Wednesday, November 17, 2010


If you haven't tried Shutterfly, I highly suggest that you give their services a shot. Over the summer they held a promotion for a free 20 page hard cover photo book, so I opened an account. In addition to getting the book, I got 50 free prints for opening a new account! Their prints are so clear and high quality, I was very impressed and happy with them. Plus, they send a thumbnail printout of each of the images that was printed, which I have used in my work binders to cover them with pictures of my kids while I have to be away from them. It gives me a little smile everytime I see it. The books are phenomenal. I am so happy with them! I ended up getting two (I used my Huggies or Pampers (don't remember which) reward points to get a second free book!), and they are both great. They are hard cover, with a picture of my choosing on the cover. They have a program that automatically adds the pictures, or you can custom make each page to your liking.
Anyway, if you are in the market for an online photography service now is a great time to try Shutterfly. They are currently running a program just for bloggers! Sign up here, post a blog, post on FB or Twitter and get 50 FREE cards! I am hoping to get all of my Christmas cards done with this program!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Action Research

A while back I mentioned that I am in a grad school cohort. We met this past weekend, and had to solidify our plans for our Action Research project. The project is in place of a thesis that a typical graduate program would require. We do our first round of research next semester, examine the results over the summer, and modify our plan if needed. Next fall we do our second round of research in the classroom and complete a presentation of our results in the spring. Then we graduate! Yea! Anyway, I have had a really hard time determining what my topic of research should be. First I thought about comparing the learning styles of boys vs. girls. We have to do a literature review of ten relavant writen works, and all of the lit I found on it was debating the use of segregated schools~all boys and all girls. Not really applicaple, since my schools are not segregated, and won't ever be segregated.
So I changed my idea to working with my children with autism. But that is WAY too broad. I had to narrow it down, and I really struggled with this. What did I want to try with these children? How could I help them find greater success~preferably success that they can transfer into lifelong skills? Finally, I have settled on the Action Research question of "to what extent will implementing storyboards in small groups of children with autism impact student independence?" A mouthfull, right? Basically, I will be creating storyboards~or visual aides for the kids that show them step by step how to complete the projects and clean up after the project. The goals being that the higher functioning children can find independence and possibly start coming to art without an aide to help them, and the lower functioning kids being able to do more of the project on their own. Hopefully the lower functioning kids will be able to use the visual to grab their own supplies, or even need less hand-over-hand help. We'll see where it goes from there! I can see storyboards being used for the lower level grades too.
The other elementary art teachers and I have completed a grant requesting document cameras for our classrooms. If we get this grant, this project will be even easier, as I would be able to record myself creating my example and play it back as often as needed! I completed my first storyboard this morning, and will be trying it with the students this afternoon. I'm a little nervous, but really excited to see how they react!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TR Mack

I found the artist, Tom McCracken of TR Mack Studios through a fellow art education blogger, Ms. Malone. I love his work of vibrant trees and villages that have many dots painted throughout. I was saddened to read that he died in March, 2010 so his Esty page is "on vacation." I plan on emailing his family that left the note on his Esty account and asking if they are planning on making a page devoted to his work and life. My students have really enjoyed looking at his work and are very curious about his life! We have just started his project, but they are all excited about it, and all the other grades that are coming in start class with "who gets to make those trees?!"

After looking at a sampling of TR Mack's paintings and prints, students use analagous colors to create a watercolor wash over the whole paper. I asked them to work the paint until they got rid of the lines and the colors flowed from one to another. Some did great at this, and some did well~but overall I was quite impressed!

The next class period we talked about how to draw a tree successfully. We looked again at TR Mack's examples and I showed them how you can find the letter Y in the branches, and there are never more thantwo branches at any split. I also showed them how to curve the branches if they wanted to make a tree with spiral branchs. Once the trees were drawn, I showed the kids how to use the tip of a flat brush to create a crisp line. They had predicted that we would use markers for the trees because my examples had such crisp lines! I expected the trees to take one class, but they are less than halfway done with them so next class will be finishing up the trees. Finally, they will use different sized dowels to print the circles in the background and between the tree branches.

Here is my in-progress and completed examples of this project. I can't wait to see them finished!

Thanks, Ms. Malone for the heads up on a wonderful artist!