It is so hard to hear my students say: I can't do it! I am not good at this! I hate this! and other negative language along those lines. I really wanted a way to encourage my middle schoolers to try, even though art maybe isn't their strongest or their favorite subject, it can still be fun and rewarding. I found this blog, which has a set of free printable PDFs to make your own of Growth Mindset Posters. I left off the math one she had in the PDF and typed up my own art version instead. It is a great bulletin board for the end of the year or beginning of the year.
Day 9 Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in Your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care)
Ah, the Vikings. I love teaching about how the Vikings mastered the sea, navigating vast expanses of open sea without compasses, satellites, or radio communications. Their skillfully crafted wooden ships could take them anywhere. This little Viking ship postcard is just one visual that belongs in a packet of images related to Celtic and Viking art.
It is amazing that I can successfully navigate the makeshift filing system of artifacts and visuals located in the below a little school house in my district. The storage room, to a few art teachers I work with, is known lovingly as THE BASEMENT. It is smelly, damp, buggy, and crammed with boxes, foam trays, egg cartons, posters, you name it, we probably have it in the basement. It doesn't have an electronic filing system and the selves aren't labeled with fancy shelf markers. Quite frankly, it is a haven for cockroaches, the Grand Budapest Hotel for those crunchy critters to hide in the cardboard and foam.
To access THE BASEMENT, one must first descend a treacherous staircase, arms loaded with boxes and packets and files. It is much better if you can experience this your first time when the stairs are icy. At the very least, you must visit when it is a 110 degrees, as you press your armload of supplies against yourself and fumble with the keys to unlock the padlock. When I go at night, I'm always afraid that the Basilisk from Harry Potter will pop out of that little drain in the ground while my hands are full and I am trying to unlock the lock. At the very least, I am afraid of a black snack, curled up in the leaves in the corner will slither over while I am trying enter the basement, and I will be too afraid of its little army of baby snakes hiding in the leaves to go into the storage room.
This room has not been cleaned for many years. Another teacher and myself, spent a couple of hours last spring hauling out piles of old boxes and dried up paint that had come to live amongst the clutter. As disorganized and chaotic as this looks to a layperson, I can assure you that Leslie and I can determine exactly where a little postcard of a Viking ship should reside, and we can file it the correct spot, in a matter of just a few seconds. Whenever we go to the basement, it is a quick IN and OUT sort of trip. Grab what you need and bolt.
This location is a great place to keep colored sand for sand painting, a box of old shoes for shoe printing, extra plastic buckets for making paper, shells, bubble wrap, all the junk that is helpful once in a while, but you just don't have room to store in a classroom. I can't imagine NOT having a place to put all of these big packets full of visuals and samples. When I traveled between schools, it was so nice having a neutral location for these things so that I didn't not have to wonder which school they were housed, they were at the basement.
To most people, this room probably just looks like a giant junk heap. But I can't imagine teaching art without access to all of the stuff that is stored down here. It might look completely unorganized, but once you learn the system, the room is filled with treasures (ahem, to an art teacher). And you might argue that this room is really Leslie's accomplishment, and I am just her little understudy in the basement of wonders, but I have my own little corner, filled with all kinds of great things too.
Where do you store all of your random supplies? Do you have to scavenge for every project or is there somewhere that you keep stuff like this?
Finally! Here is a peek at my new room. See the 'BEFORE' pictures HERE.
Open house was a huge success. Many of the 6th graders were like WOW, it is so clean in here! It is like a completely different room. They were blown away.
I also had several parents offer to volunteer....I've haven't had a lot of that before, but it is very exciting to have those eager parents who are so supportive right out of the gate!!
The black and white mural in the corner was already in the room when I moved in, so I am lucky to have it. A student who helped paint it stopped by with her brother and I got meet her and she wrote her name below it. Cool moment!
The tables were donated by a great friend, champion, and mentor Josie Mai. The shape and dimensions of the tables allowed me to really rearrange things in the space.
Most of the decor was given to me by students, like this awesome metal plaque above. LOVE THIS!!
Or found at garage sales and flea markets. The mona lisa curtain was found at a garage sale several years ago for $15!!
You might want to refer to the BEFORE photo here to see the transformation in this corner. Love how the beaded curtain is reflected in one of the mirrors. I've collected those mirrors at flea markets over the years.
I was very lucky to have the chance to get the district wood shop crew into the room over the summer to build the bookcase and the cabinets.
Love those Crystal 'Why We Teach Art' display cards. Perfect for finishing off a board!
If you are looking for FREE---COOL--COLOR--printable--CLASSROOM--signs, LOOK HERE.
To label my tables by color, I spray painted old paint cans, and then dripped paint down the sides. I used glow-in the dark paint, glitter paint, whatever. They are lightweight and look really cool hanging from the ceiling!
I'm excited for the year to start!
If you are ever at the middle school, stop by and visit!!
I've had a great run as a K-4 art teacher, but this year, I'm moving up to our 5th and 6th grade middle school position. I'm excited that all of my students will be able to read....I think it will be a game changer for expectations and learning, since I spent most of my days breaking down basic procedures, this will be a whole new way of experiencing teaching and education.
Part of the move means setting up the new space to make it conducive to learning. I've used the new classroom before, during summer school, and I'm sure I imagined what I would change to make the room better....so I finally had the opportunity to get in there this summer. Luckily, the timing was right and I was able to do several amazing things to improve the room.
In this post, I will show you the BEFORE photos of the room. These were taken during summer school. For the record, the class in the pictures was exceptionally small and did a good job of staying on task so I used them as my 'models'. Future classes in my new job will be MUCH bigger, up to 32 or 33 at times.
I had a lot of time to visualize the room before my furniture/books/supplies were moved on July 7th. I knew that some new tables were to be donated to replace the ones in the photos above, so I could reconfigure the layout a bit. I also knew I was bringing in my own, smaller teacher-desk and having some custom cabinets installed by the district.
So I used a really cool program called Floor Planner to map out the room. It was fun to create this 3-d map of the room before moving everything...it also helped me realize that I have more stuff (since I am moving 2 classrooms worth of stuff), than I needed for this room. It gives you a 2-d representation of the space, as well as a 3-d view to help with positioning and everything.
This classroom also has a storage closet, I'm really excited to have a place to put all the stuff that doesn't need to be visible, but needs to be available. The decor was pretty sparse...one optical illusion mural in the corner, a couple of posters, but not much else.
A lot of elementary teachers I have worked with, feel like every surface should be covered with something. Every visible wall space should be useable in some way, covered with posters, charts, classroom management materials, inspirational quotes. I'm working with a lot of white walls, what do you think? Is an elementary classroom with lots of stuff on the walls 'too busy' or is it necessary? Do you think too much stuff can be a distraction or do you think it helps with the creative process? Is it inspirational or a distraction?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!!
I'll post the AFTER pictures soon!!
Or you could stop by during open house Monday 5:30-7:00 and see for yourself. We will have a collaborative mural going, so you can even do a little painting while you are there.
Mindware has been sending me catalogs forever. My classroom had a few products for 'brainy kids' when I aquired it, but over the years, I have added to my collection of free-choice activities.
Last year, I asked my PTO to buy several new products from Mindware, around $150 worth of new things. The games I requested were a great investment, and will last many years. I am in the process of setting up art centers, at the end of last year I piloted it with one class and WOW! it changed my life. The additional games will help to keep the centers interesting and give a wide variety of options to students. Students were able to select an activity (after we completed one group project). These products are along side of traditional activities including play dough, crazy scissors, markers+coloring sheet, magazines+scissors, puzzles, bingo dobbers, beading and wire for necklaces, stencils, stamps, scrap paper with punches, and games like Connect 4 and Guess Who?.
Pic Wits! WOW! What a fun game! Students have a caption and then have to find a picture that best matches it. One person judges the photos and selects one, it is just like Apples to Apples, except with a picture! This would be fun to play with the whole class and a document camera.
Pattern Play is a colorful, math-building puzzle block set. One of my autistic students who is almost completely non-verbal has incredible success using the pattern cards to re-create the puzzles on the wooden board. REALLY GREAT for students with special needs.
Block Buddies is a small set of colorful blocks with puzzle cards for students to re-create various images using the blocks. Since I have another big set of blocks in my room, this one gets a little lost among the other activities. I really like the puzzle cards and I plan to challenge my students to use this one more often this year.
BlickBlock is a hit among the boys with its architecture-themed building cards. Students in my room have even put together their own 'marble' run with these blocks. Sometimes I forget how stimulating BLOCKS are to students...even older kids love to construct things with the block, not just kindergarten!
LED Rainbow Projector is a big hit whenever we paint watercolor rainbows. Be sure to buy batteries! I love this little lamp and the kids love it too! I don't let them play with it, but sometimes I pull it out as an 'extra' little something to WOW them at the beginning or the end of a lesson.
The Zoob Challenge set is a favorite for boys. It allows them to build things. Its a big investment initially, but the pieces last for years!
The Straws and Connectors set is a wonderful activity for a group or individual students who love to build things. I allowed my older students to use my step ladder to make a tower all the way to the ceiling. Other groups stretched it all the way across the room. This was a great investment, I wish I would've gotten the biggest set possible though because the little connectors BREAK easily. Within the first week about a dozen of them had broken, it is frustrating because I have no way to replace those parts.
