Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lesson Plan: John James Audubon and Texture Techniques

I love drawing birds. Oddly, it isn't something I would think of if someone asked: "what do you like to draw?" But, if you look at my portfolio birds appear over and over again. Well, birds and squirrels ! I love squirrels too! Birds have easy-to-draw bodies, and not unlike butterflies, if you get the coloring wrong, they can still look fantastic. I find that a drawing assignment for students wherein they have to draw birds is always successful. Furthermore, I find it helps my students to bridge the gap between drawing what they know, and drawing what they see.

My 6th grade students created these sweet birds during a recent unit on John James Audubon. We created an interdisciplinary unit by connecting the work of Audubon to nature conservation and recording. . .My students got a huge kick out of the fact that Audubon would sometimes kill the birds in order to observe them more closely!

While typical Audubon projects would focus on watercolors, I decided to focus on oil pastels. My students tend to be heavy-handed with materials and I think they will really struggle with applying watercolors so that they look like watercolors and not tempera paint. Notice, I said "they will struggle" because we will climb that mountain, but I want them to have more control over their drawing skills before we get to that place.
So, instead, we used a medium they really seem to like: oil pastels. For the first day of this project, we all worked on creating texture using four different shading techniques: blending, impasto, hatching, and fragmenting. Each student created a texture "cheat sheet" they could reference later in the project. Their final project was to observe a photo of a real bird and to draw it as realistically as possible. They were required to incorporate at least one texture technique into their composition.
My students really loved this project. It was a real success for them. As an added bonus: this class is a inclusion classroom and we had several students with specific abilities. Several of these students haven't been able to participate in art in the past (I wasn't their teacher!), but were able to fully participate in this project. Awesome!

Here is the Lesson Plan:

Here is a video I made -using my Doc Camera- of me making the texture cheat sheet in class. I edited it for the web. My absent students were able to use this video to catch up!

Here is a mash-up of several presentations from slideshare that I pushed together to make what I needed:

Here is a presentation demonstrating several student exemplars.
Audubon birds in process
View more presentations from ksumatarted.

The format for these lesson plans is one that I use for my school. I did not create this lesson plan, so while you are welcome to use it, please be careful to not violate copyrights when sharing.

**you are welcome to share this lesson plan on your website or blog but please credit Artful Artsy Amy as the source. Please do not re-publish this lesson plan for profit or for a grade.**

Friday, August 26, 2011

Amazing Brain Arts Presentation

I'm nerding out on this amazing presentation, featured on slideshare, about the brain and fine arts.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Behavior Bingo!

Last week, an interesting discussion began over on The Art of Education about behavior management. Essentially, Jessica points out how difficult it is to keep track of award boards and incentive programs for students in th art room. She also points out how it can be frustrating to devise incentive programs when being in art is truly a privilege.

You know, I agree with her in so many ways. Honestly, it is a PAIN in the BUTT to keep up with who is getting what and when for their good behavior. It does often feel as if you could spend an entire class on "getting stuff for being good." And, some students feel the deserve something for behaving in ways that they should without prior motivation. I also whole-heartedly agree that students should be excited to be in art class, and that privilege should be enough to encourage positive behavior.

Her post got me thinking about how motivating tools are used in my world.

Recently, I had to attend a week-long 40 hour "new teacher institute" for all educators new to my county. There were teachers in my class with no prior experience and teachers with 34 years of experience. I was extremely lucky that my county offered a program that took the time to "teach" me about the county expectations and how to begin the school year on a positive note. I was further "lucky" that this program was free and offered the opportunity for me to earn PLUs (professional learning units) needed to renew my teaching certificate.

Yet, even with all that "lucky" the course was still butt-numbingly boring and it took everything I had to stay on-task. I moved, rocked, scooted, talked, giggled and was generally quite disruptive (even though I tried really hard not to be that way). One of the county teachers running the course was the county director for the special education programs. He took pity on me -and many of the other adults like me- and had an "incentive" program for participating in the classroom discussions.

