Friday, January 31, 2020

Five Months of TAB

  Here we are, with five months of TAB under my belt. There are things that are going very well, some things that need to be tweaked, and some things that are a bit disastrous. As expected with a completely new teaching philosophy. Where to start; the good, the bad, or the ugly?

How about the good. My students are DEEP. Some of the things they write for their artist statements blow me away.  Take these examples:

Here is a splatter painting by a fourth grader.
I think that all people on earth of all different shapes, sizes and colors should come together in peace. Like how the dots of all different shapes, sizes and colors come together as one art peace.
Or this self portrait, also by a fourth grader.
This picture Is my wow work,self portrait,and foreground middle ground and Background I made this drawing because I love Christmas and winter.

Or this collaborative project by two fourth graders (my fourth graders are pretty awesome this year).

My friend Maeve and I wanted to do something for Halloween, but it ended up being almost thanksgiving! We added lots more ideas as we worked such as, the background foreground and middle ground, and the hills and halo for the Angel, the moon, graveyard, pitchfork, and the wolf. It's also about two people who have different life styles but still are friends.
How about one from a fifth grader.
My wow work is definitely considered a wow work because I didn't copy anything;sure I looked at a picture but that was to get an idea. I didn't use the picture to draw it. My work has texture in the main,and was left uncolored because I didn't want to ruin my lion.

Now, I'll admit these are some of the best artist statements. We are working in deepening these statements in the coming months. 

We are tweaking clean up. There are way too many students who seem to think it's okay to ignore me when I tell them it is clean up time. The younger the students, the worse this problem is. I am hoping to come up with a solid plan of action for this soon. Actually, this might belong in the things that are not going well part of this reflection. . . 

I think the biggest challenge for some of my students is coming up with their own ideas. A few weeks ago we discussed starting a creative "bank account" of ideas and students in second through fifth grades opened their own creative bank account and put in as many inspirational things as they could in their class time. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Clay Shelves and Stools

They're here! I am so glad that I purchased these racks for clay! They are very versatile and are working really well for all things sculpture. I hot glued magnets to the right side, every other shelf and made laminated arrows with magnets on the back (the rack isn't magnetic-who knew?!). I use a Vis-a-Vis marker to write the class code that is on the shelf to keep track of where projects are. 

The stools are working well so far too. A few kids are choosing to stand while working and the room feels significantly larger without the bulky chairs. I am concerned with how long they will last, but at $42 for a set of five I'm happy with them for now. I have already had to bend two legs back into place due to students leaning on one or two legs. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Victory

I posted about my first snag a few weeks ago, but this week I had my first big victory. At my primary school I want to have five permanent stations; drawing, painting, collage, fibers, and art preparation. I don't have enough shelving to create these stations, though so I went into planning mode. I am very fortunate that our district employs an extremely talented carpenter, who builds things for us at just the cost of supplies. I also have a healthy Artsonia  program and have been saving for over a year for something big. I sent the plans for the shelves I designed to the carpenter and he said with principal approval he can build them for about $300. I have plenty of money in my Artsonia account, so my principal approved it within minutes of my emailed request. I'm super excited about this! In addition to the custom shelves, I also managed to order two commercial racks and sheet pans for drying clay and replaced all my old, breaking chairs with stools so the kids have more flexibility with sitting or standing while working. Below are photos of the racks I'm talking about and the stools. I am a little concerned about the stools' durability but at $42 for five I can afford to replace a few here and there when they break and I have 30 right now but my biggest classes are 25 kids.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monet's Garden

I simply love this project. These examples are first grade. We watched a video of Linnea in Monet's Garden on YouTube and then looked at photographs of Monet's house and paintings. Next, they followed the steps found on Mrs. Picasso's Art Room. They are all so unique and beautiful!

Monday, April 22, 2019

My First Snag

Here I am, all set and determined to transition to TAB next year and I found out one of my schools is changing again. While this is totally fine with me, and was expected with our elementary boundaries changing, the school I am moving to the art room is shared with music, orchestra, and Chinese. I am still planning on implementing TAB, but now I need to figure out how to make my stations easy to set up and store each art day. Stay tuned, I am determined!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fun Idea

At the beginning of the school year I saw a post on Facebook about a boy whose mom wrote affirmations on each of his pencils. I thought it was a brilliant idea to help promote positive self esteem, so I wrote on all of my pencils in the art room. I wasn't sure if the kids would even notice, but they had joyful looks on their faces and they read their own pencil and then asked the kids near them what their pencils said. It was very fun to watch. 

