Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tips and Tricks: Tearing Butcher Paper Straight!

Here's a trick for tearing those big rolls of butcher paper that you might not know. I always had a hard time tearing the paper straight. It would start off really nice and straight and I'd think "this time I'll get it!" only to be surprised when the nice straight line veered off into a jagged tear. One day as I was asking the paper roll, "Seriously?", a preschool teacher walked by and told me the magic trick, which is really quite easy, and should be taught to all teachers!

Are you ready?

Tear from the bottom, up.

That's it! It makes a huge difference for me. Hope it helps you as well! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Seasonal Art


 Here's a sample of some of the seasonal drawings my 1st grade students created over the last several months. 
Snowpeople are always popular.
I love the arc of stars above this snowman.
And here's the oddball, the hand turkey. I don't encourage hand turkeys because of negative stereotypes of "pud" art classes. So when a 1st grader asked me if it was ok, I told her to make it the best hand turkey ever! It cracked me up when she wrote that description in her drawing.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Portfolio Day

In previous years I spent a ton of plan time hanging artwork in the hall. I'd wait until an entire grade was finished with a project, photograph the work for Artsonia, load up my cart, staple all the work (between 450-500 pieces at my primary school), and then in about a month I'd take it all down and repeat. This year I've changed my method and thinking about hallway displays. The response has been positive, the students are involved, and I'm saving lots of time, too! 

This year we've been trying out choice-based art education. Since students are working on their own projects there's no waiting until one assignment is finished and hanging a whole grade's worth of art. Here's what I've been doing instead:
  1. When students finish a project (including artist statements for 2nd and 3rd grade) they turn it in to me.
  2. I photograph finished projects once a week (usually) for Artsonia.
  3. I put the finished projects inside a file folder for each class, organized in a box for each grade.
  4. On a "Portfolio Day", usually every 6 weeks or so, all the finished projects are passed back.
  5. Students choose their best piece for the hallway and attach their artist statement.
  6. We clean up a little bit earlier than usual and each student lines up with their best piece.
  7. Students follow me into the hallway and hand me their artwork one at a time. I staple the artwork and stick out my hand for the next piece like a runner in a relay receiving the baton.
  8. We go back to the classroom and students collect any other finished pieces to go home with them that day.
Choice-based art allows students to work at their own pace (within reason) so some students will have several pieces to choose from and some may only have one piece finished. If there's only one finished piece, it is the best and therefore the "hallway piece". When there are several pieces, the students have to think, compare, judge, and finally make the decision of which piece is their strongest. Most of the time, they really do pick the best piece. In December, I let the students take their best piece home if they really really really wanted to give it to someone for a gift. On portfolio days students often talk to each other about their work and offer advice and opinions on what should go in the hallway.
Two students working on an artist statement.
One thing that makes Portfolio Days go more smoothly is that no new projects are started. If students have something in progress, they continue working on that. If they have finished pieces that slipped under the radar and didn't get an artist statement, artist statements are written. If students are finished with everything, they can choose from one of the centers that are not open regularly- blocks, modeling clay, etc.- until it's time to hang artwork.
The most unexpected benefit of this display method, is that students are noticing, really noticing, the artwork in the hallway. I always assumed they looked at it before, but I was wrong.
*At my intermediate school I still hang all the work myself. I see the students every other week as opposed to every week, and since they are older they tend to work on pieces longer. I don't feel I can take even 5 extra minutes away from their work time to hang hallway pieces. I just hang pieces as they are finished because it would take too long to get more than one piece finished at a time.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

4th-6th grade Choice Drawings

The drawing center was the first choice to open up last fall. 

I have a box of old computer paper that I mentioned might be good if someone needed to plan or practice an idea before starting on good paper. I was trying to solve the problem of students "messing up" and wanting to throw their paper away. I wish I hadn't ever uttered the word "practice" because it caused a new issue. Now I have students who want to make a finished piece on the old, thin computer paper and then make the exact same piece again "for real". If we had art more than 80 minutes a month I wouldn't be so concerned! I've just asked the practicers to mount it on construction paper instead of starting over.
I'm really enjoying the artist statements this year. The students don't seem to mind and some even write more than is required.
Julia3827 says this about his/her art...
I drew it because it reminds me of my sister because she eats peppers a lot. Halloween made me think of the pumpkin. I made my peppers to small. I solved it by making it bigger with the red colored pencil. This time I did shading and I didn't before.

Chandler1019 says this about his/her art...
I came up with the idea of a man with super strong powers off a tv show. I shaded parts of his clothes and body. I had trouble with the aura (the yellow glowy stuff). I want everyone to notice the shading, the colors, the eyes, and the neck.
This student used a mannequin to figure out the pose for his drawing.
Portraits don't seem to be as popular at the intermediate level as they are at the primary level.
Interesting composition!