Sunday, August 25, 2013

New Year...New Children's Art Gallery!

I am so excited about the new look in our Children's Art Gallery! There is a long hallway connecting the old wing of our building to the newer wing, fondly referred to by most of us as "the ramp" because it slopes downward due to the a change in the elevation of the building site. Over ten years ago, some student artwork was professionally framed and hung on the walls of this hallway, along with two large bulletin boards. The boards change constantly, but the artwork has remained the same for all these years. Don't get me wrong, the artwork is excellent, but those students long ago moved on and are now adults, some possibly even with children of their own!

Last spring, while on Amazon looking for frames for my own home, I came across some fantastic cabinet-style frames with built-in mats. Perfect for a school, I thought! Fortunately, my principal agreed and told me to go ahead and order a sample in each size. They arrived in late May and we knew they were perfect! She found the funds to purchase 22 more, so we now have a total of 27 frames in several different sizes. At the end of last year, I chose some student work for the first exhibit of our new Children's Art Gallery. The week before school started, two members of our maintenance staff, Mike and Suzanne, graciously took the time to mount all the frames to the walls of the new gallery. Suzanne even did the beautiful stenciling above the entrance to the gallery!

The entrance to our gallery

One of the best things about these new frames is the way they can be reused over and over again, making them well-worth the initial expense. Some like the one below, have corkboard backing, which is perfect for canvas panels, relief work, and weavings.

My plan is to change the art gallery display every quarter, giving more students a chance to have a special place for their work to be displayed. When the work is removed, it will be returned to the student artist, along with a certificate to commemorate the honor.
If anyone is interested in having similar frames, these can be purchased from Dynamic Frames. I chose frames to hold 18x24", 12x18", 12x12", and 9x12" paper because those are the sizes I use the most in the art room. Most of the frames come in black, white, or cherry finishes.
At our Meet the Teachers Open House last Sunday, so many parents and students commented on how much they liked the "new look" in our Children's Art Gallery and I must say, I agree!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Look closely...this won't last long!

Yesterday we welcomed our students back at the annual "Meet the Teachers" open house. After working for two weeks to get my room ready for a new school year, I have to admit I was quite proud of the results after all the effort. So, I decided to get out my camera and take a few photographs to remind myself of how it once looked...before the paint...before the clay...before the collage paper clippings...before muddy shoes after recess...before my spotless, shining room becomes a living, lively classroom art studio once again!

I can see the top of my desk. That won't last long!

My work station aka desk extender

Look at that shiny floor!

Ready and waiting

Fresh red "order border" by the sinks
Wow! I can almost see my face in it!

Muse Machine Arts Club bulletin board
Bye bye, clean room! See you Tuesday morning!

Leibster Award

Just before I left for a vacation with friends, I discovered at I had been nominated for the Liebster Award for new blogs. Although flattered, I am a natural skeptic, so of course, I had to check it out! It turns out that I was "found" by fellow blogger Lori who blogs about Life in Room 24. The Leibster Award is a way for new, up and coming bloggers to be recognized by their peers, sort of a pay it forward plan for bloggers.

1. Thanks for the pat on the back to Lori @Life in Room 24...I appreciate the recognition and encouragement!
2. Here a my answers to the questions posed by Lori:
      1. What three "must haves" are in your possession when you travel? My camera because there are always great photo opps that can become new art projects, my iPad to stay in touch with friends and family, and packets of Starbucks instant coffee in case I'm staying somewhere without Starbucks nearby...heaven forbid!
       2. What reality TV show would you like to be on? Project Runway, even though I have very little sewing experience and absolutely no idea how to create clothing from scratch! 
       3. What piece of advice would you give a first year teacher? Take care of yourself...get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and get some exercise every day. You can't be your best self unless you stay emotionally and physically healthy.
       4. If your life had a theme song, what would it be? Daydream Believer, because I am one!
       5. Who was your favorite elementary teacher and why? I don't remember much about elementary school, but I LOVED my high school art and college prep English teachers. Both of them encouraged me to think and work outside the box and pushed me to excel.
       6. You find a Genie's lamp. What are your three wishes? To live to see my grandsons grow to adulthood, to retire before I'm too old to enjoy it, to see the Sistine Chapel and marvel at Michelangelo's talent.
        7. Who has had the biggest influence on who you are as a teacher? I can't say it is a single person. I have been blessed to have friends and colleagues who are amazing teachers and who have a talent for bringing out the best in everyone they work with.
        8. Which room in your house is your favorite? My newly remodeled kitchen...with the dishwasher I never had in 37 years of home ownership.
        9. Which would you rather do: sit on the beach or hike in the mountains? Hike on the beach at sunset.
        10. Describe yourself in just three words. Creative, determined, successful
        11. Assuming you had time for a new hobby, what would it be? Playing the piano..I never had the opportunity to take music lessons as a kid and wish I had.

