Thursday, November 28, 2013

Using Social Media: December's Stepping Stones

Social media in the art class is a very tricky thing to work with.  There are plenty of positives, such as promoting your curriculum, promoting the school, and meeting others in your field.  You can use Facebook for sharing project ideas with art teacher groups, Twitter to share links and photos of projects and art education articles, Google + for hangouts with artists, and much more!

On the negative side, you need to be extremely careful about sharing students' photos and works of art publicly.  Many parents would be extremely upset if you shared a photo with their child that they were not aware of.  Social media is a tool that requires heavy responsibility, which could cost you your job if misused.

What do I have to do to protect myself and my students?

But as said in the Spiderman movie, With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.  Before taking any action of promoting your program in your room or on a cart, take the steps to protect yourself and your students. 

In the beginning of the school year, parents sign forms to approve or deny any video or photography of their children for school events or local papers.  In my schools, once we gather all the forms, we have a list of students who can or cannot be photographed during that school year.

With that said, you can begin documenting (but be careful of adding student names).  Take every precaution in protecting the student's full identity. 

During open house, inform parents that you photograph as well to promote the art program.  Be open with the parents.  If need be, send out a second form for yourself to inform parents of your intentions.  Tell them of any sources you may post, such as Artsonia, your blog, Twitter, or even your website.  If you present at conferences, even discuss how photos are used to share projects and curriculum with colleagues to improve professional development.

In December's issue of Arts and Activities, I focus on the pros and cons or using social media in the art room.  Since I am elementary based, I focus more on teacher usage, although I have heard of high schools using it for students as well.

Click for the article in Stepping Stones: Using Social Media, or more my original post in Tales From the Traveling Art Teacher!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DeBuffet Sculptures with 6th Grade

Jean DeBuffet (1905-1985) was a French paintor and sculptor known for his childish style of artistry known as "Art Brut" (pronounced br-oot).  Art Brut is a style which shows frustratng energy in it's execution, and DeBuffet defined that in his form and materials.
For my project, I wanted to incorporate found object materials, and yes...I did create this project on a cart going from room to room.

-Wire Hangers
-Pantyhose Socks (I found these at Walgreens for .99 a pair, which is the cheapest I've found them)
-Styrofoam Blocks
-Tempura Paint
-Water and Water Bowls
Gather all the materials for the project!  Have students collect wire hangers, parents even donate the styrofoam, but I purchased all the pantyhose socks.
Day 1 is for the PowerPoint, construction and gesso.  I shared images of DeBuffet's work, and explained how the students are to create their own sculptures using the provided materials.  The styrofoam block is to be the base, the wire hangers can be formed any way they wish, and the pantyhose placed over the entire sculpture (starting from the top and ending under the base).  There will be leftver of the pantyhose socks at the bottom, so trim off the leftovers.  Also make sure the students write their names on the bottom of the base, either with black marker or on a piece of tape!  Once covered, have students paint gesso over the entire sculpture, leaving the bottom unpainted.  Make sure you have newspaper for this step because it will get messy, especially if you're working on the students' desks.
Day 2 is for first step of painting.  If students do not finish their gesso step, they need to complete the step and let it dry before proceeding to the colored paint.  I instructed students to paint black lines around the sculpture to create sections for paint schemes and patterns. 
Day 3 was for the addition of colored paint to the sculptures, creating patterns, color fills, and completion of project.
For storage containers (to store projects during the week), I use large flat plastic bins and store projects up high in the classroom.  This project can be done on a cart if you communicate with the homeroom teacher and custodian for storage!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner with 1st Grade

Doris Lee’s painting of women preparing a Thanksgiving feast made headlines when it was first exhibited at the Art Institute in 1935 and won the Logan Purchase Prize. The folk themes of Thanksgiving, rural customs, and family life had great appeal to a country still in the midst of the Depression in the 1930s.

I like to share this image with my 1st grade students to identify elements of Thanksgiving: family working together to create the meal, the amount of work each family member puts in for the evening, and where the feast is prepared.  Students love to see the little details, like the cat playing with the little girl and the babies in the high chair.

After discussing the image, I like to talk about how we sit together at Thanksgiving dinner, and what food we traditionally serve in our families.  For the project, I have students draw their Thanksgiving dinner table surrounded by 
their family.       


-9 x 12 in. white paper
-black markers for tracing
-colored pencils or crayons
-12 x 14 in. colored paper for frame
-roll of masking tape to trace dinner table circle

The students will create an aerial view of their Thanksgiving dinner.  This project takes 2 40-minute class periods.  The first day is to discuss the image and how to create the picture.  Demonstrate to the students how to draw food on the table (the right size), and people surrounding the table.  

