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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A week in (way cool) Art!

Ever wonder what a week in a busy elementary art room with over 400 kids per week looks like? 

Wonder what your kiddoes are doing? Check this out!

Kinder and First Grade: Self Portraits (All About Me)

Kinder is creating their very first work of art, a Self Portrait. This is my assessment, where I assess fine motor skills like drawing, tracing, coloring. I watch how they are holding pencils and paint brushes. 

I also assess their developmental levels. Are they drawing "potato people" or "stick people" or have they leveled up to creating using shapes?
Drawing, they love to sprawl out!

Needless to say, this group ROCKS. I even threw in crayon resist painting for giggles and they LOVED IT.

Note to my fellow art teachers: if you are struggling with kinder, give them paint and crayons. Limit the color choice (I allowed for 2 watercolor colors) and encourage drawing in white crayon. This will excite the kids and keep them engaged for a long time. 
If you throw down some table covers and clean up with wet wipes, clean up is fast and easy!

First grade is also creating a Self Portrait, but this time, they need to show movement (Winslow Homer's, "Snap the Whip" was our history connection) by bending knees, elbows, etc!

Again, this is an assessment. We talked about leveling up, which allows for harder but stronger technique. I am looking for perseverance, drawing with shapes, attention to details, how the kids hold the pencils and crayons, how and if they mix color families.
The kids were so excited, they even added backgrounds to help their story. We are ending with watercolor resist as well.

Love this!

Kinder painting, check out those happy faces!

Kraft paper is a quick, reusable table cover. Cups are from the Dollar Store.

1st grade Self Portraits showing movement
I love the attention to detail!

2nd and 3rd Grade: Weaving, using textiles to tell a story

2nd grade is creating yarn weavings that describe Fall through color. Close your eyes. What colors come to mind when you think September? How about October? Are the colors different than November?

Using plain weave with fringe.

I precut the yarn in a wide variety of Fall-ish colors.

Yarn colors are kept in baggies, students choose ten pieces of yarn at a time.

This is starting to look like a cozy fall sweater! That Bill Crosby used to wear, but still...

3rd Grade is creating Radial Symmetrical Weavings. This is a great connection between math and art as we are using complex patterns with symmetry, and measuring with a ruler.

Once we start weaving, we are going to learn about the history of this prehistoric art form, through the Greek myth of Arachnae and Athena.

I LOVE making the connections between ancient and modern art. We wear and use woven cloth today. 

First, they created these awesome designs on the edges of paper plates. Student choice on dry materials.

With the design finished, we flipped the plate over and added an odd number of slits along the edge (we did 15), plus a whole in the center.

This week and next, the kids are threading 14" yarn through the hole and each slit, tying with a nice tight double knot.

This requires measuring, so another important art and math connection!

Color choice is very important here, as the kids have to seek colors that complement their drawn design.

4th grade: Ancient Egyptian Portraits

Ok, I totally got this lesson idea from Cassie Stephens, who got it from Artsonia, who got it from??? But this is such a cool lesson, and I love that we art teachers are finally collaborating!

First, we spent some time learning about Ancient Egypt. I have websites all ready for iPad research. I also have a wide variety of books, including the very popular "Book of the Dead". 

(*I am using the brand new Google Classroom with 4th and 5th grade. This is a great way to send info, materials, website links to all the kids through their school email accounts. It is attached to their Google Drive, which we have been using for a few years now.

I was able to link relevant websites to an announcement and the kids had that info quickly without having to type and wait.)

Google Classroom: I love this! Here I have the necessary website link ready to go for their in-class research. They get an email in their school email, and a folder in their Google Drive. So great for teaching large groups like we do.

Kids doing their research with a variety of technology.

Check out the "Book of the Dead" illustration. This is a great resource.
Once the kids selected their favorite god/goddess, they began the sketching part. Here is the big deal, please no judging, ok, but I allow them to copy the Egyptian gods. 

Why? Because Ancient Egyptian artists had to follow a formula when creating people, and they had to copy. So it is perfectly reasonable for my kids to do the same. It does make me twitch, but they are learning valuable skills like observational drawing and drawing in profile.

Next, for color, I am bringing out the Holy Grail for elementary kids: Prismacolor pencils. Over the years, I have slowly built up a supply, and guard them carefully. 

The kids are LOVING using these for color. They laughed when I said they were like butter. But then they got it. And now they might be asking for them for Christmas, sorry mom and dad.

There are many more parts to this project, involving hieroglyphics and mono-printing with our Gelli plates. Stay tuned!

5th grade: 3D drawing and How to Draw in One Point Perspective

I spent this summer doing a lot of professional development- learning about how to effectively use the iPad in the art room, without sacrificing crucial hands-on art making time.

