Tuesday, June 12, 2018

An Art Teacher's Thoughts on A Summer of Art...

During the summer I go to the beach. I will keep going to the beach each summer until the one day when I do not have to leave the beach ever again! 
So going to the beach means I have to travel. I do not fly...I am not afraid to fly, I am afraid of falling and being out of control. But that is a different blog post! So I drive everywhere I go, which makes it easy to pack all my art supplies. 
There are a few things I plan for during my summer break so I feel refreshed and ready for the next school year...
1. Reading-I always seem to be reading the latest classroom management, PBL, STEAM or what ever is the next big thing in teaching. Last year I read Wonder for our school book review. All the teachers went to see the movie together when it came out. I had to take a pass. I cry way to easy. I also read Classroom Management for Art, Music and PE Teachers by Michael Linsin. I highly recommend this book. I also did a book study with the Cassie Stephens on her Wed. night Facebook live show where we read The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley. Cassie never really finished the book study but I loved the book and I used a lot of the exercised from the book in my classroom. I highly recommend it as well. The last book I read was Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. This was a book study with Samantha Melvin from the Texas Art Educators Association. I had to join the TAEA be part of this book study but it was all worth it. Samantha it an awesome host for this club and I am happy to say a friend as well. This summer I am reading The Creative Habit Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp with the TAEA. My mother actually danced with Twyla Tharp in the 70's. I am only in chapter 2 and it has already changed my life. I differently recommend this book. Take special not of the "ritual" section. I am trying very hard to from rituals in my life so I can operate at a much more proficient level. So that is my summer thing during the day...I lay out on the beach and read. I go into the water with my water socks on and lay on my tube until I start thinking about sharks then I go back to the beach and read some more. Why do they always have shark week when I am at the beach house?
2. At night I work on my own art...It's hard to pack all the art supplies I want to take with me. I want to make books, felt little creatures, art journal, Zentangle, sew...It is a lot. I usually end up taking every art supply I own and then only working in my art journal.
I usually create all my covers before I leave for my trip and just add the pages to my 
books while on my trip.
For art journaling I take my smaller journals and a set of travel watercolors, scissors and glue. I use to pack every single art journaling supply I though I would need but then they opened a Hobby Lobby near the beach house so that solved that problem. I actually
always have scissors and a stick glue in my purse. Don't all art teachers?
Here I am teaching a felting class in Norfolk, Virginia.
A couple of years ago I picked up felting at Art Scouts. I love, love, love needle sculpting.
Yes I stab myself all the time but I still love it. Felting is very easy to travel with because 2 oz of felt will take you a long way and 2oz is very light weight to carry and manageable.
3. I update my blog. There will be a lot to updates this summer since my 1 year old MacBook crashed and took everything I have with it! I just did not feel like posting for months, I was sad. I have now gotten over myself, mainly because it was my fault I did not back anything up and I have moved on. So I will have a lot of catching up to blog about this summer. 
4. I update old art projects, lesson plans and PowerPoints. Not really much to tell you about this since I am guessing we all do this during the summer. 
Here are a few of the lessons I am updating for next year...
Color Wheel Pigs
Stacking Birds
Skeleton Torso
5. Every summer I try and attend workshops that are just for art teachers. I love being around other art teachers and just jammin' to their crazy vibes. For the last 2 years I have attended Cassie Stephens' Art Scouts. I am a huge fangirl of Cassie's and Art Scouts is just an amazing time. This year I am going to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for their Summer Workshops for Educators. So very, very excited. I have always wanted to go to SCAD but for horse riding, well art too but mostly for riding. I grew up showing horses and I miss it now that I can't afford it because my dad is not paying my stable bills any more!!! Darn being an adult is expensive!
I am also going to the National Art Educators Association Leadership conference in Charleston, South Carolina in July. I think it is very important to keep in touch with what is happening in our industry and to keep in touch with each other as artists and educators. Workshops and conferences are my favorite way to do just that.
6. I always schedule a summer camp the week before school starts. I think it is the only thing that forces me to come home! I teach at the Center for the Arts in Manassas, Virginia. I have taught art journaling, Zentangle, paper mâché, bookbinding and this summer I will be teaching a fiber arts class at Windy Knolls Farm in Nokesville, Virginia.
7. Just relax...I have a studio in my back yard and when I am in there it is as if the rest of the world just floats away. We all have to have some me time to just decompress. My happy place is my art studio....and my art room...and the beach.... My dream is to combine all those things someday.
This is why I go to the beach!
This is why I come home!
This post is a part of
The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the second Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Monday, June 4, 2018

I Have Missed Blogging, My Real Life Got In the Way...

