Monday, September 29, 2014

I'm so organized-y...

After a fun weekend of wedding celebrations for some friends, Iggy Azalea's "I'm So Fancy" refrain is constantly on repeat in my head. So, to keep it PG, my art teacher refrain sounds something like this:

I'm so organized-y
You already know
I'm in the Art Room
From morn to Four-Double-O
I'm so organized-y
Haven't you been told?
Remember my name
Miss French Fry, yo.

My latest AHA, why-the-heck-haven't-I-been-doing-this-all-along moment happened early this year.  I made color-coded table folders for each of my classes to collect dry work and pieces at the end of an art lesson.  And let me tell you, thus far, we have had zero escaped missing pieces for projects.  A total record!

Plus, having these handy folders ready to hand out at the beginning of a class period seriously cuts down on the class time that's wasted having students pass out pieces.  I love a good AHA! moment.

I'm keeping it short and sweet today, but I'll be back very very soon with some fun new projects, don't you worry, you Iggy Azalea fans!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Art Room and GASP...the Common Core.

I know, I know. I did it. I said those two dirty words. COMMON CORE.

But whether we want to believe it or not, it's here and we need to make sure we are workin' it!

Now, I don't know how your districts work, but mine is a little more fluid when it comes to curriculum planning.  Each art teacher is expected to adhere to the District's PowerStandards (which were written by art teachers four or so years ago and getting updated this year).  Our PowerStandards were aligned with the previous Illinois standards for Visual Arts, which is why we are working to give our PowerStandards a major facelift this year, a la Joan Rivers, may that hilarious woman rest in peace.

But basically, as long as we address our PowerStandards we have the freedom to design our own curriculum, which I personally LOVE.  After all, when we have the massive district art show at the year's end who wants to look at 100 of the same projects again and again?

When I attended and presented at the NAEA convention in San Diego this past Spring, I attended a lot of workshops and lectures about the Common Core.  I learned a lot, sweated it out a bit Richard Simmons style, and then felt relieved after hearing tons of great ideas on how to incorporate those two dirty words.

Below are some glimpses into how I've started to incorporate the principles of the National Core Arts Standards in my room this year.

I've blogged about my "What Are We Doing Today?" board before, but I'm revisiting it because it's become a great tool to get kids thinking about what's on the Art agenda before entering the Art Room.

When students enter and join me on the Reading Rug, I often share a story or share an inspiring artifact to introduce the story.  Having a routine is a nice way to start the teaching period with any of my grades.  I added my "I can" board to our rug routine this year to help clearly identify the lesson's objectives too.

After our rug routine, we transition either to the Teacher Table or to student art tables for the next steps.  I always have the WIPs (Works in Progress) on display, so the kids know what they will be working on.

Now, here's the big question: how does one design lessons to ensure that students are demonstrating GROWTH MINDSET, CRITICAL THINKING, CREATIVE THINKING, and COMMUNICATION all wrapped up with ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS as they CREATE, PRODUCE, RESPOND, and CONNECT their way to a final piece of art?

Is your head spinning, because mine sure is!  Well, here's the answer...I have no magic art potion and definitely no sage advice, but here's my two cents on the matter.  It is SO easy to connect our effectively designed art lessons to the Common Core.  Cross curricular connections come so easy to the arts and I want to make sure my students are comfortable using the skills and vocabulary necessary to be a 21st century artist, so I try to constantly work the vocab into our lessons.  The Smartest Artist game I briefly mentioned here has become a fantastic way to assess my students' vocabulary understanding.  Plus, it's quick and who doesn't love using a light up microphone?!

Oh yeah, and those cornerstone assessments Jay McTighe talks about?  Well, we don't even realize we're cornerstone assessing our students sometimes, but quick things like a peer or self evaluation at the end of a lesson involves students in the assessment process.  Or even a small group or large group critique of artists' works give us the ability to quickly assess our students.  I like having my "Art Smart" vocab plastered around my room because it helps jumpstart students' ideas in a positive direction during our times o' critique.

Here's what we need to remind ourselves: we work hard to design an art curriculum every year that addresses different media categories, student abilities, art elements and principles, and aligns with our district and now Common Core standards.  Our assessments don't always have to be lengthy, but they should be authentic, ranging from critiques to portfolios to checklist/rating forms to journals.

Okay, for now, Miss French Fry out, but I'll be back soon with some glimpses into new projects on the horizon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Primary Polka Dots.

I am BACK and getting down and dirty in the Art Room with this year's batch of kiddos.

We're kicking off this year with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds since September 15th is Dot Day!  I've been reading his book aloud to all of my K-5 classes as a first day intro, but did something truly dotty with my Kinder kiddos.

Now this year I wasn't feeling as gutsy, so I didn't dive into paint the very first day BUT, we did dive into some gluing.

Each student was given a pre-cut black dot and many strips of red, yellow, and blue paper.

During my demo, I talked about glue etiquette (Just a Dot, Not a Lot) and demonstrated how to twist and turn and weave our strips through each other.  A great way to introduce lines too!

This lesson ended up being a really great way to assess students' abilities to follow directions, look at their fine motor skills when handling the glue and their strips, and check out students' overall motivation and patience.  After all, this was all done during our very FIRST Art day together!

At the end of the project, each student had the opportunity to present their project to their classmates (a good first day critique practice) and share what it reminded them of.  A lot of students said that their dot reminded them of a rollercoaster or a carnival ride, but I had one friend who stood up and said this:

Kinder:  Welllll, my dot reminds me of Miley Cyrus.
Miss French Fry:  And why is that?
Kinder: Because it looks CRAZY!

Well, welcome to the Art Room my Kinder friend, the land of the crazies...