Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bringing Community Experts into your Classroom.

I'm so excited to share in Seattle about 'Bringing Visiting Artist into the Classroom' in a carousel-style presentation, more on that later in this post.  I'm writing this post to support one of my points I will be making in my presentation... Visiting Artist do not have to be 'Artist'. 

I have had a dream of doing this project for years.  I have wanted to have the students create a case for the recorders (an instrument) that students play in Music class starting in 3rd grade in my district. I have resisted because of my fear of teaching fibers. How do you manage teaching fibers? Are these artist going to be able to do this? How will I keep the calm and get them past the frustrating parts of learning? Despite all these 'roadblocks' (and about a million more), this was going to be the year to take on the recorded cases. 

About a month before I was going to start this project, I decided to reach out to community experts. Experts might be a stretch... I actually emphasized that there was no experience needed... but I was going to call them experts, and really, they lived up to their name. 

I reached out to two groups.  First I sent an email home with my request and plan. From that inquiry, I got a handful of Moms and I a few more Grandma's that were willing to donate an hour or two. Then I requested our local retired adult volunteer group called RSVP's to see if anyone in that community would be willing to help out.  Again, a handful of ladies signed up.  I was hoping and even specifically asked for men to join the ranks of volunteers... maybe next time. 

I had the recorder cases scheduled for 4 to 5 weeks, so I asked my helpers to come in for the first two times for each section. Day one lesson was threading a needle and stitching a line. Day two, students had reviewed and started sewing one felt shape onto their case. 

I started this project with one group before the volunteers... There was tears, frustration, anger even. These kids could hardly handle the task of threading a needle (and that might be a conversation for another post... but not today). The next class I had the community experts. These lovely ladies kept the calm and cheered the kids on.  They walked them through the steps and helped the kids feel confident. My request of having the helpers in the classroom for two classes was by design.  Once the kids felt comfortable (or at least majority of them did) I was able to take away the assistance and allow the students to blossom as sewing Artist. 

I will do this lesson again without a doubt! The kids are SOOOOO proud of their recorder cases. I will share more about the specifics of the recorded cases in a future post. I really wanted to focus on bringing community experts into your classroom to help you keep the calm with your students and give the skills you feel is important to your classes.

If you want to learn more about this, or other ways to bring Visiting Artist into your classroom, I would suggest visiting our session. Actually, I would suggest any Carousel style presentation... they are always my favorite! Come early, they fill up fast! 

Center/Meeting Room 619 & 620/Level 6
Elementary Carousel of Learning: Working with Visiting Artists in the Classroom! 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Paper Sculpture

I'm excited to introduce you to another Guest Blogger on MiniMatisse.  Matt Cockrell is an active participant in the Art Education Twitter community. I have been impressed with his conversation during #k12ArtChat on Thursday night as well as his shares on social media. Matt Cockrell, or Mr. C`s Art Class (@MattCockrellArt) as he is known on Twitter is an Art Teacher at Martha Layne Collins High School, in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Paper Sculpture

When I was in high school, many many moons ago (in the 90`s, shhhhh…. ha!), in my Art Classes, we didn`t do a whole lot of `upper advanced` high school projects. We did the same things, from Art 1 all the way thru Art 4. Our `projects` consisted mostly of watercolor sunsets, writing in old English with a marker, tracing, drawing the `rubber band man` to make the human figure, and making clay coil pots. Our high school art teacher didn`t allow us to `think outside the box` either. We basically did the basic `run of the mill` art, so basic that our creativity wasn`t challenged to the extent that it could have been. I mean, just how creative and engaged can someone in high school be by tracing?!
So when I became an Art Teacher, in my mid-twenties (another time for another story, and my 1st career), I vowed to myself that I wouldn`t be like my high school art teacher, that I`d not only `step outside of the box` but that I`d `create another box and another and another`. Creativity to create a lesson/ project that pushed my thinking was what I was going to strive for each and every day. By pushing myself to create `real world relevant` and `just plain cool` projects, I would, in turn, test the limits of my students thinking, and their creative process, all at the same time.
Anyway, I better get up and going with this `project/ lesson` because I could go on and on, Trust me, my students know!
Scouring both google images and youtube, for a unique sculpture opportunity, with a unique everyday, ordinary material, I came across sculpture made out of paper, by Dutch artist Peter Callesen. Mr. Callesen creates his sculpture using a single sheet of paper. I put the `youtube` video on, which is a Euromaxx Art production. (For those of you that do not know, Euromaxx Art has 40+ videos about various working artists, all around Europe) At the end of this 5-minute video, I have a short discussion about process, about how Mr. Callesen uses his materials, to sculpt.
Students then look up Mr. Callesen`s website, and scroll thru his endless supply of paper sculpture, getting inspired. Students then must choose one of his paper sculptures and blend it together with their own ideas, kinda like a half/ half creation. Half his, half theirs. They must employ the same methods that Mr. Callesen does, experimenting with the process and materials until they have it. Experimentation is the key.
Students have to do two (2) paper sculptures & have Three (3) weeks to create their projects.
While this is a choice-based project, students still have to make their paper sculpture in the same ways as Mr. Callesen.
Students also MUST only use ONE SHEET OF PAPER! This is what gets their creativity flowing! Now, they can have a backing with construction paper and even use colored construction paper within their sculpture, but, their ONE MAIN PIECE OF PAPER must be over 90% of their sculpture. There are exceptions, but, they are discussed with me, Mr. C, beforehand. Any built object, such as a hummingbird or birdhouse, MUST be built by using ONLY the Cut-out Sections of their main white drawing paper.
With over (3) Three Weeks to create these sculptures, my students will go thru the `ups and downs` of creativity. They will be productive most days, but then there are `those days`. That`s when having that positive relationship with them comes in handy.
I also play music, fairly loud, to help students focus and to inspire them while they are creating. Music helps students to zone everything else out and concentrate on the task at hand

  1. You can use any type of paper, but I find that Jack Richeson, 90 lb. drawing paper works the best for me.(While ordering from school specialty (sax arts) might be challenging at times, especially with some product not showing up when it`s clearly listed on the packing list, or, it gets back-ordered, it IS a cheaper alternative ordering source to go through)
  2. Scissors
  3. Blending Stumps
  4. Dental Sculpting Tools (paper clips work fine too)
  5. Elmers Glue (not washable, as it will not have the `hold` that is needed)
  6. Non-latex gloves (for those students who do not want glue on their fingers)
  7. Colored construction paper
  8. Photo-copy box lids
  9. A portable fan (for drying)
  10. Drawing pencils
  11. A shelf dedicated solely to the placement of projects/ materials while student work on these.
  12. Finally, having plenty of Patience! This will take time

This project (I don`t use the term `unit` in my classroom because that's a word my students hear all the time in their regular classes. In the Art Studio, we do projects!), is a mix between learn-by-watching, learn-by-experimenting/ doing and choice based.
Students use these Elements of Art within their sculptures: Line, Shape, and Form.
The cut-out sections also allow students to play around with `positive and negative space` which also turns those cut-out sections into the `shadow`, creating an interesting, created look of `shadow and light`!
Students learn that anybody can make art if they put forth their creative effort. Students also learn how a professional artist, from northern Europe, makes a living by sculpting with paper. In our school, we use Standards Based Grading. When students near the end of their project (and I only collect them on the due date not before), I not only push their creative limits by giving them advice on how to make their projects better but the student and I discuss ways for them to go `above and beyond` any expectations.
Matt has so many great ideas and he is totally open to answering questions via Twitter. Be sure to find and follow Matt on Twitter Mr. C's Art Class, @MattCockrellArt.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Art Ed Blogger Network- STEAM/Arts Integration: Growing a Bean

Kids are fascinated with nature.  They love seeing how things work, change, interact and grow.  
Watching a seed change takes time but can become a great early childhood lesson.  
Growing a bean in a bag would be a lesson going on in the background for several weeks but
the ever-changing seed will be visited several times throughout its morph into a plant guaranteed!

Observation is a huge part of this lesson.  Students will be observing and drawing the ever-changing bean
in the many stages that it takes.  Before starting the germination process, students should observe and
draw the seed. You could use a sketchbook or worksheet.  Once the first observation has been made,
it’s time to ‘plant the seed’.

You will need a dry bean, a plastic bag, and a moist paper towel.  The paper towel is placed into the
bag flat and the bean placed in the middle of the paper towel.  You want to make sure the bean is
‘floating’ in the middle of the paper towel rather than laying at the bottom of the bag.  In a classroom
setting, I would encourage you to allow every student to grow their own bean or at least start several
beans.  There is a chance that some of the beans might rot, so it’s good to start several. It’s also
interesting how each bean has a different timeline for germination.  Place the ‘bean bags’ in the window
with lots of light using painters tape.

