Saturday, December 21, 2013

GWMS Week 3.2

GWMS Week 3.2

Today begins Winter Break.  As wonderful as this year has been, I am happy to have some time to relax!  This third rotation has been going so well.  The students continue to create art that is important to them.  As we approach the holiday season, some students chose to make work that shows their excitement about Christmas.  This is what I love about TAB! So often it seems that adults are imposing their ideas about the holidays on children.  Unfortunately, the reality is that it can be a very stressful and not always happy time for students.  I am so glad that I could offer a calm and accepting place for all students to explore their own ideas.  

Wishing everyone all the best in the new year - Happy 2014!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

GWMS Week 3.1

GWMS Week 3.1

Welcome to the third rotation of the year!  We are off to a great start.  With winter and the holiday season under way the students' art reflects what is happening in their life.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

GWMS Week 2.7

GWMS Week 2.7

We are wrapping up our 7 week rotation - it always seems to go so fast!  Several students continued using the viewfinders, this time looking at candy wrappers.  This lesson came from Artful Artsy Amy's blog.

With the help of some students I put together several figure templates that could be traced or referenced to create artwork with a figure in motion.  Here is an example below:

I found a great pattern to make the "articulated manikin" on the arte a scuola website - you can make one at home!

Friday, November 22, 2013

GWMS Week 2.6

GWMS Week 2.6

Tornados, butterflies and watercolors, oh my!  Last weekend there was severe weather in our area and tornados in Southern Illinois.  I love that in a choice-based classroom students can process their thoughts and experiences in their artmaking.

This week I showed students how to use a viewfinder to concentrate on a portion of an image.  I saw an oil pastel lesson on the Field Elementary Art Blog, which I introduced to my classes.  The previous teacher in my room left a boxed collection of animal cards that were perfect for this idea as well as everyday art inspiration.  Here are some examples:

I made viewfinders using cardstock and the old Ellison die-cut machine to cut out the "window".  I had them laminated so they will hopefully last!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

GWMS Week 2.5

GWMS Week 2.5

Sewing and weaving continue and with these projects comes lost needles and tangles of yarn!  I spent some time brainstorming inexpensive ways to keep things under control in the classroom.  I gathered some shoeboxes from colleagues and put one skein of yarn in each box.  Most of the boxes had a hole through the side and lid of the box.  This made it easy to thread the yarn through.  If there wasn't a hole, I just used scissors to make one.  I taped the boxes shut and put a note on top " DO NOT OPEN THE BOX!  Pull out the yarn that you need, cut, and leave a tail."  So far, so good!

The next thing I had to tackle was the needles.  I posted sign-out sheets - one for the plastic weaving needles and one for the metal sewing needles.  I hot glued 14 clothespins to a posterboard for the plastic needles and glued 14 magnets to a posterboard for the metal needles.  The students must sign their name and put the number needle they are using on the sign-out sheet.  At the end of class I can quickly see if we are missing any needles.

To all of the art teachers out there - hope this can help you through the yarn mess!  The students have loved the fiber center and I am happy to have figured out a way to keep it organized.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

GWMS Week 2.4

Week 2.4 Video

Students were very interested in printmaking.  I found a great foam reduction print lesson on Use Your Coloured Pencils Blog.  Several students tried this three-color reduction print technique with great results.

The fiber center opened this week, with lots of weaving and sewing happening in the room.  Weaving has been both fun and frustrating - just glad to see they are sticking with it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

GWMS Week 2.3

GWMS Week 2.3 Video

Painting and Printmaking

The students enjoyed seeing images of Wayne Thiebaud's dessert and cake paintings.  He seemed like a natural choice when we were talking about tints and shades of colors.  Some students chose to paint pictures of cake with tints and shades - they were very successful.

There is a great video about Wayne Thiebaud on CBS Sunday Morning.  You can watch it here:Wayne Thiebaud.

We opened the printmaking center this week and students learned about monoprints and relief prints.  I found a great video about a collograph mask that uses positive and negative spcae.  It can be viewed here: collograph mask

Examples of these ideas can been seen in the student artwork video above.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

GWMS Week 2.2

Students have been able to work on drawing, collage and painting.  The students' art reflects their interests and some common themes have emerged: sports, superheroes, cars, music and video games.

We will begin printmaking this week, working on monoprints and relief prints.

Friday, October 18, 2013

GWMS Week 2.1

GWMS - Week 1, Rotation 2

We accomplished a lot in this first week.  The students learned  classroom rules and procedures with lots of time devoted to working  in the drawing center.  Sketchbook covers were embellished, portraits were drawn and drawing materials were explored.

I am excited to see what the students create with collage supplies next week!

