This is my seventh year teaching and one of my busiest so far. When I first started teaching, I thought that after teaching for three or four years, my job would become pretty easy… I had visions of having all of my lessons for the rest of my career planned and leaving at 3pm each day. But in reality, the longer I teach, the more that I am inspired to do.

In order to manage all of my teaching goals, I realized that I needed more help. So this year, I decided to invite parents into the art room as volunteers.

Most classroom teachers at my school have “room parents,” that help communicate information to each family and help out in the classroom as needed. The librarian at my school uses parent volunteers to help shelve books. And then I remembered that a colleague from one of the schools I used to work at had successfully gotten parents to volunteer in the art room.

I reached out to her and asked what types of jobs the parent volunteers do and then came up with a list that fit my classroom. Some of the jobs include: pre-cutting paper, cleaning glue bottles, sharpening pencils, hanging displays, and scrubbing tables. I sent out an email to my school’s PTO and three parents responded! We met, I gave the parents a tour of my room and explained some of the common tasks. I posed the list in my room and after a few months, the volunteers know what jobs need to be done and where to get the supplies to do them.

I have enjoyed getting to know some of my student’s parents and also getting help with a lot of the jobs that get easily overlooked.

Recently, The Art of Ed also posted an article about parent volunteers. Click here to read 3 Great Ways to Use Parent Volunteers in a TAB Classroom.

I really liked taking Making Faces with Lynn Whippe. The two week format was a lot to absorb, so I’m planning to rewatch the videos over the summer and make some more faces in order to focus in on how to use some of these ideas with students next year. I do know that I will definitely be teaching one or two Portrait ATC assignments inspired by this course! Stay tuned. 🙂

 

I have enjoyed many of the Making Faces prompts so far. They are introducing me to new ways of sequencing steps. Lesson three is called “Facing Backwards” and provides multiple prompts for creating backgrounds and layering faces on top of them. Lesson four is all about collaging. Some of these are made by cutting up and rearranging other portraits that I didn’t like as much. I’m really excited to try something similar with some of my classes next year. I’m not sure if all of these are “done” yet, but I’ve really enjoyed the process so far which is the whole point. 🙂

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Making Faces has begun! The course is only two weeks long, and I signed up a few days after the start date, so I’ve been playing a bit of catchup with the assignments.

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I’m currently teaching two self-portrait lessons–one with second graders and one with third graders. After watching the course description video, I realized that my portrait lessons often focus on self-portraits and I began to question why that is. Yes, self-portrait assignments are great for developing observation skills, practicing mixing tans, browns and beige skin tones and personal expression. But I’d also like to mix it up a bit.

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Each of the six lessons in this course is presented as a 20-25 minute video. Lynn provides multiple prompts for “warming up” and encourages being playful and experimental throughout the process. Below are a few images from lessons 1-3. 🙂

 

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“We’re about putting kids on a path to success, and art is part of that,” Alphons says. “Ultimately, kids can be anything they want—a doctor, an accountant, an engineer—but giving them a creative toolkit hardwires them, at a very young age, to think innovatively.”

Artist Sanford Biggers concurs. (A painting of his grandfather, made when Biggers was 16, is included in the exhibition.) “Arts education is more than just learning the skills to produce art,” he says. “It’s thinking outside of the box, creative problem-solving, and improvisation. It increases visual and historical literacy—qualities that can positively affect any field.”

“There was so much I couldn’t do,” Simmons says, thinking back on the demands of her early school days. “It’s so important for children to be able to express themselves, to feel empowered. To feel like they can use their intuition, rather than memorization, or working with numbers, which might not come naturally.”

The importance of “giving a kid a quiet space to draw, and think, and make” should never be underestimated, Simmons adds. “In the end, there is no right and wrong answer,” she says. “Imagine that! It’s amazing freedom.”

Read the full article here: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-childhood-artworks-famous-artists-laurie-simmons-olafur-eliasson

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Author and illustrator Bryan Collier came to visit this week! He read some of his award-winning picture books, showed students some of his original pieces of art and answered lots of questions!

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I love his book Uptown and have used it as inspiration for a fifth grade lesson in the past, but didn’t think the quality of the finished work was that sophisticated. There were some interesting components, but I think the content of the lesson could be stronger. I’m a very reflective teacher, and like to rework lessons until I feel like I’ve gotten something good out of them, so having Mr. Collier back for a visit was exactly the inspiration I needed to revisit this idea. Stay tuned!

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I often teach multi-week projects, so after a several weeks, students are usually at different stages of completion. I sort finished work as students complete it, and then when a projects is about to wind down I make time for a “finish up day.” I have been thinking of ways to make this day a little more fun and memorable. I have seen this ketchup bottle idea posed on Pinterest and various blogs, so decided to make my own ketchup “catch up” bottle. (I mostly used this image and this image for inspiration.) I had recently taught a few one day structure/drawing lessons to my kindergarten students, so on day three, students had time to focus on finishing up their two drawing assignments and any other unfinished work they had from the year. Students who were done with all of their assignments got to work independently in their sketchbooks. I wasn’t sure if my 5 and 6 year olds were going to get the joke, but a lot of them thought it was funny. 🙂

How do you incorporate playfulness into your teaching?

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Another colleague taught this lesson when I student taught. I have taught it a few times over the years, and am always impressed with students’ creativity. It’s a fun lesson with a lot of possibilities and allows students to bring humor into their work.

I introduce the lesson by having students close their eyes and listen to me read a few names from the list and try to imagine a picture of what they hear in their head. Then, students open their eyes and I tell them that the names I read were real bird names. I defined the word pun and challenge students to create a visual pun by drawing one of the birds the way it might look based on it’s name.

I photocopied a list of bird names for each table and cut it into three strips (so students could share easily). Students went to their seats and created a sketch of one of the birds form the list. Some students made one sketch; some made many. Then, students traced a 1″ boarder onto a piece of 12″x18″ paper paper using a cardboard template, enlarged their drawing and traced it with permanent marker. (Tracing with Sharpie was optional.) Students were also required to draw a real or imaginary background to help describe their bird. Next, I showed students how to blend colors. Students had a choice of using oil pastels, crayons, colored pencils, or a combination of materials to color their picture. Students really enjoy this lesson and I love seeing all of the different results!

How do you include humor in your classroom?