Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Mayhem: ICE Awards 2014

Every year teachers in the district submit their events, programs, or fundraisers for something we have in the district called the ICE awards. ICE stands for Irving Celebration of Excellence!

In 2013 our school won 3rd place for our International Dot Day event!

This year I'll be helping my former school submit awards for our Art After Hours event and The Mini Da Vinci's Art Club. I can't wait to see the new programs up for an award this year!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Think Tank: 1-Point Perspective

Teaching my ART I kids about 1-Point Perspective! I saw this really great idea on the Art at Becker Middle School blog about masking tape perspective and I wanted to try it with the kids. I changed it up a bit, but using multi colored masking tape for the different parts of the perspective diagram.

I started by showing my classes this video of a time lapse one point perspective drawing of an alley way. During the video I asked my students to make observations about what was happening, what the artist was doing, or using to help him create his art. They were so transfixed! After the video I had the kids discuss with their table mates what they observed and then everyone, yes EVERYONE, took turns sharing. I got some great answers, here is what the students said:

-He used a ruler almost the whole time.
-He drew lightly with a pencil and then darkened it with a pen.
-He started in the center, from a point.
-Everything in the middle is smaller.
-He started with lines, but then suddenly it turned into a city.
-He used diagonal lines.
-At the end the drawing was 3D.

Afterward we dissected the main parts of 1 point perspective and added it into our sketchbook.  Key vocabulary we included: Horizon Line, Vanishing Point, Orthogonals, and Transversals.

The next day we reviewed the terms and took our learning to the hallway! Each table had a different colored masking tape and sharpies to label the pieces they added to the wall. (FYI Orthogonals take up A LOT of tape, we ran out of that color and had to switch some things around.)

Trying to make sure our Horizon Line is actually horizontal!
Adding windows making sure we've got the right diagonal angle!

This was so fun and colorful too!

I think it went really well! The kids had a great time and as we were working, a few teachers were walked by and one even stopped to take a few pictures! The next day before school began I had several math teachers speak to me about how much they loved seeing the math vocabulary (transversals and orthogonals) on the walls labeled. I was doing a little bit of cross curricular and I didn't even realize it!

The next phase of this one point perspective unit we also talked about birds eye view and we got started working on our own drawings. I gave the students a choice between the street view and birds eye view because I wanted them to have the option and also so that they would feel like were invested in the process.

We're gonna make a round about street in the center here!

Adding details! (sorry it's upside down!)
We're still working hard on these so I'll post the finished project soon!

How do you keep your kids, and yourself, excited about teaching perspective?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Mayhem: Sketchbooks in the Middle School Studio

Back in June I began thinking about my journey into middle school art. I also knew that I wanted my students to have a sketchbook for their time in my studio.

My 5 reasons to have a sketchbook in 
the middle school art studio:

1. It keeps everything in one place. Not only can you take notes, but students can practice techniques without having to say to you "I messed up and need a new paper." It's also a good place for practicing writing about art, critiques and making observations. 
2. It helps with the creative process. Sometimes you wake up and just create. Other times, you need time to think, find multiple solutions to a problem(divergent thinking) and then choose the solution that is best for the situation(convergent thinking). Planning is apart of being an artist, from start to finish thinking about the best medium or color choice, the size and how to display the piece, it can all go into the sketchbook and students can revisit later if they need to. 
3. It helps conserve paper. In elementary I rarely had kids practicing before beginning on their artwork. The artwork WAS the practice and the final. When I did have them sketch on a small piece of paper, I had to keep track of it and honestly it was a lot of work. With a sketchbook students have an opportunity to practice the techniques, explore different types of medium, and respond to questions and prompts creatively as well. 
4. It's easy to check their work.  All I have to do is say "Open your sketchbook to your (insert page you need to check) page!" And I walk around checking and commenting and encouraging students. It's great! 
5. It encourages the students to be creative outside of class and gives them a place to do it. Even before I had students "set up" their sketchbooks, kids were bringing them to class with drawings already inside. This makes me so happy as a teacher! They aren't waiting for me to tell them what to do, they are already making creative decisions without prompting and that is AWESOME!

For my two classes ART I and ADV. ART I created two sketchbooks so that when we add something in the kids have an example of sorts. This also helps when students are absent they can check the sketchbook to see if they've missed an exercise. I was inspired by this amazing website The Lost Sock and her post about Art Journaling. I used some of her ideas, and will add my own as the year progresses.

Since we all know I'm a collage addict, I had to give each sketchbook a cover, which as an added bonus helped me relax after the first two weeks of school.

