Archive for the ‘Spring 2015’ Category

Final Display of Felted Characters

posted on December 9, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

Post by Ms. Williams

I had the chance to create a final display for my student’s needle-felted works.  Students did an amazing job and it was important to showcase their hard work to the rest of the school.  Since needle-felting is a new media to the school, it was important to explain exactly how their pieces were made, since many people can’t believe they are created with only loose polyester batting and dyed wool!

Each of the typed blurbs contains an abridged version of a character description written by each student about their characters.  Their descriptions provide humor, information and personality to these characters and give insight to exactly what students were thinking when they designed accessories for their animals.



Some of these characters will be relocated to VCU for the student teacher exhibition this week, Thursday December 10th 5-7pm!  The student teacher exhibition is the perfect  chance to celebrate the end of a wonderful semester and I look forward to showcasing the work of my hard-working and talented students.

Thanks for reading!

Websites as a Tool for You and Your Students

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

Something that is very important for both high school students and their parents is having an online tool to reference. There are many stories that a teacher will hear about not knowing when assignments are due or when critiques will take place. To eliminate these excuses, information must be relayed to students in many ways. Having a website specifically for your school’s art department is a great place to keep all of this information.

At my placement school, the instructor uses a website that he designed for many purposes. This tool serves as a place to post deadlines, post instructions and assignments, brag about student work, and post announcements. I have been using it to update the calendar and post my assignments for students to review. This website is designed to mimic the design of a university. When students apply to school for art, the impression of the program they came out of is that it is of a high level and an intense program that has properly prepared them for college. In addition to all of the information for classes on the website, the student portfolios are also linked to this website. This is a tool that has never ending possibilities. As students move through the program and graduate from the program, they know they always have this tool to look to for inspiration and information.


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Artist Journals

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

Teaching in a high school placement is very different than teaching elementary school. Something that you have to learn to balance in a high school is how much work you assign in class and how much you assign out of class. Students are overwhelmed with assignments from other classes, SAT and SOL testing, college applications, sports, and home life. We want them to learn as much as possible, however we do not want to make art a chore for students. Something my cooperating teacher has taught me is how to use a visual journal to help students to get their fair share of learning in and out of class while keeping it light and fun.

Our students are required to turn in their visual journals about two times each marking period. Their assignment each time is to create an artist study. This study includes a title page, research about an artist, six images of the artist’s work, and a response to the artist. This work gives the students plenty of freedom and time to complete the requirements and allows this assignment to be an ongoing process. Students can work on the journals in between projects and if they finish something early and have nothing to do. As students turn in their journals, they receive individualized feedback about their artist study in their sketchbooks. Watching how students improve over time is important for a teacher, and these sketchbooks are an archive for their growth.







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The Power of Sticky Notes

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

At some point or another most teachers use sticky notes. They are a good way to leave ourselves reminders and help us get through the day without forgetting anything. At my school, I have picked up several new uses for the sticky.

Sticky notes are a personal way to keep in touch with students. My cooperating teacher and I leave sticky notes in the students’ sketchbooks regularly. This makes our feedback special to them. We often leave jokes or little pictures to brighten up the students’ day in addition to our feedback.

In our classroom sticky notes are also our means of communication. There is a giant calendar on the back wall of our classroom that we leave post it notes of deadlines for the students. They have an online calendar that they can look too, but when the students are in the room, they can easily look to the board for the information they need.




Sticky notes are also used during critique. Students can write personal notes to one another that they can leave in each other’s sketchbooks. This makes feedback easy to filter and more personal.

And the last use for sticky notes I have learned is a tool to inspire yourself as an instructor. Whenever a student mentions a good website or a movie my cooperating teacher leaves a note to remind himself to check those things. He also leaves notes to himself, and I think this is a good way to bring a smile to your face every day as a teacher.





posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog


Photography 2 and 3 students learned about the powerful ways that text and portraits can be combined. We studied Barbara Kruger and discussed how language can change the meaning of a picture, sometimes to enhance it and sometimes to take away from it. For the project, each student needed to take a portrait of someone, and using Photoshop, overlay a text word cloud to create the portrait tone following a step by step tutorial. It’s important when using Photoshop properties to address the fact that every pixel in Photoshop has a place and a graphical location on the document. When making a selection or any adjustment, the pixel itself is altered. In order to adjust the words of a portrait to take the tonal value of the face, a map of the pixels needs to be saved and later used in a displacement. The first step of the tutorial is making that displacement map, and its an essential first step.

Below you can see the tutorial I designed for the students to follow:

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This tutorial is for Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS6.

