Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For this am I Thankful!

Today before I leave for Thanksgiving break I would like to take a moment and reflect on those things I am thankful for...
  • I am thankful for to live in a country where I can believe, do, think and say what I want without fear of persecution.
  • I am thankful for my family... they raised me to believe in God and to know that even though I can believe, do, think and say whatever I want; there are moral guidelines.  This includes my two little brothers (who are no longer little) who constantly amaze me by being the men they are growing into. 
  • I am thankful for my husband who works hard everyday to provide for our family.  I am thankful that he loves me unconditionally and accepts my kind of crazy.  I am thankful that he is the greatest father my kids could ask for.
  • I am thankful for my son Jarrett.  His kind heart and creative mind amaze me everyday.  He is a wonderful big brother and the joy gets from learning something new and his love of the Lord is inspiring to me.
  • I am thankful for my daughter Haylee.  I aspire to live my life so fully and so joyfully.  Her laughter and zany ideas guarantees that life will never be boring with her. 
  • I am thankful for my daughter Lauren.  Her need for me makes me feel treasured and her calmness and gentle demeanor help us all stop and enjoy life.
  • I am thankful for a job that I love.  I can honestly say that I enjoy going to work on a daily basis. 
  • I am thankful for the amazing group of children I get to work with. (thank you parents for sharing them) They make me smile (most of the time) as I am blessed get to see their minds open up and discover new things.  I enjoy that I get to see them share information about who they are while creating amazing works of art. 
  • I am thankful for my building and my administrator.  I truly enjoy the people I work with.  They are a dedicated staff who puts the needs of students before their personal needs.  They work together to find solutions and do what is best for students.
May all of you have a blessed thanksgiving break filled with rest, laughter and safe travels!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


     A few years ago I went to the National Art Convention in New York where I attended some sessions that were about having students create their own lessons.  The teacher would develop stations for the students to create at and then "let the student creativity flow."  I loved the concept but was never able to figure out how to apply that to a schedule of 600 kids a week and keep my sanity. 
     Lately, I have been struggling with how I teach.  I teach the same lesson 4 days a week to 300 kids.  That means 300 projects that look very similar.  I talked with some of my colleagues during our PLC and they suggested switching materials for every day of classes.  That would work, but then I would have to keep track of which classes used which materials and I would have a different set up everyday.  Did I mention I have 3 kids at home under the age of 7 to keep track of also :)
     For my latest 5th grade project I tried something new and I think I like it! 
  • We talked about watercolor... it's qualities and how to use it. 
  • We talked about how artists have used text in paintings...from illuminated letters to modern artists. 
  • We talked about geometric and organic shapes and how artists use them... they looked at Paul Klee and Gustav Klimt to compare styles.   
  • Then I gave them homework (something I don't usually do).  They had to sketch out an idea that used text to create an image that reflected geometric or organic design. 
     Today they came back and most of them had their homework done...YEAH!  Some of the classes used poetry they had written in English class for their text prompt (thanks Mrs. Schmidt and Miss Riese!)  Some of the classes they had to come up with their own ideas and I enjoy hearing them discuss the ideas behind their writing. Even though they all were given the same assignment and we are using the same material, I am loving all the different projects I am getting.  I think this will inspire me in the future...

Here are few of the projects in progress.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guys on the Ground

Today was the final day of our Keith Haring work for my Wednesday class.  We went outside to do some drawing.  Using our shadows, we created Haring Inspired Guys on the Ground.
tracing our shadows with a partner
filling in our figures with Haring inspired lines
our finished "guys" drawn in our public spaces
We had a lot of fun drawing and completeing these projects.  One group even made it look like the school building fell on their guy.  They also had a lot of fun playing with their shadows and the guys.  I even love my shadow in most of the pictures. 
The only thing the kids didn't appreciate was the 32 degree day I made them do this on.... well it is November in Nebraska.

Monday, November 7, 2011

No Computers.... WHAT?

