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.
Wow! I am so relieved that I don't have 30 pending blog posts waiting for me to write. I did it! I responded to all of the September blog challenge prompts from @teachthought.
What was I thinking doing a blog challenge just when I started a new job (it feels like I am a 1st-year teacher some days--with my new job) with graduate homework on top of that????
There were a couple of times last month when I felt like: What am I doing? I am exhausted. I don't know how to make things any easier on myself.....I felt overwhelmed by the scope of the entire semester looming ahead...
BUT now that it is October, everything feels slightly easier. I have some lessons that I can pull out of a pouch, visuals and handouts done, I am still creating some things from scratch, but not every single thing, what a relief it is to know that I have many different things ready to fill the days ahead....and I counted it out...I only see each class between 20-25 more times this semester...broken down by 4-5 days per project, that seems SO little....wow!
I am even a little bit ahead on some things...like my next art display....and my professional growth plan. I'm caught up on my Master's homework. I've taken some of the stress out of my life by tweaking things and simplifying whenever possible. The calendar for October is insane...with several after school events and late nights due to conferences....and I start a new class in two weeks...but I can do it!!
This is one of the hardest prompts of the month. I don't really know that my fears in relation to my career are associated with anything to do with teaching. If I could do ANYTHING, I would probably only teach part time...but I'm afraid I wouldn't make enough money.....I would want a job that allowed me to travel more....with a schedule that has greater flexibility.....the only thing stopping me is a fear that nothing like that exists.....especially not in the teaching profession. But as a teacher, I haven't been afraid to ask for technology or to ask for a job working with older students. In both instances, I had to work hard to prove myself, and I had to be patient, but in both of those times, I was afraid at first, but I didn't let it stop me. When you are asking for things, you have to be ready for someone to tell you no. Because that is always a reality.
I searched the internets and twitter for another teacher who is finishing up the blog challenge. I think he also had trouble with this prompt.
I also watched a great TED talk, "What would you do if you were not afraid" about a woman and her family, biking from the top of Alaska to the tip of South America. Talk about no fear. Her video made a great point, and actually relates great to education. She made the entire journey and she just had to keep putting one pedal in front of the other, but she did it, even though she was afraid at first. Education is a little like that. It is a long journey, but its all about putting one pedal in front of the other, even when the mountains are steep and the weather is wicked.
This post is part of the 30-day reflective blog challenge for teachers.
When I first started this blogging challenge, I wrote out my backstory as a traveling teacher. In that post, I reflected on my first job, how the job had changed over several years. I'm not really sure how I've changed since that time. One thing I do remember is the first time an experienced teacher commented on my leadership. I can't remember exactly what she said, but she recognized something in me, that I hadn't realized before. I was the new kid on the block, no one would listen to me.....but over time, I returned to her confidence in me, her quiet reassurance that I was a leader, but maybe I just didn't know it yet, and her appreciation for me being willing to lead. I'm not sure where I am going with all this, but I read a great article: 10 ways to know if you are a social leader, and I thought I would share the infographic here, because it is relevant to teachers.
This post is part of the 30-day reflective blog challenge for teaching.
Eventually, technology will probably drive curriculum. At this point, it is an added bonus or a small part of what students learn at school. Keyboarding, word processing, and other digital products like powerpoints or iMovies are introduced to much younger students, while things like cursive are getting squeezed out of the curriculum. I can see both sides of the argument. Technology can completely transform the creative experience allowing students to use digital media to really showcase their ideas. Too much screen time can also be bad for kids, as some studies are now saying. I'm not really sure what the correct answer is. I know that I enjoy having iPads in the classroom, and it would definitely stifle my options if I did not have some sort of big screen to show images and videos to my students. I don't really put technology in their hands as often as I should, but I try to incorporate some sort of technology as often as possible into my regular lesson planning, not as an afterthought, but as an essential, fluid element to the lesson.
This post is part of the 30-day reflective blog challenge for teachers.
For the most part, I try to take weekends off. I always try to get to school early and stay for a little while after so that I can have some freedom and peace of mind that work stays at work. But then again, I check my email frequently over holiday weekends and days off, I don't want to miss anything. I am also guilty of blogging, editing photos, editing videos, and doing other 'work' related things on the weekends.
Two Saturdays ago, I bought a bunch of pumpkins for still life drawing, and I couldn't resist, I HAD to make my teacher sample right away. As an art teacher, it is hard to turn off the teaching side of my brain....even though I'm not grading papers on the weekends, visiting with art teacher friends, going to art museums, and even scrolling through Pinterest is another version of 'work'.