Here I go again relaxing with my hot chocolate and collage insanity!
ART I sketchbook cover complete!
ADV. Art sketchbook cover complete!
Side by side!

On the inside I have the first 5-6 pages planned out using some inspiration from the blog mentioned above and added in a page for the Quick Draw Challenge which is what I use as bell work when the students come in. Here are some examples from the kids so far:

In class we just outlined the sketchbook, but the kids took them home over the weekend and
some amazing things came back on Tuesday. (Monday was a holiday after all.)
A creative way to write their purpose and procedures page!
This student took an idea from a magazine, but is making it her own. In her words "The magazine is about age, but I want my piece to show that every part of you is beautiful." Truer words never spoken.

Inspiration comes from everywhere, so for a "homework" assignment, the kids were asked to find magazine images that the liked or inspired them and put them in their sketchbook.
After showing them a sketchbook I use for my home improvements, some of the students even did fold out clippings. 
Instead of gluing in the magazine, she drew it!
The quick draw page for a few students. I encourage them to make their sketchbook their own and color is definitely one way they show it!

So far these are the pages we have inside:

Inside cover:
Name, Weekly Schedule(basic overview of what they should expect each day of the week)

1. My Sketchbook Cover page (or My Art Book, or My Art Journal)

2. Purpose & Procedure

3. Topics
4. Art Supply Rules
5. Quick Draw Challenge (this will pop up in the sketchbook many times I'm sure)
You've seen my previous worksheet for QDC, but here
I let the students draw four boxes however they want.

6. I am... I can... I will... (a declaration of who they are, which was used for the negative space in their self portrait assignment.
I love seeing the vocabulary used in their statements.

7. Magazine Inspiration
Not sure if I'll make this a weekly assignment, but I love to see what
inspires the kids and what they are interested in.
From here on out my Art I and Adv. Art class sketchbooks will start to look very different because the assignments will change, but these are just the beginning pages to get us started. I will also have the kids add in some handouts for certain things. I have a pinterest board just for collecting ideas for our sketchbooks, check it out here. It's small now, but I'm sure it will grow!

One coming up soon is called 10 ways to improve your sketchbook(follow the link to my live binder where you can download the handout for FREE!) which was inspired by this pin here. So I typed it up and made a little handout for the students to keep with their sketchbook.

Anyway I think I've run out of things to say about our sketchbooks right now, but stay tuned for updates through out the year!

Do your students keep a sketchbook? How do you organize them? What do you use them for mostly? Share your thoughts and ideas here!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Fun: I cried today.

A student in my class informed me he would no longer be at our school and wanted to take home his things. I went ahead and graded his work and as the bell rang and the room emptied into the hallway he stopped to tell me this:

"Ms. Alkire, before this class I knew I was artistic, but didn't know how to do it. Now after doing the sketchbook, quick draw challenge, and our large portrait I can feel my artist self coming out!" 

As I watched him race down the hall to his next class I cried. It was a good cry though.

When students tell me things like that, I am reminded of exactly why I became an art teacher. I have only a small amount of time with the students in class, but I will make the most of it.

"I do not want to die...until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown."
 -Kathy Kollwitz, German Sculptor
Now I will proceed to go home and watch every teacher inspirational movie I can get my hands on. Hello, Stand and Deliver, The Ron Clark Story, Take the Lead, Here Comes the Boom and Freedom Writers.

How has a student impacted you lately? Was it by what they did? What they said? How have you been reassured that you are right where you need to be? I want to hear stories! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday Think Tank: Self Portraits

I am so excited to be teaching middle school this year, but it does take some time getting used to how long we work on projects because the students are so detailed! For our first project I wanted to assess where the kids were as far as technique and their thought process so we did a side profile portrait silhouette using contour lines and then filling in the spaces with images, symbols and words that make up who they are. I was inspired by this which I found on pinterest. We discussed variety in lines, and trying to create unity within our designs.

After they trace with sharpie and erase the pencil lines, they were asked to open up their sketchbook and complete the sentences: I am...I can...I will... and fill the entire page. In the negative space surrounding their portrait they will write this declaration or anthem of who they are.  Here are some pieces in progress and my (almost)finished example.

This student wanted to add color for her declaration!

I didn't specify how the words had to be written. So this student is writing small.

Loving the vocabulary coming from my kids, I read one today that said "I am confident!" 

This student divided her head like a comic!
My own self portrait.

What project do you start with at the beginning of the year? Share a link below and I'll feature you in my next blog!