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Clay Architecture Creative Houses (3rd)

**This lesson comes from the student-teacher I had earlier this year (Kristi O'Neal)!

Kristi started this lesson by talking to my 3rd graders about what architecture is and then showed them a variety of unusual homes. They talked for a while about what architectural elements make a home look like a home and how you can tell people live there.
Then she had students create a sketch of an unusual home that they wanted to create with clay.
The next day students began creating their clay homes (including adding a LOT of cool texture)! :)
Unfortunately she left before my students had a chance to paint their artwork.. so that's what I did with them this past week. :)
They are super cute!!


Winter Birds and Birch Trees (1st) - Part II

I just love this project! Here is another batch of student artwork! Original post here.


2nd Place - Best Rising Star Art Ed Blog!

Thanks so much to everyone who nominated and voted!
I am so honored to have placed 2nd in the 'Best Rising Star' category in The Art of Education's Art Ed Blog Awards!

Getting recognized for my efforts is truly rewarding. I invest a lot of time into my blog and I am so happy to know that other art teachers appreciate the content I create and post!
I love how blogging has allowed me to connect and communicate with so many other art teachers.

With that being said, I would LOVE to meet more of you!
Once again I will be attending the NAEA National Convention (March 26-28, 2015 in New Orleans, LA) and would love the opportunity to connect with more art teachers!
Mollie from 'Please Don't Eat the Artwork' (formally Art with Ms. K) and I will be presenting a session on blogging at this year's convention and would love it if you would swing by!
The information for our session is listed below.

Saturday, March 28th @ 11:00am-11:50am 
(Convention Center/Meeting Room 218/Second Level) 
Connected Classroom: Building your network through blogging and technology 
(Gram & Katzin) 
Explore how to use personal blogging and other interactive resources to incite professional growth, build your own personal learning network, and renew your enthusiasm for teaching.

We will be in town the night of Wednesday, March 25th - Sunday, March 29th. If you can't attend the session but would like to meet up to talk - please don't hesitate to let us know! :)

Check your buckets!

"Check your buckets!!"
I don't know HOW MANY time's I've called that out at the end of class!
On the first day of art class, I went over how to organize the table buckets with every single one of my classes, and for a while they stayed pretty organized. Then... CHAOS.
Well... as chaotic as messy buckets full of art supplies can get.

I have no idea why I didn't think of this sooner. Everything else in my classroom is super organized - so the fact that it never dawned on me to put labels on my table buckets is madness.
So on our teacher workday right after winter break I spent some time printing, mounting, and taping these labels onto my buckets. And I have to say - ever since they have stayed extremely organized!
I'm pretty sad it took me this long to figure out. :/

Each bucket now has a space for colored pencils, pencils, erasers, color sticks, and crayons. On each label I also included a visual to help my younger students and ESL students figure out what goes where.


Finalist for AOE's 'Best Rising Star Art Ed Blog' Award!!

Ahhhh!! Thanks so much for the nominations guys!! My blog made it as a finalist for the Art of Education's 2014 'Best Rising Star Art Ed Blog' award!! This seriously means so much to me! It's so awesome knowing that the work I do here is read and appreciated! :)
As I've said before... without my readers I'm just a crazy art teacher writing to herself. :)

The next step in this process is to have other art teachers go and vote for their favorite blogs from the list of finalists. You don't have to sign up for anything or register - just check off your choices and submit. Couldn't be easier!
If you have a second please head over to the Art of Education's website and cast your votes! :)
Voting is open until January 23rd at 5pm!
You can go straight to the voting page by clicking here!


Oil Pastel Planets and Composition

So I've been doing an oil pastel planet project with my 5th graders for the past two years.. but have never been absolutely in love with it. Yeahhhh they were cool looking - but I wanted more! So here is my Oil Pastel Planet project 2.0!

