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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?

 

 

As a member of the MFA, I received this email today and think it’s important to share. The letter, written by five Boston-area museum directors outlines why funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is so vital to our communities. 

As directors of Boston’s art museums, we serve as stewards of the public trust. So, we are alarmed at reports that the National Endowment for the Arts is under threat of being abolished, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Each of these entities champions art and culture in communities across America.

In Boston, NEA and NEH funding has been instrumental at each of our museums, supporting our extensive programs of public access, teaching and scholarship, conservation, collections, and exhibitions. NEA and NEH grants supported the digitization and cataloging of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s singular collection; acquisition funds for works of art by American artists of color in The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the forthcoming exhibition Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings at the Harvard Art Museums; the restoration of American artist Kenneth Noland’s only public art piece at MIT; and transformative art education programs for Boston Public Schools middle and high school students at the ICA.

Federal support has been a critical piece of the puzzle for museums in our shared mission to foster knowledge, create cultural exchange, generate jobs and tourism, educate our youth, ignite the imagination of our audiences, and nurture the creativity of working artists. Across the country—in communities small and large, urban and rural—the NEA and NEH help to guarantee access to the arts and the preservation and presentation of diverse cultural expression. The prestige and visibility of the NEA and NEH connect our entire cultural community, though we are well aware of the outsized influence of federal dollars at our most vulnerable arts institutions across America.

On Wednesday, our colleague Thomas Campbell of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times eloquently outlining how every museum relies not only on financial support but also on the advocacy of the NEA to strengthen communities through the arts.

We share the belief that access to the arts is at the core of a democratic and equitable society. During this moment of heightened national discord, the elimination of the NEA and NEH is not a cut our country can afford.

Art is, at its best, a dialogue. We hope that you’ll participate in the conversation about the importance of federal funding for the arts and join us as stewards of the public good.

Peggy Fogelman, Norma Jean Calderwood Director, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Paul Ha, Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center
Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, Institute of Contemporary Art
Martha Tedeschi, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director, Harvard Art Museums
Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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I recently read this article about what artists can learn from teachers.

I think it is so important for art teachers to maintain a personal practice. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your students… and not just by making teacher samples, but by engaging in artistic practices–looking at art and sketching and planing and doing (and re-doing). As a full-time teacher, however, it can be difficult to make time to make my own work. Whenever I meet someone new, and they find out that I’m an art teacher, their second question is usually, “Do you make your own work?” I don’t have a simple answer. It usually depends on the season.

During the school year, especially in the fall, I often spend most of my free time setting up my classroom, planning for the year, experimenting with new lessons and generally getting back into the routine of being at school. During this time, I often spend more time thinking about work that I’d like to make instead of making it. In the winter and spring, I tend to spend less time outdoors and more time indoors, which means more time working on personal projects. Winter in New England is a great time to devote to my own practice. At the end of the school year, I am often busy with our all-school art show, end-of-year events, handing back work, taking inventory, and ordering materials for the following year.

The time ebbs and flows, but the point is that I continue to make time for myself.

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that the less tightly I hold onto one artistic identity (“painter,” “printmaker,” etc.), and the more space I give myself to make–to try new media and techniques–the more I usually enjoy making art. The more permission I give myself to make, the more opportunities I give myself to discover new ways of creating.

This weekend I’ve been snowed in and have spent my time finishing work for an upcoming show I am co-curating at Dorchester Art Project. As February break approaches, I’m excited to devote a full week to my personal practice.

Do you make your own work? How do you balance/schedule your time?

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My students loved making these Recycled Robots. As inspiration for this lesson, I read the book Robo-Sauce, written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. I also showed students a slideshow of robots form the 1940s/50s and had them guess what power/job the robot might have.

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Then, each student chose a piece of (square or rectangular) cardboard for the body of their robot and then created and attached arms, legs, and other parts to the body using oak tag. Students added facial features and buttons using bingo chips, buttons, and foam shapes.

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Then students printed their robot two ways. First, by creating a crayon rubbing and second by painting and printing their robot to create a collagraph print. Students REALLY loved using the printing press.
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