Tryout for Art?

mural 1 mural 2 mural 3This school year has started with a bang and just seems to keep flying right along.  It’s hard to think that we are in December and I feel like we are just getting started.  My co-partner decided that it would be a great idea to have the students paint a mural in the library of our school.  So, we decided to hold “try-outs” for painters.  Not wanting to exclude anyone but, knowing that you cannot paint a small mural with 800+ students this seemed to be our logical course of action.

The tryout took 2 weeks.  The first week we had students paint in a pre-printed worksheet that consisted of shapes similar to those on the wall.  With over 300 students participating in the initial tryout deciding who would move onto the second round was the most difficult task for us.  Small discrepancies in painting techniques had to come into play.  We chose 40 students.

Those students then returned to our rooms to paint a paper rendition of the mural.  Each student was given a number so were not aware of their identity.  They were assessed on their ability to paint on a wall, how they cleaned their brushes, and a short written reflection of why they thought they should be chosen to paint the mural.  Hands down students were chosen on their cleaning up techniques and/or written response, painting had little to do with this elimination process.

At the end of the day, 32 students were chosen to paint the mural.  We stayed after school for 6 weeks; two nights each week, 16 students per night.  This gave us a manageable number of students that could work comfortably in the space.

Even though there were moments of “Ooops!”  “Awwww!” and “Oh no!”.  The overall event was a great success.  The mural is still not completed but with holidays upon us it is difficult to stay after school to work.

Smaller groups of students will be asked to join us occasionally to complete the project.  Working on layering techniques and details.  If all goes well, we hope to complete work by the holiday break! mural 3 mural 2 day 1 mural 2

Percolated Color Wheels

Well, it’s official, we are using technology in the art room!  Thanks to the Target Arts and Cultural Grant I was able to buy 5 iPads for my art room!   These are 6th grade colors wheels enhanced by using the Percolator app.

claytonpercolate 1percolate 2percolate 3

It’s official we are using technology in the Art room!

Last year our school implemented a new behavior plan for our building.  SWPBSI, School Wide Positive Behavior Support is a state led initiative that reinforces positive behaviors based upon respect; yourself, respect others, and respect property.    The students have created a key to their classroom. All keys are formed from student hand prints which become their pledge to follow.  Classroom teachers, itinerants, aides and office staff were all asked to add their hand print to the keys pledging to follow the codes of respect.

A technology link was added to this project by using an iPad and the app HT Recorder.  The question, “What does respect mean to you?” was posed to each student and recorded in a short clip.  The recordings were then converted into QR codes using QR Stuff, a free web site.  When the code is read with a hand-held device and QR reader students can hear their individual recordings of their classroom and the meaning of respect.

QR Code

QR Code

student 3

Cultivating the Elements and Principles of Art (Part 2)

Every summer since I was very young I have experienced a bad case of poison ivy. I’ve used special soaps, unusual concoctions, and seek the advice or professional doctors and allergists. Chanting the old adage “Leaves of three, let them be.” while I work the garden is not unusual. Despite this evil little plant, I cannot seem to pull myself away from the beauty of a garden.

In a previous post Cultivating the Elements and Principles of Art (Part 1) I shared with you the bones of my garden and how I incorporate my art knowledge into its beauty. Using the elements of art to lay the ground work of what will become a thing of beauty.

The time and the labor put into this space is overwhelming but the end results help to make it worthwhile. Colors, shapes, lines, and texture call me here every summer. It is truly my living work of art.





Art for Art’s Sake

Do you teach art for art’s sake?

This is a difficult question for me to answer.  I have worked with art colleagues previously that felt I was “sacrificing” art for integration.  I took their opinion very personally until I started to examine what I teach and why I teach it. I do integrate many of my lessons. Years ago, in the time of dinosaurs, I was trained to teach this way.  My art education classes we taught to include all of the disciplines.  Of course, this was before outcomes and mainstreaming as well as No Child Left Behind.

Not all of my lessons are integrated, many are “art for art’s sake” but I feel there is an intrinsic value to those that combine disciplines and are cross-curricular.  When I integrate lessons the objectives and essential question are always based upon my art curriculum. If I choose to incorporate language arts or science, does that make the lesson bad and sacrifice the art?  I find that hard to accept.  I choose to make my lessons engaging and hopefully something that my students will enjoy.  Through that process I can guarantee that they will remember either something from art….. language arts…..or science….maybe all three.

In a recent article in the ASCD, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Willona Sloan states, “….arts education advocates argue that while teaching art for art’s sake is certainly beneficial for all students, studies also show that participating in the arts can actually boost student achievement in other academic areas.”  It doesn’t matter whether the lesson is art for art’s sake or a cross-curricular lesson, if it is not interesting I will lose student’s interest and the lesson will not be successful. 

Inducing art into STEAM and/or Common Core may be a way to save the arts.  It also may be a way to validate the arts as an essential part of learning and creativity.  Either way, I feel it’s a win-win situation.   


Art and the Common Core

One of my favorite lessons is teaching my 6th grade students how to create a landscape silhouette.  The students love this lesson because for many it is their first opportunity to use X-acto knives. I love it because of the book we read at the beginning of the lesson.

                                         The Day the Babies Crawled Away

by Peggy Bathmann and Kara Walker is a delightful children’s book done completely in silhouettes.  Students love looking at the pictures and trying to find the most mischievous baby.  It is an excellent resource for teaching positive/negative space as well as silhouette drawing and cutting. 

Children’s literature can lead to many fascinating art projects.  Don’t be afraid to read aloud to your students.  No one is too old to enjoy a good picture book.