First Month of School

Actually, I guess it's been longer than a month, we have just 12 school days left of 1st quarter! How the time flies after you've been teaching for a few years. It's funny to notice the changes in yourself as you become more experienced as a teacher... For example, I think we've already done certain things this year, but actually I am getting confused with last year. Or I notice that I remember new names more quickly, but then if I run into a student who moved or graduated, I can't seem to think of their name.
I had the best of intentions to post some of my favorite projects from last year during the summer, but here we are into the next school year and all you've had from me are broken promises.
"Well I'm sick of this!" you say.
I'm going to try my best to post some more student projects soon. I've been using lots of ideas from Pinterest and I'll be reviewing them, along with what standards I tied them to.
I've been putting most of my effort into trying to start up my own art business, selling prints and cards. So far my little business is in the very early stages with mostly ideas, but I'll be sure to post when I get things going! If you'd like to follow me and my art journaling and mixed media ventures, please see these links!
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This lesson started out as abstract portraits, gathering up facial features from a variety of magazine sources to combine into something especially crazy looking. Here was my example:
Some kids stuck with this, but after I turned them loose they began adding a little more... and a little more... until some of them had created some good examples of surrealism. I guess it turned into a teachable moment on surrealism, and it was time to whip out the Dali artwork. :)
Here is some of their work:

I was a lucky ducky this year and got to spend a day observing the Missouri Art Teacher of the Year. She was so much fun to watch, her lessons were great and her relationships with the kids were awesome. But the single most helpful thing I took from that day was her classroom management system for behavior. I immediately tried it out in my classroom (that was in October) and it stuck, and has worked all year for grades K-8.
Here's the overview:
Each table has a number, which is a team. When the team is following procedures (comes in quietly, looks at the teacher when I ask for their attention, cleans up in a quick and orderly way, etc.) they earn a star. At each of these times, all tables have a chance to earn a star. I give "bonus stars" when certain tables are following directions when perhaps the others are not. That is a bonus for resisting peer pressure! Lol! I also give bonus stars to tables who are working at an appropriate voice level while working at certain checkpoint times, and to tables who went above and beyond when cleaning up (for instance, picked up all of the little paper pieces under the table left by the prior class).
As you may have suspected, teams can lose stars as well. Star loss is caused by the team arguing, being disruptively loud, not cleaning up when it's clean up time, etc. There is a lot of pressure from the other members of your table if you are to blame for losing a star! I do give one verbal warning before a star is lost. On that note, I put more focus on GIVING stars for positives rather than removing stars for negatives. Example: "I like how tables 2 and 3 are all sitting in their seat working quietly, they have both earned stars." If the other tables happened to be especially obnoxious, I would give them a warning at this time too.
So, what happens if your table has the most stars? At the end of class, right before lining up, we have the ceremonial counting of the stars. The table with the most stars gets to pick out of my prize tub (picture below) and the runner up gets to line up first, followed by whichever tables came in 3rd and 4th.

With all of these classes, how do you afford to keep a prize tub stocked? If you're like me and have zero budget for these things, then you have to get creative. It's important to remember that kids are easily impressed with things that you and I take for granted. Like pieces of scrapbook paper that they can use as a bookmark or incorporate into their artwork. Here's a list of things that have appeared in my prize tub this year:

  • colored or spiral paperclips
  • pieces of scrapbook paper
  • free-draw paper
  • foam stickers
  • die cuts (like you can find at Dollar Tree for a pack of 25/$1)
  • sticker sheets, cut into many pieces to make about 3-4 stickers per piece
  • bookmarks (25 for $1 at Dollar Tree)
  • ANYTHING that you find in your desk that you think any of the kids might like... it'll surprise you.
For the older kids, I give them an option to get a "Free Time Ticket" which can be collected and a certain number traded in for a free class period.
Also this year, I gave the kids a chance to exchange their prize for an entry into the drawing for the big paper mache dinosaur that I made during Dino Month. It was a hit! I also had runner-up prizes (rolls of ribbons and supplies that we no longer needed).
Next year I'm doing an all-year drawing for a model car that I have used for still-life drawing in past years. They're really excited!

I'm back!

Ok... embarrassing story...

I forgot my blogger password! LOL! I'm such a scatterbrain. But lo and behold, I was messing around with my google accounts (there are many... how did that happen?) and it let me back into Blogger! Gosh I've missed reading everyone's blogs. I know I've lost a lot of followers because of my year-long disappearance from posting, but I'm going to make up for it by posting over the summer. I'd like to do a review of this school year and some of the best projects that my students created.
I'm also launching a new blog that is focused mainly on my art journaling and mixed media stuff. More to come! Until then, feel free to check out my current Tumblr page called In.Spir.Ed.
So let me do a little catching up... lots of things have changed this year! First off, the biggest news is that I got married. It has been a bit of a challenge to adjust (for everyone), especially after nearly 8 years of single-ness. But he is really super-fantastical and I love him more than I can express, he's really just the perfect match for me. Wedding pics to come in the near future!
As far as school, this year has been very rewarding and challenging at the same time. Changing my name in the middle of the year has been interesting! I'm trying not to answer to "Ms. Scott" anymore, which is difficult since that has been my name for quite some time. But kids and staff are getting better about remembering, slowly but surely. I've had to develop a complete curriculum for art this year. That has been an internal struggle for me, because I disagree with making such a concrete thing for such an abstract subject. But in the end, looking back at it, I think I made it general enough that I can change things up within each unit and not be tied down to the same projects every year for each unit (really... can you imagine!?).  For all of my art teacher readers, I'd LOVE to know what your district's curriculum looks like for art. Please respond!
Let's see... well I've been taking lots of online art classes-- mostly mixed media and art journaling. I'd like to incorporate more journaling into my art elective class at school too. Right now I'm taking 21 Secrets, Lifebook 2013, and I <3 Drawing with Jane Davenport. They are all fabulous and all quite different. I am excited for summer (6 more days of school... eeek!) so I can devote more time to these courses.  I'm also working on an art certificate from Penn Foster after dumping my boring and complicated Educational Administration program. I'm 150% happier since doing so!
Well I'll run for now, I look forward to getting back in touch with everyone and posting, reading, and having a good 'ole Blogger time. Toodles!