Sometimes, when we participated, he would give us a little ticket to write our name on and he would host a mini raffle. The winners got to pick from a small assortment of "prizes" from the "prize table." The prizes came mostly from the dollar store and were the sorts of things teachers like to have in their classrooms. Honestly, I wouldn't have participated in the discussion unless I had the opportunity to win something.

The incentive motivated me.

And, I think our students are the same way. They are lucky to have access to free education, and they are extremely lucky to have art in the classroom. But, incentive programs can help them to be more motivated and participatory in classroom activities.

I'm using Behavior Bingo in my classroom this year. I made a little chart, and when I notice a student doing something "above and beyond," then I allow them to write their name on the board. Once a student gets his/her name 4 times in a row, then s/he is eligible for a prize. This program is easy because I don't have to keep track of it. Students write their own names on the board, and as such, they keep track of their progress. It is a rule in my classroom that if a student asks for a reward, then s/he will not receive it. This rule keeps students from asking to get their names on the Behavior Bingo all the time.

The chart is paper and I can add more tiles to it when needed, so we can play the same game for a 9 week period. I don't start over after one student wins; we just keep playing. Students love the opportunity to block one another from winning as well; and that makes things interesting. I also reserve the right to cut the squares up and randomly select winners if we go too long without a winner. . . All in all the system is really working thus far.

My school is a Title I school. I'm offering prizes like sketchbooks, coupons to local restaurants, educational toys, and educational materials. The local restaurants donated free meals when they realized I was trying to recognize local students (awesome!). So far, the favorite prizes have been books and sketchbooks.

Ultimately, I think it is all about balance. Everyone has to find what works for them, their students, their classrooms, and their schools. This incentive program works for me. . . But, I know many teachers who don't like and don't use incentive programs. . . And, their classrooms run great. So, to each his or her own. If you are in to incentive programs, I hope you find this helpful.

My Behavior Bingo poster is enclosed. Feel free to post, resuse, and share this with your teaching community. If you post online, please link back to this post. And, please do not share for a grade or profit.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lesson Plan, Kandinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Non-Objective Art

Welcome back to a new school year! Last year, I started a feature called "Lesson Plan Wednesday." This year a I have a new job, in a new town, with new students! The nature of how I will be teaching this year is changing how lesson plans will be posted during the school year. I am going to try and keep the lesson plan posts coming, but they will more spaced out than last year.
THIS lesson plan is about Kandinsky, Tchaikovsky, and non-objective art. My new middle school students have not taken an art course since elementary school, and I wanted to start the year off with a project that enabled them to celebrate their own innate creativity. Also, as you will remember, I groove out on the way the brain works when we learn. As such, I am attempting to create projects that align with brain-based learning and that help students cultivate the ability to creatively transfer skills between disciplines.

My 8th grade students created these projects during the first week of school. Students learned about and how to differentiate between abstract art and non-objective art. I am really excited about what my students learned. I am even more excited about how the students talked about transferring the ways in which they "brain stormed" to science, math, language arts, and social studies classes.

The format for these lesson plans is one that I use for my school. I did not create this lesson plan, so while you are welcome to use it, please be careful to not violate copyrights when sharing.

**you are welcome to share this lesson plan on your website or blog but please credit Artful Artsy Amy as the source. Please do not re-publish this lesson plan for profit or for a grade.**

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GAEA Fall Conference 2011

The Georgia Art Education Fall Conference will take place October 20th-23rd at the Hilton Conference Center in Marietta, Ga.

The all-inclusive registration fee is $225.
The choose-your-own adventure registration fee is $100


This event is sure to be one of the best conferences ever. Guest speaker Enid Zimmerman will be speaking and participating in a conference panel. Also participating on the conference panel will be Dr. Melodie Milbrandt from Georgia State University and Dr. Mark Runco from Harvard University.

Atlanta Clay is donating a kiln to be awarded to one lucky conference participant based on a juried application contest.

The High Museum of Art will be providing transport and FREE! admission to the opening night of the new show "Fourteen Modern Masters From the Permanent Collection at MOMA."

There will be 88 workshop presentations with a few of the workshops repeating for a total of 100 presentations. PLU credits (Professional Learning Units) are available.

