Archive for the ‘Fall 2016’ Category

Mandala Mosaics

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog


After completing a couple weeks work of patiently and intricately designing, outlining and water-coloring mandalas on paper, my 8th grade students were rewarded with a fun one-day mosaics lesson. They used 3” mirrors, broken glass, tiles and marbles first, then we poured stone cement a top of them. I loved how excited they were about creating an object for use or a present.


  • Grab a pie tin, a square of contact paper, scissors and a circular template
  • Prepare contact paper circle, peel off the backing and place sticky side UP on the bottom of the pie tin. Tape the contact paper down.
  • Place your mirror in the center of your tin, mirror side DOWN.
  • Choose your glass/ tile/ marble pieces and arrange in a pattern around your mirror.
  • Take tape off.
  • Pour cement over so that it covers all of your pieces and a little more (1/2” – 1”)
    1. When mixing cement – start by adding cement to water, slowly sifting it in until there is a small lump of cement coming out of the water. Mix until smooth.
    2. Once cement is putty-like, you can add paper clips or string as a hanging device.


  • Let dry for one day
  • Pop out of tin and flip over. Take contact paper off.
  • Using ceramics carving tools, scrape any leftover cement off of tiles.

Stop Motion Animation

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

7th grade students learnt how to make stop-motion animation using construction paper, whiteboards, cameras and tripods.

After being introduced to movies made through stop-motion imagery and watching The Robot and The Butterfly, winner of Iowa Indie Film Fest 2012 as the Best Student Film, students in Computer Art worked in groups of four to create their own movies about an unlikely pair.

First, in pairs, they decided upon a character of choice and they were then randomly put with another pair. They were to introduce their characters, decide upon a conflict and solution in which both characters became friends and assign a song to go along with their movie.

They used construction paper and whiteboards to create their scenes and characters, and then used tripods to position their cameras to take pictures.


They uploaded their images into Moviemaker to make edits and finalize.

Paper Shapes Game Day

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

For a fun creative day, 6th grade students played a game involving an envelope of geometric paper shapes on each table. They got into groups at their table (around 3-4 people) and whichever color their shapes in their envelope were was the color of their group. My coordinating teacher and I would come up with phrases and write them up on the board. Each group had 3 minutes to illustrate the phrase using ALL of their paper shapes. Whoever did the best job, all of the group members won a piece of candy.

Examples of phrases:


  • A night at the circus
  • Transportation from the future
  • Your worst nightmare









Nature Up-Close Oil Pastel Drawings

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

Students in 6th grade learnt about the abstract zoomed-in flower paintings of Georgia O’Keefe.

They then found their own images online of nature and zoomed in on a part that they wished to replicate. They made sketches first on paper in pencil. Then, they drew their favorite sketch onto black 12 x 18” paper and outlined in glue. They let this dry and then colored their drawing with high-contrasting complimentary colors using oil pastels.

They were encouraged to use at least 3 shades of a color to emphasize highlights and shadows.


3-D Design

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

This past week I observed another art teacher. She was teaching an advanced level 3-D Design course. They were challenged to use ten 5” x 5” squares of tagboard to create a freestanding sculpture. Here’s the catch—they could only use scissors to cut the pieces up and put them together. No glue or other adhesives allowed! It was such a neat way to introduce limitations and incorporate critical thinking in this advanced class.


The teacher was very encouraging throughout the art challenge. She visited with each table of students and was very attentive to their questions. Many students asked her if they were allowed to make the pieces smaller or use different sized pieces, and she was very flexible with her advanced level students. She made sure that they each adhered to the set limitations including: the sculpture must withstand a person blowing air on to the sculpture, the sculpture had to use all ten pieces of tag board, and the students could only use scissors and the squares to create their sculptures.


Afterwards, this teacher shared with students a sheet about Frank Stella and his sculptures that he referred to as “paintings”. I enjoyed being in this class because of her vibrant energy and attentiveness to her students. She creates a warm environment, but manages her class in a way that it kind and encouraging. It was so neat to see the students work through challenges and find success with their teacher’s guidance. It was awesome! img_5651

Packed with a Punch!

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

Advanced Graphics students have been working very hard on a packaging design project for beverage labels. We’ve all heard of the old adage “you get what you put in.” With this adages in mind, students were challenged with coming up with an original concept for a line of beverages that represents what people need to “quench their thirst.”



The results were amazing! Each student came up with their own concept resulting in a rainbow of awesome label designs. Students were allowed to take this literally or explore this in an abstract and metaphorical manner resulting in a wide variety of beverage concepts.

