Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In the Art Room: A Day in the Life

Entering the Art Room: I have a long strip of blue tape on the floor near my doorway. I'll usually greet the students at the door with a "Please stop at the end of the blue line". While there, I chat with the kids for just a moment about what we'll be up to today. On this day there was a lot of, "why are you taking pictures of our feet?!" Duh, foot fetish.
As an art teacher, I am always super curious how other art teachers run their classroom. I want to know all about their routines, procedures, how they get the kids to clean up because Lordie knows I struggle with that. So I thought I'd share with you a glimpse into just how a 1/2 hour art class looks in my room. I'm hoping this will inspire other art teacher bloggers to share a similar story. I'd love to bring some fresh ideas into my world. 

So, let me tell you what you are about to see: I attempted to snap some photos at each phase in my art class. Because my time with the kids zips by at the speed of light, I wasn't able to capture just one class. This is a montage of a second, kindergarten and third grade class. Each has a fairly similar routine so I think you'll get the idea.
The Art Supply Store: Aka "the store". At the store I lay out all of the supplies that the entering class might need. Because I see between 8-9 different classes in a day, I usually have to change out the supplies right before each class enters. That blue line I mentioned before dead ends at the store. This way, I can tell the kids what they need to grab and they can collect it as they enter the room. Side Note: I try to keep all supplies needed throughout the art class at The Store. This way, whenever the kids need anything, they know they can find it there.
Going Shopping: This is what we call our supply gathering routine. On this day the kids were beginning a self-portrait painting lesson. Once at their seats, they drop off their supplies, write their name and teacher codes in pencil on the paper. As soon as that's complete, they join me on the floor. This takes about 5-7 minutes.

Meet Me on the Floor: On some occasions, no supplies are immediately needed. That's when I'll ask the kids to bypass the store and make a first and second row on the floor.  About this Mess: I know what you're thinking, "What a mess of stuff!" You call it messy, I called it organized chaos. Each of those boxes on the left is a different class, labeled and ready for me to pass back. My demonstration supplies for each class are resting on top of the boxes.
Demonstration Time: This is a group of kindergarteners about to embark on paper weaving. I have found that when teaching weaving a giant loom really helps if they're paying attention (yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Striped Shirt). After I have given a demonstration, I run through all of the directions again using call and response. Not sure what I mean? In my room, it goes like this: I'll clear my throat and that's the signal that anything I'm about to say, the kids are to repeat. It almost sounds like a little ditty with lots of hand gestures and voice inflections. I have found that this really helps the kids remember the directions they are to follow.
Working on the Floor: This doesn't happen very often unless it's an activity where I'll need to check on a lot of children at once. So with this kindergarten weaving project, we changed our two seated rows on the floor into one giant circle. While in this circle formation, the kids wove and I could walk around the outside of the circle and help those that needed it.
Peer Tutoring: Oh how I love peer tutoring. The kids love to help each other and are often better at explaining the concepts to their friends than I am! It amazes me. In this weaving situation, I had the students who successfully completed their weavings help their friends who were struggling. The key is that they are to help not do it for them. That's sometimes a concept they don't quite grasp.


Creating: Most of the time, the kids work at their assigned seats. Each of my tables seats four students and each table is assigned a color. On each table in one of the four corners is a star that coordinates with the color of the table and has a number on it, one thru four. During art class, we have "art jobs". You can kind of see a list of these written on the board in the demo photo. Sorry, should have taken a better photo. My jobs include: Art Room Sheriff and Deputy (in charge of keeping order and quiet voices); Table Caller (calling the best tables to line up first); Hosts of the Smartest Artist (the wrap-up game we attempt to play most days); and, everyone's favorite: The Clean Up Band...
The Clean Up Gong: If this doesn't motivate you to clean up your act, I mean art, nothing will. Hubs bought me this gong for our 10th wedding anniversary (yes, you read that correctly). The kids absolutely love it. Funny story:  I was running late (as usual) and so we were scrambling to clean up. My Clean Up Gong'er for the day was OTL (out-to-lunch) and forgot to do his job. So as the teacher walked in to collect her students, one little girl yelled at the Gong'er, "Hit the bong! It's time to hit the bong!" Yeah, I had a little bit of 'splainin'  to do that day.
Clean Up Drums: I don't play drums nor do I know how. I do know how to play a "fill" and that's what I taught the kids at the beginning of the year. So, when it's their turn to play the drums, they play that little beat. As you can tell, they kinda love it.
The Clean Up Chime: Crazy, right? But it's funny, the kids have this down. They'll usually play in this order: drums, gong, chime. They will all get in their places, look at me and when I say, "Hit it!" they have at it. Then I'll usually play "Celebrate" by Kool and the Gang. With all this racket, clean up time can be a little busy. Especially since we are usually down to the wire on time. Once the students have cleaned up, they are to stand behind their pushed-in chair. Then they wait for the Table Caller to tell them to line up.





Lining Up: This is the doorway which the students entered the art room. It's also the exit. What's not shown in this photo is that blue line of tape on the floor. You can read more about The Masterpiece Gallery here.
The Smartest Artist: So The Smartest Artist is this wrap up game we play at the end of class (if time allows). There's the host and hostess on the right with their microphones looking at the contestants standing on that blue line. In the foreground is our score keeper. You can read more about The Smartest Artist here.
At the End of the Day: I love my job. I don't love the clean up. Been trying to convince the book keeper that some of my art supply funds should go toward a housekeeper.

So there you have it, a peak into a half an hour of artsy'ness. I look forward to hearing what it is you do in your room that works like a charm. Because if it's one thing I've never been called, it's charming. Thanks for dropping by!

36 comments:

  1. Your art class sounds awesome and now I wish I were back in grade school, wah. Actually, I'm trying to remember if we even had art class in grade school? It was in Sumner County, if that says anything haha.

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    1. Oh, you hang with me one day, you'd most def decide that teaching art was just for the crazies. With the crazies. Yeah, I didn't have art either ... not until high school. Kinda a bummer. But now I get to relive it every day, yippie ;)

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  2. I love your weaving demo! Weaving can be a little difficult for some students and I think this would really help them. I can't wait to use it! This is my second year teaching elementary art. I am amazed by how many things I have learned through fellow art teachers blogs! Thank you for sharing all of your awesome ideas! I enjoy reading your posts you seem like such a fun teacher and truly create meaningful experiences for your students!

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    1. Michelle -- thank you for reading and for your kind words, they made my day :) The big paper loom really does make a difference. It's just a large laminated piece of construction paper. Even with that, there are always one or two that struggle. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a fantastic end to your second year!

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  3. Anonymous4/04/2013

    I have to thank Pam Stephens for linking your page. This is my third year teaching and still trying to figure out how to get the students in quickly and supplies out fast. I too have only 30 minutes and rotations are one after another, different grades. I really like the line idea and clean up gong. I may try that. Thank you Cassie!
    -Myralyn McCabe

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  4. This is so great! Makes me remember my art classes as a kid - they were my absolute favorite part of the day. :)

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  5. Dan Darr4/04/2013

    I can tell just by this page that you are an amazing teacher who does an amazing job! I teach high school art, and many of the things you do with your elementary students will work with the high school kids! Thank you for sharing your fantastic ideas.
    --Dan Darr

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    1. Glad to hear it! And thank you for teaching high schoolers...because I know I couldn't :)

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  6. Fabulous time management and fun procedures! You pack a ton into a short time!
    (I just teach after school classes at three schools- the most I have are three 1-hour classes back to back. Because I have to haul everything every day- no storage at all, I teach the same thing in each class, just changing it up to adjust expectations for the younger/older multi-age classes.) In my dream world, I'd have a fully stocked art room in one location and the kids would come to me, not me to them! :D

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    1. That would be ideal for you! I too would teach the same lesson, otherwise you'd be carrying around more stuff than a sherpa ;) Thanks for reading!

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  7. So, do you ever allow visitors in your classes? I am in my twenty-third year of teaching, but in my first year of being an art teacher. I am at two elementary schools in my county and have approximately 1,100 students per week-46 classes per week. I would love to be able to observe in some art classrooms around my area.

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    1. Sure! I've had visitors drop by before. You are more than welcome. Are you in the Williamson County area...?

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    2. I teach in McNairy County which is about three hours from Nashville.

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  8. Anonymous4/05/2013

    loved your idea for weaving :) I have 1 hour classes but with two classes at a time so i have 45-55 kids at a time you can imagine what that is like... but i wouldn't change it for the world

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  9. Great ideas - it's such a treat to peek inside another's art room. Thank you!

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  10. Hi Cassie


    I do like your blog ...interesting ideas, imagery and links......etc etc etc

    BUT PLEASE will you enable the

    "Follow By Email" gadget in the LAYOUT area of your Dashboard.
    Then it's much easier for me and other followers to keep informed when you create a new post on your blog.

    If you do get this set up ( its very easy) then please do email me and let me know aine@ainescannell.com

    best wishes

    Aine

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    1. Done! Thank you for telling me how :)

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  11. Love all your ideas and use a few of them myself. But that sink...oh my...when I look in my sink and even one brush is not soaking in a water container the whole room stops until it is dealt with. I even have containers for tall and short brushes so I can clean them quicker.
    I especially like your Masterpiece Gallery. :-)

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    1. I agree, my sink has issues. Something to work on next school year!

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  12. Thanks- this is so helpful! It is my first year teaching Elementary Art and I am always looking for ideas to use. I have a big room, but not a lot of containers, so I am always rethinking how to reorganize. Do you have any tips for simplifying grading? I have 450 students and I am overwhelmed. The large weaving loom was really a great idea. I tried a weaving project with second grade a few months ago and they just weren't getting it. I had over 30 students and was circulating around the room, but it was impossible to get to everyone and they just were not getting it. They were frustrated and so was I. It is great to see how another teacher approached it. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Stephanie5/29/2014

    I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd share a tid bit of my routine. I am a second year K-8 teacher, so it is isn't perfect but I learned it from a veteran teacher so it works pretty well.

    We have colored tables, pretty much used for line up purposes, marked by a hanging pom-pom above the center of the table. The seats are labeled 1-4 also for art jobs. The students always enter to the meeting area, which is like your meet me at the floor spot. I give the run down of the days events, a demo and then give their art jobs. I have numbers on the chalk board and little jobs cards such "paper", "paintbrushes", etc. Whichever number I assign each supply to, has to go to the supply table, just like your store, and get four of that items and then head to their table. Then it's work time until the timer goes off for clean up. We sing the clean up son or else they just continue working. =) I call tables to line up according to who cleaned up the quickest and quietest. I love teaching art, but noise is not my thing. Plus if I just say quickest, I get running maniacs in my room!

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  14. Anonymous7/07/2014

    I just found this post too and as said, I know it's old. But the sink. Stop killing your paint brushes! :) Haha! Lay them on paper plates or sit them in a tiny bit of water to soak. I do understand the after school clean up hatred though. I've spent as much as an hour cleaning up after school and setting up for the next day. Something to help you on time would be to create baskets for each class. I had baskets (from dollar tree) for each period of the day. In the morning I'd get them organized and ready. Then I'd set out the first period's baskets. At the end of the first period, I'd pick a student to swap their baskets for the second period's baskets. This takes about 3 minutes and can be done while everyone else is cleaning up. Baskets only contain the supplies needed and nothing else. I also had pencil/eraser baskets that for the most part stayed out all day. No one was ever allowed to sharpen pencils. If you needed a new pencil you looked in your basket or asked another table. That would save you the 5-7 minutes of picking up at the store (which is still a very cool idea). I also noticed that my 3rd-6th graders loved to help out and my classes ran more smoothly if I had helpers. Not having helpers created more chaos and chatter. Helpers pass out paper while I start the lesson and pick up papers at the end. I did the boxes for each class's work too and I agree that it helps so much! At the end of the day I'd recruit third graders (who were also on my hall) to help clean up. One helper sharpened pencils, another cleaned tables, another dried tables, another would start sweeping. I'd finish the tables and floor. In the morning I'd recruit another student to continue sharpening pencils and help me get ready. I didn't have a carpet space (and really missed it) so I had to let students sit at their tables to watch demonstration. My only rule was to "Listen" which encompasses everything else. If you were messing with supplies or talking, you're not listening. To simplify demonstration time I used blue tape to divide my white board into 7 spaces. Each space was for a different grade. I wrote or drew everything I would need before class. I also used magnets to hold up pre-made examples.
    Hope that helps. I miss teaching and if I ever teach weaving again, I'm totally stealing your idea for the weaving demonstration. LOVE IT!

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  15. I love seeing your room! I would like to know about the flashcard thing thing you do...
    Thanks!
    Andrea

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  16. I love this post and these ideas! here are a few of mine...I'm in my second year, k-6....So I'm new to the game..
    clean up: I give 5-7 minutes from the end of class. one person from each table will have a brush cleaning job. if I missed my time limit I too have the kids put all of the brushes in a container of water in the sink....which sucks to clean after school. I've came up with a "I'm already finished jar" . it contains sticks labeled with different things to draw, create, or design. it also has almost half of the sticks labeled with tasks to help me. (clean sink, organize paint cabinet, organize marker box, sharpen dull pencils, create new labels for supplies in the room, re-stock table cups...etc) it's working great!
    set up: tales and seats are labeled for jobs and dismiss. each table has a cup that has enough pencils and erasers for the 4 kids. depending on the lesson and materials, I'll have additional cups ready. I have a rolling cart with drawers for everyday supplies. if extras are needed the kids help themselves. it is also my demonstration table. my desk has a cup of sharp pencils and a cup of dull. they are allowed to trade a dull for a sharp when needed.
    warm up: kids know to come in, get newsprint paper off the cart, and look on white board for their drawing prompt. they get about 5 to 10 minutes to work on it and put it in their hand made art folders. each seat has a little shelf that holds every student who sits at that seats folders. I give them one grade for the folder at the end of the class. this keeps them from goofing off when they first come in...especially older kids.
    dismissal: I ask review questions about an artist we are learning about, or questions about elements and principles (define). tables are teams and work together to answer if the person called on was incorrect. usually line up a table at a time. I don't start the review until each table is cleaned up and shows me 4 Mona Lisas( quiet, eyes on me, hands folded)
    critique: positive only!
    1. everyone's art at their seat. everyone stands at their chairs, hands behind their backs. they walk around the table and use art vocab to point out positive things about the art. the students rotate tables when I say switch. once they've been around and back to their chairs they volunteer and saysomething about a piece that stood out.
    2. everyone's work is put on the board. after a few mins looking at the art, I go in order and have each student choose a piece to positively critique using vocab words (elem & princ). they have to choose a piecethat hasn't already been discussed.
    3. all work on board. each student must talk about something they would change to better their own piece and why.
    4. sometimes I'll put up a famous artwork and they can critique saying why they don't like it or what they'd change. crits always done after clean up.

    also...instead of art club, I host art service club during lunch with 4-6th allduring separate days. they help create art for the school...play decor, posters, advertisement of upcoming events and banners and room signs. they also help with any teacher in the building...create things for bulletin boards, cut things out etc. they occasionally get to "free draw" the kids love it and all the teachers love it more!

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  17. Hi!
    I'm 6-8 Middle School but I taught 4-8 at a different school for twelve years. Sure miss those 4th and 5th graders!!

    Here were the strategies that worked best for my upper elementary (I think 2nd and 3rd grade would catch on quick).
    1. I numbered all tables (at the middle school each table is named a famous artist).
    2. I taped four repeating colors at each table (in front of every chair...and it was in the same place at every table).
    ***The first two steps were the basis for my whole classroom routine.
    3. I met the kids at the door everyday and asked the first 5 students to pass out what ever papers we needed (I made journals with our projects for the year. We did always do every project but at least it was very organized).
    4. I gave directions using a board with the same four colors in step two. (If you are blue, you will get scissors, etc.)
    5. Gave a demo if needed.
    6. Reviewed the jobs from the beginning of class and then let the kids clean up. If we were painting, only one person would be cleaning four brushes. Then next class a new person was in charge of that job (so it was fair).

    If anyone out there has any great ideas for middle schoolers, that would be wonderful!!!! I am on year two with only 6-8 and I hope to have all the kinks worked out soon.

    Anyway, I love this blog! Wonderful ideas!!!!

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    1. About the journals: I meant to say above that we didn't always create the same projects every year. However, I used the directions and changed the project a little or maybe added a new one (even if it wasn't in the journal.) I just found that a concrete book of projects made it very easy to say, turn to the Introduction of Still Life on page...or you will find portraits on this page.

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  18. Anonymous2/10/2015

    I love your idea for weaving. It can be so challenging to teach weaving to the little guys. I have been teaching art for the past 21 years! I have been spoiled with an amazing art room and a chance to see my kids at least twice a week for 45 min. Our school is very big on the arts. I too give the kids a 5 to 10 min warning with chimes that clean up is about to begin. I usually walk around and supervise the clean up. My assistant and usually call up 2 or 3 kids at a time and walk them through the project. (A general explanation during circle time is done ahead of time). The children that are not our tables are given "free art" time. Paper, glue, scissors and other fun stuff is readliy available in bins on a shelf. They can use the table or trays on the floor to create their masterpieces. Our balance between free art and individual instructiion give the kids the best of both worlds. I love what I do and I wish you the very best in such a wonderful field of teaching art

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  19. Love the blog...for those of you who don't have containers for water, etc...those plastic coffee cans are the BEST..just wish there was a way to store them.
    Also, even the littlest one can put his/her brush in a coffee can with a little water on a separate surface (not the sink). This way, you can keep your sink open for washing hands, etc. I'm thinking that this year I might put out a bucket of water, rinse water and stack the paper towels so the kids won't be all crowding at my itty bitty sink!

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  20. What a great post! I love your use of sound and movement in the room.
    Re: clean up, ever since I started using "clean up cards" it's seriously the best part of my day. With practice, the class now runs like a well oiled machine :)

    I made some on TPT if you're interested: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/CLASSROOM-MANAGEMENT-Clean-Up-Cards-Free-Poster-2038565

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    1. VERY interested!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

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  21. "The key is that they are to help not do it for them. That's sometimes a concept they don't quite grasp."
    This is also something I struggle with. With weaving, if they are helping a friend, I tell them to remove the weft thread after they weave it so that their friend can do on their own. If a friend wants to show someone how they drew something they have to show their friend in their free draw book. I'm really against anyone (Including other teachers or aids) doing art work for the students. I'm sure you agree.

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    1. I definitely agree! When doing peer tutoring, you have to model and watch the children so they don't turn into "lemme just do it for you"s. But, ultimately, I've found they are excellent at explaining concepts to one another!

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  22. Thank you very much for the creation of such an informative article. I like these photos very much. It post was very interesting for me to read about it. I think, that many people will like it.

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    1. awesome, thank you for your kind words!

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  23. I gone through your web site about block printing. its really wonderful.if you want additional designs about block printing visit our website.
    Art and craft for kid | Art kits for kids

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  24. Cassie,
    Let me just say... woah.. I could see my self becoming a Cassie Stephens Jr. Juuust saying.. I start my first teaching job this fall in a small school district teaching K-12 art! I'm nervous, scared, and excited all at once. I had 2 lovely art teachers named Jessica White and Jessica Mahan point me into your direction for research and tips.. and let me just say.... YAY! The way you communicate, organize, design, manage, breathe, look.. I could go on..! If I could walk in your shoes someday with your blog, lifestyle and desire to help others I would do it in a heartbeat! WAY TO GO!
    I'm still reading your blog trying to get caught up, watching YouTube videos, and now adding you to Facebook.. I feel like I got this, I can do this.. I'm way over thinking! Right? I try to keep telling myself to stay calm.
    Anywho, You are inspiring me and I thank you for all that you do!

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)