Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In the Art Room: Trying Something New

The Art Room Foyer...that's right, my room is so big it has it's own entryway. I'm totes spoiled, ya'll. You can learn more about the Smartest Artist Game (seen on the right) here and read about our day-to-day attempts at routines and procedures here.
You ever find yourself watching those amazingly terrible infomercials where you're all, "who would buy that?!" only to get sucked in a little further to discover that the 'mercial is speaking directly to you and that product they're pitching could quite possibly solve all of your life's problems? For example, how about the Better Marriage Blanket which, with it's activated-carbon fabric, a material "used by the military to protect against chemical weapons", can put an end to the silent and deadly problems which reek, er, wreak havoc in otherwise happy marriages? Or what about the Rejuvenique Electrical Facial Mask, which closely resembles Jason's Friday the 13th hockey get-up, but packs a nine-volt battery electrical shock punch to those pesky wrinkles. I just know in my heart of hearts that with 5 easy payments of $39.99, my life would be perfection, right?

Such is kinda the story of my life in the art room. I see a problem, I dream up some incredibly perfect way to fix it and...it either turns out shockingly bad (like my facial mask) or super stinky (shoulda went for the blanket). However, in this here post, I wanted to spare you the stink and share with you the (so-far) successes. So here's a list of some new things I'm trying and enjoying in the art room this year. Enjoy and puh-lease let me know what new things you are giving a go this school year. Shake Weight Paint Brush, perhaps...?

I Can Statements. In my neck of the woods, my students are to be told several times just what it is they are learning and what it is they'll be accomplishing. I'm also supposed to tie that in to the state standards and put it in kid friendly terms. So just to the left of the bulletin board seen in the top photo is this miniature dry erase display of their current I Can's along with the permanent standards. When the children enter my room, they walk along a line I have taped to the floor. When the first student has reached the end of the tape and all have entered the art room, I have the students repeat their daily I Can's after me. This helps us all to focus and puts an end to the question, "What are we doing today?!"
Time Timer. I have Art Teachers Hate Glitter to thank for this. She made mention of using this in her art room and I was excited to try it out. With 30 minutes for art making, I am always watching the clock and I am also always losing track of time. More often than I'd like to admit, one class is cleaning up while I have another class walking in (at which point we play the "Let's Watch the Other Class Clean Up and See How Well They Do" Game...which is a totally boring game and Milton Bradley ain't going to be making a version anytime soon).
My students love this thing. In fact, when they walk in and take a seat on the floor, if one of them notices I've not set the time, they'll ask to do it for me. As time moves on, the red pie gets smaller and finally ends with a loud beep of the alarm. This has become our signal to clean up. What I love about this is that the children have become more aware of time management. You can find the Time Timer here.
See, Think, Wonder. After repeating our I Can statements at the door, I'll often pick a student to "be the teacher." This student will sit in my chair and discuss a work of art I have on my easel. The work of art will often be created by our Artist of the Month. The "teacher" is to ask the children "What do you See?" (note the camera icon) and they are to respond like they would with me, by raising their hand. After speaking with a couple of children the teacher can then move on to "What do you Think?"  (lightbulb) and "What do you Wonder?" (question mark). This game is great because it buys me a little time to get supplies out on tables and it allows me to pre assess students knowledge, thoughts and questions about a work of art.
Also on my board I have my I Can statements posted again for their viewing pleasure. By the way, the display on the right was created with the children's messy mats and a poster from Target.
Good Music. My husband and I love going to theme parks because they are magical. And I want my art room to be a magical place in the school. With all that often goes on in a half an hour, it's hard to stop and make a magical moment happen for the children. So good music helps. This amazing CD has been on constant rotation in the art room. It's calming, quiet, recognizable and, well, magical. Next on my music wishlist is the Star Wars soundtrack.
Choose Your Own Adventure. Did you all read Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were kids? I loved them. If you are not familiar, you read a short chapter and at the conclusion, you can decide, as in the case of this book, if you A. Want to invade a monastery, B. Go on a Viking raid or C. Fight in a Viking battle. From there, the book takes you on a wonderful adventure of your choosing. I've been reading this to my fourth grade students (I've deemed it inappropriate for those younger due to Viking violence) and it has sparked so much creativity with their Viking drawings. As a class, we vote on the adventures we go on. Even in my short 30 minutes, I can manage to read a couple of adventures. There is an enormous library of these books on amazon. In fact, just today I purchased Ninja and Samurai adventure tales. The kids are thrilled.
Snap Snap WOOOSH. I suck at clean up procedures. There. I said it. Mostly cuz we're running late. However, with the Time Timer keeping track, we are getting better. Our new procedure is that when you hear the alarm, you clean. Once your table is clean with everything put in it's correct spot (having a mini trash can on the table as seen on the right in the photo above really helps) and all of the students are standing behind their pushed in chair, they count down at their table and collectively snap their fingers and give me the "Snap! Snap! WHOOSH!" with a wave motion of their arms. They are to only do this once (otherwise they will do it repeatedly and drive me nutz) at which point I'll check their table for neatness. If they are good, I send them to line up. If not, they are asked to continue cleaning and give me the signal again when they are ready. So far...it's working out pretty well.








Art Class Homework. They asked for it, I swear! In fact, they can get pretty grumpy when I don't have anything for them. So once a week, I'm making art homework available for the taking. My plan is to tie it in with our artist of the month and see just what they come up with. Once the art work is returned to me, we look at it and recognize those young artists at the beginning of class. I'm plotting a way to display these hard workers efforts and I'll share it with you soon.
Personally, I think an Ice Cream Dress is a FANTASTIC idea...and has given me lots of food for thought...so to speak.

And there you have it! Okay, you're turn...what are you doing in your art room that works? And if I Act Now! can I please get it for just 3 easy payments of $19.99...? Because that'd be better than a Better Marriage Blanket, ya'll! 


20 comments:

  1. Like you we have to have our "I Can" or daily objectives posted for all to see this year and remind the students what we are doing... I like the idea of reading them with the kids as they come in... I only have 30 min. with my 3d,4th and 5th grades. Time sure does fly when your having fun! They have 40 min. K-2 so in 3d they are always saying" Wow, art class seems so short this year!" I am definitely a clock watcher! There is many a time we are running late! I've been playing a lot of George Winston in my room this year, it seems to sooth the kids. One of my younger kids reminded me the other day to put on the "fancy restaurant" music! Thanks for sharing your room with us! I'm jealous of the generous size! :)

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    1. Haha, "fancy restaurant" music, that's CLASSIC! I'll have to look into getting some of that myself :) Wow, 30 minutes with 5th grade seems criminal to me, boooo.

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  2. I want to go to your school! When I am finally a teacher I want to make my room speak to the students (They are not children, I will be teaching in a college), if the room is happy the students are happy! I cant believe you have so little time with them, seems a shame, but they still have a crazy good time with you. I loved adventure books, have you ever read any 'Goosebumps, reader beware, you choose the scare' books? They are brilliant!! Although I would think that, I love R.L Stine! :)

    Jerra xx

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    1. Oooooh, LOVED Goosebumps and Christopher Pike books when I was a kid. So scary, I loved them! Why don't they make grown up versions of Choose Your Own Adventure books?!

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  3. Love the art class homework and the fact that they demanded it! :)

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    1. I know, they're crazy. Who demands homework?!

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  4. Anonymous11/06/2013

    Love love love it all. I am a volunteer visiting art teacher at my kids school, x-working civil engineer turned stay at home mom and creative sewer. I really enjoy reading your blog and recycling your ideas! The positive affirmations before class and student empowerment are such great ideas. I'm going to start using them.

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    1. A volunteer visiting art teacher?! You rock! I know the kids love it when you come to school. Thank you for your kind words and have fun on your next visit :)

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  5. Just wanted to pass this along to you as I thought of you when i saw this.....yours were way more affordable though...wow!!!
    ttp://www.disneyeveryday.com/disney-haunted-mansion-wallpaper-leggings/

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    1. WHHHHHAAAAT?! Those are awesome! AND so super expensive, ouch! Thank you for sharing...love them!

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  6. You should try the John Williams station on Pandora!

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  7. Hi Cassie,
    You crack me up! Thanks for all your work on this great blog. I really want to do something like the "I can" statements... I'm thinking more like "What are we learning?" and "why are we learning this?" and then typing up and laminating answers for each lesson to clip up under the questions. Whew, sounds like a lot of work! ;) I made a half-assed attempt at the mini-whiteboard write-up and I just couldn't get my act together. I figure that I can re-use them if they're laminated?? One of my new things this year is using a xylophone to get the kids' attention. SO much better than using my voice! Also, I got these little plastic stools from IKEA for the kids to sit on when we gather 'round the SMARTBoard. Vast improvement over hauling our noisy metal stools all over the room! Love your question, "what do you wonder?". We do something similar... What do you see? Know? Think? Feel? But, that word "wonder" is powerful! Makes my questions feel pretty sterile. Maybe I'll adjust. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Marnie -- Thank you for your kind words and for reading! I like your take on the "I Can's" because it gets more to the heart of why/how the kids can apply their knowledge to their everyday lives. Which is great. I can't get my act together either...and, just for the record, ALL of my attempt's are half-assed. Because whole-assed attempts make me look like I have a big butt ;)

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  8. So, ummm, I watched the Shake-Weight video, and ummmmm, does this ad seem risqué to anyone else, or do in just have a dirtyis mind? Ekes. I thought maybe I should wash my iPad after watching it!

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    1. Yeah, Phyl, the Shake Weight is WAY awkward. And, playing on that, the creators then made a Shake Weight for Men...there's a video on youtube if you need a good laugh ;)

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  9. That should have said dirty 'ish' but anyhow, I just wanted to say that I LOVE the 'snap whoosh' idea!

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  10. I wish I had had an art teacher like you when I was young! Love your blog & all that you are doing!

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  11. Simply lovable stuff here. Amazing! :)

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