Here was my dilemma:

The first nine weeks of 5th grade are typically spent learning:
  • About the Renaissance (1-2 class periods)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1 class period)
  • Intro to their sketchbook and the world of drawing pencils (1 class period)
  • How to draw in 3D: tricks and tips of shading, value scale, perspective (at least 3 class periods)
As you can see, it is not until OCTOBER before we can actually take all these new skills and create a work of art. It is a frustrating part of only seeing the kids once a week.

I wanted a way to cut that time down and get to creating sooner. And I think I found my answer in iBooks!

Using iBooks Author, I created 3 books for Donald kids: 
  • How to Draw in One Point Perspective
  • Welcome to the Renaissance
  • Meet the Master: Leonardo da Vinci
I love the versatility of creating my own book for my kids!

I created an iMovie intro about the Renaissance-so FUN!

So the big plan is that the kids "read" these quick iBooks on their time (like a lite flipped classroom) and then we create while they are in Art. 

The easiest way to share them is through iTunes University, so I made a quick course and uploaded the books there. The kids can access and download the books onto the iBooks app on their iPad. 

In a perfect world, this will all work out....ha....ha....ha...

I am hoping to to have these kids drawing from observation and learning 1-point perspective next week. Instead of mid October!

Stay tuned, I am really excited for this. The kids are always amazed that they can draw realisticaly. All they need is patience, practice and chilled out observation. Oh, and some drawing pencils! 

Parents, check out my website for drawing supplies, they make great gifts!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This years' theme: Making Connections

This school year I am determined to demonstrate to the kids and fellow teachers all the ways art connects to the world around us. But then, in true fashion, I have taken it to the next level.

This is timely, as we now have 3 STEAM Labs (holy moley!) and I need to be a eating, breathing example of STEAM (uh... that would be Science, Tech, Engineering, Art and Math...). The beautiful thing about STEAM is that we art teachers ARE DOING THIS ALREADY!

There are so many lesson plans and philosophies out there about how and why we should make these connections and integrate. For me, it is a no brainer to connect art and science, or art and history, or art and math, or art and reading. I believe all great art teachers do this, in their own way. It's what we do!

Really, now it's all about promoting and modeling what we do, every day.

We connect our art techniques and lessons to the world around us.

We connect with our kids, as we see them daily, weekly, monthly, and over the course of years.

We connect with our school families through newsletters, social media, and by guiding their kids to find ways to express their souls.

We connect with our community by showcasing student work. 

Ok, this picture has very little to do with my rant. But check it out: The kiddoes are making their end of year portfolios. And I let them bring in headphones, big trust step for me. It was so peaceful.

Making connections is not limited to my classroom. I am going to be an ambassador! HA! Here are some ways:

I am connecting with my fellow art teachers by serving on our districts' Art Advocacy Commitee, and now I am sending out monthly newsletters to help (hopefully) connect and support our diverse staff. Our district has grown large over the past years and most art teachers do not know each other. It takes very little time to send a newsletter out.

I am connecting with my staff by starting up a Social Committee.  I snagged the fresh, new teachers who have tons of energy and great ideas. We are working on building relationships across all grade levels. 

We are hosting:
    • monthly lunchtime potlucks (because who can say no to that? Not my school!)
    • Happy hours (you can call them whatever you want...)
    • after school activities like hobby night (hosted by anyone who has a hobby to share, this month is mesh wreath making and this faculty is PUMPED)
    • Movie nights and dinners (because, let's face it. After you've been married for a while, your spouse does not seem to want to do these things??? Or is it just me?)
    • team building activities during professional development days (like Mission Impossible!)

OH YEAH. We BOMBED a chair. Because it needed it. And it is awesome.

 What does this have to do with being the only art teacher in an elementary school? Everything. When you are part of a faculty, you are part of a special family. We all need to do our small part to make our schools positive, healthy and happy workplaces. Being an art teacher does not mean you should live in your room, isolated. So many of us do.

Look, believe it or not: I am shy, I have a family, and I am busy (who isn't???) It was hard for me to present these ideas to my faculty at the last faculty meeting. We all need help! I got lots of help. There are teachers who WANTED to do this with me! Cool!

Oh, and I started the potlucks BECAUSE I LIKE COCKTAIL WEENIES. There, I said it. 


Look! I meant it. We just had an afterschool mesh wreath-a-thon. For the good of my faculty, I conformed to the masses and created a mesh wreath. (It looks like something out of Bettlejuice, but I did it.) We had fun! And then we went to happy hour.

Christmas wreaths, ok they are really pretty.

Coach Eby being all crafty.
We even had teacher kids helping out.
Mrs. Norine with her sassy Halloween wreath.