Watch their work!  Many times, even after explaining how to draw people around the table, I still have students drawing their people on one side of the table like this:

Once the pictures are drawn, have students trace in black markers.  On day 2, have students finish tracing, coloring in their entire picture, and framing with the 12 x 14  colored paper.

                                                                                          Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Do You Measure Student Growth in Art?

With the induction of the Language Arts and Math common core standards and the revamp of teacher evaluations, many districts are pushing harder for evidence of growth in all learning areas, and how other subject areas are infusing common core into their lessons. In Illinois, state law is requiring school districts to create and implement performance evaluation systems to measure teachers’ skills while factoring in student academic growth (about 30-50% of a teacher's evaluation score). Yes, that includes all teachers, including art, music, physical education, drama, and any educator that works with students in the public school system.  The use of goals and tests to measure growth and tying it to a teacher's evaluation has been a delicate topic among educators.

These recent changes have been a challenge for many teachers who already have a load on themselves, especially while traveling or working with a lack of space.  While general classroom teacher can have 20-40 students in their classroom, art teachers have over 800+ students they teach.  It would be nearly impossible to evaluate the growth of that many students and gather data forms throughout the entire school year, on top of project prepping, lessons, and other duties art teachers perform within their buildings.  And what if you have a high transient rate?  Stay calm and teach art.  

So with the already heavy workload many of us have, why do this?

According to author Susan Riley (founder and President of Education Closet):

As an arts teacher, you know what skills and concepts your students struggle with year in and year out.  This is our chance to identify these areas and focus on them with intensity over a long period of time.  It’s also our chance as educators to identify areas where we would like to grow and request professional development or other resources to help support our goals.

Susan further explains:

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) have the potential to be a way to advocate for your program and to provide a frame for having meaningful conversations about student growth.  As arts teachers, we use performance tasks, formative assessments, and a lot of professional judgment to help our students grow in their capacity to make art and participate in the artistic process.  SLOs simply provide a context to showcase this work to others who may not understand what we do each and every day.

So how can we measure student growth in art?

1. Find out if you need to create a series of goals for each student, or for a specific group of students.  Knowing the amount of students you will measure will determine the complexity of the goals you set.  For example, if you need to set objectives for your entire amount of classes, decide on an attainable goal, such as meeting the project objectives set in place.  If you are asked to monitor a small group of students for growth, consider specific goals related to each individual learning style.

2. Determine the length of time you need to measure.  Is it a full year?  a few month span?  Knowing your length of time can also be a determining factor in planning your objectives.

3. Create your objectives, no matter what the name may be: Student Growth Objectives (SGOs), Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), or SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals are more common names, depending on your district.  The first point is to find out what it is you are measuring in your art class.  Are you wanting to measure students' drawing skills over time?  Identification of elements of art?  Whatever goal you set, make sure it's relevant to your curriculum.  

4. Make a form to track your data.  Depending on the goals you set, you can use excel sheets, data tables, or even consider a portfolio!  Did you know that one of the visual arts standards currently being developed by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (CCAS) is focused on presentation, which includes portfolios of work?  If you check out the NCCAS website, you'll see that the standards are currently in progress and are due for release in Spring 2014!

If you're confused about where to start, consider some options to learn more about this process.  

Option #1: The Art of Education is offering and online class in January 2014 called Showing Student Growth in Art.

Option #2: Read up on blogs that offer guidance.  The Americans for the Arts Artsblog contains plenty of articles related to student growth in art and common core connections.

Option #3: Reach out to your PLN (professional learning network) on social media.  Ask other art educators what they do, what works, and what doesn't.

As I enter into this new territory as well, I will share my experiences in the process.  Are you using goals to measure students growth?  Please share your experience!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Getting Back Into the Groove

I just started back at work this week since my maternity leave has ended, and all I can say is..oh my.  I am off my game.  That's what happens when you rock a baby in your arms for 12 weeks!

I'm grateful that my students had a sub that made it through the entire time.  I'm happy the room is set up, the students had created some amazing work, and the grades were entered in for the first quarter.  Awesome.

It's amazing how much things can change from one year to the next though.  There's new meetings, PDs, pacing guides, common core alignment, and much more that now needs to be juggled with the traveling and additional duties.  From what I have been seeing in many teacher-based groups and social media, this is becoming the norm.  If you're reading this, please share your comments on how you are handling any recent changes in your situation (if any).  I would like to see if this is happening nationwide.

Once I'm back on track, I'm hoping to get at least 1-2 posts a week in, especially with so many new ideas to share.  I've been inspired by many recent articles happening in the art world, so I'll be trying out some new project ideas while traveling between my two schools.

Hang in there, readers.  I'm incredibly thankful to have you.


Your Fellow Traveling Art Teacher