Much Needed Logo Design

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

This week, the Graphics I class wrapped up their logo design project. For this project, students took on the question: What is one thing that the world is missing or simply does not have enough of? Then they pondered ways that this need could be addressed by imagining a company or organization whose mission would be to solve this need.

Next we looked at companies — such as FEED by Lauren Bush Lauren, TOMS, and Warby Parker — and talked about how these companies use their brand to make a statement about an issue and as a platform for charitable work. After discussing the power of branding, students used Adobe Illustrator to create logos for their companies and organizations. Students printed out their logos for pinback buttons representing the needs that they have identified and how  they envision their solution to attend to those needs.

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We broke out the button maker and cranked out a whole bunch of buttons. Students added their button to a denim jacket for a collaborative and fashionable art piece for the exhibition. These pieces are one way for students to spread awareness of various world needs in a trendy way that recalls the button and patch trend that has recently come back into fashion. We are very excited about our collaborative piece!


Working with Aleatoricism

posted on January 27, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog

A lot of art is about giving up control about certain things, and problem solving with the resultant effect. As a beginner, this can be a very scary process. As a young student, I would often draw a wobbly line during a still life, erase it, then draw another line, erase again, over and over. When I finally drew a correct looking line, I would be terrified of drawing anything close to it, out of a sheer fear that if that line ended up being wrong and I had to erase it, I might accidentally erase my one good line too. Letting go of that fear was the first step towards visual problem solving and growing as an artist.

Aleatoricism is the incorporation of chance into the process of creation. Dadaist artwork, blackout poems, improvisational music are all examples of aleatoricism. In order to help ART I students become accustomed to the dynamic between spontaneity and having control, I designed a unit around the theme of aleatoricism.

ART I students had also just finished an intensive drawing unit, so the purpose of this unit was also to get them started with play and experimentation in art. Throughout the lessons, I emphasized being mindful of where they could and could not apply control. The very first day we did a few minutes of mindfulness meditation. This was followed by experimentation with different media, including marbling, watercolors, and drawing inks.


Having created an inventory of random patterns and shapes, students then did some exercises to understand composition. They placed transparency sheets over images of different artwork, and created a tracing pattern of how their eyes moved around the image. Having looked at examples of different compositions, they arranged and drew the positive/negative shapes created by cut paper geometric shapes.



Once this stage was complete, students used their knowledge of composition to arrange their experimental shapes onto their final. They are currently adding linework to create forms.


I’ll be keeping you posted about how this lesson is unfolding!

Design & Abstract Thinking

posted on January 26, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog


As a graduate student, I researched and developed a curriculum thesis based on teaching problem solving skills through design education, and how middle school aged students are at the prime age for abstract thinking as well as working within a team structure. My secondary placement is in a diverse middle school environment, and I saw an opportunity to incorporate ideas from my thesis research into a design lesson. So, my 7th grade students are working together to build teams and design positive spaces within the school. They are following the steps of the design process and started with identifying many challenges their peers might face, then researched what those challenges mean. The next step of the design process is to generate ideas, and they had lots of fun developing fun, kind, and useful things for the school. After generating ideas, they began working on the much-anticipated prototype. This was so fun and exciting to see their ideas come to fruition. I’m so impressed by their thoughtful and innovative designs! Over the next couple weeks, they will continue building their prototypes, and the project will culminate in a day of sharing Google Slides presentations to show their work. This has been a great opportunity to practice design lessons, and helps me further refine my thinking in the area of my research.

Teaching Styles

posted on January 26, 2017 in Fall 2016, Student Teacher Blog


As I settle into my new middle school teaching placement, I’m seeing firsthand what different teaching styles are like and what it does to a class dynamic. I was a little nervous at first because my cooperating teacher is a self-proclaimed introvert, and I am anything but! Her teaching style is very mellow and she has a quieter voice level than my natural volume, so I was unsure of how I would fit into her classroom space. My classes tend to be a bit more open and I allow a little bit more controlled chaos than she is typically comfortable with. Since I try to find the positive in everything, I took this as a challenge to build by teaching style in new layered ways. There is something to be said for adjusting and learning from all styles— there is something from every teacher that you can incorporate into your practice. Through this placement, I’m learning how to be quieter and more peaceful, and incorporate more meditative and focused art practices. I’ve learned to enjoy a quiet Monday focused on sketchbook projects, as this can be the perfect way to set the tone for the week.


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