Monday, March 30, 2015

Paint Instruction Without the Sink: April's Stepping Stones

For April's Stepping Stones in Arts & Activities Magazine, I focused on how to deliver paint instruction without the use of a sink.

Not every art teacher has a comfortable environment to deliver his or her art instruction.  Many teachers travel from room to room, school to school, set up a temporary space and pack their supplies in car trunks or mobile carts.  With painting being a key material to teach in a visual art curriculum, many teachers learn ways to adapt to their situation.

In my situation, I have a room, but no sink. Although I’ve been teaching for a number of years, this is my first year in this environment and I am quickly learning to adapt to the situation, even in emergencies.  In my years of teaching from a cart and traveling to different schools, I’ve learned that many times instruction does not always go as planned, so we must be flexible and understanding.

No matter what your situation may be, here’s a few tips to help with painting instruction in most teaching environments. 

Art on a Cart: In the past, I would push a cart from room to room.  Although the situation was not ideal, I refused to take paint out of my curriculum simply because of inconvenience.  Since storage was an issue, I used paper plates as palettes and recycled butter containers as water bowls.  When I developed a better method of storage, I started using plastic cups with lids to store my paint and prevent waste.  If a room had a sink, I asked students to fill the water bowls to a line I drew on the bowl and gave them the responsibility to pass the water out.  If the room did not have a sink, I needed to adapt.  If you have space within a cart you’re pushing, consider a water jug with a spout for quick refills, and an empty bucket for dirty water.  With a lack of storage space, I had collected 5 gallon plastic jugs with handles to fill with clean water.  At the end of each class, I would have students take the dirty water buckets to the bathroom to dump in the sink. 

School to School: If you travel from school to school, you may have carts or classrooms.  I would highly recommend keeping your paint supplies at each school, and making sure you have a space to keep the supplies without worry of them disappearing when you’re not there.  Make sure you communicate with your administration about the importance of your co-workers leaving your materials alone when you’re not there.  So many times educators feel they can use the materials because it’s school property, when in fact, art teachers not only purchase consumable materials from their own funds, but order just enough for their own classes.

Classroom Without the Sink: Since I am new to this situation, I would like to share what I have done to work with what I have.  One way to keep water in the room was to purchase a portable sink.  The sink holds a 10 gallon bucket of water to run through, and another bucket to dump out at the end of the day.  As nice as this is to have, I learned quickly that it does not last for more than two painting classes.  Have a table or cart set aside to hold a water jug or buckets of water, as well as a bucket for dirty water and brushes.  Become acquainted with the layout of the school and find any water closets or bathrooms that are close by for refills.  In my case, I have a water closet a few doors down that I use to refill buckets in the morning and wash brushes in the afternoon.  I have also assigned classroom helpers in each class to help in refilling the buckets and dumping the dirty water if needed.  For spills, I asked for donations of paper towels from the parents and staff.  Hand washing is done with sponges that I keep in the room that are pre-soaked.  In any case, being prepared helped in preventing many painting catastrophes. 

Mobile Instruction: Some mobile units have sinks while others do not.  In these cases, I would use the water jug with spout for faster distribution of water for paint projects.  Find your closest water source (ex. hose, nearby bathroom, or water closet).  If you’re in an outside unit and you have worry of the carrying of water buckets in colder climates, communicate with your custodial staff on how water is needed in your situations.

With any situation where you deliver your instruction, keep open communication with your administration, co-workers, and custodial staff on your needs for your teaching.  Painting can be fun, but in some circumstances very challenging to instruct.  Just be flexible, understanding, and open to new possibilities with your paint projects!

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Follow the 2015 NAEA NOLA Convention from Home

The NAEA 2015 convention will be taking place this year in New Orleans, Louisiana from March 26-28. Alas, this is my second year in a row missing the national convention due to finances.  I, like many of you, will be continuing our daily routines while thousands of lucky art educators attend this amazing convention.  Did you know that Tim Gunn will be there?  Yeah…jealous!!!

Even though we're stuck at home, there are still many ways to keep up with the national convention.  Thanks to the awesome superpowers of social media, live streaming, and online resources, we can keep up with our professional development the best way we can!  These links are not to make us jealous, but to offer any resource we could use for our own professional growth.

