Student Teacher Blog

Classroom Management Tools

posted on February 23, 2015 in Student Teacher Blog

In the past six weeks at my elementary school placement, I have tried out several classroom management strategies. Different tactics work for different classes, and I have started a running list of both attention getters/call and response phrases and just different tricks and tools that have helped me along the way:

1. Clap rythyms // Repeat

2. “One, two, three, eyes on me!” Students respond “One, two, eyes on you!”

3. Turning off lights for attention getter/volume warning

4. “I’ll wait for quiet to continue.” Followed up by “I’ll wait.”

5. Using a rain stick to call for quiet (sounds like SHHHH, works well with little ones)

6. Other noise makers like this one (Goat hooves from Guatemala! Really catches students eyes!):


7. Playing the “quiet game” has actually worked for 2nd/3rd graders, tables feel “competitive” for who can win, i.e. go all period without receiving a mark for talking

8. Countdown from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… by 1 students should have put down materials with their eyes on you

9. Call and Response: “Mona!” Students reply with “Lisa!” and pose like the Mona Lisa, using hands so that they cannot continue using materials.

10. “Statue game in 3, 2, 1 !” This is one of my favorites. The statue game is where students “strike a pose” and must hold it because statues are silent and unmoving.

Cool Tool:

“Too Noisy” APP – Measures volume level within the classroom, and will play an alarm and the screen will “crack” if the noise level reaches a certain point. You can set the noise meter yourself and measure how often it goes off. You can also set up a point system so for every five minutes that the alarm does not go off, a class can earn a star. I have not actually been able to use this one in my current classroom because of technology constraints but I am looking forward to trying it out in the future!

And here are some pics of room decor / organization from the art room at Ward Elementary!

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Passing out supplies is easy if everything is stored in stackable bins!



Installation Art!

posted on February 23, 2015 in Student Teacher Blog

The fourth graders at Ward Elementary are working on an Installation Art Unit! We have discussed and analyzed several contemporary installations including the Rain Room by Random International and Yayoi Kusama’s “Obliteration Room”. We talked about what it means for an artwork to be “interactive”, in which audience members can touch the art, climb on it, help to create it, and essentially become a part of the artwork.

Students brainstormed to create their own installation: Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.47.26 AM

Then students drew a perspective drawing of their installation space, this is one example of a student who plans to “fill the space with planes”:


Now students are currently constructing an architectural model of room in which they will paint, sculpt, and build their miniature installation. It is easy to construct a “corner of a room” with three squares of cardboard, scrap paper and glue. If there were more time we might have done paper mache, but for now this is working great! Also very easy to stack and store:

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One class has started to paint the inside of their installation rooms. Next we will add three-dimensional elements and people for the scale of the room. I am really excited to see how these will turn out in the end!

- HG


Pre and Post Test: Kindergarten and Color Theory

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

Experimentation, hypothesizing, and scientific inquiry are all encouraged and practiced in the arts classroom. For my scientific inquiry, I selected kindergarten to implement a test on color theory. I was notified that many of my kindergarten students had been unable to attend preschool due to financial difficulties. Also, many of my students are ESL (English as Second Language) students. Therefore, culturally, the majority of them have caregivers who are part of the aging community and may not know English. These variables were the first thing to consider when creating a test for this particular group of students to take.

Also, some issues to consider before actualizing the study were: a. Students most likely did not know how to read; b. Students most likely had not ever taken a test before; and c. Students most likely would have a difficult time following oral directions if English was not their primary language. After considering these difficulties, I decided to make the pretest and posttest primarily visual and oral based, using both English and Spanish languages. As a future educator, I believe using your resources to help students with areas of need is important. When students are constantly in an environment where English is the only language spoken or read, integrating their own language into the classroom can beneficial and helpful.

Below are the results of my pretest:

Following the pretest, I read two books on color mixing and theory: Color Dance by Ann Jonas and Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. I believe that students should have an abundance of hands-on experience to reinforce what they hear or observe; therefore, after reading the books, students “danced” on their paper with “mouse feet” (corks and paint). Kindergartners learned the “magic” of when two certain colors are mixed it can create an alternative. Below are the posttest Results:


I was happily surprised at the exponential increase in students learning their primary and secondary colors. Scientific inquiry is an exercise that I will continue to utilize in my career. It is great way to document and study the success of a lesson or where students need additional help. We finished the lesson by singing and dancing to the band OK GO and their stop motion version of color mixing (thank you, Sesame Street):


Provided below is the test I implemented:

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The Art Teacher Toolbelt

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

During my Middle School placement, I noticed students that would complete their work at dramatically different times. Sometimes students would finish days ahead of the timeline. Therefore, as an art teacher, it is important to have a repertoire of different artistic activities on hand.
Since my school provides each student with their own computer, students would immediately get out their computers and play video games when they finished an art project. Although I am a supporter of technology, the games were not educational. To counteract their tendency to gravitate towards the digital realm, two activities I tried that were successful and kept their interest were:
1. The Exquisite Corpse
2. Blind Contour Drawing

The Exquisite Corpse was a game invented by artists and poets in the 1920s. Marcel Duchamp, who created The Readymade, and other fine and literary artists, gathered around a table and would draw Exquisite Corpses. With my middle school students, there were a lot of giggles. However, everyone was engaged. Below are the instructions (this is a modified version that is strictly visual – other versions contain a writing element).