The following companies are making donations for raffle and other small items at the conference: Atlanta Clay, Sax Art, Mayco, Sakura of America, Square 1 Art, Pottery Making Illustrated, School Arts Magazine, Hollander Fused Glass, Blick Art Materials, Arts and Activities Magazine, High Museum of Art, Art Stamps, and Art Images.

The NAEA has begun an initiative about arts advocacy this year. As an arts educator, in this climate of standardized testing, you cannot afford to not be advocating for the importance of arts education. I know it is easy for us all to get wrapped up in what is happening in our home schools and home counties. But, it is incredibly important for arts educators to participate in our professional associations. The GAEA sponsors almost all of the state-wide arts contests and scholarships for students -included the All State Art Symposium.

I encourage you to join and I SUPER DUPER encourage you to sign up for the conference. I hope to see you the weekend of October 20th!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rasterizing Images to Make a Giant (and cheap) Poster

lean your head waaaayyyy back from the screen to get the full effect! :)

Thanks for viewing the video of my new classroom; I'm super excited about it! Some of you really appreciated my ginormous Magadelene image (by Da Vinci) blown up to epic proportions on one of the cabinets in my classroom.

I've been making a new rasterized poster for every school year since I started teaching, so I don't think too much of it anymore. At my old school the parents and students were used to this. . .But, at Meet n Greet last Thursday, nearly every visitor to the art room was thrilled with the Magadelene!

Rasterizing images to make a huge poster is very easy and super affordable. My favorite part is that you can choose to laminate the pages to keep the poster for every year, or you can toss it when you get bored with it and not feel any pangs of regret. It is that cheap!

Rasterization is the task of taking an image describe in a vector graphics format (shapes) and converting it into a raster image (pixels or dots) for output on a video display, printer, or for storage in a bitmap file format (from wikipedia).

If you use Photoshop, or similar programs, there are ways to rasterize your images. . .But, to have this huge output, I use an online program called The Rasterbator (I know, I cringe at that name too!). You can download the program, but I prefer to use the online version, and save space on my computer. The Rasterbator outputs your poster into multiple 8.5 x 11 sheets in a .pdf format.

Here are the steps I follow:
1. select an image you like (any image)
2. save it to your computer
4. click on "rasterbate online"
5. select "upload image from your computer" and click "next"
6. choose your image and click "next"
7. click "crop" and crop your image (if needed)
8. click on "size." The rectangles you see represent 1 sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. Resize your image to desired height (hint A4 is 8.5 x 11 paper)
9. click "next" at the prompt select "continue"
10. view the choices, choose what is best for you (hint the smaller your dots, the more detailed your image will be)
11. click "rasterbate" and wait
12. now you should have a pdf file that is your image. It will contain ALL the pages of your poster. When you print out, keep your images IN THE SAME ORDER.

-remember how many sheets of paper tall and wide your image is before rasterbating. That way, you will know how to lay out your image.
-lay out your image before trying to assemble to work out any kinks
-keep your print out in the same order. SO IMPORTANT, or you are trying to put together a crazy puzzle.

Enjoy! And, if you make some awesome art posters, be sure to link to them in the comments so we can all "oooh and ahhh!"

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Decorated Art Room!

A few weeks, I posted a video that demonstrated my excitement at seeing my art room for the first time. Below, you can see the art room all decorated!

The kiddos return to school Monday, and I'm super excited! I'm NOT super-excited about wearing uniform on Monday, though. Fortunately, it is just for the one day -to model the uniform for students- but I'm a wee bit concerned because all of my fellow teachers love (LOVE!) the idea of wearing a uniform every day.

Me? Not so much. I plan on using the bedazzler a little bit this weekend!

But, if that is the WORST of my worries, then I am one very lucky lady. Which, of course, I am. I can't wait to share what all happens this year with you all. I can tell already I work with some people with wonderful senses of humor!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First Day of School (For Teachers)

Today is my first day back "at school." I'm off to work in one of the best metro Atlanta school districts, and I honestly couldn't be more thrilled, thankful, and happy about it. Here's to hoping that this is the best year ever (only to be followed by many, many more excellent years).

And, as always, let us hope that it is full of hilarious awesome-ness. ;)