Teaching with TAB is such a joy - I am inspired daily by the creativity in the classroom.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

GWMS Week 7

 After all projects were finished and the students reflected on their work, we wrapped up this session with a variety of activities.

 We did a collaborative piece that I hope will find a home in the school hallways.  I found a few inspiring quotes and enlarged each letter of the words.  I gave the students a letter and a half-sheet of construction paper.  They were able to decorate the paper using drawing and collage materials.  Next, I assembled the letters back together.  Below are a few pictures:
"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you anywhere."

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."

Blocks and playdough were also a big hit this week.  For the most part, the students' work has been 2-d.  It was fun to spend a few days building with them.  We also watched a few Rube Goldberg invention videos to get them inspired - who knows what they might come up with at home!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

GWMS Week 6

Week 6 is complete - this rotation has flown by!  While the construction center was never "officially" opened, some students have discovered building with paper on their own. Below are some pictures of the Twin Towers:
I especially love how the student engineered a separate base made from popsicle sticks and masking tape to keep the tower from tipping.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Week 5

Wonderful week 5!
Weavings, landscapes and portraits filled the room this week. 

Early dismissal today with 20 minute classes?  No problem - we worked on zentangles!
To learn more about zentangles, visit:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

GWMS Week 4

Week 4 and we have lots of work to show!  The students have all of the centers open: drawing, painting, collage, printmaking and fiber.

Weaving on a cardboard loom was a big hit this week as well as sewing decorative pillows.  Here are a few photos of the students at work:

Friday, September 13, 2013

GWMS Art Studio

Week 3

The students were excited to paint with watercolors earlier this week.  They especially loved learning different techniques, such as resist and sprinkling salt on to the wet paint.

After talking about the color wheel and how to mix colors we switched to tempera paint.  They really enjoyed mixing the paint on their palette to create "new" colors.

The printmaking center was also added this week.  The students had a chance to make monoprints as well as styrofoam relief prints.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 2

Week 2 in GWMS Art Studio:  We created a lot of art in the drawing and collage centers!  This was exceptional, as we only had a four day week with the Labor Day Holiday.

The painting and printmaking centers will open this week.  I can't wait to see the creativity the students bring to these new centers.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Welcome! Bienvenido!

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!

We are off to a great start in the GWMS Art Studio.  The students have been introduced to the drawing center and have completed a warm-up project.  We did a scribble design and they had to find shapes and/or images to highlight.  The following day they decorated the covers of their sketchbooks utilizing all of the various material in the drawing center.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

George Washington Middle School

I am so excited to start this school year at George Washington Middle School.  I will be teaching art for grades  6, 7 and 8 following the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) pedagogy.  To learn more about TAB, click here.

The classroom set-up is coming along.  Just a few more days before school begins!

I teach with the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) philosophy which encourages 21st century skills.  Along with creativity and problem solving skills, TAB emphasizes life and career skills.  This method allows  for flexibility as students come to class with their ideas, interact with varied resources in the art studio and discover new things everyday.  Students learn about initiative and self-direction because the students are responsible for coming to class with a plan, setting up their own materials, engaging in art making, and cleaning up their materials at the end of class.  Social and cross-cultural skills are exhibited as students work with friends and classmates.  They can collaborate or work side-by-side.  They will learn to negotiate, as they share materials.  Peers can teach each other.  Students will learn how to discuss their artwork with classmates.  Productivity and accountability are important in the art studio.  Learners will show what they know as they work independently or with a peer in the art studio.  They will be held accountable for their progress during their seven week art rotation.  Students will grow as they take on more leadership and responsibility.  As the teacher, I design the learning environment and the students are responsible for maintaining it.  Those that show proficiency with a material will be asked to share their knowledge with peers.  Students will also have opportunities to help with setting up new studio centers, assisting with organization and curating for art shows.

Learning skills adapted from Teaching for Artistic Behavior (

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First Grade Inventor's Workshop

First Grade Inventor's Workshop

School is winding down, but there is still time for a lot more fun and learning.  I saw a post on the Imagination Tree site about a play dough inventor's workshop.  I thought it would be a great activity to do with the class, as did Ms. Cairns.  She sent an email to the parents to send in odds and ends, and I made a GIANT batch of play dough (eleven cups of flour!).  What resulted was a creative explosion and some fabulous team work!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Break Art Camp

In the workshop

Woodland Storybook Camp at the Little Bits Workshop, day 2

After our inspiring day in the woods, it was time to get writing!  The kids worked hard developing a story with woodland characters.  After their stories were written they used colored pencils to illustrate their pages.

The kids were so proud of their books!  I loved reading their stories with them.

Art and literacy
Colored pencil illustration
Hand written pages

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Break Art Camp

Woodland Storybook Camp at the Little Bits Workshop

Helping out at the workshop is always such a blast.  Liita comes up with magical activities for the kids that get their creativity flowing!

