Wednesday, July 31, 2019

In the Art Room: The Easiest (and Maybe the Only!) Classroom Management Tool You'll Ever Use!

I've got three new podcast episodes for you this week that I think you'll least I hope! I've been TRYING to jump start my art teacherin' brain these last couple weeks because, GULP, I go back to school tomorrow, y'all. That's MAN-AN-A (where my tilda at, blogger?!). In case you missed, I've been chatting up all things art teacherin' over on my podcast, Cassie Stephens (available for download here, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or simply click on the link!). This week, I covered why our kids are misbehavin', what my three consequences are and...the easiest classroom management tool EVER! 

Take a listen to to that one right here:
This is also THE CHEAPEST classroom management tool you'll ever all you need is a dry erase board, a marker and a happy/sad face. Shoot man, just draw a happy and a sad face on your board and you are set. Now, if you are like me and you need a visual to go with the podcast, here's a video I made a couple years ago:
In my podcast episode how I started using this board...making it way too complicated. These days, it's super easy and super effective. I think you'll love it. Take a look at this vintage photo below. My art room has changed so much over the last couple of years. You wanna know what's not changed? Me using this board! My desk still sits in this same spot, it's just rotated outward, toward the kids. But the Happy/Sad Board still remains. It works with all of my students, kindergarten through fourth. 
Below is what my art room looks like now. Look how much crapola I used to have...EVERYWHERE. I was a big believer in more-is-more. I guess I still am but now I'm a bigger believer in decorating to educate. Which is what I hope I do!
What's missing from this photo? MY HAPPY/SAD BOARD! At the end of the school year, the little easel it sat on broke. I've since ordered me a dry erase board stand that I plan to place front and center. 

One thing I failed to mention in my podcast is what I do with the board when the kids go to their seats to work. Usually the kids are merrily making and need very few reminders. However, when we do, I will sometimes assign a student to be in charge of the board. They'll take it to their seat and mark lines under the happy or the sad as they see fit. Does that mean we sometimes end up with 3452 happy face tallies? YES. But usually the kids do well with it. Every so often, when the class gets a little too chatty or off task, I'll say, "Hey, T, how many happy/sads to we have?" and that will usually get everyone to fall in line. Easy right?

If you wanted to extend this, you could totally use it to keep a class tally of behaviors, if that's your thing. Personally, I cannot keep up with class parties, table tallies, behavior charts, stickers, clips or popsicle sticks. But you COULD use this system at the end of class to determine if the class has had a successful day and deserves to work toward some reward. For me, I'm much too crazy to keep up with any of that stuff...and just racking up the happies seems to work for my students. AND THAT'S THE KEY... you do what works for yourSELF, your STUDENTS, your SET UP and your SITUATION and you'll be amazing. Happy New Year!
 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Saturday, July 27, 2019

In the Art Room: First Day of Art Projects!

BIG NEWS! My podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts! I'm so excited. If you want to keep up with me, be sure and subscribe. Also, a rating and a review would be super duper. Thank you, friends!

I have been talking A LOT here lately, both here and on my podcast, about heading back to school. It's right around the corner for me (next week, ACK!) so it's all I've been thinking (and nightmaring) about. In case you've missed it, I've been sharing about my rules and routines for my art room. Next week, I'll be talking about the three consequences I use in my art room, why students might misbehave in our room and the one classroom management tool I use like crazy. But today...I thought I'd share my very favorite art projects to do on the very first day (follow this link for videos and more)!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I try VERY HARD on those first days to do the SAME project with ALL of my grade level kids. Why? For my sanity, y'all! I gotta work up that stamina again. AND because my focus is rules and routines. Doing the same and simple lesson with my students allows me to focus on the rules and routines...while they are creating. So what I'm sharing with you here today are projects that can be done with 1st-4th (and sometimes kindergarten too but I usually start here for them). The exception to this is when I've done Dot Day projects at the start of the year, where each grade does something different. You can find my fave Dot Day lessons below.
Last year, this lesson I created was a HUGE hit, both with my students and fellow art teachers. I know the link for the sheets has been broken forever but GUESS WHO FIXED IT! That's right...finally. Follow this link for both FREE downloadable PDFs. You and your kids will love this first day activity!
While storage was a little tricky, once these guys were finished and up they made for quite the beautiful display. You can see how we displayed them here. 
Who's to say kids can't paint in art class on the very first day?! I created these Welcome Back banners for my students to paint at the END of last I could hang next week. But you could make them now, let the kids paint them and hang them up for Open House or just to brighten the halls. More details on how these were created here and here (with video!). 
I'm a big fan of having my students create collaborative pieces at the start of the school year. Why? Because they can help establish a culture of community! And they are so pretty. We created this piece a couple of years ago and it was so well received that we have since painted a bunch more for our school library. More details here and here!
Of course, you cannot go wrong starting off your school year with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. I have done a BAZILLION different Dot Day projects, many complete with instructional video. I put 'em all into one big blog post right here. So, need some Dot Day? I got you covered!
This here is an oldie that I've brought back a couple of times now...three times to be exact! I've created a popular video that you are welcome to share in your art room. You can find the lesson details and video here. 
Having done this lesson a couple of times, I've found different ways to display them. Here's one and then here's one where we took our faces and created a world!
This lesson has been a HUGE hit on my blog with so many folks bringing wings into their school. It's a super way to start the year. I've got a video just for you (that's free!) right here. 
Big ole collaborative murals are my fave thing for my kids to create! This one really sends home a message that I want my kids to receive.
And this big ole beast, inspired by the author Todd Parr, makes me so happy that I've yet to take it down!
There are truly so many ways to start your school year...but I would encourage you to START SIMPLE. I know these projects may not seem to be simple. That's because you are just seeing the final results. On that first day, it should be RULES AND ROUTINE city, okay? With some creating mixed in. If you do the same lesson with everyone, then you are making your life a little easier. And when your life is a little easier, then you can focus on rules, routines and getting to know your kiddos (my favorite part). So find what works, have fun, enjoy those first few days by keeping your life easy. Remember, a happy person makes for a happy art teacher. Go easy on yourself and have a wonderful start to your school year. 

More details on these trees here!

 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

In the Art Room: ART ROOM RULES!

I've been chatting alot with y'all lately about routines for the art room...and it seems kinda crazy to address that before talking about rules, doesn't it?! For the longest, I'm talking YEARS, I did not understand the difference between rules and routines. There were times when I would list my rules and they'd be a mile long because they were actually procedures I wanted my kids to follow, not rules. It can all be a little confusing so let me share an analogy with you...

Your art room is the magical masterpiece of a place you wish to create for you and your students. Your RULES are the broad brush stokes of that masterpiece. The solid foundation you wish to create. Your ROUTINES are the small brush strokes, the dabs of color and light that bring your entire work of art together. With rules and routines, your art room are room has the potential to becoming everything you and your students need to create, grow and thrive. 

Now...when those rules and routines are disregarded, which can happen for any number of reasons, then there are consequences. I'll be talking more about that next week. For now, let's focus on rules. Here's mine:
Each one of these is a downloadable PDF which you can find here. In fact, you can read more about my rules by following this link.

For many years, I just came up with rules. I copied rules that other classroom or art teachers used without putting much thought into it. I hate to even admit it, but it's true. In fact, I talk a lot about it in one of this week's podcast episodes. But, incase you missed the prequel, you might wanna listen to the one on routines first. And here's my podcast episode on rules:

Before you even start thinking about your RULES and ROUTINES, shouldn't you know your WHY? I wish I had. For years I was just blindly going thru my rules, the ones I'd robbed from other folks, without giving it much thought. It was the thing I thought I had to do, get outta the way and off my To Do. Sadly, what I didn't know, is that your WHY sheds light on the tone and climate you wish to create for your art room. Starting there allows you to then shape and form your RULES and your ROUTINES. 

