Saturday, November 15, 2014

When you fall, you must get up.

I have been holding off on writing about this because I hadn't completely recovered from it.  Two weeks ago on a Monday night twenty-five Berry 6th grade students, Darren Goodman, Darren's photographer, Darren's parents and I met for a glass painting session.  I had planned it a month in advance, sending out permission slips, preparing supplies and collecting permission slips.  The kids came after school and painted glass Tears of Joy that Darren made in his studio and brought to our school.  This is a project that the students have been working on with Darren that will be donated to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  As the students finished each piece we hung the tears on a wire strung across the ceiling in the front of the art room.
The students painted until 6 o'clock that evening and after they finished painting Darren treated us all to LaRosa's pizza!

The next day I taught half the day and had a substitute coming for the afternoon because I was going to the dentist that afternoon.  After my last morning class the sub came in and I was getting ready to leave, doing some last minute clean-up and getting the room ready for the sub.  I had two large glass tears laying on a table in the front of my room and I wanted to get them out of the way.  I picked up the first one and held it up to hang it on the wire.  As soon as it touched the wire the entire wire came down and all of the tears that were hanging on it fell. The wire gave out from the weight of all of the glass pieces hanging on it.  Most of them shattered.  Unbelievably, there were a few that made it in one piece.

I felt sick.

I couldn't believe what just happened.  Fifteen to twenty pieces of glass art work had just fell and shattered all over the art room floor.

The incident was awful.

 I AM SO GLAD IT DIDN'T HAPPEN WHEN A CLASS WAS IN THE ROOM! No one was hurt, thank goodness!

I called Darren and shared the bad news and the next morning shared the news with the students.  They were resilient, of course.

We have survived our "fall" and gotten back up on our feet and used this really bad thing to make us stronger.

Darren has already made more tears and the kids came to the art room during two of my plan times and painted them.

The tears are all finished and ready for Darren to take them.  The two tears that were sitting on the table in the front of the room made it and almost all of the 6th graders in the whole school have signed their name on one and written a feeling/emotion word on the other.

In addition to the tears that the students have painted, Darren has created around seven tears that are inspired by the paper tears students made.  Here are five:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Its OAEA Conference Time!

Last week I was able to attend my art education association's state conference, held in Columbus, Ohio.  I am pretty lucky to belong to OAEA.  I have been able to attend this conference almost every year that I have been teaching, with the exception of two years. That means I've been going to this artapalooza for 15 years!  There were so many workshops to attend, guest speakers, ideas, colleagues to connect with and art to see!  I soaked it up like a thirsty sponge!  Below are photos of just some of the workshops I went to and experiences I had.  
This workshop was all about Miniatures. Above you see a toad stool house made of Cloud Clay with a cardboard tube armature .  This workshop was by Virginia Pacer, Laura Lohman and Lisa Bookenberger.  These women are so creative and energetic!  

Here is my region's (South West) exhibit, showing our kelly green.  The display was nothing but the best, like always!

 These tiles are from an off-site workshop where we went to Buckeye Ceramic Supply and the Mayco glaze factory.  Attendees painted three tiles, each with a different technique/lesson.  We also took a tour of the factory!

 My friend Gail, who I attended grad school with at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and me posing in the photo booth.

This was a center piece at dinner one of the evenings.  It was made by some students studying the art work of glass artist, Dale Chihuly and taught by Sandra Bacon.  Sandra lead a workshop on this lesson.  
Above is a photo of an activity from Sandra's workshop, dropping food coloring into water.  Students took photos when they did this to recreate the fluidity of glass.  So awesome!

The view from my room.

Chinese Calligraphy

 This workshop was lead by Jinghong Cai.  She showed how to write Chinese symbols with brushes and ink.  This was particularly interesting to me because I teach a lesson about the Chinese New Year to my 5th graders and I will definitely be able to use what I learned in my class!
Faux Enameling taught by Dawn Blattel.  This is a technique I think Dawn pretty much made up on her own.  These are so stunning when you see them in real life.  The colors pop and they have depth to them because the lines are actual walls made with aluminum foil. The color is tissue paper dipped in watered down glue and then pressed into each area.  Dawn does this with her 7th graders and I think I could adapt for my 6th graders and the time barriers.  

The workshop that sticks out in my mind the most I did not take any pictures of.  It was called "Giving Birth to Student Cultivated Learning Environments."  One of the things I can improve on in my teaching is getting to know the students more personally.  It can be challenging as a teacher of 890 students only seeing them once a week for 40 minutes to get to know them personally.  They shuffle in and then shuffle out and then the next group comes and this happens 6 to7 times a day.  
Daniel Humphrey and Dillon Sedar sparked some ideas in my thinking about how I can build more of a relationship with my students but I will really need to focus on this to accomplish it.  
By the way, I wrote in my notes that Daniel Humphrey looks like a young John Cusack.  He really does!  You cannot ignore it, and I really wish I had taken a picture so that I could show you the resemblance! (I guess that would have been kind of awkward, though.)  I would put a split screen right here.  

Their key points in what they said in the presentations are as follows:
  • Its all about the Relationships (make a personal connection with them)
  • Connect with your students on a personal level (say hi every day)
  • Create a space/learning environment where students feel safe to explore their full imagination (name stuff in your room: paper towel dispenser, scrap box) 
  • Allow and Encourage students to take ownership in their schooling. (have students make their own learning objectives, ask students what they want to learn)
  • Students do not need to be shown culture in the art room.  They are the culture. Use their culture. (start where the students want to start and bring it to an art history lesson or principles and elements lesson)
  • Create Meaning (students make the class still-life together with the teacher)
  • There are many different ways to solve one artistic problem.  Allow students to explore their interpretations of the contexts you present.  
  • Everybody's right. Everybody's wrong. (we can learn from each other)
  • Brag about your students and their accomplishments (art show, newspaper)
Honestly, to try some of these things is going to be stepping out of my own comfort zone.  But isn't that what we have to do to improve our teaching?  We all teach with different styles and these points can be applied at different levels of intensity according to what our classroom needs.  

Thanks to all the people who made this OAEA conference such a valuable learning experience. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Don't be a tool. Unless you're metal tooling.

The 6th graders at Berry Intermediate have been working on a metal foil tooling project.  We started out the year with learning about the elements of art by making a paper cube. Each side of the cube represented an element of art.  The cube, itself, represented form.  The cube project idea was given to me by a good friend, Carol Carver, an art teacher in the Princeton school district.  The cubes were a good way to introduce the elements of art, an appropriate prerequisite for the foil tooling project.   

 Materials: thick aluminum foil, drawing paper, pencils, India ink, black construction paper, wooden stylus tools and oil pastels.

The students were required to demonstrate use of line, shape, space, texture and color in this project.

Below are some photos of the process and finished product.