It is really hard for me to turn off my brain and not think about work. Over our vacation this summer, a principal called me, it was 9:30 at home, but since we were on the west coast, it was only 7:30 a.m. I felt obligated to return the call right away because I knew exactly what it was about, and it needed an immediate response, not an emergency, but not something I could put off for over a week, until we got back to town.
I don't make a habit of working in my classroom on the weekends, but I have definitely used that time to prep materials, or set stuff up if I am anticipating a busy week. Teaching requires more time than any one person can get done in a regular work day. I don't think people outside of education understand how much time it takes to plan, prepare and pull off a 30-class week. Sometimes it is insane how much has to be done in order to get ready for a big unit, and all the grading that has to be done at the end of one. I'm not saying my way is the right way, but since taking my new job, I have felt the need to make everything from scratch. Almost all of my visuals are brand new, I don't want to recycle old stuff my students have done before, so I am working like a dog to prep every single element in the lesson, from presentations to examples, rubrics, handouts, tracers, paper cutting, getting paint ready, bulletin board visuals, the whole 9 yards.
This post is part of the 30-Day September blog challenge for teachers.
What are your three favorite go-to sites for helps/tips/resources in your teaching?
# 1 PINTEREST!!!
Seriously, what did art teachers do before Pinterest? It makes everything so much easier to click on one site and have every art topic organized by subject/content/age group. I still have regular file folders in my cabinet with art resources, but I don't pull those as often as I browse pinterest for new ideas.
# 2 Blogs.
I have a whole list of blogs that I love. Check out my post about my favorite blogs from last year.
Brainpop. Our district has a subscription to the website so we have access to all of the great content that is organized by subject. There aren't millions of art videos, but the ones that exist are awesome. I use their videos a couple of times a year, just to change things up.
This post is part of the September blog challenge for teachers.
Three main trends have really captured my attention and I am starting to think about how I will incorporate them into my classroom. Staying 'up' on current trends is something that I value in my professional development.
STEAM is a movement championed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals in education. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The objectives for STEAM include: ‘transform research policy to place Art+Design at the center of STEM; encourage integration of Art+Design in K-20 education; influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation.
The thought behind this is that “where science ends, art begins,” as described by early photography Charles Negre, (1851) “When the chemist has prepared the sheet, the artists directs the lens and the three torches of observations, feeling and resaoning guide the study of nature; photography invokes effects that make us dream, simple patterns excited us, powerful and bold silhouettes that surprise and frighten us….” said Negre in 1851. When he first began experimenting with the chemistry behind photography, the physics and mathematics of optics, and the engineering principles of both camera design and the architecture he photographed.
STEAM education is gaining steam among teachers in all subject areas. It reflects both the international movement to add the arts — which can include the fine, language and musical arts — to STEM education and the school's desire to help students pursue a different kind of 3D: discovering, designing and developing. the concept by asking people what they do for a living, then pointing out that their careers incorporate all of the subjects that they studied in school. Rather than teach those subjects in a vacuum, STEAM programs integrate them in an inquiry-based, hands-on curriculum that more closely aligns with what students will experience in college and the workforce.
Game-Based learning is an emerging trend in education that is centered around making learning more fun. Humans are wired to learn and play. Schools need better use of technology, not just more of it. By using games, teachers can give constant feedback, discipline, and rewards. Gaming is characterized by the use of constant feedback through progress bars, leader boards, and level up systems. The use of badges for performance is gaining ground in many content areas.
Some teachers are even having their students design video games as part of the project-based learning idea. Gamification is definitely a buzzword in education. Students study game design, and even take classes in game design. As game based-learning becomes more prevalent in education, researchers are interested in how game structure mirrors the learning process. In many games, students explore ideas and try out solutions. When they learn the skills required at one level, they move up. Failure to complete the tasks is reframed as part of the path towards learning how to conquer a level. In a recent survey by Joan Ganz Cooney Center, half of 505 K-8 teachers said they use digital games with their students two or more days a week and 18 percent use them daily.
The genius hour is an opportunity for students to explore their own passions. This movement allows students to explore their own passions and encourage creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. The genius-hour website doesn’t attribute the idea to any one person saying, “it is not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour.”
The site describes Google, which allows its engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any pet project they want. Google’s policy has worked so well that they claim 50% of their new products have been created during this creative time period. Gmail and Google News are products of the Genius hour at Google, developed by passionate developers. Another event that is attributed to the genius hour is from the book Drive by best-selling author, Daniel Pink. In the book, he writes about other corporations that implement the genius hour and see innovation as a result.
Implementing the genius hour in the classroom creates a place for passion-based learning. Students can set their own goals for projects. Allowing students 20% of their time to invest in something they are passionate about but there are usually some guidelines. There are no limits (within the parameters of safety and legality. The topics that are brainstormed to pursue should not be Google-able. The teacher’s role is to guide, coach, and facility so that students can discover; teachers are not responsible for finding resources or providing a defined result. The process does not have a true final product, but rather a place where the student can share with the world. It should allow the student to connect with the world to deeply understand their passion and discover other passions in the process.
These emerging trends in education will have a broad impact in the years to come as technology, science, gamification, and art continue to influence education. I'm still in the 'thinking' stage of how to implement the Genius Hour, Gamification, and STEAM into my content, but I am open to any suggestions or ideas. The amazing Tricia Fuglestad has organized all of her STEAM art lessons onto one Smore flyer, which is a great resource!!
The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?
Full disclosure, after watching Project Runway Season 11, in which all the constants had to work in teams for every challenge, I was completely inspired to incorporate more collaborative learning challenges in the art room. Even though the show was fraught with bickering and disagreements, which make for great TV, and-not-so-great classroom management experiences, it still made sense to me that elementary-aged students should be working together. I love the idea of 'art challenges' in which students are given a list of materials, and a theme, and they have to work 'under the gun' to create something that they later have to defend and explain what is great or not-so-great about their concept. It is also a really valuable learning experience for them to defend their ideas to each other and give up a bit of control, forcing them to compromise their ideas for the good of the finished product. Working in teams brought out a much richer art production experience than I could've imagined and I was able to sit back and listen to their conversations (and sometimes disagreements) about their ideas.
Last year, I really tried to incorporate those 'team-challenges" into my art room. It taught me a lot about how to use cooperative learning in a really effective way.
# 1 Let students choose their own teams.
My method: while students are in the hall, before entering the room, they had to quickly and quietly stand beside the person that they wanted to work with. This almost always worked perfectly.....sometimes there was an odd-man out...by choice or by sheer numbers, but in those cases I would allow a group of 3 or I would encourage that person to work the absentees upon their return.
#2 Allow teams to sit anywhere.
By letting students pick their own teams, and even their own seats for the team challenge, I immediately gave over a bit of classroom control. Generally, students were so happy to sit with their buddies, that they were really good listeners while I introduced the project.
# 3 WORK BIG.
By forcing my students to work in teams, it allowed us to work bigger. Instead of the regular-sized projects, we went JUMBO. This was super fun because my displays were larger and more visually powerful. Working in teams also meant fewer finished products so I had a little more storage space: 14 vs 28 finished pieces.
# 4 Let them decide who takes it home.
In art, students create a product...if everyone contributes, who owns the finished piece? This got a little hairy and we saw several tears in the beginning of our collaborative challenges because one person REALLY wanted to keep the BIG finished painting, instead of the little practice sketch....so I tried to do two back-to-back collaborations within the same teams so that it was easier to compromise.
Here is a compilation of collaborative art projects that were very successful for me last year.
Design Your own 'Custom iPads.
Grumpy Cat Paintings
Abraham Lincoln Paintings
Gingerbread House Paintings
Collaborative Owl Animations
Stop-Motion Lego Movies
The best part, actually happened this year when I introduced the Matisse collage project to one of my classes, which is made up of over half of my students from last year...they said: 'Can we work with partners?' Oh how my heart melted. Why, yes, of course you can!!!! I allowed students to pick their own teams, sit anywhere they wanted, and it was incredible to circulate the room while they excitedly rearranged their compositions and talked about their ideas. Such a great day and a great reminder that all of my efforts to push them towards collaboration last year, are paying off this year.
This post is part of the reflective teaching blog challenge, day 25.
Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.
Our school district hosts an annual exhibit at the local mall. Each art teacher can student select artwork to be displayed on panels in the mall.
I'm not sure if this really IS what the prompt for the blog challenge is asking for, but I feel like it is a great idea for other art teachers. A mall is a great venue for student work, as it gets a whole lot more foot traffic than a gallery. Sometimes I select collaborative projects or smaller items so that many of my students get their work shown in public. Last year, we had just finished these awesome large-scale neon paintings so I chose a bunch of those for the mall show.
I know there are lots of other ways to involve the community in our learning...(and we do other 'public' shows including a show at a local university, and artwork at the State Capitol for Youth Art Month) but TIME is my main issue. Sure, I could set up at the monthly art walk, host after-school art events and invite parents....but all of it is volunteering on my part...and while I DO value the 'volunteer experience'.....sometimes I just have to say no, not right now, but maybe someday.
For now, I will post about student success on my blog, twitter and FB page and maybe someday I will have a little more time to incorporate the community into the classroom. And if I do get a hankering to include the community a little more HERE is a great post with 50 ideas. ;0)
Art teacher from Missouri.