I just had to share and brag a little bit :) One of my high school students won best of show in the drawing category at the massive Big 9 competition for visual arts in Minnesota. Her work titled "Russian Blue" was created using white charcoal on black paper. The assignment was to create a drawing using the chiaroscuro technique. She scored a 20/20 and has the opportunity to display her beautiful work at the Perpich Center in the Twin Cities. I am so so proud of her work and excited to see what she creates next.
Just had to share a photo of the crazy coil clay projects that are drying. These were made by 6th graders! I will post more details about the lesson when they are finished, but I just couldn't wait that long!
This semester, I got an idea from a fellow art teacher that I just love! The idea is that you take old hardcover books and upcycle them into sketchbooks! I had the library donate about 75 books to my classroom that had worn covers or torn pages. I asked each student to select a book and "upcycle" it in a way that they liked! I let my high school students use paint, oil pastels, markers, colored pencils-- pretty much any media of their choice. I got out my paper scrap and scrapbook paper buckets and let them go crazy...it has been so much fun!
The nice part about this project is that it is ongoing, allows students a range of creativity and choice in their creations, and eventually each student will have a full and interesting visual journal to keep. Many of my students are taking this project very seriously. I plan on taking photos of each student's visual journal at the end of the semester and I will post photos soon!
I created a set of prompts for each of my class. They have the entire semester to complete the prompts. I included the list of prompts below for your use.
Art & Design Visual Journal Prompts
Draw/Paint II Visual Journal Prompts
Since 3rd quarter is just about done, I decided to try something new with my art students. I just finished having what I call "Mini conferences" with my high school students, and I had to write a blog post to report my findings! Basically, I spent two days meeting with each of my high school students one on one during class. Half the class was on the first day, half the class was on the second day. I focused on talking about the following with each student:
1. Get Feedback from Your Students
This was something I was not expecting, but was beyond value to me! While talking with each student privately, they provided me with a ton of feedback to improve my teaching and curriculum. When I asked students how they felt about the class, most students said "Good". When I asked them about the pace of the class, I had several students say they felt that it was going too fast. Many students said they'd like to spend more time on their paintings. If I had never asked them this, I would have kept trucking along! I also asked students how they felt about the projects. Many students shared their own ideas for projects they would like to try. They gave me so many ideas, I just wish I had them for the entire year so we could do them all!
2. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
While discussing grades, I also talked with students about their strengths and weaknesses. Even if a student has 100% in my class, I know they are not perfect. For example, I have a student who has exceptional skill and a high level of perfectionism. Her artwork is college-level work, but her artist statement writing is below average. When discussing this with her, I discovered that she has always struggled with writing and just doesn't know where to start when writing an artist statement. She said she really struggled with getting her thoughts onto paper. We talked about this for a bit, so I offered a piece of differentiated instruction: I would walk her through the questions for the artist statement verbally, then she would orally respond with her answers and I would take notes for her on her responses. Next, I had her re-write my notes as a 2-paragraph artist statement. This seemed to really help her through the process and she still demonstrated her learning (which is the goal, right?) Identifying strengths and weaknesses with students helps them understand where they need to improve and grow, but it also helps me understand where I need to start with a lesson. It helps me differentiate depending on student skill level and readiness.
3. Help them Stay on Track
I don't know about you, but I have a few students who would rather sit on their phones all day looking at themselves than work on their projects. For these students, I found the mini conferences to be extremely valuable. First, I showed them what work they were missing. One girl literally had no idea she was missing 3 assignments. Turns out, she forgot to turn 2 of them in. She immediately went to her drawer, got the 2 assignments out and turned them in. I didn't take points away. She had done the assignments and demonstrated her learning. Next, we talked about participation. I showed students the total number of points they had received and why they lost points (on their phones, not working during class, etc.). I think this was a real eye opener for some students. While the points don't negatively affect their grade, I keep track during class as a way to collect data. If a student is not doing what they are supposed to do, I take a point away, and attempt to redirect them. While I love my cell phone, I explained to students that when they're just on their phones the entire time, they are not able to focus and also miss important things like announcements, lessons, and the real world around them. I ended the conference by telling them that I care about their success in my class, whether they like art or not, and that my job was to help them succeed. I can't tell you how many of my struggling art students went right to work afterwards!
The cool thing about living in Rochester is that we actually have a set of Andy Warhol's Endangered Species Series here at the Mayo Clinic. They are free to view, however, they do not do field trips or tours. This was fun, since some of my kiddos said they had seen this artworks in real life.
