Inclusion in the Art Room

With the monies I received from the Target Arts, Culture & Design in Schools Grant I purchased 5 iPads for my Art classroom to teach digital art.   One of the lessons that I taught was how to make stop motion videos. The students loved this project. Since there are only 5 iPads and approximately 30 students in each classroom, they obviously have to work collaboratively on the project. I was concerned as to how different ability levels and personalities would work together and be creative. One of my favorite videos was produced by a group that consisted of two non-verbal students. It was amazing to watch how the other students in the group worked with them and help them communicate what and how they wanted to add to the project. They were extremely patient and sincerely concerned about how the learning support students wanted to express their creativity. This was a true success in digital art in the art room, but more importantly, in life skills for all.

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Mobile Color Wheels

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Students have been diligently working to complete their Alexander Calder inspired mobiles. Anxious to see the classroom turn into a virtual color wheel these mobiles were painted in shades and tints of primary, secondary and intermediate colors.  Along with the installation classes are publishing their individual work on Artsonia, the on-line student museum.  It is an exciting time to be in the art room!

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

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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.

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.

Working collaboratively across the curriculum….

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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.