While we all wish it was warmer here, we still enjoyed a hike into Thatcher Woods.  We were on a mission to identify places that fairies might live and to pick up items that could be used to build fairy houses back at the workshop.

Time for a story
Home for a fairy?
Fairy hiding spot
Hunting for moss

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Week 10

This was the last class of our session.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with this group of kids and I hope I was able to get them to think about art in new and different ways.  I saw a quote today that sums up how I feel. "Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else."

The pedagogy of Teaching for Artistic Behavior supports kids in finding their creative voice in an authentic learning environment.

I promised the class that I would not speak to the whole group which would allow more time to work.  I almost kept my promise.  I read the book "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" by Maya Angelou and artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat.  The book expresses courage, which I think all of the students have shown in the way they have opened up and shared their artwork with each other.  I also read this book because Basquiat's art is so vibrant and child-like; I knew it would appeal to these kids.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Art Class Week 9

Following the interest level of the class, I decided to continue talking about pop art and tie it in with the kids' love of cartooning.  I showed the class images created by Roy Lichtenstein.

Roy Lichtenstein "Maybe"
Roy Lichtenstein "Mickey"

A few of the students were fortunate to see the Lichtenstein exhibit at the Art Institute over the summer.  We had a great conversation about the way Lichtenstein elevated cartooning to "high" art.  We also discussed his use of ben-day dots to mimic old printing techniques.

After my five minutes of talking, the class set off to work.  Some of them went straight to cartooning, while others explored their own ideas.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Art Class Week 8

Love is in the air!  Our class this week was on Valentines Day.  I chose three pop artists for us to explore.  These three artists, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine, all used hearts in their artwork.  We discussed what "pop art" means and how a simple heart, mass produced in popular culture, can be elevated to "high art".

It was interesting to discuss Andy Warhol's heart print with the class.  Our conversation diverged into careers that an artist can have, such as scientific illustrator.

"Graffiti Heart" Keith Haring
Heart print - Andy Warhol
Heart print - Jim Dine

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Art Class Week 7

I continued our discussion about collage from the previous week.  I decided to show some examples that used simple materials that we have plenty of in our art centers.

We looked at works by Romare Bearden.  Most of the students in the class play instruments and the music theme was one of the first things the students noticed about Bearden's work.

"Three Folk Musicians" Romare Bearden

While looking for collage examples, I found the artist Denise Fiedler.  I really like her simple collages that utilize old pages of text. 

"Lion" Denise Fiedler

As happens every week, a few of the students are interested in pursuing a project based on the "five minute discussion" and others are motivated by their own ideas.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Art Class Week 6

While reflecting on the work that has been created the past five weeks, I realized the students had not spent much time in the collage center.  I decided to focus on collage for the "idea of the week" and shared a variety of images with the class.  We talked about what the word "collage" means and how Pablo Picasso is credited with making the first modern collage.

We also discussed the surrealists and the ways that they used collage.  I read part of a document from the Dali Museum that can be found here:

Two other artists we looked at were Henri Matisse and his paper cut-outs and Jen Stark and her paper sculptures.

Henri Matisse-  The Horse, The Rider, and the Clown

Jen Stark - Microscopic Entrance

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Art Class Week 5

Choice Based Art

This week we continued our conversation about color.  I brought in two books to share with the class about the artist Niki de Saint Phalle - Niki de Saint Phalle: My Art, My Dreams and Niki's World.

We looked at Niki's use of bright colors and the child-like quality of her art.  Another reason I chose to explore her work with the class is that as an artist she worked in several different mediums.  Niki created drawings, paintings, sculptures, mosaics and more.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Choice Based Art

BASA Class Week 4

In the movie I have included photos of the work centers.  Because I am teaching in a cafeteria one afternoon a week, everything needs to be portable.  All items are labeled and placed inside a copy paper box.  The lid of each box displays the contents.  Each box also holds a binder that includes how-to information for that particular work center as well as ideas of what to do with the given materials.

Van Gogh "Night Cafe"

Van Gogh "The Cafe Terrace at Night"

This week we talked about color.  Specifically, we looked the color wheel and the relationship between colors.  We also talked about color schemes and how color can effect your mood.  The class seemed surprised when I pointed out that most fast food restaurants use a warm color scheme to make you feel excited and to make you eat faster.

We talked about Van Gogh's "Night Cafe" with its warm colors and compared it to how we feel looking at Van Gogh"s cool night-blue sky and warmly lit cafe in "The Cafe Terrace at Night".

I am impressed each week with the energy and creativity that the kids bring to the class.  I will work toward putting photo examples of their work in the corresponding binders for future classes to see.