Other than the monthly posts I have been writing for The Art Ed Blogger's Network I have not been updating my blog very much in the last year or so. My family and I have had a very difficult past 2 1/2 years. This is the first I have talked about it in a public forum. I am trying to ease into it slowly and only address the part that affected me. 
This is normally a place where I share my travels, art lessons and funny things that happen in my life. The next part of this post is non of those things. But it is something that happened in my life and the only reason I am sharing it now is because it could easily happen to you, your son, uncle, nephew, husband or father....just like it did to us. 

May 23, 2016 my son was arrested for a crime he did not commit. There was no investigation, the evidence that was taken was never analyzed, no one looked into my son's statement and based on a 2 and 1/2 minute interview of the so-called victim, my son was arrested. He lost his home, his good credit, his money, most of his belongings and his future. We all lost faith in the justice system. He was put in jail with murders for 17 long months facing 2 life sentences plus 15 years. The only reason he was held was because the prosecutor, Cynthia Evers in Manatee County Florida believed she had a sure win. She only cared that her conviction rate would go up. She did not care for one second that she was destroying my son, destroying my life and my family as well. Not to mention the unbelievable amount of money that was lost trying to clear his name. Sadly to pay a good lawyer we were not able to also bail him out. The bail...with no prior arrests of this nature was $250,000. We could not get him out and also get a lawyer. However if we had know it would be 17 months of rescheduling and heartbreak we would have mortgaged the house to get him out. Thank goodness we were able to find an amazing team of lawyers -Jennifer Fury and Colleen Gleen. The first public defender we had said a right to a speedy trial is 180 days (which really does not seem speedy at all) but then he slipped a paper in front of my son to sigh and did not tell him he was signing away his right to a speedy trial. Trust me there is very little justice in our justice system. It is all a game to them and a way to keep their own jobs. No one cares about the truth or doing the right thing. Nothing I believed in about our justice system was happening. The reality is not Law and Order or any other TV show, the reality of our system is hard and truly unfair, especially if you are poor, black or mentally challenged.

I have been a basket case for the last 2 1/2  years. There was not a day that went by that I did not have a full melt down. I cried all the time. I snapped at everyone around me. It was destroying me not to mention what it was doing to my son who was locked up the entire time. It was also very difficult on my husband, my son's step-father. Hubby has MS, which we only found out 4 years before my son was arrested. Stress is not good on MS, it is a trigger. At first I tried to keep my life the same and not involve hubby, very quickly I realized that was not possible. After about a year I thought I was loosing a grip on my own reality. My brain even developed a strange coping mechanism that I will share with y'all later in a different blog. I finally needed to see a professional. I wanted a system in place in case my son was unjustly convected of a crime he did not commit. If it was that hard on me while waiting for the trial I know I would not be able to handle a false convection. The doctor was able to help me and hubby and I also started seeing a councilor as well, which help. My family and a few close friends were there for me the entire time and listen to every single word I said about the case and the trial as if they were hearing it for the first time each time a repeated a theory I had. I had become my own private investigator. I looked up every law, read every deposition 5, 6, 100 times, analyzed every angle and of course shared my theories with Jennifer, Colleen, my family and my 3 very, very amazing friends. Who by the way I absolutely can not thank enough for getting me through those 17 months of agony. I could not have worked day-to- day without them. 

With all this going on I had to quit teaching extra art classes. My work on the charity suffered tremendously, my own art work came to a stop and I quit blogging. I quit everything. All I did was cry...all the time. 

We were finally set to go to trial, after so many reschedules on Sept 11. 2017... 4 days after my son's 33 birthday. Then Hurricane Irma hit Florida. The courts, along with everything else was closed. We had no idea how long everything would be out. So not only were we freaked out about the trial now I had to worry about a powerful cat 5 Hurricane headed straight for my son. The jail is only about 200 yards from Tampa bay. It was just an awful time. I could not stop watching the Weather Channel. Thankfully there was not much damage to Manatee county, the courts reopened and the trial was reset for November, which felt like a life time away. Jennifer put in a motion for a sooner trial date, which must have pissed of the new prosecutor, Brian Chambers because he filed another charge against my son the Friday before the pretrial hearing. Jennifer said he knew he was not going to get either one of the life convictions so he just threw in a lesser charge to try and get a any conviction he could. It really scared all of us because we all know my son was not guilty and we know the jury would see that and not convict him to 2 life sentences on hearsay evidence alone. But by throwing in 3rd charge at only 15 years so it looked like my son did 3 different crimes, which was not the case even if he had done what he was accused of.  We were scared the jury might think hearsay is not enough to enough to give some one life for but the they may give him the 15 years.