After several days have the kids move to the window, or carefully remove the bags to bring to their desk.  
They can do their second observational drawing This time they might note the changes in the bean
shell, or perhaps a little poke of the root.  They might even discover mold growing on the paper towel
(this is part of the process, so no worries about that). You will continue to visit the beans as a class every
couple days, but let me tell you, the baby plants will be looked at more often than that.  I’m amazed at the
high interest this low tech project receives from kids.

There are so many facets to this wonderful lesson.  Students will come away with an understanding
of the several stages of a plant.  They will see and document the many stages that we normally can’t see
because it typically takes place under the ground.  This lesson closely relates to Science curriculum and
can cross over to other subjects as well. Students could do math problems or graphs by counting the
number of roots on their seedling.  They could write about the stages of the bean in a nonfiction way. The
lesson could be a jumping off point for many other Art projects.  This is a rich lesson that will teach and
encourage curiosity and lifelong knowledge.

This is a lesson I'm bringing back into my classroom this year (if time allows) but I originally posted
about this lesson several years ago when my mini Matisse was truely MINI... She is now 10 years old and
has successfully graduated from speech therapy... What a sweety she was (and still is). This video could
be a great example of how your students/child could document the process of the beans. Using an app
like Seesaw would allow students to be more independent with their documentation of the growing process.
It could also allow your students to learn from another child which is always engaging.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Bears in a Bed- FREE LESSON!

I'm so excited to share this lesson, Bears in a Bed, with you today! It's a lesson that will be hanging in the halls of Prairie View Elementary and Middle School for the upcoming Spring Conferences. This lesson is a bit of a dedication, and then in return, a gift to you.

First, allow me to dedicate this lesson to my cooperating Teacher, Kim Roberts. She works at Oaklawn Elementary in Menomonie, WI. She was the cooperating teacher that I student taught under.  Well... me and about 50 other new teachers. Actually, I'm not sure what the number is that Kim is up to for student teachers, but I do know that she has dedicated her life to teaching others... Students in her classroom as well as Student Teachers in mass, and in turn they are now teaching hundreds of other students. The dedication of this Educator is tremendous. Even her daughter, who was in 2nd grade when I worked with Kim is now an Art Educator. What an influence! 

Kim taught me how to teach this checkerboard pattern with students as young as Kindergarten. I remember being in awe the way that she managed her traveling position and her hundreds of students. This is a lesson that sticks out with me. 

The second portion of this lesson is inspired by Mrs. Gallagher, known on Instagram as @2tristaartist. Her cute little bear post came just in time for this lesson. It was perfect for my students and it made the project uber cute!


Because this lesson was so highly inspired by others in our Art Education Tribe, I want to give it to you for free.  I have it housed on Teachers Pay Teachers, however, I will not be charging for this lesson. It's a bit of a pay it forward to the people who inspired me as well as a mini sample of what a MiniMatisse lesson looks like. 

The kids were really proud of their final projects and the bears look so cute hanging in the hallways. Thanks to my Kindergarten team for making sure that they are displayed for parents.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Alebrije Project

February was all about my #Crush but now we have entered March and it's Youth Art Month! This month will be celebrating my students and their hard work in 2017/2018.  This is a project created by my 5th grade. It was inspired by the movie Coco... which was just released for purchase.  I started the lesson with this GREAT video by SuperCarlinBrothers. I broke it into bits so that we could have discussion throughout the video. 

This was such a fun way to explain Alebrije's and a bit of history and culture. I also showed a TON of examples of Albrije's to my students after a quick Google search. 

We then started pre-planning... the head, body, feet, tail, and some added wings... this took us a while because we were adding so much design.

Once we had some good ideas for our project, we printed our legs using foam plates.  This was a lot of fun for the kids.  I broke down and showed a video on how to 'carve' into the foam and how to print using ink.  We printed more than we needed so kids to choose their favorite 4 for the animals. 

Then we did some work on the body, drawing it with pencils, adding tempera stick, and adding final designs with oil pastels. 

Students cut all the parts of their art and collaged them together. 

When displayed these Alebrije's looked amazing! 

I put a lot of work into this lesson plan over the last couple of weeks and have a lesson ready to share with you and more importantly, your students! I try to make the lesson plans ready to show in class so you have several student-friendly videos, and images to support the creation of this lesson. Above is an overview of the lesson plan I am selling on Teacher Pay Teachers. To celebrate the release of this new lesson, I'm throwing a sale for the next couple days... 20% off this new lesson!  Enjoy!