Monday, August 29, 2016

Mapping Out Your Teaching Environment: September's Stepping Stones

This school year marks a first for meIm in my own classroom with a sink!  It may not sound like that big of a deal, but many art educators struggle to find all the resources needed for their projects in their curriculum when they’re in alternate teaching spaces.  Here’s a few things to check off your list when setting up your space!

Find your water source.  If youre one of the lucky art teachers who have a room with a sink, you’re golden!  Many of us do need to search other avenues to supply the element that cleans our paintbrushes.  If youre working from a room without a sink, I recommend finding the closest water source. When I was on a cart, I surveyed the closest bathrooms, found the classrooms with the sinks, and carried 5 gallon jugs from room to room.

Find your electricity. If you push a cart from room to room and you need the projector or laptop, you need the outlets.  Before starting the school year, I would walk through all the rooms I pushed a cart into and surveyed the space.  If youre in your own classroom, set up your projection or computer station that is convenient for you.

Find your storage. If youre on the cart, you can get creative with your storage.  If you have a closet, plan a space to store your students flat projects in labeled portfolios (or folders) that are easy to change out.  I recommend labeling boxes and bins to make it easier to find the materials you need to load the cart or switch out throughout the day.  If youre in your classroom, figure out a space that you can store projects.  I use metal file holders to hold folders of student 2-dimensional artworks and bins for the 3-dimensional sculptures.  If you struggle to find space on the cart, talk with the classroom teachers to see if there can be a space above cabinets and out of the way of their instruction time.

Find your display space.  Some schools have a dedicated space for art teachers to display, while others think outside of the box.   In the past, I would set up a length of long paper on the wall and tape projects to it that can be changed out.  A colleague of mine uses string and clothespins to hang the artworks, which makes it so much easier to change out.  You also need to find display space in your classes to show project examples.  If youre on the cart, check the boards in the rooms.  I recommend getting your own magnets and labeling them.  Even if you forget them in the rooms, students will still make sure they get back to you!

Find your method of organization.  Being an art teacher means we are masters of organizing chaos.  We have multiple classes, students with different accommodations, material adaptations, and more.  Every teacher I know has their own method of organization that works for them.   If you have a classroom, create seating charts, even if you have 20+ classes a week.  Make sure those charts are written in pencil in case you need to move anyone around throughout the year.  Do you have a list of IEPs?  Organize your paperwork in files and make sure to highlight the adaptations you need to provide for your students.  If you’re on the cart, get yourself a file system that works for your space.  I had a small plastic file container that held all my paperwork in the space I had, which could also travel with me on the cart if I needed to!

Find your privacy.  Every teacher deserves his or her own space, which I refer to as your desk! If you are on a cart and do not have your own desk, I highly recommend you ask for one.  Having your own space provides you with the comfort of having a place within the school to plan, plus, it’s much easier to do all the work you need to accomplish before and after your classes!  If you have a classroom, it’s your choice where you position your desk space.  Find what works best for you, but remember to take the time to sit and take a breather even for a few minutes during your time!

Find your creativity.  Throughout the school year, you may go through lulls with your lessons, even if you pre-plan your curriculum.  Most of you are aware of Pinterest supplying many pinned lessons created by art educator bloggers, but do not hesitate to turn to social media for ideas!  There’s so many different ways to achieve the objectives of your lessons, but don’t lose your creative spark in teaching your lessons! I hope you have a wonderful school year, and let your students’ creativity shine!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The "No-No" and "Yes-Yes" Boards

5 years ago, I was inspired by fellow art educator, Ted Edinger (author of Art with Mr. E) to do a "no-no" board in my classrooms at both schools I worked at.  I immediately found the board to be positively effective as students would correct themselves from their corner suns and lollipop trees.  I would hear them say on the side, "Don't do that, it's on the no-no board!"  and I would chuckle.

The No-No Board

The reason why I wanted the no-no board is because even though I want my students to be as creative as they can, my students needed a form of structure within the subjects they use in their artwork.  Too often in my first year of teaching I would see the corner suns, blue lines for skies, and full blank spaces in their artwork.  The no-no board had prompted my students to think about the space they work with and push themselves a little harder.  I have noticed a HUGE difference in their effort and projects have improved over time.  I especially like how students check with me to see their progress!  We are not a TAB classroom and we very rarely do "cookie-cutter" projects, but with the parameters set, the students took off with their creativity.

I have also been asked about my kindergarten students at their developmental levels.  I do not strictly enforce this board in the beginning of the school year because many of my students come in at scribble stage.  I instead focus more on fine motor before pushing their limits.  Mid-year, I have my kindergarten students create a self-portrait for measuring their growth in my class, and from that moment on, I start to introduce the "no-no" board throughout the next year.  By 6th grade, they know it by heart.

Here are the boxes I have within my no-no board:

-No corner suns
-No stick figures
-No stick objects
-No floating objects
-No wasted space
-No blue lines for the sky
-No messy coloring
-No violence (I make an exception with certain weapons, like swords or bows, as long as they are not portrayed in a violent manner)
-No paper airplanes (I despise seeing a paper airplane flying across my room.  They can make it, they can decorate it, they cannot fly it unless they are outside.)

The Yes-Yes Board

This week, I could not sleep a wink.  I moved into a new classroom (with a sink!!!!!), and there was so much to do.  After my first day of setting up, I put up the main board in my classroom, bordered it in half, and set up the no-no side.  I was stuck on the blank side and decided to ponder the possibilities.  Around 2 in the morning, the lightbulb went off in my head to do an opposite "yes-yes" board.  While one side shared what habits we dampered, the other side of the board shared habits to promote.  I had a 6th grade helper the day I set this board up and we both were very pleased with the results!  Some of the squares reflect the opposite of what's on the no-no side, while others help to promote creative thinking.

Here are the boxes I have within the "yes-yes" board:

-Use your shapes
-Color your sky
-Use perspective
-Fill your space with art
-Add details
-Find your inspiration
-Use your imagination
-Express yourself in the best way

I am still thinking of more squares for the yes-yes board!  What would you add?