The trial was moved to Oct 23, 2017...17 months to the day he was arrested, that is 515 days after he was arrested for a crime he did not commit, so much for a speed trial. There are so many people in jail now without lawyers, just the public defender who are waiting even longer.  We were finally going to trial. My family was there. We were all behind my son showing the jury that this child is loved and valued. Sheriffs brought him into court hand cuffed. I had bought him an expensive suit and tie to wear in court but it did not cover the cuffs. I did not want to, I tried with all my strength to hold it in but I cried...out loud...he heard me.  I could not stand to see my only child in handcuffs. For 3 long days we sat there and listened to the Bryan Chambers try and try to figure out a way to railroad my child into jail for the rest of his life. From 9am to 5 pm we sat without moving and listened. But there was nothing...absolutely nothing. Even the so-call-victim acted as if it was a total inconvenience for her to be there. She was even hostile towards Bryan Chambers. She gave her testimony and left. We never saw her again. She really did not care because she know she was lying and my son was innocent. Jennifer Fury was brilliant in her closing argument and Bryan Chambers looked like he was on a hot frying pan...he was all over the place. He was grasping at straws.  He had nothing and Jennifer let everyone know there was nothing to this case.

The Jury got the case at 5 pm, they chose to deliberate straight through. We waited outside the court room. We were the only people in the Manatee court house. Then the bailiff came out and said the jury was coming back with he verdict. Jennifer told me not to react no matter what the verdict was....yeah like that was going to happen! I took one last look at my son and then the jury and then buried my face in hubby's shoulder looking back at my family. The first life sentence....not guilty. I began to sob uncontrollably. We had cleared one hurtle but still had 2 to go. Second life sentence....not guilty!!! But the last one was the worst, 15 years. I was scared the jury did not feel good about putting someone away for life with no evidence but might be okay with 15 years. After what felt like a life time the 3rd charge was read...not guilty! I had my son back, they released him and we went straight to Taco Bell. It was over, or at least that chapter was. There is so much more but I am creating a different blog for this topic. I think there needs to be a change in our justice system, prosecutors should not have so much power and not having money should a reason to not have a proper defense team. Innocent until proven guilty does not matter if you are poor and do not have bail money.  Also being found not guilty by a jury of your peers does not mean you can have your life back the way it was either. No one cares they stole 17 months of my son's life. 

Anyway that is why I have not been blogging or much of anything else for that matter...But I am back on track now, my son has a new home and a new job and life is good.


I will not discuss the reason my son was arrested until he is ready to do so, so please do not ask me. He is in counseling and working through this traumatic experience at this time. 
Thank you.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

5th grade Skeleton Torso Project...




So after doing several direct observational assignments we are now doing some of what I call "elimination" drawings. 

I gave each student a print out of a human skeleton torso. I asked them to use a sharpie and trace around the parts that they thought were the most important to convey their message. 

When you are finished outlining you turn the paper over and that is what you draw. I encourage them to include something that makes the work personal to them. 








We used water colors to paint our skeletons with.


I got the idea when I was working in my #dailyart18 sketch book. I loved the look of this project so much I wanted to share it with the kids. They really seem to like it, it's a keeper!








Sunday, April 15, 2018

Early Finishers...


What happens when they yell out "I am done"? My first thought is always "you are not a biscuit...you are not done". But what comes out of my mouth is..."Art is not a race, there are no points for finishing first in art"! 

When I first started teaching I would tell the quick finishers to go back and add something here or there or finish coloring the page leaving no white spots. I quickly found out that can be the fastest way to seriously mess up a kid's work. When students come to you they are usually already "done" in there heads, asking them to go back and work some more is like asking them to clean their own bedrooms. They will quickly slop though the motions of creating art just to get finished.  No one wants that. 

Now I ask THEM if there is an area of the page they feel needs some more work. Or sometimes I tell them to find a classmate to help them see if there is an area that might need some more attention.

I have every student in school create their own art journal. On the first day of class everyone creates an art journal. When they are finished with a project they know to go get their art journals and start working.  There is a list of 28 topics to draw and write about. No one has to ask ..."what do I do now".  Everyone knows to go there their art journals.

I also have a Creation Station and library students can work in if they reach certain pages in their a
art journals. 

This is my Creation Station and Library. When students get to certain points in their journal they can go to the Creation Station and work independently. Before you ask I have know idea why the rooster is on the table. I am hoping it is because some one was using it to draw in their sketch book. I have a very large and strange collection of things for the kids to draw in their sketchbooks with. 

Just a small selection for the randomness that is my art room.

On top part of the Creation Station in the green baskets is the journal station. The journal station is a collection of random stamps, scrapbooking supplies and other odds an ends I have bought on clearance from Hobby Lobby or the thrift store or some that some wonderful parent has donated. Anything in the Journal Station may be used in their art journals.

For 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th I order 18 x 12 inch white tagboard paper for the covers and 17 x 11 inch white computer paper for the insides. I use a 7 page single signature. I have a list of 28 pages students need to complete throughout the year. The journals are due 2 weeks before their last day of classes. 