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The Importance of Communication in High School

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

Teaching high school can be intimidating at times. It is harder to get to know your high school students than elementary school students. If you ask them to share their favorite color or dessert to introduce themselves, they might look at you like you are crazy. I was anxious to find a way to get the students to open up to me without them finding me overbearing or “lame”. My cooperating teacher mentioned in an email to me that at the beginning of the year he always writes his students a letter about himself and asks that all the students write one back to him for a grade. I thought I would give this approach a shot.

I typed up a letter about myself that served as an introduction and a method to put myself out there in an effort to get them to put themselves out there too. I started by saying I was a student teacher from VCU and I was very excited to be working with them and at their school. I told them a little about what I have studied at VCU and the kind of art that I make. Then I put in some little details about myself, like places I have traveled and my adorable dog! I gave this letter to each of the students during my first week at the placement with the prompt that if the students had time, I would appreciate them writing a letter back to me. I did not expect to get many letters because I know how busy everyone is with it being close to the end of the year. I ended up receiving six letters. Those six letters however, were so heartwarming to receive. It gave me so much knowledge about the students and their work ethic. Every student expressed their excitement about having me working with them and gave me tons of information about their lives outside of the art room. I found the interaction to be very meaningful. Since I am only at their school for a short time, I thought it would be nice to write a more personal letter back to each of the students who wrote one to me.

This is a practice that I certainly think I will use when I get my first real job if I am in a secondary position. There is something so valuable about the written word that does not come out in daily conversation. I felt like I had already formed an understanding of these students so soon into the placement, and I became more approachable and human because they knew a little more about me too. The key to getting to know your students is communicating with them in many ways.

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Bookmark this Website!

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

It’s great resource for familiarizing yourself with cameras and techniques — it is especially useful if you are teaching a photography class. This website has everything you need in order to teach students about different types of cameras, their purpose and features, and photographic techniques. Not to mention this website is a breeze to navigate. Look under the Technology section for information about the various gizmos that make the camera work, like the sensor. The sensor is the place where the image is detected, and it talks about the different types of sensors and how they function. Do not be afraid of what looks to be a mountain of text; they are giving you a ton of information that’s written so you can understand it. Read this website, and you’ll become a wiz on cameras. It has helped me, and I know fair amount about cameras.


How to Use Images Without Copyrights

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

In our ever growing technology-based age, we use more and more images from the internet. The problem is most of those images are copyrighted, which means if they are used by your students to make art, the resulting work cannot be submitted to shows. Allowing students to use these images in their art is considered copyright infringement. So where can you get images that are safe to use? Below is a list of a few sites that are popular sources that your students should be able to access.

Pixabay                                Morguefile                         Flickr

FreeDigitalPhotos            Freerange

Also, you can still use Google Image Search. You just have to set it to search for certain kinds of images. Here’s how:

1. Go to “Images” in your Google search.

2. Click the “Search Tools” button.

3. Click the “Usage Rights” menu.

4. Choose “Labeled for Reuse” or “Labeled for Reuse with Modification”. This will narrow your search results to images that your students can use.



posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

Pixilation is probably not what you might think it is. It’s not an image that has become pixelated. It’s a type of animation, and easy for anyone to do. Instead of using drawings, this type of animation uses people. It’s also easy because all you need is a camera, tripod, and people. The people and props move the same way they would in drawn animation little by little, but it’s faster because your only limitation is your camera’s speed. To make your animation, you can use something like iMovie, Movie Maker, or WeVideo to play you images sequentially. Set the duration of your images, watch and enjoy your new creation. The possibilities are endless. Did I mention it’s been around since 1952? Here’s pioneer animator Norman Mclaren’s Neighbours from 1952.

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6th Grade Self Portraits

posted on May 5, 2015 in Spring 2015, Student Teacher Blog

One of my most successful lessons was a self portrait lesson with 6th grade. They started off by filling out a handout to write their own autobiographical poem. The goal was to really think about who they are, what they enjoy, and how they would describe their identity. Once they had the poetry handout filled in, they used their writing to inspire their drawings for their background. Students divided their background into sections that showed different aspects of who they are, and drew images to represent that part of them.

After their background images were drawn in watercolor colored pencils, students used their original poem to fill into a silhouette they traced of their faces. The results were very impressive! I really enjoy how unique each student’s artwork is; they all were so proud of their work. I love that the students were able to incorporate poetry into their artwork, and they commented that one of their favorite things about this lesson was that they had the choice of what to draw, and because it was all about their identity, they were able to draw things that were important to them.



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