I use black Sharpie on the yellow pencils, and silver Sharpie on the black pencils.

I learned the hard way that  they must be sealed or the Sharpie will rub off after one class. It is hard to come up with dozens of unique affirmations, so I found this site with a list of positive things to say to students.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Apron Art Room Hack

Here is another great idea to share. I actually saw this at a Home Depot Kids' Workshop. One of the other parents did it for their child and I thought it was brilliant. I have been using the idea in my classroom for years now. 
All of my aprons are adult size, so for the smaller kids I put on waist tie through the neck before tying it. This pulls the top of the apron higher on the child to protect more of their shirt and I don't have to buy two sizes of aprons. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

TAB Preparation

Today I continued my pursuit of being fully prepared to transition to TAB next year. I created a lesson plan template, revised from the one that I have been using for the past few years. It is very concise and to the point, which is what I like. I believe lesson plans should be one page. They should contain the information needed to completely think through the lesson before teaching it but not so long that it is cumbersome to write and hard to review in a few moments before class. It constantly amazes me how long the licensing department and universities think lesson plans should be!

Several years ago I came across an idea for "Monster Mediums" by Mini Matisse. It's one of those great ideas that has been in the back of my mind since I read it but I haven't taken the time to pursue it. Today I created a list of mediums that match the centers I plan to have in my classrooms next year so that I can create Monster Mediums for each station in addition to standard anchor charts. I'm not sure how well I will follow through, but I hope that I can get it rolling. I'm keeping in mind that I don't need to create them all in advance, I can make them as I need them and it's a little less overwhelming. If you are interested in Monster Mediums, you can Google it and find many blog posts by Mrs. Hahn at Mini Matisse.

Watercolor Monster Medium by Mrs. Hahn at Mini Matisse.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


Wow, it sure has been a long time since I have posted here. Sorry about that, I got a new schedule with very little prep time. However, after a lot of thinking and research I am now convinced that I should transition to a TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) classroom and I thought that it might be nice to chronicle my journey from a DBAE (Discipline Based Art Educator) to a TAB teacher for any other art teachers out there that are considering this for their own classroom. At this time, I have done an extensive amount of research. I read every word and watched every video included in the ebook, Choice without Chaos (I highly recommend starting with this book if you are considering moving to a choice-based art room). I've perused through Studio Thinking from the Start and The Learner-Directed Classroom I also have Studio Thinking 2. I've dug into the Teaching for Artistic Behavior website and joined The Art of Education PRO to watch all of the PRO packs on TAB and choice-based art. I joined several TAB groups on Facebook (and actually asked questions) and searched for local TAB conferences/workshops. I've filled almost a whole notebook with notes and ideas. I even tried a few choice-based projects with my current students, who not only loved the freedom but were better behaved and more engaged than I've ever seen them.

I think I'm ready.

But I'm still nervous. I've taught DBAE for fifteen years. This is a totally different way of thinking about what is important for my students to learn while they are with me. My role will be completely different. The student expectations will be completely different. My classroom set up will be completely different.

My first hurdle is that I currently don't know where I will be teaching next year. Our district has redesigned the elementary attendance boundaries and we have not been assigned to schools based on the new enrollment numbers yet. It's very hard to plan when I don't know for sure which classrooms I will be in (but at least I know they all have classrooms for art!) I have created a running list of my plans for next year, including what centers I will always have and centers that will open for one trimester (clay, etc) to manage supplies. I've included what supplies will be at each center, how the projects are laid out, and how the class will run. I've even sketched out how my current classrooms would be laid out if I get to stay at either of these schools next year. My current principals are both very supportive of this change, which makes me optimistic about how well it can be done.

The second hurdle I am anticipating is getting the furniture I will need to make the transition to centers. I am lucky to work at a district that has our own in-house carpenter, and he is extremely talented. He recently created a display case in place of some lockers outside of one of my classrooms and the display case is beautiful. I also have money set aside from a donation that I can use for materials. However, if I'm not at those schools next year I might not have any money at all to use. . .

I will be sure to update as I have more to say, although that might not be until summertime depending on what schools I end up being assigned and if I can continue to prepare from my current buildings or if I have to wait until the current art teacher is done in her rooms to invade.