So I spent most of Saturday night at school finishing this "awe-inspiring" lesson only to walk in this morning to the news that our whole computer network was down.  No Internet for resources, no "H" drives filled with information, no creatively crafted power points... NOTHING. AUUGGGHHHH!  After I calmed my nerves, I pulled out my emergency sub plans. 
We actually ended up prepping for next week (what should have been today) by talking about geometric and organic.  We discussed balance; symmetrical vs. asymmetrical.  Finally, we concluded the lesson with a color review of complimentary colors and made these symmetrical cut paper designs.

I love how they are each so different! 
And I love that the computer system is back up and running!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How Do you Display?

There is something about a new art display that makes me happy.  Perhaps it is the fresh stuff to look at.  Perhaps it is the promise of new projects. Perhaps it is the questions I get from "the other grade" about what the display is about... and why don't they get to do that project?  Regardless it makes the visual part of me very happy.
This year I have tried (can't say it has happened every time) to include a summary of the lesson in the display.  This works great for when I display the projects in the halls as it is a brief summary of what we did during the lesson. 
The other thing I am working really hard on this year is keeping my stuff put away.  That means my storage room should stay nice and neat.... another thing that makes me happy :)

Friday, November 4, 2011


WOW... Yesterday we went to Omaha to the Joslyn Art Museum for their Celebrate Creativity Day.  It was AWESOME!  The Orchestra teacher and I worked together to take 50 students.  They spent the morning touring the museum and completing different sessions and after lunch they listened to the Omaha Symphony play.  For my first time ever doing a field trip, it rocked!
photo courtesy of
Favorite Sessions...
     Sweet Beats: the students learned about different percussion instruments from around the world and how to use them.
     Art of the States: students created a work of art that reflected a state without using representational material.
     Put Your Face On:  students were introduced to theatrical make-up. 
(I honestly thought a bus had wrecked when the first group came back with bleeding head wounds)
    Snapshots: Students were introduced to photography by a professional photographer.
    Mmmmm Bop: Students worked on the art of vocal percussion.
    Animate:  Students explored the art of animation.
    Just Dance:  Students read a work of poetry and then created an interpretive dance that reflected the story.

Favorite Gallery Tours...
    This completely depended on the Docent.  I followed one group where the docent was expecting college level discussion of art.  I followed another group where the docent did an AMAZING job of teaching the students the stories behind the art and making them ask questions and interact with the art.  The tours were European Art, American Landscape: Contemporary Photographs of the West, American Art and Then and Now: Modern to Contemporary Art.

The Concert...
      I was nervous that my art students who are not in orchestra may not enjoy this but the Joslyn did an AMAZING job of tying the art and music together.  They started by thanking the kids for committing to creating art throughout their lives. The first piece of music featured a brother sister duo from Omaha, who are still in high school, playing an unbelievable duet. 
      The second thing they did was discuss line.  They talked about line in art, line in music and line in dance.  They illustrated their point by looking at artwork, listening to and looking at music and watching ballet dancers.  They then played music while showing artwork that had the same kind of lines.  Next they used a really neat computer program that took the music the orchestra was playing (Beethoven's 5th Symphony, 1st Movement) and turned it into a line (or lines) of light on the screen.  When the music was calm, the line was small and straight.  As the music grew in intensity, the lines grew in size and began to dance all over the screen. 
      The finale was a performance of The Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker.  They had a group of performers from the Omaha Ballet come and perform to the music.  It was wonderful and the kids couldn't believe it when it was over.  They wanted more. 

All in all it was an amazing (can I use that word a few more times in this post) day.  We are going to really try to do it again next year... but with funding.  This year the kids paid for the trip BY THEMSELVES!  What a wonderful commitment from them. 

To follow this up, I am going to try to host monthly art classes for those who went on the trip.  We will create artwork that reflects the images we saw yesterday... think Degas' Little Dancer, Sandy Skoglund, Helen Frankenthaler, George Segal, Animation, European "story art."  Oh my mind is racing with ideas!