If you've not yet created your WHY, don't worry about it. I walk you through the process in this working podcast. I have LOVED seeing your pie charts and your WHYs...thank you so much for sharing them with me here. 
Painting my WHY was so much fun. It now hangs happily in my Command Center, right where all of my students and I can see it everyday. I talk about my WHY with my students on the very first days of art. And I ask them WHY they want to be in art...WHAT do they hope to learn, do and know. Knowing their stake in their education and owning it, gives them power. 
My rules embrace my WHY and help to bring it to life. What are your art room rules? What tone and/or climate do you hope they help your masterpiece of an art room become? 
 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Monday, July 22, 2019

String and Stitch Lab for Kids is...HERE!

ANNOUNCEMENT: I'll be doing a book launch at Parnassus Books in Nashville on Sunday, August 11th at 2pm. If you'd like to join the fun, please RSVP here. Let's PLEASE support our local book stores by purchasing my book at Parnassus. LOVE to see you there!

I CAN'T EVEN BELIEVE IT MYSELF...Stitch and String Lab for Kids is finally (like, FINALLY) here! And I cannot wait for you to see what's inside!
When I was a kid, fiber arts was my favorite. I didn't have art class in elementary school. So I had to get my art-makin' fix elsewhere. I learned straw weaving in Vacation Bible School. My grandma taught me how to embroider and cross-stitch. And my favorite teacher taught me how to do string art (shown above). As an adult, I've carried with me that love for fibers. When I have free time, y'all know I'm usually sewing up a dress or needle felting some wearable art. It didn't take me long to bring my love of fibers into the art room. Twenty years students have experienced all forms of weaving, needle felting, wet felting, sewing, embroidery and more. I packed ALL of my favorite kid-approved lessons into this book...and I'm so happy. I want to share my love for fibers with you and your kiddos!
For that reason...I thought it would be fun to bring back the ole Facebook LIVE Craft Nights. I actually STOPPED doing FB/IG LIVES when I was so busy...writing this book. With that behind me, I'd love to get back to crafting with you. Since school is starting soon and I've got a couple other obligations happening, I can currently commit to these three dates. We'll see where we go from there. Here's the line up:
Mark your calendars and set your alarms! I'll be sharing the supply list shortly. I know if you are anything like me, if I give it to you too far in advance, y'all are just gonna forget all about it. So stay tuned here, follow me here and I'll keep you posted. 

TO CELEBRATE THE BOOK LAUNCH...I created a podcast episode just for you. Have you ever wanted to write a book? Well then I'm spilling the beans on the who, what, when, where, why and HOW in this episode:

By the way, if these photos are sparking your interest, they are projects from my book. There are 44 projects in my book...quite a bit! If you'd like to see me share more about my book and see some super easy projects for the youngin's, you can see my interview on Nashville's Talk of the Town here. 
If you do receive my book and like it, a review here would be AMAZING! You don't even know just how much a review (preferably a good one!) can mean to me. I would truly appreciate it! The amount of work that goes into making a book is bananas. So a kind word and review is a wonderful thing.

Also! I cannot forget to mention that my first book Clay Lab for Kids is also available here...and again, reviews welcome and much appreciated! 


Remembering all of the routines I wish to cover on the very first days of art was always tough for me...especially in 30 minutes! So a while back, I created this acronym that makes sure I say it all without forgetting a thing. I created this into a downloadable pdf for you right here! 

In this week's podcast episode, I'll be sharing the story of my very first day teaching art. Spoiler Alert: it was a HUGE epic disaster! I thought rules were the only thing you covered on the very first day and, well, you'll just have to take a listen:

Last week, I got my room (mostly) set up and ready to go. I filmed a tour and will share later this week! But for now, you can sneak art room peaks here or on my Instagram!
 When I give my art room tour, I'll be sharing links to where to scoop up some of these items...but most of what you see here was made by me!
And the tutorials for what I've made can be found right here on my blog. If you just cannot wait for an art room tour, here is a peek at last year's:
But back to my routines...I have chatted about W.E.L.C.O.M.E. here...
In fact, I've got a ton of blog posts all about how I have run my first day(s) of art. I'll be chatting about this a lot more here and on my podcast so be sure to subscribe! Here are a bazillion links to videos and blog posts about my W.E.L.C.O.M.E. and my first days of school!