New project

Old project

We began by looking at my awesome solar system PPT which has a slide about each planet and some interesting facts about them (yay science)! I'm pretty sure that my student's favorite part though was when we talked about how Pluto is no longer considered a regular planet (it's apparently a "dwarf planet" if you didn't know)! Any who.. they get a kick out of how upset I get about it - the fact that all my life Pluto was a planet until one day it just wasn't anymore.. and I'd felt like I'd been lied to my whole life! ;)
After learning about the planets, our conversation transitioned to how the planets in the images had the illusion of looking like spheres instead of just flat circles. We then compared a picture of a flat black circle to a picture of a sphere and talked about the similarities and differences. This eventually leads to a student pointing out that the image of the sphere has a shadow while the circle does not. From that point we talk about what causes shadows (and from there highlights) and the different types of shadows (form shadows vs cast shadows). We also talk about how highlights and shadows can be created using tints and shades.
After that whole bit, I tell my students that they will be creating their own (made-up) outer space images using oil pastels and watercolors. But before they can begin, they have to create 4 sketches of interesting looking space compositions (we talk about space, arrangement, overlapping, and visual interest).
The next day they come in, their first job is to finish up their sketches, then select their favorite one to use for a basis for their final artwork. Once that is decided, they begin making the planets on a sheet of heavy white drawing paper using a circle compass tool (that's a whole lesson in itself) and oil pastels. I have them create their planets of a separate piece of paper so if they make a mistake it doesn't ruin the rest of the artwork. The planets will be later cut out and glued onto their background paper.
On the third day, my students began by creating their background on watercolor paper. I really wanted my kids to be able to use the salt-on-watercolor technique to create some really starry looking skies.. but had a hard time making it work using regular pan watercolors (liquid watercolors work 10000x better). The only problem with using liquid watercolors though, is that my black doesn't actually look like black -- like at all. So I gave my students the choice.. they could do a wax resist using pan watercolors (black) OR they could use a variety of liquid watercolors so they could use the salt technique. Most of them opted to use the liquid watercolors, but I still had a few students who really preferred to use the pan watercolors to create a solid black sky.
Once their backgrounds were dry and their oil pastel drawings finished, they cut out their planets and glued them on top of their backgrounds. *Rings for planets were added once everything was glued down.

I think I may finally be on the right track to turning this into one of my favorite projects.
The major differences between this go around and previous versions:
1. Students did not have to do all the planets in our solar system and they could create their own.
2. I focused a LOT more on composition and arrangement.
3. We used a cool watercolor technique for the background vs. just painting on black paper.

Check out these results.. VERY COOL! :)


It's Nominations TIME!! :)

It's that time again! Nominations for the AOE's annual Art Ed Blog of the Year awards are now being accepted!
If you consistently find yourself appreciating and making use of the content I post on my blog, I ask that you please take the time to quickly nominate my blog for this award.
I know that it may be silly, but ever since I began teaching (and blogging) it has been a small dream of mine to achieve.. so any support you'd like to give would be so greatly appreciated.

From the AEO website:
What's New This Year
This year, we're once again on the hunt for the best of the best in Art Ed Blogs. However, instead of having one catch-all category, we're breaking it down a bit.
We're recognizing the best blogs in the following 4 categories:
1. Best Elementary Art Ed Blog
2. Best Secondary Art Ed Blog
3. Best Rising Star Art Ed Blog
4. Best Wild Card Blog
We Need Your Help!
Here's where YOU come in! We need your nominations to get started! If you have a favorite blog you'd like to tell us about, scroll down to see the categories. When you're ready, click the "Nominate!" buttons and fill out the required information. Nominations will be open from now until 5pm CST on Thursday, January 15th, 2015.
A few notes about nominating:
  • You are welcome to nominate your own blog.
  • You are welcome to nominate more than one blog.
  • Be sure to include why you like the blog. What sets it apart?
  • Nominations are anonymous. We can't tell who nominates which blogs.

If you'd like to submit a nomination just follow this link to the AOE website! :)

Goodbye Winter Break! :( Hello Liebster Award!

The past two weeks off of have been absolutely glorious! I definitely needed the break from work and school (yep - doing that masters thing too) so I could finally spend time with my family and friends (I had nearly forgotten what they looked like)!
Unfortunately breaks only last so long - and tomorrow I'm back to work (lucky for me I still have a week or so till I have to go back to grad school).