After our discussion about Andy Warhol's work, I had students choose an animal to draw. I tiered the assignment so students of all abilities could feel a sense of accomplishment. The lower level students were allowed to trace an animal. The middle level students were allowed to draw from observation by looking at a picture of the animal. The higher level students were encouraged to draw the animal from memory or based on an idea. This allowed my gifted and talented students a little more freedom and independence, which I think they enjoyed. It also allowed my lower level students to feel like they could create an awesome work of art. I'm not a huge fan of tracing, but it has it's time and place in every art class.
Once they drew their animals, they had to show me their drawing in order to get their foam. They taped the paper to the foam and started tracing over their design. They went over their designs with a blunt pencil or mechanical pencil with no lead. Next, we started printing! After they printed 3 different prints, I had some students outline their lines with oil pastel to add an Andy Warhol look to their work. You can view the demo video I played for my students at the end of this post. View examples of my students work below.
This project was quite extensive, but one of my favorite projects I have ever taught! We spent a day having a class discussion about the work of Shepard Fairey and the way Shepard Fairey uses visual art as a way to draw attention to a particular social issue such as pollution, inequality, and greed. We also talked about the works of Banksy and Ricardo Levins Morales (Minneapolis-based activist artist). We listened to a Podcast interview of Ricardo and his work. Listen to the podcast of Ricardo Levins Morales on MPR here.
Students were first asked to brainstorm different social issues. At first, some students really struggled thinking of ideas. For the kids who struggled, I asked them what they liked. For example, a student said he liked music. I asked him if he knew of any problems in the music industry. He immediately said "Piracy", "Inequality", "Sexism" and "People need to support local music more". These are all great examples of social issues that tie into a student interest. Some examples of social issues chosen by students for this project include marriage equality, racial equality, saving and protecting animals, recycling, protecting the environment, religious equality, self esteem, perfectionism, anti-bullying, and greed.
One issue I did run into was I had one student who wanted to do a design based around legalizing marijuana. Even though I personally didn't find this offensive, I knew it would be an issue since I teach at a public school! Drugs are bad...mmmk? So I had to explain to the student that while I am all for freedom of expression, that I would appreciate it if he chose a different, more school appropriate topic. I dislike the idea of censorship in my classroom, but there's got to be a line drawn somewhere, right?
Next, students were given the challenge of illustrating that social issue. The goal was to create a design that clearly illustrated the chosen social issue. Some students did better at this than others. Each student had to show me their design plan in order to get their linoleum. Students used a 6B ebony pencil to outline their design plan, flip the plan on top of the linoleum, and burnish the design onto the linoleum. This helped students keep their words & letters backwards when carving without having to worry about writing the letters and words backwards.
Finally, students started carving their designs! View my demo video below for complete instructions.
Students were asked to create 6 different prints and choose 3 for display. After they finished preparing their prints for exhibit, they were asked to write an artist statement. Two of the guiding questions for their artist statement was "How can art change the world?" and "What is visual art's relationship to society?". Some of the responses I got were truly inspiring. Overall, I loved this project and how it engaged all of my students!
My high school students just recently finished their Zentangle or Tangle tile project. We talked about the differences between geometric and organic patterns. Students were asked to divide their 12"x12" drawing paper up into at least 12 different sections with each section having a different pattern. Students used sharpies with different widths to create their patterns and designs. Students were also asked to create an equal balance of darker patterns and lighter patterns. I allowed students the option of adding color.
My students with anxiety and depression really seemed to benefit from this project. My room was so quiet when they were working on this! Not to mention, my room was less of a mess! I played relaxing piano and classical music while they worked...which surprisingly most kids enjoyed. Some students said this was their favorite project of the semester!
My Draw/Paint I high school students did an awesome job on this project! Though I usually like students to have a more open-ended art assignment, this one seemed to work well for all students.
For this assignment, I introduced students to the work of Wayne Thiebaud (Tee-Bow). We discussed how he used colors in interesting ways and applied the paint thickly to the canvas like frosting. His work has a 3-dimensional quality that makes it addicting to look at! I then had students experiment with oil pastel and mixing colors of oil pastel using the 3 primary colors.
Finally, I had students choose a color copy of a Wayne Thiebaud work that they liked. The nice thing about Thiebaud's work is that it offers an enticing selection for students to choose from. My students had to draw the work based on the color copy with pencil first. Some students chose to draw using the grid method they had learned in the previous lesson.