A Glimpse into My First Day, 2018-19

First Day of Art Class, 2018

Art Smart from the Start!

First Day of Art Class 2016-17

 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Biggest Secret about being an Artist and an Art Teacher

This photo was taken my very first year teaching, in a portable, some 20 years ago. It was field day and my room was being used for the face painting station. I was 23, clueless and completely freaked out about teaching art. I'd moved 6 hours from my home in Indiana to Nashville, Tennessee without knowing a soul or having any idea what in the world I was doing. I wanted to share my journey with you in this podcast episode. I'm not going to go into too much detail here as I want you to take a listen. Think of this blog post as the visual for that episode. What I have to share took me 10 years to figure out...and changed my art teacherin' and art makin' life FOREVER.
If you like to take a listen, here you go:
I attended middle and high school in a rural school in Indiana. If you are from Indiana, I attended Northfield High School, just outside Wabash. My graduating class had something like 70 kids. It was super small and, I would NEVER have admitted it at the time, I loved that it was small. 
I was the big, weird, sassy, annoying, artsy, drama kid back in the early 90's. There weren't too many of us weirdos at the school as many kids wanted to fit in. It's human nature. I wanted to fit in too until I realized I just never was gonna. And then I started to embrace that weirdo. As seen here. 
I had the lead role in most of our small productions. I was on the speech team and traveled every Saturday to schools across Indiana reading prose, reading comedy, doing dramatic pieces. It was fun. I found my people. We were all just a buncha kids who didn't fit in but had each other. 
I was pretty confident, for the most part. I didn't mind being me.
Until I went to college. College was very hard for me, especially my freshman year. I attended Indiana University which had a student body of 30,000. Suddenly, in my mind, every kid was more creative, better at acting and public speaking and more unique than I was. I clammed up. I stopped talking to people. I began to hate myself. When was I going to be as cool and confident as I perceived the people around me to be?
And then I took an oil painting class the summer of my sophomore year. I literally fell in love. I made big messy paintings full of stories. I don't think I ever finished a single painting! But I loved making them. Suddenly I found something I felt I was good at. I had a purpose...and confidence. Again. 
While I was in the BFA painting program, I was also pursuing my art education degree. And that's where I noticed something strange.
When my painting professors found out I was also getting an ed degree, they stopped taking me seriously...after all, I was not focusing solely on my art so why should they? And my art ed professors? Well, let's just say one of them, after coming to my art showing, said I should stick to painting. She was tired of grading my lame lesson plans. 

The read-between-the-lines I was getting was that I had to pick a side. I had to choose a team. I had to figure out if I wanted to be an Artist or an Art Teacher...because, according to their message, I could NOT be both. 
In August of 1998, I took a job 6 hours from my home in Nashville, Tennessee. I became the K-2nd art teacher at Hickman Elementary. 
I had a portable classroom that was under the flight path of the Nashville International Airport. I literally had to stop talking and hang on to something every 15 minutes as planes flew overhead. I had no idea what I was doing and I was so scared of messing up. The art education of these kids depended on me and I was CLUELESS. I decided to devote all of my time and energy learning everything I could about being an art teacher. 
It was then that I decided to join Team Art Teacher. 
And I spent every moment of the next seven years reading every book, taking every class, decorating my art room, making lesson plans, doing name it. If it involved teaching art, I was all in. I was gonna be the captain of the flippin' art teacherin' team. 
And I was miserable. 
You know what a miserable person is as an art teacher? A miserable art teacher. I had neglected creating art. I had gotten so far away from my art making side and allowed myself to only focus on teaching. The face in this photo, taken when I first came to my current school about 15 years ago, says it all:
Tired. Bored. Uninspired. Uninspiring. 

I knew I had to change something. 

I knew I had to create something. 

I knew that I had to rejoin team artist...but how? How could I give up my time to my students and (selfishly, in my mind) make time for me? 

You have to, y'all. You HAVE to do both. You HAVE to be an artist and an art teacher. You'll be happy. You'll be fulfilled. You'll be what your students need. But, most of all, you'll be who YOU need. I hope you enjoy this episode...and the many more to come. 

 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png