#1 Twitter

If you follow #NAEA15 on twitter, you can see all the posts from the many art teachers attending the conference.  They will be adding photos, details, and online links to help followers catch a glimpse of what will be happening during the convention and what they have learned from their experiences.  There will even be a "Tweet-Up," where you can see the fellow tweeters in this year's shirt design of a fleur de lis as a paint palette.  Here's one of the awesome shirt designs:

The #artsed #PLN always create the most amazing Lego displays to hype everyone up for the conference!  Here's this year's display created by member Stacy Lord!

#2 Watch for Articles from the Art of Education

The Art of Ed will be in New Orleans!  They will be posting articles with the sights and sounds throughout the convention on their site.  Please visit The Art of Education to view their updates!

#3 Download the NAEA New Orleans 2015 App for Your Phone

So you can't go to the convention, but did you know that many presenters will have their resources and handouts uploaded in the app?  Just go ahead and download it from your app store or google play to view what resources are available!

#4 Instagram

Like Twitter, there will be many instagram followers posting their pictures of the convention.  Just use the #NAEAELEM if you are part of the elementary division to follow many photos that will be taken!

#5 Follow the #NAEA15 Tagboard

NAEA's tagboard is the quickest way to gather all the #NAEA15 tags from different sites.  Just go to to view all the posts and follow what's happening!

If you're staying home this year and you know other ways to stay involved from the comforts of your computer, let me know how you plan on following the convention!  Next year's convention will be in my home city of Chicago, so there's no way I'm missing that one!

To my #artsed friends, have fun in New Orleans!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Learning About Art Careers: Puzzle Designs with 3rd Grade

So I was poking through the art supply catalogs and came across the design-your-own puzzles in the craft section.  With the puzzles being such a simple project to make, I thought about how students could  tie the puzzle-making together with real life skills.  Then the lightbulb clicked on: How would students learn about jobs that require creative skills learned in the art room?  From there, I developed my lesson to include make-believe scenarios that reflect how artful creations could be sold by commission.

We pretending we were working for a graphic design company.  In our scenario, we were asked by Toys R Us to design puzzles to sell at their stores.  Toys R Us wanted to see multiple ideas for puzzle designs and asked our designers to explain why their puzzle designs would appeal to customers.

-5.5" x 8" compoz-a-puzzle
-5.5" x 8" white paper
-transfer paper (trimmed down to the 5.5" x 8")
-black marker
-colored markers 
-masking tape
-small ziploc baggies.

The students created a puzzle design that they felt customers would want to purchase.  They started with a concept design, then had their design approved by me before having it transferred to the puzzle template.  Once the puzzle was complete, the students write a pitch to "sell" their designs.

Here's the Plan:
Day 1: I introduced the scenario.  I explained to students how they needed to come up with an idea drawn out for a puzzle design, then have it approved by their boss (a.k.a. me).  Once student designs were approved, I attached their drawings to transfer paper and the puzzle (secured with two little pieces of tape) and asked the students to transfer their images by tracing their designs.

Day 2: Students continue to see me for approval of images.  Once the image was transferred to the puzzle, students re-traced their drawings n the puzzle with black marker, then used color markers to finish the design.

Day 3:  Students use the final day to complete the puzzles.  Once finish, they were asked to write out an explanation of their puzzle and why they thought customers would way to buy their design.  For the remainder of the class, the students teamed together to pitch their ideas to each other.  If students agreed to purchase their design, they were allowed to piece the puzzle together.  As nice as it would be to do trades, the students were quite possessive per their original designs!  Ziploc baggies were provided for the students' puzzles to be brought home securely since they had so many loose pieces.  Their descriptions were then used as artist statements on Artsonia!

There's so much we could do with this idea in the future!  Contact local toy stores to go along with our scenario?  Bring in a guest artist to explain how their company sells designs?  There's room to improve in the future!

Here are some finished examples along with their descriptions:

"My picture is a horse. I think customers would buy it because it is fun for children. So buy it for 4.99 plus tax!"

"I chose a panda because panda's are real and you can watch them play."

"It is a picture of the word ART. I think customers would buy this because people like art"

"My picture is a peacock. I think customers would want to buy my puzzle because they like birds."

"My picture is Feniken and Swiley and Pokeball from Pokemon. Customers would buy this because Pokemon is fun, colorful, and creative."

"My picture is Spongebob. I think customers are going to buy my puzzle because a lot of people like to watch Spongebob."

"My picture is super red (angry birds). Angry birds is so popular, so customers would buy this."

"This puzzle is Batman and his batmobile in Gotham City. I think that customers would like the details."