Anyways - over the break I was nominated for the Liebster Blogging Award (one of four blogging awards I've received); this time by Kelsey at The Artsy Fartsy Art Room.  :)

So here are my answers to the 10 questions asked by my nominator (to then be answered by my nominees)! :)

1.  Why did you start your blog?I can't remember 100% where I got the idea to start a blog, but I do remember that I was really inspired by Mollie from 'Please Don't Eat the Artwork' (formally 'Art with Ms. K')'s commitment to finding time for blogging during her first year teaching. The original purpose of my blog was to "post all my lessons, resources, and outcomes for all the world to see". 
I see blogging as a form of journaling and love the idea of getting to pick apart my lessons piece by piece, reflect on the successful or trying times, and get feedback from colleagues

2.  What excites you about being an art educator?
It is super FUN! I mean think about it.. I could be sitting in a cubicle doing some boring data entry all day or even better, still working as a server at a restaurant.. but instead I get to teach art to kids all day. Yeahhhh I pick the latter. Teaching can be extremely trying at times.. but as I commmonly remind myself, "You seriously have like the best job." 

3.  What do you talk about on your blog?
For the most part I write about the lessons that I teach in my classroom. I break apart each lesson into day-by-day segments, share exactly what I did, what resources I used, what pitfalls I experienced, and how the final work turned out. Other than my lessons, I also like sharing about my other art-related experiences (conventions, art shows, etc). 

4.  Why do you think connecting with other bloggers is important?
Reflecting on my lessons by myself is incredibly useful when it comes to improving my practice as a teacher, but even better is when I open up a window into my classroom by sharing my experiences and getting advice and feedback from fellow art teachers. Without that communication piece.. I'm just a crazy person talking/writing to myself. :)

5.  Have you met any other bloggers in person?
I've actually met quite a few other bloggers at conventions (if you don't already regularly attend the NAEA convention - you need to)!

6.  Where do you think your blog will be in 2 years?
Here. hahaha 
Unless the internet decides to not be a thing anymore - I'll still be here writing away - at this web address. :)

7.  What do you do best (in reference to art education)?
Hmmm.. that's a tough one. That's like coming up with an answer to "What is your greatest strength and weakness?" when you're in a job interview (also known as the biggest lie-provoking/creative writing question) anyone could ever ask. ;)
In seriousness though - I think what I do best in reference to art education is keep myself involved (and busy!!). Some people are content with just doing the status quo (teaching in their classroom) and never really reach out any further. And if that's your thing.. then that's fine - but I just personally feel the need to do more.
I keep myself really busy within my school and the larger art education community. Of course I teacher my regular art classes, but in addition I also (this year): have an art club that meets every Wednesday before school, co-lead an arts-integration staff development course at my school, design our school's yearbook and also handle the sales and fundraising for it, am a mentor-teacher for the other fabulous art teacher at my school, have hosted a student teacher, create an excessive amount of displays to show off my students awesome work, submit my student's work to art shows, maintain this blog, present sessions at the Georgia Art Education Association's conference, am scheduled to present at the National Art Education Association's conference (in New Orleans, March 2015), present at my county's annual visual arts summer staff development, have assisted in my county's visual arts SPG testing review, maintain and actively create products for my TPT store, maintain my 'Art with Ms. Gram' facebook page, and am currently working on my MAEd. in Art Education. 
Currently one of my biggest interests is researching the topics of high-stakes testing, VAM teacher-evaluation reform, and general public education reform (I seriously just bought 12 books that further explore these topics and have a 3" binder filled with peer-written articles that I've read both for grad school and for fun).
And in my spare time I'm planning my wedding (May 30th, 2015). :)
So yeah - I keep busy. 

Fun side note - I just recently got back my engagement photos - here are some of my favorites! :)

8.  How much time do you devote to your blog?
A few hours each week. 
I spend quite a bit of time taking pictures of my student's artwork, organizing stuff onto my computer, writing my blog posts, and interacting with fellow bloggers.

9.  How do you create your posts?
I always begin by taking a bunch of pictures of my student's artwork at school. Once I feel like I've gathered enough pictures, I create a post.

10.  What wishes do you have for your readers?
I wish you'll keep reading my blog. Haha
I absolutely LOVE getting feedback and getting to connect to art teachers from all over the world! Like I said before - without the communication piece - I'm just a crazy person writing/talking to myself.

So now for my nomination - 

I'm going to have to give it to Abby at 'Exploring Art: Elementary Art'!
Her blog posts are full of bright colorful artwork which really appeals to me! Very excited to see where her blog goes in the future! :) Definitely check it out!
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