Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kwik Stix now at BJ's Wholesale

Hey, eastern US readers! Kwik Stix are now available at BJ's Wholesale Clubs. I don't have any near me, but they have a 24 pack of the Thin Stix (which my students and I love using for posters) for $19.99.
While I enjoy all of the Kwik Stix products, I think Thin Stix are my favorites. They are obviously thinner than the regular Kwik Stix (about glue stick diameter) so they are easier to write with if you are trying to fit information on a poster. I might get a 24 pack for my kids for Christmas since they are probably their favorite art supply and the 24 pack includes neon and metallic colors in addition to the regular colors. 

Disclosure: The Pencil Grip Company, makers of Kwik Stix, offered to send me a set of  Kwik Stix for helping spread the word!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Collaborative Color Wheel

I wanted to start off the year with some low pressure collaborative activities in my high school classes. One of the activities was a refresher or introduction to the color wheel. I went over the basic primary and secondary colors and told them that intermediate colors go in between. 
Students working on organizing colors on the collaborative color wheel.
I asked the students to cut swatches of color from magazines to organize onto a color wheel. I had a big circle cut out of mat board for the base which was donated last year but you could use cardboard, poster board, or any big piece of paper.
After the students had cut some swatches to start with we talked about organizing colors. I suggested they put the "true" colors in the middle of each wedge and the colors veering toward intermediates closer to the other combining color. The students decided to put the lighter values in the middle and the shades toward the outside.
Finished color wheel.
Positive take-aways were students analyzing the colors and starting to understand the variety that is out there beyond basic colors. Hopefully when we get to our painting boot camp next month and mix colors they will remember and be inspired. Plus, we now have a big, custom color wheel for reference! 
The students also had time to start some smaller value scales, which are pretty fun. I'm looking forward to getting them put up in the classroom.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reflection Year 2

In my first year as PreK-12 art teacher (I previously taught K-6 for 6 years) I tried to do a halfway choice program with my high school classes, which make up the bulk of my program. I kept some parts that I liked and tried some new things. Last year I got a lot closer to what I really want my program to be. I wanted to tell you how I organized my intro classes and about the feedback my students gave in their end of the year survey. 

1. Confidence Builder- I started the year with the drawing boot camp and a more directed project that would be portable (my classes take school pictures and for a week we had to be able to work either in the art room or in another classroom across from the photo studio. We started with animal silhouettes filled with patterns. The students all really enjoyed this and it was a low-risk way to ease into things. There were some pretty cool results, too!

2. Boot Camps- I've used boot camps to introduce students to different media and practice some techniques since I started teaching high school. I made some changes from the first year and will tweak a little bit more for the new school year. One change was that after the rest of the painting boot camp, I asked each student to paint a landscape. I feel like this also helped to build confidence to give them a little more guidance before they were on their own. This year I'm going to have students practice watercolor a little more. I think that many were still intimidated by watercolor or I just didn't "sell" it enough. I also didn't end up doing printmaking or collage bootcamps last year (instead I just did printmaking demos as kids were interested) but I'm going to add those back in. I still haven't written about the rest of my boot camps from last year but hopefully I'll get to that eventually!

3. Themes- After the students had some boot camps under their belts, I would give a theme as a starting point for an independent project. The students could use any medium we had covered by that point or sometimes I would do little demos if there was a need. Here are the themes we used:
At the end of the year I asked students to complete a survey as part of their final. Here are the questions and results:

1. Do you feel that you benefited more from projects that were open-ended or more teacher-directed to teach skills?
81.5% said they benefited more from open-ended projects. 18.5% said teacher-directed.

2. I asked for the students' ideas on themes for next year. Some listed more media based themes, or themes similar to what we did this year (animals, space, etc.) and some had some pretty cool new ideas like "in the dark", "bent reality", "spirals", "shifting nature", or cultural.

3. What was the best part of how the class was structured this year?
The students liked the themes and getting to do their own projects, most liked not feeling stressed about deadlines, they liked that they could access the materials they needed, said the boot camps were helpful, said the themes' introductions were quick but thorough, etc.

4. What would you change for next year?
Most said nothing. A few said they would like more boot camps to cover more media, some asked for more set options for projects (a few choices for students intimidated by coming up with their own ideas), some asked for more time and some asked for more help managing time. 

5. Do the rubrics help you reflect on your work? 
56.3% Maybe a little
34.4% Yes, it helps me see what grade I earned
9.4% Not really

6. How would you like to be graded?
71% said they would like to fill out a rubric and 22.6% said they would rather just be given a grade by the teacher. 

I realized that my rubrics weren't quite what I wanted. I tried to come up with something that could function for each project and focused on the Studio Habits of Mind but a student could still pass with a half finished project and I just wasn't happy with the system. I got some advice in the High School TAB Facebook group over the summer and completely revamped my rubric and grading system. I will let you know how it works out!

7. Do you feel like the boot camps this year were sufficient?
62.5% said Yes, it was enough to see what the medium could do and how to use them. 15.6% said the boot camps were long enough but they wanted more media. A small percentage said they needed more time to feel comfortable with the media, and most of the rest were not in class for them. I realized I did all my boot camps 1st semester and the students who switched in for 2nd semester students didn't get that experience.

8. Is there anything you hoped we would cover this year but didn't?
Most said no, a few others listed things like oil painting, more wheel throwing, or architecture.

9. Anything else you'd like to tell me?
This is a question that I didn't even ask my 1st year because there were some students who were still basically mad that I was different than the previous teacher and I didn't want to read it. I was really happy I asked last year because I got some sweet comments, some funny ones, and some interesting suggestions about wanting class critiques. If you feel up to it, ASK YOUR STUDENTS! It might make your day. :)  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer PD

 As I prepare to head back to school next week I've been reflecting about all the learning and professional development I had the opportunity to participate in this summer! It started with hosting KAEA Summer Camp in my hometown in mid-June. There were 3 workshop choices and I did painted batik.

My friend, Tranda (Ag Wife Artist Life) was the teacher and it was SO fun. I'm excited to be able to teach this better now that I've had some guidance as I tried it out.

The week after Summer Camp, I left with 5 other KAEA board members for Elmhurst, Illinois where we represented Kansas at the NAEA Western Region Leadership Conference.
At the conference there were meetings where we worked with other Western Region states' representatives on proposed position statements, talked about the future of our evolving organizations, participated in workshops, visited museums, had fun, and ate some delicious meals.
We learned about a new-to-me art movement, the Chicago Imagists, from one of the artists, Suellen Rocca, and enjoyed the collection at the Elmhurst Art Museum.
One of our meals was sponsored by Davis. That was one of the first opportunities to really kick back and make friends with some of the other attendees. 
We learned about using circuits to make kinetic sculptures, made small needle felted works, and gelli printed. I'm hoping to find a grant that will allow the purchase of some of the circuit kits that could be shared between the art room and the science department. 
The Kansas crew at dinner.
Fun road trip!
In July, a group of my art teacher friends got together to make stuff! First we did a bbq pit fire, which was super fun, and I would like to do on some sculptural pieces in the future.

We used a small bbq grill to heat up our pots then moved them into a metal bin filled with combustibles.
We threw coffee grounds on this mug and got really cool effects.
Later the first night we tried out cuttlefish casting and finally got the hang of it. I hope to be able to add the process to my program this year. (Tranda's post about the process.)

3 different stages of the process- my carving in the cuttlefish, the machine melting the metal, and the can holding the cuttlefish after we poured the molten metal.
Successful casts ready to be cleaned up. I made the pendant on the left and decided I liked the sprues so they will become part of the piece.
This is a cuttlefish or cuttlebone.
 The next morning before we went home, our friend Courtney helped Tranda and I on the potter's wheel. Tranda hadn't thrown before and I am just not super confident on it. Courtney showed me some different "tricks" than I had tried before and I threw probably the best I ever had. I also used stoneware for the first time and I really liked how it felt on the wheel compared to the earthenware clay I've used at school. I'm glad I ordered some earthenware to use this school year.

The last way I did some learning this summer was through Skillshare classes. I found an email in a weird folder with a link to try the premium membership free for 2 months. You know I love free stuff so I signed up. I started looking around and found SO many things to try. I took some digital classes to learn new skills and techniques that I will definitely utilize in my computer graphics class this year and I still have more I want to take. It's interesting to see other people's approaches to a topic whether it's poster design or painting.
One of my goals is to get more students excited about watercolor. I don't think I've "sold" it well enough before. I will use some of the ideas from one of the watercolor classes for my painting boot camp.

I also took a class on hand lettering which was really helpful and very practical. I think I'm going to incorporate her method into a computer graphics lesson this fall.

If you want to tryout Skillshare use this link to claim your TWO FREE MONTHS! There are still so many classes I want to take. I just keep adding them to my list for when my classroom is ready.