Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Preparing for NAEA's National Convention: March's Stepping Stones

I’m so excited for this year’s NAEA convention because it’s taking place in my home city!  My first convention was back in 2006 (which was also in Chicago), and my eyes were opened to a world of endless ideas for my classroom and curriculum!  Since then I’ve attended the event almost every year in other cities and have learned some tricks to navigating this amazing national convention.  I’d like to offer some tips in preparing for the national convention and visiting the city of Chicago.

1.     Be prepared for strange weather!  Chicago has been known for its odd weather patterns, so keep a close eye on the forecast!  Prepare to dress warm in case of strange pop-up snows in March, but hope for warmer sweater weather.  The lake front (which is close to the hotel) is the best place for morning jogs, especially near the museum campus!

2.     Don’t forget your walking shoes!  Even if you’re not a morning runner, the Art Institute of Chicago is walking distance from the hotel, and two miles straight north is the Museum of Contemporary Art.  There are plenty of artistic experiences to be had within Chicago, and plenty of ways to get to where you need to go!  There will also be shuttles available from the hotel to the convention center!

      Utilize the NAEA Chicago convention app!  When NAEA started using their convention apps a few years back, it was a huge help with planning out all the sessions I wanted to see by divisions, workshops, connections with friends, and super session speakers.  The app is available for your phones and ipads, and I highly recommend downloading it!  You can also use the app to write and store notes while attending presentations, which can be stored within the app.

4.     Make room in your luggage for the vendors!  A few times when I flew to attend a national convention, I packed a suitcase within a suitcase to bring back all the free samples and giveaways received.  I even remember a year when I shipped boxes back!  In other words, don’t over pack before you head to the conference!  Save some room for those samples and goodies you want to take back to your classroom!  The vendors consist of companies that supply your art materials, magazine subscriptions, art fundraisers, books and posters, and much more!  You can even order supplies while at the convention to be shipped to your school!

5.     Print labels with your address for raffles and giveaways!  Every year that I forget to print labels with my school address, I regret it.  The vendor area is like an art teacher’s toy store: you have multiple vendors with giveaways, mailing list sign-ups, and prizes.  Labels make it much easier for you to place a sticker and go instead of spending time hand writing your entire address and phone number. 

6.     Plan some time to visit the city of Chicago!  There’s plenty to do off site from the convention.  You will be close to plenty of museums, such as the Field Museum of Natural History (a great place to sit back and sketch), the Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium (all three museums known as the “museum campus”), to the Art Institute of Chicago, and even further down to the Museum of Contemporary Art.  There are also plenty of sculptures up and down the walking path of Lake Michigan, as well as cultural centers in Chinatown, Little Italy, and more.  Monuments by famous artists are located in Graceland Cemetery on the north side, and gallery districts lay all over the west and south side of the loop.  There are also plenty of architectural tours within the city and outskirts in Oak Park.  In other words, you will have plenty to do and see.

      Did you know there's a Van Gogh exhibit going on at the Art Institute of Chicago during the convention???!!!!

7.     Make a stop at the information booth!  The volunteer committee will be available to help direct you to where you need to go!  From local restaurants, workshop locations, cultural attractions, and more, members are around to help you with any assistance you need! 

8.     Attend the social media “meet-ups.” If you’re on Twitter (#artsed), Facebook (Art Teachers Group), or any other social media outlet, there will be plenty of meet-ups, brunches, and events around the convention.  Keep an eye out on your preferred social media network for extra gatherings to meet people face to face! 

If this is your first convention, I hope you have a wonderfully artistic experience!  There’s so much to do and see on and off site, you will leave will a head full of ideas and inspiration for your classroom, curriculum, and art department.  The convention is one of the best professional development opportunities available for art teachers!  Have fun and be inspired!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Children’s Book Series that Inspired Great Art Projects: February's Stepping Stones

Click here to view the entire article in Stepping Stones in the Arts and Activities magazine.

With the ELA common core standards, more art educators are attempting to incorporate literature within their curriculum.  From artist series to popular fictional characters, art teachers have tons of creative ways to promote visual literacy and help design lessons to include supplemental materials or project inspirations.  You can create a lesson from any book you pick up in your classroom, but since we’re visual artists, many of us like to focus on “art” specific topics.  You may find a story about “Uncle Andy’s Cats (inspired by Andy Warhol),” or read about artistic inspiration from “Bridget’s Beret.”  You could also use books to explain elements of art, such as “Mouse Paint” or “Lines That Wiggle.”  Among all the books I use, I like to refer to a few series I’ve collected for my art library in my classroom.

Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists:  This artist series (written and illustrated by Mike Venezia) is a wonderful one to use with the elementary level.  The pictures are bright and colorful, and the stories are very informative and to the point.  Students are able to learn about the artists’ place of origin, how they became artists, what famous works they made, and how the artist impacted the art world.  I like to use this book series when introducing an artist and his/her style of art.  There are currently over 30+ artists featured in the series.  If you go to the website www.gettingtoknow.com,  there is a list of artist books available, as well as teacher resources for specific artists!

Peter Reynold’s “Creatology” Series: Many schools celebrate “International Dot Day,” which is inspired by the book titled “The Dot,” which promotes students to “make their mark.”.  The 2nd and 3rd books, which are “Ish” and Sky Color,” explore more about keeping your eyes open to possibilities and having the freedom to express yourself.  When our school celebrated International Dot Day, I had each grade level (from K-6) create a “dot” to be displayed around the school.  There are numerous project ideas that you can find with a Google or Pinterest search, thanks to many art teachers who blogged their student creations.  Lesson ideas and resources can also be found at www.thedotclub.org, which is the site dedicated to International Dot Day.

Eric Carle’s Children’s Book Collection: Most children are familiar with the designed picture books written and illustrated by artist Eric Carle.  His most known work, “The Hungry Caterpillar,” has been translated into 62 languages and sold over 40+ million copies.  Eric Carle’s style of art is very recognizable. His style has inspired many Early Childhood and Kindergarten projects.  Eric’s themes of his stories revolve around his love for nature, which is an interest of most children at the primary grade level.  I’ve enjoyed working with “The Grouchy Ladybug” with my kindergarten students!  We’ve created paintings filled with ladybugs and different characters from the book, and it’s quite funny when a student attempts to draw the whale in the sky!

Scholastic’s stories written and illustrated by students: I love when we have Scholastic book fairs because I like to see what the next young author series may be.  It all started when I found the book “Van Gogh’s Cat” written by 2nd grade students from Muncie, Indiana.  Each page was an artwork created by each student in the class, while the story itself was written by the students!  The following year I picked up “September 12th,” which was written by 1st grade students after 9/11.  After reading these books over and over again to my students, I thought how interesting it would be to create artwork inspired by books written and illustrated by students at the same age!  In my second grade classes, I have students create their own masterpieces with a cat jumping, walking, or pouncing out of their paper, just like the 2nd grade students who wrote the book!  My students are always shocked to see that books made by other kids their age can make it in print.  And funny enough, there is another art-inspired Scholastic book in our fair this week called “Masterpiece” to add to my collection!

Artist Series by Laurence Anholt: While browsing through your school library, you may come across an artist story by the author Laurence Anholt.  There are currently 8 titles in the series with new stories being created.  Anholt’s stories are about real children who actually met great artists.  The material is based on actual research.  To learn more about this artist series, please visit www.anholt.co.uk.

Books can be a very essential part to your art curriculum, and this list is only a small handful of what you can use within your lessons.  I encourage you to explore what art-inspired books you can use within your classes!