Saturday, November 14, 2015

Someone said it better than me...

I try to stay pretty neutral about online postings because I figure it isn't worth my time to get all wrapped up and argue with people around the world.

Today I just about broke my "silence."

A friend posted an article on Facebook about a sculpture that had anti-Semitic messages on in. In all fairness you can read the article here:

For some reason his ability to tear apart an artists work without even thinking for a moment that their is more (or less) to the story than he is making was crazy to me. The people posting had me getting more and more worked up. They were ready to ruin the artists entire career and label him a hate filled Anti-Semitic based on one other persons idea. I had my response ready but didn't hit the "submit."

For some reason it was really sitting wrong with me so later I searched for the article to reread it. When I did so I found it but I also found this really great article that brings perspective to the situation much better than I ever could. You should read it here!

It just really has me thinking about everyone being a little more kind and a little less judgmental. We know there are REALLY bad things in the world that we should be upset about. However, we should probably make sure that we are upset about the "right" things.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mural Making

For my second section of Beautifying NMS Aftershock we decided the weather was getting a bit unpredictable for doing another project outside. Instead we decided to create a mural inside our building.

We started by brainstorming our ideas and working together to create an image. We blew it up on the Smartboard and traced the images onto large sheets of white paper.  

Students traced the image with sharpies before painting the black areas. After the 5th and 6th graders finished the black I found a lot of "smears." We fixed it by painting the panther grey. 

When it was all painted, we glued the pieces together and fixed up a few spots. We installed it downstairs with a black border around it.

I think it turned out pretty good. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Elements of Art Cubes

After my students created these really cool element of art graphic organizers (see original post here), I challenged them to create a cube showing their knowledge of the elements of art. Each side of the cube would represent one element of art.

"But Mrs. Carlisle there are only 6 sides and there are 7 elements!"

Yes, my children but what is a cube?

"Ah.... it's the form!"

The challenge was that they were given this project with 10 minutes left in a class period and the instructions to finish drawing it out at home. We would assembled them next time.

When students entered the room a week later I had a timer set with 11 minutes. When the bell rang I started the timer. They were told to cut on the solid lines and fold on the dotted lines. Those students who came to class with their cube work done had PLENTY of time to finish. Those who weren't prepared had more pressure. At the end of 11 minutes it was time to start something new. I then went around and graded the cubes. They received 1 point for bringing their cube, 1 point for having the elements of art drawn out, 1 point for assembling the cube and 1 point if they did a really great job.

There was some massive scrambling to get points but at the end of class we had a great discussion of how important it is to be prepared. Those students who were prepared had a simple time completing the task. Those who were unprepared were paid the price.
It was a pretty fun way to teach a valuable lesson and it was great review of the elements! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Element of Space

When we finished up our element of art photo collage I asked the students if they realized that no one had to photograph "space." We talked about how photographing space would require us to use lines, shapes, colors, forms and texture.
then I introduced the idea of forced perspective photography. I showed them some photos taken by other people and they were hooked. They loved the pictures and were wondering how they were created.
I did a brief demonstration on how to use the "rules" of space to manipulate the photos. We talked for a few minutes and then we headed outside to take photos.

With 10 minutes left to class we returned to the room to edit our photos. By the end of the class they sent me their best 2-3 photos and I was IMPRESSED!

I love this photo because while they were creating this... 

I was taking this...
I love how you can see how they were taking the photo and the final product. 

While not every photo turned out the best, each group was able to get at least one good photo. This is a lesson we will definitely be using again! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Photographing the Elements of Art

I see my 6th graders for "bonus" art for one quarter worth of Wednesdays. This year we are really focusing on the elements of art. We started with a review of what are the elements of art. Next they drew tags for an element to photograph.
I sent them into the great big world of the middle school with timers set for 10 minutes. They had to photograph as many things as they could find that would "show" their element of art. After 10 minutes they returned to the room to "assemble" their photos.
Using the app PicCollage they created 3x3 photo collage's of their elements. We had a lot of good discussion regarding making sure their photos really focused on the element of art. For example the photo of the exit sign is a "form" until your zoom in on the "shape" of the letter x.
As they finished, they uploaded them to artsonia. There were a few who needed to be sent back as their photos got fuzzy when enlarged but it only took a quick minute to change the photos and send them back. It was really a lot of fun to see what they selected for their photos.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

aMAZEing Name Projects

Every year it is challenging to learn the 300+ names of the incoming 5th graders. For that reason I like to start with a project that focuses on drawing their names. I also like to have them work through the elements of art as a review. During one of the very first days I spotted a student creating their own maze and my first lesson idea was solidified.

 We used LINES to make a name maze.

Students started by writing out their name, following the lines on the grid paper.

Using a pencil they marked the start and finish of their maze.  They connected them with the "solution path"

They erased "openings" in the solution path and added the tricks and traps. The used the lines of the graph paper for all their work. 

They finished their images by tracing their pencil lines with mark. It made it very easy to see the lines when I ran them through the copier to make 2 copies for each student. 

It was so much fun to listen to them design ways to trick people as they fill out their maze.

Of course some students went their own way but everyone had a blast, used lines successfully and I learned their names (or at least got a good start on it!)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Aftershock #1

I like to help out with our school's after school program called AFTERSHOCK. It is a great chance to know the kids a little better and tackle some art projects or ideas you just can't do with large classes or 300+ students. This year our sessions are broken into 4 week groups. For my first 4 weeks we did a beautify NMS group. We tackled the severely neglected flower bed from the front of the school. I didn't take any before or during pictures.