The second successful activity was Blind Contour drawing. Students were assigned a partner and drew them in a blind contour style. To disable cheating, I poked a hole into the center of a paper plate (for the drawing implement to go through) and placed the plate on top of the student’s hand. An important factor is that students are not allowed to pick up their pencil from the paper. Also, note that this is a rather quick activity. Some solutions to lengthen blind contour drawings are rotating partners and having students draw multiple people. Or, if the drawing is in crayon, after the drawing is completed, students can watercolor different areas for a crayon-resist effect. Instructions below:



Here are some of the results from my students!




Seventh Grade Culture Jammers

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

Seventh grade students were introduced to the artistic practice of culture jamming, specifically gender stereotypes.

Culture jamming is:
A form of art which disrupts (jams) media advertising and questionable imagery.

After learning this definition, we unpacked the huge and complicated idea of consumerism. To bring a little humor into the classroom, I showed the students this clip from Wayne’s World: and asked what the actors were mocking.

We discussed how consumerism not only impacts our own surrounding environment but also areas all over the world — we even looked at a variety of images from dumps located in China. Seventh graders realized that as people continually consume brand new technology every year (e.g. computers, iPhones, cameras, etc.), even if their old versions are recycled, they travel to China’s vast digital landscapes where people are forced to not only organize but to live in these dangerous areas filled with chemicals and waste.

Following this discussion, we played an activity of categorizing video game characters as either male or female and as either passive or aggressive. Passive characters are primarily unplayable side kicks, while aggressive characters are the main characters. All besides one character in the Active category were male, while there were no male characters in the passive category, and the majority were female. We contemplated what this meant and how different characters are essentially outdated caricatures of gender. However, in reality, gender is a spectrum and can be represented in a variety of ways.

Lastly, students were shown example of contemporary culture jammers:


During the following weeks, students layered and worked on their final composition. They researched and selected a gendered image, character, or advertisement (some students selected another relative current event – the environment or animals rights – to jam). The image was printed out and they jammed through the use of adhesive stickers. Students used markers and water color on the stickers to counteract the offensive imagery.

Below are some examples:

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Eighth Graders: Translating Symbolism in Literature through Art

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

Advanced eighth grade students explored how to deconstruct text and reassemble the phrase into a visual diorama. They selected a portion of literature that is personally significant and built a visual representation of the words. Because students were building dioramas, they needed to understand that foreground objects are larger and background objects are smaller. This lesson was designed to strengthen the students’ ability to unpack literature as a means for individual meaning and expression, as well as to provide students the opportunity to experiment with a variety of 3-D materials.

Integrated within this lesson is the importance of how to deconstruct symbolism in literature and art. Students were provided with planning worksheets, and after selecting a quote they found meaningful, they were asked the simple, yet powerful question of “what does it mean”? This encouraged critical analysis. After writing down their explanation of what the quote meant (deviating away from the literal words) and why it was selected, eighth graders were required to come up with a background and different objects to be placed in the middle and foreground. I was impressed at the amount of depth and understanding the students showed. Most (if not all) of the translations were metaphorical and not literal.

Below are some examples of final dioramas:

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Rubrics To Inspire Creative Excellence

posted on December 12, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

For my pre-assessment reflection I focused on my non-objective monoprinting unit for my Art 3 class. I started the unit with some contextual art history information about abstract expressionist artists and non-objective art. During this part of the lesson, I introduced the three things we would be focused on in our own non-objective artworks: color, composition, and artistic process. I made sure to direct conversation and discussion to cover those three topics when looking at the ‘famous’ ab-ex artworks. Following the art history introduction, I did a guided practice with the students in the creation of a monoprint. This was kind of like a collaborative demo – I started the process and then handed the next step off to another student. This way, students were more involved in the how-to-make-a-monoprint demonstration. The next class, students got to work making their own monoprints. I did not provide them with any new information besides encouraging them to experiment with the monoprinting processes. The resulting monoprints from this day were overall basic and simple. This is my pre-assessment. See pictures below!