3rd grade uses cereal box covers. I may go to 1st, 2nd and 3rd using cereal boxes next year to save a little money. The 4th and 5th grade love creating their own journal covers so I will keep them with the tag board.

These are some of the activities students can use in the Creation Station.


Magnetic boxes with colorful pieces...

Pictionary, art memory cards and museum close-up cards...

Atom builder...

Stacking balls...

Make a mobile...

Spirograph...

Spin art..

Preselected art lessons from art text books...

Gear builder...

Writing station...

Graph heart project...


I have a student in charge of the Creation Station and Library in each class. It is that student's job to make sure the area is straight before the class leaves. 

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a message or email me at artroomblog@yahoo.com


This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic. Please see the following blogs for more inspiration on how to handle Early Finishers.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Monday, March 5, 2018

STEAM, Arts Integration & PBL In Elementary School ...


I am a huge believer in STEAM and PBL in the art room. I have been, long before I knew there was a name for it. The number one goal, I believe for hiring these days is to look for a person who is proficient in visual thinking and creative problem-solving. What better way to learn these traits then through art education. I mean seriously what art teacher worth their salt has not been teaching problem-solving for years. I give a project assignment...my students then have to find the most creative way to solve the problem they have been given. What other discipline allows for this type of thinking? 

 The ARTS account for  $704.2 Billion dollars of the US economy according to the National Endowment for the Arts web site. 
Not everyone wants to grow up to be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon. But even if you do happen to become a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon wouldn’t you want the valuable problem-solving skills the arts provide?  Wouldn't you want to be able to think out side the box to solve any issues that might arise in your job? Do you want to have your rocket on the launch pad with a  problem or a patient on the table with a troublesome subdural hematoma and you just standing asking yourself, which bubble did I fill in on that multiple choice scantron test that I took that covered this situation? 
People today need real world skills that allow them to think freely, creatively and effectively to solve problems. We do not need more test takers. 

As art teachers we have always known this. There is no one correct way to solve art and design problems. There are principles and elements you can learn but how you use them is up to the individual artist.
I believe in “art for art sake” more than any other thought or concept out there but I do truly believe STEAM and PBL are a very import part of our tool kits as educators. 

  I have been actively teaching STEAM and PBL for a few years now. I started off  by adding one STEAM or PBL lesson to a couple of grades the first year. Then added in the rest of my grade levels the next year. Last year I made sure to have 2 STEAM or PBL lessons for each class. This year I am working on documenting all the lessons and ideas for my blog. I started of being self taught but then began attending workshops and PD classes in my district. I am also a huge fan of the
I take all their workshops and on-line conferences. This has really helped me with my classroom approach to teaching STEAM and PBL based lessons. I highly recommend this web site!

I do not think STEAM or PBL has to be "just another thing you have to do". I think it is really something you are already doing. With a few minor adjustments I was able to upgrade a lot of my existing art lessons. I have some of my STEAM or PBL lessons on my blog

I start with my own art lesson and then look at the STEAM applications it can have. For example, my second graders were drawing flower vases based on the van Gogh painting "Sunflowers".
I took a fresh new look at this old lesson and changed it up, first by having the class grow their own flowers in clear plastic water bottle.  
Everyone got their own water bottle terrarium. They each had to put the dirt, seeds, water and fertilizer in their bottles.  We waited 2 weeks and now we have sprouts.
Students will first create a drawing of the root system.


After the roots were drawn we painted them with watercolors.

For our next project we took a wire and shaped it like a root then did a texture rub with crayons over the wire using several different colors.


Using our texture rub papers we created a collage flower garden.

The next project was to look inside the plants with a microscope and see what the cells looked like.

From this observation we created our own version of our plants cells.

First students selected 2 colors of watercolor paint. Using a the straw blowing technique they blew out their paint spots. When the paint was dry students filled in the spaces with circles using a ultra fine tipped Sharpie.

Our next project was also about cells.
On transparent sheets using washable markers students created
colored circles.
Then added a few drops of rubbing alcohol onto the circles.

Place a sheet of paper over the colored area and rub.

The kids thought I was a magician!!! 

We then moved on to looking at the work of Georgia O'Keeffe

Click HERE for the steps to this part of the project

Then to bring this project home I now introduce the van Gogh project I use to start with. We discuss the cultivation of Sunflowers and careers related to all aspects of this project as well as the fine arts implications. 
.
We then go outside and plant our flowers in the school garden thus completing our plant PBL project as a means of mastering an education concept.




This month, The Art Ed Blogger's Network is writing about STEAM/Art Integration. Join us on the first Tuesday each month for new projects, ideas, and inspiration.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs: