Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Break out the sketchbooks!

My team teacher and I decided to have the students use sketchbooks this year and we are really excited about them. We ordered basic two pocket paper folders with tabs (1 for each 7th and 8th grader) because we felt this was a good option. Using folders is inexpensive and flexible--we were able to use the stacks of newsprint, copy paper, lined paper and graph paper that were in the room already and the folders also have a place for handouts to be three-hole punched and inserted.

We started the first day having students hand letter their names and draw at least three things into the design that told us something about them. I showed them illuminated manuscripts and graffiti for inspiration. I had them use 4x6 index cards and ink and colored pencil. They worked on these for a couple of days and then affixed them to their sketchbooks with glue stick.

We also gave them handouts to keep in their sketchbooks. So far, they have the copy of the art contract we have the students bring home for the parents to sign as well as the "What Will I Learn in 7th (or 8th) Grade?" handout inspired by the Art of Education. See their version here.

We also wanted to have them jump right into drawing in these sketchbooks, so I thought this would be a great time to do Danny Gregory's AWESOME sketchbook activity I learned about during the Art of Education's Summer 2016 Online Conference. Basically, students grab a Sharpie (I know! How permanent!!) and move about the room drawing different things for two minutes a drawing. It was awesome and a very good way to get them to loosen up! Here are some of their pages from the day:

Students were asked to star their most successful piece and explain
in the margin why they thought it was the best.
This was a great activity to break in the sketchbooks. This week students are working on a graphic design piece, so they are adding notes to their sketchbooks, but more sketchbook activities will be coming soon! ENJOY!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Getting Ready for MY First Day!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I've been enjoying life! I've been having a wonderful summer with my husband and four kids, reorganizing and renovating our home (yay! new bathroom!) camping, attending an online art conference and reading all sorts of non-scholarly books.

But, it's time to get serious. It's time to get ready for MY FIRST CLASSROOM! Yippee!! I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade part-time at Amherst Middle School. I have a very large classroom and I am taking over for an art teacher that was VERY neat. The room was like a blank canvas and many of us know what it is like to sit staring a blank canvas: Blink. Blink. What am I going to DO?

Well. I just took a step and began. I decided the pressure was off to get my room 100% "DONE" (as if it ever would be!) for the first day of school. I feel as though the classroom is a very organic space where there are certain things that are constant (signs for where materials are located, the elements and principles bulletin board, the standards/competencies board), but I need to be able to have places to display student work and visuals and inspiration that pertain to what they are working on. So, I got a couple of the constants done and today I'm labeling my supply cabinets.

Here's are some of the highlights:
My Teacher Zone
Teacher Zone: I covered the old metal desk with contact paper. I think it needs a little something in the center or some inspirational art quotes on it...I'll work on that. My computer hasn't been set up, but will be soon. In the bookcase to the side, I have a couple of gallons of water (I try to drink a lot of water during the day) and a teacher toolbox for my supplies. I got the printables for the teacher toolbox on TeachersPayTeahcers--love the imagery!

Labels by Teach Create Motivate
The banner above the desk was done using the freebies I got at the Art of Ed Online Teacher Conference I attended this summer. This is NOT my idea, but rather a copy of an image I saw on Pinterest. I loved it and knew it would be perfect for the students at my school since we are using the Courage to Care Program and I believe that courage can come in many forms and I truly believe that it takes an amazing amount of courage to be yourself and take chances (i.e. be creative in middle school). 

Standards/Competencies Area: I am a BIG proponent of the standards/competencies in the classroom. I want EVERYONE to know what they are--parents, students, community members, etc. So, here's the place that I have them for everyone to see. I have the NH State Standards, the National Visual Arts Standards, and the strategic plan that our district is working on (this is an important document for our district and really relates to everything we do in our classrooms and as a district).
Those little art images are postcards I got a while back from IKEA. I plan to keep this up all year.

Standards/Competencies Board
Elements/Principles Bulletin Board: OK, as a graphic designer, I love the elements and principles and feel they need to be displayed and referred often. I saw this great bulletin board idea on the interweb and then saw these great posters on Teachers Pay Teachers by Mrs. Nguyen and knew they would work perfectly! The painting in the center is from Goodwill--I just really liked the colors and the op-art look of it. I just pinned these up and haven't committed to the arrangement yet. But I will need to soon! I plan to keep this up all year.

Elements/Principles Board
I'll post more pictures of the room soon, I'm going in today (with some of my kids!!), so we'll see what we get done. This is probably my last classroom-focused day and the rest of my prep I'll do at home on my computer...

Have a wonderful start to YOUR school year!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Foam Reduction Shoe Prints With Grade 5

Before I got all caught up graduatin' and getting an art teacherin' job, I posted a WHOLE BUNCH about the long-term art sub gig I had at Fairgrounds Elementary School in Nashua. If you didn't see the posts, I did a series of them by grade level (Kinder and grades 1-4). I also taught grade 5 while I was there and did some fabulous projects with them. I thought that I'd break those projects out into individual posts, though, since they require a bit more detail to explain, etc. Here goes...

Sassy boots! This print was done on white paper.
First printing: red ink, second print: black ink.
The yellow you see is a piece of paper I matted the print on,
the red is the mat board.
The first day I met the fifth graders, I decided to do a simple winter-themed foam printmaking project with them to catch their attention and size 'em up. I had them create snowman images on foam and them print with one color (white) onto their choice of background paper--you can see this post here.
This print was done on white paper.
First printing: blue ink, second print: black ink.
The yellow you see is a piece of paper I matted the print on,
the red is the mat board.
It went so well, that I thought I would continue on with printmaking and do a 2-color printmaking project inspired by the “Killer Heels” exhibit currently at the Currier Museum of Art (actually, I don't think this is currently on exhibit anymore, but it WAS at the time).

This print was done on purple paper.
First printing: yellow ink, second print: blue ink.
The navy blue is the mat board.
Students created their own printing plate by using pencil to “carve” a picture of their shoe into a foam “plate.” Students then used brayers to apply ink to their plates and print 1 print. Week two, students added a ground line and background, chose a contrasting color of ink and reprinted their designs. These prints were mounted on mat board and displayed at the Currier Museum of Art during the New Hampshire Art Educator’s Association Annual Members Reception in March. 

All prints were mounted onto mat board to look fancy.
I think added little paper hinges to groups of three to four
and ribbon ties so that the pieces could be displayed accordion-style
or create triangular displays such as this
(I didn't know how they were going to be used exactly).

WOW! What place of honor--the buffet table,
right where everyone can see these fabulous prints--
although I think people were too busy looking at the awesome food
they were piling on their plates--YUM!

The final week, students worked as a class to create an assessment rubric that contained the important vocabulary words from the Shoe Reduction Print project. They also determined four attributes that should be found in their finished work. Now, having students create their own rubric was something I had only done with high school, but I really wanted the students to be able to see the value in their work and begin to see that assessment isn't something we teachers pull out of thin air. Was walking the students through the rubric creation difficult. Not really. Was it work to keep them focused? Yep. Did it take a lot of time? Nope--we had it done in about 15 minutes. Was it worth it (really)? You bet. They did a great job and I think it lent credibility to me, the art process and what they do in the art room. Creating rubrics with your students is also a great way to review vocabulary and objectives! Win/win! ENJOY!!

Here's the rubric the grade 5 students created.
Normally, I would type up my rubrics to look all fancy,
but I wanted the students to see that this was the one we
created as a class. Pretty good for a first try.
Detail of the top of the rubric--the vocab section.
They needed to think of three vocab words from the lesson
and decide as a class what a good definition would be. 
Detail of the bottom of the rubric--they needed to come up with
four objectives of the assignment. This was fun walking them through
being objective instead of saying "it looks cool!" I put #5 on there. :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Whoo-hoo! My graduation!

This weekend was a big one for me--I graduated with my Masters of Arts in Teaching from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire!! Whoo-hoo! I've been diligently working on my Masters for the past couple of years and, I ain't gonna lie--it wasn't always easy with four kiddos and working part time. The hardest part, I think, was having to stop teaching the after school art classes I loved so that I could devote more time to my studies. Having to stop teaching so that I could eventually be able to teach was a hard thing for my brain (and heart) to rationalize. This degree is really significant to me since it unlocks the door to becoming an art teacher--a dream I have had since I was around 9 or 10. I cannot believe it!
Here I am with two of my four kiddos.  That would be #1 and #3.
And, of course, I could not have tackled any of this without the love and support of my family, especially:
  • My husband (who, among other things, patiently listened to educational theory on our "date nights," was awoken countless times at night while I taught art lessons in my sleep, and encouraged me when I hysterically sobbed in our driveway because I just didn't think I could make it through finals and get my second portfolio done). 
Here's that good-looking guy! Twenty-six years together, what a wild ride!
  • My children (who patiently--pretty much--endured mom at the computer in her p.j.'s mumbling about art at all hours of the day and night and who told me they were proud of me for working so hard instead of pointing out that we were having frozen pizza for dinner (again).
  • My mom (who always said yes to watching my kids and who is my original cheerleader, and I think, the President of my fan club. I think this may have been a bigger deal for her than for me, and that's saying something!).
And here I am with my mom who was going to go to my graduation. No. Matter. What.
I'm surprised she isn't wearing her "Brandie Pettus Fan Club" t-shirt...
  • My sister (my behind-the-scenes gal, who watched my children--even when she wasn't expecting it, fed them healthy meals and played countless board games with them, played outside and went bike riding--all with a smile on her face).
And the amazing people who taught me so well! Namely, Jason Swift, my advisor at PSU who put up with my lengthy phone calls and my enthusiastic, quirkiness! Marianne True, for giving me a chance as a Program Associate at PSU. That job was the reason I was able to attend PSU and her guidance was truly amazing. Trish Lindberg, for your positive attitude and belief that I am "a star." For my cooperating teachers, Meagan Read and Martha Rives--every day I learn from you and you are both such patient teachers. To Porter Dodge and Rachel Rouillard for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be the long-term art sub at AMS. You opened doors for me.

All of my friends and family, thank you for encouraging me to follow my dreams, letting me be myself and encouraging such high standards of excellence.

There are a WHOLE BUNCH of other family members, friends and colleagues not mentioned here and that doesn't mean I am not thankful for their help and love and support along the way. It really has taken a village for me to be able to reach this milestone in my life and I am humbled by the kindness of those I am surrounded by. Truly, thank you.
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