The Imaginets are awesome for fine motor building. Great for younger students! I have a metal cabinet in my room. I hung the laminated cards on a hook and the kids can move the pieces around the cabinet. The little magnet board is cool too, and I might move them back the board so that they can utilize them while seated.
The Mosaic MagnaPictures are awesome for 3rd and 4th grade. Students enjoyed working in groups to put together a 'color-by-number' design. I have both sets: Pictures and Patterns. My only gripe is that the baggies rip open...making it hard to keep all the little pieces secure. I need to find a good way to store the little mosaic pieces....not sure if individual zip locks would be good or if I should throw all the pieces into one big bag...
Okay, I have a confession. I used to ALWAYS upload photos to flickr. Then I got busy. And I kinda forgot about my account. Then I got lazy and forgot to renew my pro account so a lot of my photos (hundreds!) were no longer visible.
When I got an AppleTV device in my classroom, I realized that I either had to link my cell phone photo stream or my Flickr pictures to the screensaver if I wanted my own images floating across the sleeping television screen as a screensaver or a slideshow.
I realized that this was a great opportunity to use photos of my student's work as a scrolling gallery. Also, I REALLY did not want to use every image in my iphone photo stream....that could get weird, if my students saw all the things I randomly photograph on my phone (hello scrambled eggs, book titles, and my new shoes).
I knew it was time to renew my Flickr account and start using it for REAL. And with the Flickr App on my phone, I can snap a picture, put it in an album and have it scrolling across the screen in just a few seconds flat. The screen saver and slideshow options on the Apple TV are in HD....and there are many different formats including a moving portrait gallery, sliding squares, and cascading tiles.
Before, if I wanted to use a photo, I had to hook my phone or my DSLR camera up to my computer, upload every photo, organize them, and then upload them onto some sort of slide show. Now, it takes just a few seconds to do all that. This is handy if someone has a great idea in one class, I can snap a picture, upload it and show it off to the next class.
Below, you can see two GIFs of the Flickr slideshow on the t.v. in my classroom. The t.v. is so new, the conduit hasn't been installed to cover the cords ;-) I used the app GifBOOM to make this GIF.
Another thing I love about Flickr is that it has Creative Commons photos available for use in galleries. This is a great way to organize photos (that are not being used for anything else).....into a useable format.
Example. This summer, I am teaching a class about American History. I decided to focus on Abraham Lincoln. My plan is to show video clips, have a Lincoln photo booth, and my students will work in collaborative groups to make a large-scale painting of the famous president. We will look at examples from other artists who have made his image iconic. I am really excited about this project. Instead of 'stealing' a bunch of random photos from a google image search, downloading them to my computer, and spending time making a photo presentation, I just organized a few images of Lincoln into a gallery on Flickr. I can project that, along with any additional instructions in the classroom. This will provide an opportunity for students to see a variety of images, compare and contrast various elements within the portraits, and use the gallery as inspiration for their own images.
I will post images of the student work with more links later.
Do you have an Apple TV in the classroom? Do you use Flickr in the classroom?
Follow me on flicker at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nelliemaeii/
Here are a few ways I've tried to transform my space with lots of color and texture!
1. Paint. This may seem like an obvious way to transform a piece of furniture. Last summer, I painted my desk and my trashcan. It was a bold way to make-over something that was really plain. I also splatter painted another table (photo below), that I use for demonstrations. If something spills...it isn't a big deal.
2. Paper mache. The lamp beside my desk is from Ikea. A few years ago my cat ripped a big whole in the side. It sat, torn and destroyed for a long time before I got the idea to paper mache the surface....which fixed the rip and created an amazing design. Everyone who enters my room marvels at the lamp.
3. Fabric. I found an awesome cut of black and white material and I adhered a long strip of velcro along the top of the fabric and the top of one of my shelves. Now the material covers a really cluttered looking bookshelf.
4. Mosaic. Below, you can see a dresser that I covered with mosaic tile. The drawers are a little heavy....but they are great for storage. The tile shards are actually from broken, glazed student-made pottery. Repurpose and reuse!
5. Tape. This white cabinet was a wonderful donation....its like having an extra counter-top that is the perfect height for student supplies, and the drawers are always a great addition to my ever-growing hoard of random materials. The front got a little dinged-up when I tried to move it....so I had fabric over it for a while, but it wouldn't stay in place so I thought I would try covering it with tape. This is a combination of electrical tape and colored art tape, I did put a coating of white glue over the top to help protect it. Below, you can see an installation that I did with electrical tape. I projected a line drawing on the wall and covered the lines with the tape.
6. Decoupage. This particle board t.v. cabinet is awesome because it has wheels. I'm constantly changing its purpose in my classroom. I wanted to make it a little prettier, so I decoupaged a layer of wrapping paper on the surface.
Art teacher from Missouri.