Friday, January 29, 2016

Professional Development: AOE WInter Conference

I'm so looking forward to the Art of Education Winter Conference this weekend. Have you signed up? My position at school is still part time, so I haven't been able to swing traveling to the NAEA conventions when they are far away. I LOVED going to NYC in 2012! I can't wait for it to come back to the east coast. 

If you are an art teacher with a limited budget and/or schedule, or if you would like to have more professional development experiences specifically for our subject matter, I highly recommend an AOE conference!

This will be my 3rd conference and I always walk away inspired, informed, and equipped with new classroom strategies, lesson plans, and ways to reflect on and improve my teaching and my students' successes! Oh, and since it's online, I can go back and re-watch my favorite presenters, or things I may have wanted to see more closely as speakers were presenting!

I also just got my box of AOE Swag, which I received for registering early! I will have materials at the ready for experiencing new materials and techniques, and have some freebies to try out on my own. Woo hoo! I hope to spend some virtual time with you this weekend! See you there.

And if you're not registered for the conference, just go visit their site! There are loads of articles and short videos on all things art education!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Koi Fish Sculptures: Watch the Video Tutorial!

So it's a year of firsts, and I've tried my hand at making a video tutorial. Can I just say it is sooo much more difficult than it looks, but I hope to find it easier to accomplish as I continue. I also jumped into learning iMovie to edit things and make them fancy. I came up with this lesson for using Model Magic to create Koi Fish Sculptures last summer during my stint as a summer workshop teacher for my school district. 

The summer workshops for me are a great place to develop a lesson, to see which age groups it works best for, figure out what tools work best or what materials will be needed, how long the lesson may take etc. Not to mention, will the kids enjoy it? Will they all attain a level of satisfaction and success? Can early finishers assist those who need help, or who may have missed a class? These things are more important to me than the writing of the lesson plan. I know it's important, but it's a heck of a lot easier to explain in theory, when you have also accomplished the putting it into practice.  

This was also a lesson which helped me round out a ceramics and 3D workshop. The classes ran for 5 weeks, and towards the end, you just can't begin a ceramics project with no time left for drying, cycles in the kiln etc. Model Magic was a great option for the kids, and I am proud to say this lesson is all mine. I love this blogging community, and I love being inspired by all of your hard work! I am thankful to have the technology to research your successes and failures, and so happy to share this one with you.
I hope you get a chance to take a look. Enjoy!


I’m not fond of using Model Magic in the hotter months, unless the art room is air conditioned. When it is hot, the material becomes soft too quickly.

A clean table top work surface is best, and reminders to students to pick up their projects now and then while working will prevent their projects from sticking. 

If you're creating this project in the classroom, I would plan for one class to introduce the lesson, a class to form the body (closing up projects in ziploc bags will keep them fresh for next time), and one to add colors and final details.

For drying time, I place projects on a layer of plastic wrap, let dry for a day or so, and then turn upside down or on it’s side for the last area to also dry out. A hard, stale marshmallow is kind of what you are looking for when it is completely dry.

If a piece was not properly attached, and falls off, I just hit it with a little bit of craft glue and it repairs nicely.

I attempted to give a finished piece a layer of Mod Podge to glaze it, and it was successful for me. Unfortunately, the little bit of extra time the kids took to paint a layer of Mod Podge over their projects caused the Model Magic to release it's color and bleed into the Mod Podge. Now Crayola does sell a glaze specifically for this purpose, but not in amounts for the classroom, so I haven't given it a try.

This subject matter lends itself to cross-curricular learning! Think anatomy, life cycle, or environment of fish, Asian art and culture, and so on. Not to mention, I used these sculptures for a collaborative lesson and display, which I will share soon! Make sure to check in and see it. Cheers!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Collaboration Drawings

My 5th grade students learned about the art of COLLABORATION, as they each created a small design to contribute to a large community work. Students focused on LINE, COLOR, SHAPE, PATTERN, and the use of POSITIVE and NEGATIVE SPACE. They also learned about the Line of Life community mural collaborations by Ernest English, as well as other artists who create by breaking down images into smaller sections as they work, such as Chuck Close and Romero Britto.

These projects were inspired by several teachers online and in the art teachers group I belong to on Facebook. The first examples I saw were done with Sharpie markers on stretched canvas. I wasn't sure I would be able to afford that many canvases, and then not be able to break down the project to return to each of my students. Then I saw some of my peers using paper for the project, so I had to try it!

I started the project on 11x14 inch paper, masked with painters tape into 10-12 sections, for each of my tables in the art room. I also had a few extra sheets at the ready for groups who managed to fill an entire piece completely, or for tables that were having more of a challenge reaching, sharing, waiting on a more thorough artist, etc.

The Line of Life video was a great enhancement for this lesson. It is a perfect example of collaboration, as well reinforcing to students that anyone, anywhere can contribute to a great work of art. Everyone has value, and can give an effort no matter what their skill set or challenges they may face. 

I also worked on having a fun call-back element in the classroom while presenting and reviewing the lesson by breaking down the word into two parts, so when I said "Collab" students followed with "Oration."  It was a great icebreaker for the first few classes as well. Now here we are in January and if I begin to say the word out loud and in that teachery tone, I get the second half of the word said back to me, guaranteed!

I have to say that removing the tape from the paper was not the most successful component to this lesson, but the final product was still fabulous. My plans for next year are to work on canvas paper. Perhaps it will be a happy medium between paper and stretched canvas. Oh, and I was driving myself crazy walking around the room and grading students as they worked, when it dawned on me that the tape would be removed at the end of the lesson. Ding, ding, ding! Why not have the kids write their names on the tape, with an arrow pointing to which section they worked on! No matter how organized I think I am, there are still things that stare me in the face and take a while to work themselves out in my brain. I figure it out eventually!


The final pieces mounted together were quite impressive and I managed a bulletin board display at each of my schools. I will also be using them for display at the Board of Ed offices later in the year. I hope you try a collab-oration with your classes soon!

To see the Line of Life community mural collaboration by Ernest English & company
that I shared with my classes, please visit this link: