Do you love to teach?

I also am very passionate about teaching.  I work in a full inclusive school and my learning support students hold a very special place in my heart.   I commit a significant amount of time to planning lessons, making adaptations, and supporting these students in special programs ensuring to meet the needs sited in their IEP’s.  I’m not sure why I feel this special akin-ship to my students I just know that I do.

Let me share with you 5 ways I help my special needs students achieve success:

1.       Provide your learning support student with a friendly and safe environment.  Find out before the first day of class if they have any friends in their classroom and sit these students together. Make their friend a “buddy” to help with supplies, remind them of appropriate behaviors, or just provide moral support.

2.       Give the learning support student as much time is necessary to complete the task at hand providing extra time before or after school if necessary.

3.       List the steps of the process involved on a small white board for the student to follow along.  As they complete a task have them erase the step to visually see their progress.

4.       Communicate with the learning support teacher, classroom teacher, other colleagues, and parents.  Know the students likes and dislikes and find out how they respond in their learning environment.

5.       Be flexible.  Some students need more instruction, re-direction, or a simple accommodation.  Make whatever changes necessary for the student to feel success.

Please share your ideas I would enjoy hearing how you help your special needs students find success.

Cultivating the elements and principles of art…..

I have spent the past three days in my garden. I never thought I would say those words. I was perfectly content to spend the days reading the latest novel or sketching my current inspiration. Seven years ago my husband and I moved to a new home after 21 years of residing in the “house we would never sell”. Due to extenuating circumstances life brought us to a new place with a new purpose. My first thought was what will I do, my second was I can’t handle this, my third being o.k. let’s tackle this yard!

Our home consists of many different sloped or hillside areas. Yard maintenance was a priority and the only thing to do was garden that which you cannot cut. And so I developed one of my largest passions and the biggest perennial garden of my imagination seeing that I knew nothing about perennial as well as gardening in general.

So, today, as I ice my aching knee, I wonder how did I get to this happy place of loving to be in my garden/s? Logically the answer is art. Color, texture, repetition, balance are all a part of the scope of my garden which has become my spring and summer work of art. I love that I can use repetition of colors and plants, add different textures for interest and create a focal point with things that are growing and living. I also enjoy nurturing and pruning into shapes and the scale that seems to fit the landscape.

Nature and gardening are natural, art and the elements and principles are natural. Equating the two and finding the balance that helps me to express as well as create is what it is all about.



How do you (creatively) assess students learning?

In the age of standardized testing it is hard not to get caught up in the everyday shuffle of assessing the correct and incorrect answers.  In art there is no right or wrong so sometimes assessment needs to take on the creative flavor of the class.

Here are a few easy assessments that are creative and fun:

·         Write– have students write a mini saga or acrostic poem about their artwork

·         Movie– have groups of students create a rap song about the lesson, record in iMovie for everyone to see

·         Word association – at the end of class have everyone say one word that related to the lesson that day.  If possible don’t let students repeat any words.

·         Play a game – Bingo, Jeopardy, Pictionary, Who Wants to be a Millionaire are excellent ways to assess learning at the end of semester and/or year.

·         Make a list – students make a list about the lesson using as many new vocabulary words  that they can remember, time them and see how many they can write down in one minute

·         Create a graphic organizer – Students will create a graphic organizer about their art work. Be creative by allowing students to work with crayons/markers/paint and 12 X 18 drawing paper.

How do you creatively assess your students learning?

Working collaboratively across the curriculum….

DSC00026DSC00028DSC00027      DSC00029DSC00031DSC00030


I recently had a language arts/global studies teacher ask me if I would be interested in working together to make a book on the Rainforest.  After three brainstorming sessions we came up with the idea of making an Alphabet Book.

 Students randomly chose a letter of the alphabet. Lists of animals were compiled by both of us to given to the students to choose an appropriate animal. In Language Arts and Global Studies classes students used the computer lab as well as the library to research and print photos of their animals.  They composed one page descriptions of their animal, giving details about their physique and where they lived within the rainforest.

Since we were in the process of studying the work of Eric Carle in Art, this lesson fit perfectly into our class.  The students had just completed a lesson on color and were well versed in how primary colors are mixed to create secondary and intermediate colors.  Contour Line drawings were done in their sketchbooks along with notes on the colors and details of the animals. Students had previously viewed the Eric Carle video, Eric Carle, Picture Writer, showing the artist in his studio creating his free style of painted papers.  One art class was spent making these “pretty papers” with various brushes, sponges, and tools incorporating many of Eric Carle’s techniques.

When the students returned to art class the next day and the pretty papers were strewn across the floor.  All of the students could see the various colors and textures and chose the ones that they wanted to use.  Various papers were pieced together into a collage type rendering of their particular animal.  The students worked hard to make the animal as realistic as possible and the results were indeed successful.

What does it mean to be an artist?

art·ist [ahr-tist] noun

1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.

2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.

3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.

4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.

5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.


I have always had a difficult time admitting to anyone, especially myself, that I may be artist?  Even though I have always enjoyed art and art making, I have never felt that my skill or craft has been perfected to be considered an artist.

As children we learn though creative play.  We use building blocks, draw with crayons and make toys from pots, pans, and boxes.  But, as we grow older we do not allow ourselves to explore play and playful opportunities worrying about what is right or wrong.   We lose touch with our creativity and therefore stifle our imagination.

I have purposefully set aside time every week to “be” creative.  I’ve given myself the opportunity to explore new avenues of art and art making.  Artistic thought processes interrupt my sleep as I grow back into my creative skin.  I am finally allowing myself to accept that I may be an artist.


                                                    my drawing 2

                                                     my drawing 1