Here are the after pictures!  A HUGE improvement!
the hardworking crew!
2 of my 6th Grade ROCKSTARS!
Miss Haylee helping us add beautiful flowers to the inside of our building

We finished one day early a decided to fill our front windows with flowers! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Seating Charts - the easy way

Creating seating charts for 24 classes with 600+ new students who you don't really know is VERY intimidating. I have spent a lot of years creating seating charts prior to the start of school only to figure out that students who shouldn't be together are, students have moved are missing and all my hard work needs tweeked.  I finally quit!

I changed how I make my seating charts at the start of the year and it is WONDERFUL.

This year I started by making a list of 32 famous artists. I then printed out two copies of this list and cut them out. I taped one set to the table and handed the other set to students as they entered the room. By matching their artist name with the name on the table they created their own seating chart.

There may be a few students who quickly showed they shouldn't be side by side but for the most part this has proved very successful. I give the students a task to accomplish and ask them to leave their planners out at their spot. As they are working, I walk around and copy down their names and fill out my seating charts.
** after 150 students (one day) the papers were showing some wear and tear so I switched it up and just wrote the names onto my tables with sharpies. (dry erase marker takes it off)**

It is easy to do and it frees up some of my precious pre-school starting time. Last year I used paint chips and wrote about it here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Let Me (re)Introduce Myself

Wow - I stumbled upon this blog the other day and loved what it had to say. It hadn't been updated lately and I was sad.  Then I realized I was in charge of it.

So it is time for me to get moving!  I can't promise anything but know that I am going to try to do better this year.

I had a wonderful summer with these three crazies

and the school year it off to a great start so stay tuned for some new shares!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

So Amazed...

I am just so amazed and PROUD that I have to share this... 

My cousin Randi is this amazing gal who is absolutely fearless.  

She packed her bags after high school graduation from Creighton, NE (population 1,120) and tackled life at UNL (student population of 25,000+).  While there she enjoyed traveling all over the US.  After graduation she moved to Hawaii "just because she wanted to." When she (and her husband) moved back to the mainland they landed in Texas.  The last few year they have lived in Minneapolis were she works for Target corporate. (no she can't get me some sweet target family discount but that would be amazing)  

There are so many things that make her special but one of the things you will notice about her is that she is blind. So is her husband. While some people would think that would make life challenging, they will tell you it just makes life different. They just have to do somethings a little differently. She taught newly blind people how to camp the North Shore. She builds her own woodworking projects. She cooks amazing gourmet meals. 

I could go on but I am writing this to share her newest adventure. 

She is completing a triathlon.  

Yeah... she will be swimming 6 miles tethered to her trainer, biking 26 miles on a tandem bike and then running 6 miles tethered to her trainer.  

So the next time you think there is something you can't do... yeah, you can.  

You just have to figure out how.   

If you want to read more here is her trainers blog and their thoughts on their learning curve.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Descriptive Self Portraits

Our 5th graders are supposed to focus on descriptive writing for our state testing so when we started our portrait unit we started by "writing our self portraits."  

To get them thinking about how to write a descriptive self portrait they had to start by physically describing themselves to someone on the phone (someone who couldn't see them).  

Next they had to describe their personality and list 10 things they like and 10 things they dislike. 

After they sketched out their images, the wrote their portraits down onto watercolor paper.  
We finished them using wet in wet technique.  
Our watercolors were crayola marker watercolors and the kids loved them!  

I loved how different they all were.  
Some were so free while others were very structured.  
Some used just a few colors while others had to use every color.  

Some students were very brief with their writing and chose a few words to describe them.  
Others wrote and wrote and wrote. 
They were all very eye opening as to the students personalities. 

You can check out more at artsonia

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Believe it or not...

14 years of teaching and this is the first time I ever did a glaze fire...
So happy with how it turned out! 
Might just have to do it again!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


So we have two days of four done for our year end Genius Hour projects in 6th grade.  This is usually my absolutely favorite time of the year.  I love seeing what the kids come up with and how far they push themselves.

However, this year has been different.

I have had a few AMAZING projects but I have also had a lot of very disappointing projects.  It really has me thinking about what was different about this year?

Was it the kids? Not gonna lie, we have a tough crew this year but some of my best projects have come from students who have fought me on most things throughout the year.  My "middle of the pack" kids seem to be the one who are letting me down.

Was it the time frame?  I briefly introduced the project 4 weeks ago, while they were working on clay.  The next week we did the full lesson intro while they were painting the clay.  Last week they spent a lot of time collaborating and researching.  I think excessive collaboration might have started the downfall (too many projects that are way to much the same - origami animals and melting crayons - without much learning).  I also think that their attention was firmly rooted in clay work and not listening the first two weeks.

Was it my failure to teach the lesson?  Let's be honest, this is the hardest one to face but is probably the biggest part.  In the past I have spent a lot of time walking the room and checking that students had their concepts down.  This year I spent a lot of class time/work time catching students up on missing work and handing back artwork. One of the reasons I dislike teaching a lesson more than one year is that teaching it a second or third time can have you getting a little too comfortable and forgetting that just because you have taught it before doesn't' mean they have done the project before. 

I still have two more days worth of work to see.  I am hoping that things start to look up...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Perspective Project

This was our actual perspective project... PERSONAL ART GALLERIES

I told the kids they were like "bajilionaires" and could buy any artwork they wanted.  We worked together to draw a gallery and then they filled the walls with famous works of art.

We also created exteriors for our art museums.  They could make them simple, ornate or just plain crazy.  They just had to have doors that entered into the art gallery. 

It was a lot of fun to see the artwork that each student choose.  And the detail they added to the exteriors. 

You can check out more at our artsonia site
(be advised that they took their own photos for this exhibit)