Next, they used oil pastel to add color. I encouraged students to apply the oil pastel very thickly to recreate the 3-dimensional quality of Thiebaud's work. This project was a lot of fun, because it helped even below average students feel successful at art. This project took approximately 2 weeks (10 50-minute class times) for students to finish.
Halfway through the project I brought in cupcakes for all my students because they complained that Thiebaud's work made them hungry. What's better than making art and eating cupcakes!?
View the compiled stop motion animations below!
This was probably the most difficult to teach but most fun project I have done with my 6th grade students. This project took approximately 6 class times to complete. I had the idea for this project based on the "Ugly Dolls" that I've seen in gift shops here and there. I was also inspired to teach this project because my school eliminated it's FACS and Industrial Tech classes and I've had many students asking me when they will get to learn how to sew.
This project cost around $200 for the supplies. That came to around $1 per student, which I thought was reasonable, considering the time they spent working on them. I got a jumbo box of 20 lbs of stuffing from Nasco art supplies for around $32. The felt was about 25 cents per sheet. The glue sticks were the most expensive part. I already had a lot of buttons and extra decorating materials.
For this project, I taught over 200 6th graders how to sew in two class times. It was a lot of work, but I'll give you some pointers if you want to give it a go.
Tips for this project:
Organize & keep track of sewing needles by sticking them in a piece of scrap foam board. Label each needle with a # and assign each student a #. This worked pretty well!
Don't buy store-bought needle threaders. They break very easily (as I learned the hard way). You can easily make your own with the thinnest jewelry wire you can buy, some scrap mat board or card board, and glue. These needle threaders saved so much time and the kids thought they were magic!
This has got to be one of my favorite projects to work on with my middle school art students. The project goes relatively quickly (2 class times) and my students love to learn about the glass artist Dale Chihuly. The sculpture in the picture above is made of 200 plastic bottles. Each bottle was donated by a student or staff member at our school. We started collecting bottles about 3 weeks before we started the project. Each student selected a bottle & painted it with acrylic. Acrylic paint works much better than tempera. Next, each student was assigned a style for cutting the bottle apart (star shape or spiral shape). Some students modified their styles slightly for a more unique design.
Today I spent the better part of the day creating my own Elements of Art posters. As a newer teacher, I've had some problems finding decent posters and decorations for my art room. I found one batch of posters that retailed for over $75.00 and they weren't all that attractive. I created these Elements of Art posters in a variety of formats depending on what you would like to use them for. They are exciting and really hone in on the key concepts of each element of art. I also wanted to expose students to a variety of different artworks on the posters such as works by Rembrandt, Salvador Dali, Andrew Wyeth, Picasso, Grant Wood, Mondrian, and Van Gogh.
Each poster includes the definition of the element and multiple examples for students to learn by. A .zip file containing 96 total pages of posters is available for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I offer them in a 24"x30" and 16"x20" block poster size as well as .jpg and .pdf formats for easy printing. Save money and assemble your own posters that will appeal to your students. These posters will appeal to students of all ages and abilities. You can also use the posters as printable handouts for students.
Buy the set of 6 elements of art poster designs in a 96-page .zip file by clicking here.
I decided to create two summer art classes that were each a week long through Community education in my district. The first class was called "Art Around the World" and featured projects such as a chinese lantern, making didgeridoos out of PVC pipe, and multicultural paper mache masks. The second class was called "Arts & Crafts Camp" and I definitely think this class was my favorite. The Arts & Crafts camp really let student's imaginations run wild and create some really cool art! Each class included students from the ages of 9 to 13. If you've never taught a community ed art class before, you should know it's a blast! No tests, no standards, just a room full of art supplies and enthusiastic students. For any other interested art teachers out there, I included the schedules for each class's days below for your reference.
Art Around the World
Day One- Mexican Folk Art terra cotta pots & Paper mache mask
Day Two- Australian Didgeridoos made out of PVC pipe with a beeswax mouthpiece
Day Three- African Adinkra printmaking on t-shirts
Day Four- Ukrainian painted eggs & Russian architecture metal tooling
Day Five- Chinese Calligraphy lantern & Free Art Time
Arts & Crafts Camp
Day One- Cardboard Challenge & Leather tooling/stamping
Day Two- Travel Posters & Clay food
Day Three- Dada-inspired lamp & Drawing to Music
Day Four- Metal tooling & painting clay food to look realistic
Day Five- Junk Sculptures & Hot glue fancy frames
Check out the photos below to see all of the cool art we created & tips for doing the same!
Metal tooled tiles. Cut 38 gauge aluminum metal into 6"x6" squares. The foil I purchased was from Dick Blick and came in 12"x25 ft rolls for around $16. Fold a 1/2" over on each side to prevent injury. Use a blunt pencil to tool designs. I had students draw their design on scratch paper first and then put their paper over the metal and traced to transfer. Use colored sharpie to highlight the areas you tooled. You can also turn the metal over for an embossed effect.
The lamps were created using pint size mason jars, socket light switch kit ($3.99 at Menards or other hardware store), modge podge, tacky glue, and an assortment of magazines and newspapers. Students decoupaged their cut outs onto the lamp using the tacky glue and modge podge. Some students used shredded up tissue paper and decoupaged the tissue paper to the inside of their lamp for a cool background. We used a nail to pound a hole into the lid and then used tin snips to cut a larger hole (this was mostly done by me due to sharp edges). Then the sock was inserted into the hole and a nightlight bulb placed inside that! The original project idea was for a hanging lamp, but some students designed their lamp to sit on a table. We simple cut a small notch in the lid for the cord, so the lamp could sit level. This was probably my student's favorite project!
A cool way to work on the didgeridoo was actually discovered by accident! We placed didgeridoos on sturdy, over-turned chair legs so we didn't have to worry about smearing paint. 1 1/2" schedule 40 PVC was used and cut in a variety of lengths from 3.5 ft to 5.5 ft. Students sanded the PVC and then painted at least two coats of acrylic paint onto the PVC. Next, students took q-tips and paint to create aboriginal-inspired dot paintings on their didgeridoo. The last step was adding melted beeswax to the top to create a mouthpiece and a few beads/feathers for decoration. This project was student's favorite from the Art Around the World class!
A while back, I wrote a small post on using the Mona Lisa as a means of Classroom management. I decided to take it a step further and design my own Mona Lisa poster with arrows and reminders for students. This poster can be printed quite large, up to 16"x20". I decided to create the posters in different colors too. I included all the posters and instructions in a product listing on my Teacher pay Teachers store website. The whole zip file costs $3.00 and all you have to do is print them out at home or school! You can also have them printed at office supply stores in poster format for around $5.00 for a large poster.
If you use them, please let me know how they worked in your classroom! Remember, consistency is key when establishing the Mona Lisa rules in your classroom!
What a crazy project, but so much fun! The last project for my 6th graders involved creating a medieval art inspired coat of arms. We talked about illuminated letters, heraldry symbols, and characteristics of Medieval art.
The kids really seemed to like this project. We focused on lines and patterns to create an interesting background for our coat of arms. Students were asked to add a letter to their coat of arms. Some students chose graffiti style letters, while others went the more traditional route. We started running out of time, so not all students got to color in their coat of arms. But even black and white looked cool!
I had a huge pack of gold leaf laying in my craft room and allowed some students to add the gold leaf. It was pretty tricky (next time I would use a gold paint pen instead) but the kids were amazed. They were convinced the gold leaf would make their artwork very valuable. ;)
The face pot lesson was a big hit! This lesson focused on so many different elements and techniques in using ceramics. Students learned about:
Videos created for this lesson . . .
Well, my first glaze fire was a success! These Amaco F-series glazes sure are forgiving. We went through 10 bottles of glaze! Since we were so low on clay, my original plan for students to create a plate had to be sized down. Instead, I had students create a small 4-5" medallion and create a design using radial symmetry and texture. We looked at other Islamic tiles for inspiration and even took a virtual tour of the Blue Mosque in Turkey. The tour got a lot of enthusiasm! I gave students a choice on how they wanted to use their medallions. Some students chose to create a wind chime, others chose to make them into a necklace or to hang on the wall, and some students said they'd like to use their medallions as a coaster or candle holder. Some students even included Arabic writing in their designs!
Students also had one day to create a simple pinch pot with a face using addition (slipping & scoring method). I had students poke a hole in the bottom to turn them into mini flower pots.
We are planting chia seeds in the pots when we come back from Spring Break. We'll let them grow in my window for a week, and then students get to take home a "living sculpture"!
I am a 6th year high school art teacher in Rochester, MN. I have taught middle school for 2 years and high school for 4 years. I truly enjoy working with students on a daily basis. I also enjoy teaching real-world skills such as problem solving, using technology, and the power of teamwork and collaboration. My joy is sharing my passion for art with others!
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