3. Here are 11 random facts about myself:
 1. I have been at the same school since 1977.
 2. I leave my driveway to go to school and never have to turn a corner until I arrive at the school. My house and my school are on the same road, about five miles apart.
3. I have been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, and now art teacher, all at the same school.
4. I am the oldest of eight children, but I only have one daughter.
5. I can't carry a tune in a bag, so I only sing in the car when I'm driving by myself. 
6. I talk out loud when working by myself, which can really throw off a student who enters my room during a planning period!
7. I like to cook and often experiment with recipes to make them my own. Not always with stellar results!
8. When I retire, I want a beach house on Lake Ontario for the summer and one on the Gulf of Mexico for the winter.
9. I think "grandma" sounds old, so my grandsons call me "Mimi".
10. I have been married to their "Papa" for 40 years.
11. We have been living in our "starter home" for 36 years...see why I want a beach house?
4. In return, I am nominating the following five bloggers for the Liebster Award:
      Blessings of a Teacher by Paulina Tawii, a grade 5 teacher who loves literature and writing as much as I do.
      Techie Teacher Thoughts by Eva Harwell because I am always looking for new tech tips from people who know more than I do, which is pretty much everyone!
       Art Lesson Launchpad for the great photo illustrations of projects.
       Pipe Cleaners, Paper Cuts and Picasso with Stephanie Cline who has some awesome art projects going on!
       Dream, Pray, Create by Andrea Ellwood, an eclectic mix of career, art, and faith. Andrea has been blogging since 2010 and deserves a shout out!
5. Here are my questions for my Liebster Award nominees:
1. Who is your favorite artist from the past and why?
2. If you could live at any time in history, what era would you choose?
3. What technology device would you hate to give up most?
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to be?
5. What is your favorite memory from your life at the age of the students you teach?
6. What is the last movie you saw in an actual movie theater?
7. If you were a game show host, what show would you emcee?
8. Chili with meat or chili with beans?
9. What is the color of your favorite room in your house?
10. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
11. What is your superpower when you aren't teaching?

Check out a few of these blogs! There are so many amazing teachers out there and the school year is just beginning for many of us. I hope yours is a good one!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Common Core Connections...

Although the specifics of the Common Core are still a little hazy to me, and I have a lot to learn yet, making connections to literacy seems to be a huge part of the Language Arts curriculum. Last school year, my students and I experimented with a few apps that lend themselves to story creation. Here are two that were a particular success.

iPad Screenshot 1

PuppetPals HD
This app was a HUGE hit with my fourth grade students and with a few sixth grade art club students who tried it out at some of our club meetings. However, we did have to purchase the paid version in order to fully utilize the app for story-telling because the free version has only a limited number of characters and stage settings to use. With the paid version, not only were more characters and settings provided, students were also able to incorporate their own iPad photographs of people and scenery to create an unlimited number of other creative options. At $2.99, this is a pricy app unless you have a school quantity discount, but the students' enthusiasm made it worth the cost. This is an app that I will definitely be using this coming year!

HalfTone is another app that my older students really enjoyed using. Last year we didn't get into using it for storytelling, but the comic strip format lends itself well to this task. And at only $.99, it's a bargain, too. I love the combination of photography and simple storytelling and I know my students will have fun with this one.

Now I'm looking for suggestions for movie making apps that we can use in the art room this fall. What apps have you found that are particularly easy for elementary students to learn and use successfully?