait.

See you next year! Be safe!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shout out to an awesome, way cool student!

 I have to give a shout out to this 5th grader, Victor, who has been coming in a couple times a week during recess to design our latest entryway mural installation.

It says, "Welcome to Donald, the home of the Dolphins"

The left side has this awesome dolphin and the right side is a drawing of our school. Victor is completely self directed. This is all him. I have just pretty much stayed out of his way!

I am going to have the other 5th graders in the art club help him with painting. It is a big job.

Last year's Art Club painted these 2 way cool murals, based on student artwork:

When finished, I think I will get the faculty and students to create ceramic tiles and dolphins. I can use those for a mosaic border, to cover that blue and tie it all together.

Thank you Victor! You are the BOMB!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My (kinda) messy room.

Ok, I admit it. I like organization. But that doesn't mean we don't get messy in the Art Room! I just like everything to live in its own home! 

Here's a typical messy kind of day, starting at 7:30 am
No 1st period, they are in play rehearsals, and then conference (planning), so easy early morning...
and then:

  after lunch: Kinder is painting seasonal snowmen (I read the book, Snowmen All Year). First they are drawing details with oil pastels and then they are adding snow with acrylic (it might snow here Friday! We are PUMPED! It's North Texas baby!)

Sweet! Messy hands, good thing I have CASES of Wet Wipes!

And good thing I have my 4th and 5th grade Art helpers who scrub brushes for me 
Whooooo hoooooo!

So, not too bad. Right?

Monday, December 2, 2013

ugh. No posts in weeks. Hate geting old :(

This knee thing KICKED me. UGH. So do not enjoy getting old and having body parts fall off. 

I spent a good week or two in my classroom in a chair with my leg propped up, so I had to re-do some lessons. 'Cause that isn't stressful. And since I was face level, kids coughed AT and ON me and I got sick---due to my medical issues, I tend to NOT be face level with the sweeties--so YEAH it's been a fun couple of weeks. I did have a very restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving break and hope you did too!

Since I had to do a quick lesson re-do, this was a great time to do some Observational Drawing of Fall Fruit. I had the BEST stuff: persimmons, gourds, mini pumpkins, pomegranates. The best part is I let them fully and over ripe, so they had cool edges and colors. And a little mold. Which is cool to draw. *heheheheheheh*

Fall Fruit with Zentangle Designs, 3rd and 5th grade

Guiding Idea: Lines and Color Create Depth

This was a great project for them to work on while I "facilitated" from my perch on the side of the room. The kids LOVED this. I had zero issues!

Once they saw how observation skills (trick: tell them to "look" and "think" like a Scientist. They understand this terminology at this young age. Then add in the Artist part and make the connection.), mixing colors (families and complementary) can create 3D depth and realistic affects, they were super excited. The Zentangle design was an option, either in the drawing or as a border/frame.

Can you guess which two are 3rd grade?


The top two. Yeah, they LOVED this project. 

When they finished (and as they worked...), the kids pulled out the ipads and documented the process:

Adam created an Animoto about his drawing, step by step.

These guys are photographing their art for their digital portfolio. They played around with photo editing, which is becominng a Very Big Deal. I am fine with it, as long as the original is in the portfolio. 

Lesson for you younger whippersnappers: when you blow a tendon in your knee playing a game at Field Day you have no business playing (with your Principal!!!) do some Observational Drawings with the older kids. Extremely Important Skills. Awesome Process, Awesome Results ...and an easy way to recuperate...until Kinder comes. 

Until Kinder comes.