Although these prints are not spectacular, it was important to have the students first learn how to make a print and not be overwhelmed with lesson expectations all on the first two days. From this day, students learned how to actually a make monoprint and practice with the processes that I showed them.  I have been creating a ton of assessment rubrics to ‘grade’ student work. Last week I was super frustrated with the idea of having to do this, but after our seminar class I saw how rubrics can actually promote and inspire creative thinking rather than only function as a checklist of expectations. My plan for next time was to have them make intentional decisions about color scheme, composition and arrangement, and to explore the multitude of ways one can experiment with the printing process. To do this I decided to introduce a rubric to them… This rubric was meant to inspire creativity, very similarly to the rubric that was presented in our seminar class. The rubric appears below:


As you can see this rubric leaves the ‘excellent’ section up to the students. I asked them to consider what they think excellence can be in these categories based on the ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ sections. They seems confused at first, but when we started printing they responded to this creative challenge in humorous and exciting ways!

Before we printed, I showed them more examples of ab-ex artworks and how process, color, and compositional arrangement was used. I then assigned a critique writing homework to have them independently research a non-objective artwork and artist to have them practice describing, analyzing, interpreting, and judging a work of art. I also told them to write about the color, composition, and process in this homework assignment too. That day and the following days, the students started exploring monoprintmaking processes of their own, rather than sticking to the ones I showed them. They layered prints together and explored color schemes and compositions with more intention and thoughtfulness. Below are the post-assessment pictures!


I walked around the room and checked in with each student to make sure that everyone understood what we were doing. As I did this, students would ask ‘is this good?’ And I would respond ‘I want you to tell me.’ This conversation would then lead them to reflect on their print and guided them to make their own creative decisions. I make sure to have them consider the elements and principles of design in the creation of a non-objective composition as well. This seemed to help them understand what really can make excellent non-objective composition. I think the most exciting part about this lesson was the handful of students that started to really experiment with the process and possibilities that their prints had. Some students began collaging prints together, another incorporated leaves and sticks, and another student even began folding the paper into 3-d shapes. This was very unexpected, but I was super excited by their creative decisions. In the the long-run the pre-assessment prints improved so much after my instruction and implementation of the creative rubric challenge. The students are creating things with more intention and are really exploring color, composition, and process in ways that I did not even consider!


Finishing Projects and Documenting Work

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

This last week at my middle school placement is all about finishing up the units that I started and documenting student work.

In some classes, students are documenting the work themselves, although this has a range of success rates. Students at my school all have Chrome Books (laptops), and they have been using these to take photos of and edit their images. This is a great habit to encourage in developing artists, as documenting your work is a very important professional skill. In my ideal classroom, students would have a dedicated “documenting work” station – where there was a camera and tripod set up for taking high-quality photos of their work.

For students who are not taking their own images, I have been working hard to document their work. Lighting and editing play a major role in this job.

The students all have their work on Artsonia, and my cooperating teacher has been helping me to get their work on the site.

This is a great learning experience, and I’m figuring out that it’s important to document student work throughout the unit, so that there isn’t a huge crunch time at the end of the unit.

As far as finishing up lessons go, there is a lot of grading to be done as well as hanging work. The final student teacher show is happening on Thursday evening this week, so things are crazy in the Art Ed world!

I think we’re all looking forward to celebrating the success of our students and moving on to the “real world”!

Here are some images of my student’s final work.

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Graphics 2 and 3: Conceptual Transformation

posted on December 9, 2014 in Fall 2014, Student Teacher Blog

My Graphics 2 and 3 classes are a unique bunch, both motivated and also very receptive to feedback. They are very hard working students, and I am glad to be able to give them fun projects. The first project was to create an environment from scratch using Photoshop. My students took on roles as conceptual illustrators in the environmental field. They began this process by writing, brainstorming, and creating thumbnails.

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After writing a narrative about what earth would be like 500 years in the future, my students composed thumbnails. The guidelines were to use images to establish foreground, middle-ground and background through value separation using image adjustments in Photoshop. The last step of this project would be to unify all the shadows and lights of the separate elements to create a convincing image.

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The project I am currently working to finish with these students builds on the narrative lesson but incorporates clay also. The idea is to alter or transform a virtual space with a handmade object to create a surrealistic image. Through alteration, transformation, dislocation, or levitation of the object and space, the students explored different narratives in their thumbnails.


The project is still on-going but you can see the progress below. This picture below is of the clay demonstration I did to start the project.


Below are some examples of the sculptures in progress. I am having the students use oil-based clay, so it never dries or hardens and remains very squishy and easy to mold.

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After finishing the objects, my students used black construction paper to act as a backdrop for these photos. With the black in the background, the objects became much easier to manipulate with the tools in Photoshop.