Please Don't Eat the Artwork

ART WITH MS K


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Year Four, Week One

Looking back on my very first post from my first year it strikes me how much my classroom has changed and how much I have grown as well. For the first time, there is a true ease to this whole teaching thing and I could not be more delighted about it! Pre-planning this year for the first time did not feel like a whirlwind of frenzied energy, rushing to get everything ready, rather it was like a leisurely stroll down a path that ended up at a relaxed first day of school.

This is a bit surprising because I have many more responsibilities this year than I did that first year including continuing my MAED program at Georgia State University and serving as grade chair for specials on the leadership team. But even with these added responsibilities behind the scenes, things in the classroom are just as exciting as ever!

I kicked off the year as usual with a tour of the classroom and a discussion about rules. I used to believe that this sort of thing was “boring” and sent a message to students that they would not ever have any fun in art. Then I wondered why my inconsistent classroom management never got me anywhere. (Imagine that!) What children (and humans in general) really crave is systems and structure and it is still possible to build rapport when talking about these essential parts of classroom life. I still strive to make it entertaining by throwing a few jokes in there that usually makes a loud wooshing sound as they soar above my student’s heads. . .

After the rules and tour and questions/comments/concerns, we do a small activity that serves as an excellent formative assessment — I get to see who can cut on the lines, who can write their name, and who can be creative — all in about 10 minutes! This information is invaluable because it allows me to see who will need some extra help in the weeks to come and who can be a model for classmates. This project is also good because it lets me get away with not decorating a bulletin board and having the kids do it.

Last year, students made a fish to go along with our school’s chosen storybook. This year they are making stars to go along with this quote:

We are stars of excellence, determined to shine!

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This quote really hits home  because my Title-1 school with mostly Spanish-speaking immigrant students and students of color does not always get the reputation it deserves. In fact, when I got the job here I was told to “watch out” and more often than not when I tell people which school I work at they react with a “bless your heart” type of look or comment. For too long, my school has maintained a negative reputation. I believe part of this is because we are kind of an island in a sea of affluence and wealth that surrounds us and continues to draw lines to keep our students and community segregated. I have been thinking a lot about this especially since listening to this episode of This American Life. If you haven’t heard this yet, I encourage you to give it a listen and hope it will spark the same passion for equality in education as it does in me!

In truth, our kids are just like any other kids with the same wants and needs and goals and dreams — sometimes they just have a little more in their way on their journey to get there. So it is up to us as teachers to help them and inspire them to shine and that is just what I intend to do this year as I have done for the past 3 years. I am thrilled that I get to spend all 5 days of the school week at one school, at my home. It is truly going to be a great year to shine!

❤ Ms. K

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There is Only One You

The first day of school for an art teacher is a lot longer than you would think. This is because we art teachers have a Groundhog’s Day kind of situation where we re-live the first day over and over again for 30 times during the first week. It becomes a performance and by the 30th encore presentation you know which punchlines will get a big laugh and which will get blank stares. You know which things to skip over for kindergarteners because they just stare at you like “…….” and which things to skip over for 5th graders because they have been in here for years and duh they already know where the pencil sharpener is.

The first day/week is important because this is when you set the standard for what you will and will not allow and what you will and will not do and who you will and will not be. Its very important to use this time to practice sitting properly in chairs and lining up quietly and walking around safely. I also like to throw in a little bit of activity for the first day. Afterall, it is difficult for me to sit still and listen to someone talk for 45 minutes and I am (technically) an adult!

So after my performance of telling my students all about me (I love outerspace and I traveled a lot this summer and here are the projects we are doing this year) in a lovely PowerPoint, I give them a tour of the classroom. This year I decided to read them a story right after the tour. We read “Only One You” by Linda Kranz which is a beautifully illustrated book about wisdom.

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I used this activity to see what my kiddos could already do. Can you create a pattern? Can you use lines and shapes in your art? Can you cut out a shape with scissors? This was a really great informal assessment especially for the kindergarten noobs. I also used this to notice who my Leftys are so I can make sure to give them the correct scissors for the rest of the year. The completed fish were stapled to the bulletin board outside of my classroom. Each fish is so unique and some of them really impressed me with how creative they were (like a swordfish made with scraps or a fish that is half herbivore/half carnivore) This year’s artists are really making a splash!

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The other bulletin board was inspired by a billboard I saw when I was driving down 285, I think its a great message.

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Here are some pictures of my lovely classroom:

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Kinders are learning about Mondrian’s lines and primary colors.
1st Graders are learning about Kasndinsky’s abstract paintings.
2nd Graders are learning about Matisse’s Drawing With Scissors artwork.
3rd Graders are learning about Georgia O’keeffe’s flowers and bones.
4th Graders are learning about Van Gogh’s Starry night. (Inspired by this.)
5th Graders are learning about Mexican Guitars.(Inspired by this.)

Happy 2nd week of school! 🙂


2 Comments

The Cross-Curricular Art Room

I have recently come to the realization that this year that I am teaching math for 3 hours a week. Now this ephiphany came as a bit of a shock for me especially because I am pretty terrible at math and if I did not have a calculator in my pocket at all times in the form of a smart phone I would be lost in the universe.

My school has incorporated a half-hour of math tutoring each morning to extend or remediate for all of our students. I am helping out with a small group of 5th graders that will be on the remediation end of the spectrum. I am also a part of the team running Math Club. Every Wednesday morning bright and eager 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders come to the art room for math activities and train for a competition.

Now, being more on the right-brained side of things, all of this math initially made me kind of nervous. Then I realized that this is an excellent opportunity for cross-curricular activities! I have always maintained that my classroom features cross-curricular lessons but I have never actually explored what that curriculum is. A colleague shared with me some great resources for common core curriculum. Common Core Standards from Mastery Connect is an app that features k-12 math and ELA standards. Next Generation Science Standards is another great resource for Common Core Curriculum with k-12 science standards. After perusing through these, I realized that I am already covering several of the topics and standards the students learn about but now I can do so with more vocabluary and emphasis on key terms and ideas.

    

So, how can you use the Common Core Curriculum in the art room? Teaching art already encompasses many of these standards by naturally incorporating ideas – especially geometry. In my displays, I have started to include the CCCs in the “I Can” statements.

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I realize that some art teachers might be opposed to this. We already have to fight so hard to prove that our subject is important, meaningful, and overall necessary for a well-rounded education. Why should we sacrifice what we are teaching (in the extremely short ammount of time we have to teach it) in order to support another subject that doesn’t even support us? Art should come first!

Werner Jeker

I definitely agree that art is essential (duh) but I also think that the main reason we do what we do is for the general well-being of the kids. It certainly couldn’t hurt to reinforce what is being taught in their general ed classrooms which in turn will reinforce what we are teaching in the art room. Creating cross-curricular lessons isn’t betraying art, it is enhancing it.

I am excited to continue exploring more cross-curricular avenues and find more creative ways to tie it in to art. 🙂