Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creative Good

Here is a photo of the collection of crutches that my students decorated and donated to an international medical outreach program to be shipped overseas to those in need. We had worked on them over the course of last year, collecting, cleaning, and decorating with colleagues and parents at open houses, the Texas Art Education Association conference, as well as locally. It was a great conversation starter, as students only understand the inconvenience of a sprained ankle or a hurt knee and not the long-term inability to move for those who are permanently physically-challenged. The reality that individuals deal with lost limbs or paralysis due to illness or natural disaster, like hundreds in Haiti for example, was a real eye-opener, and charged my students with a mission to create a gift of hope and at least, partial mobility.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Time for a TASK Party!

School starts tomorrow, and we are throwing a party--a TASK Party inspired by Oliver Herring. It was my introduction to the Art:21 Educators Institute in NYC. My cohort colleagues and I met on the sidewalk as we waited outside the Art:21 offices, and little did we know the adventure upon which we were set to embark! A TASK Party engages participants by prompting them to act on a "task" written on a piece of paper. Each then adds a "task" to the pool, so that the experience is shared and ongoing. I see this as a perfect way to launch the creative flow for the studio--engaging these young artists, actors, and musicians in using the materials they find in the studio and performing their tasks individually or together.
The room, I hope, will be transformed. Right now, the tables are set, the walls are clear of exhibits, chairs are stacked and posters/prints are on display near our discussion space. How will it look after the students experience TASK? How will they display their artifacts? What will they use to express their ideas? I can't wait for their reactions, and reflections. The beauty in all of this is that really, "Anything is Possible!" I hope they see the wonder in discovery, collaboration, sharing ideas, play, art, and exploration.
I wonder and wait.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Knitting together diverse strands of thought

I stumbled upon this video of Rachel John's Extreme Knitting project, (via Leslie Gates' blog) and realized it was a perfect springboard for a post on preparing for a new school year. August is the month when all those ideas culminate into a plan. The different yet connected threads form a unified and textured fabric--an analogy for our process of preparing for and launching our respective art classrooms and studios for the year ahead.
In these long, hot, dog-days of summer, it is pleasant to have time to participate in and reflect on a variety of experiences outside of the art classroom. I just came back from an intensive and immersive (I could add, incredible) week with Art:21, for the Art:21 Educator Institute launching my participation in the Contemporary Art for Contemporary Classrooms program. This year-long experience with a cohort of brilliant educators will be challenging and process-changing. I see how the depth of learning in the Fine Arts Studio will be further explored, how I and my students will be challenged to think in new ways about our individual approaches to art making and thinking about art. Our method thus far has touched on themes, exploring big ideas, essential questions and the like, but I realize we didn't travel far enough down these roads of "meaning-making" to fully grasp these ideas. We dabbled. We explored the elements and principles of design. We created, we reflected, and then we moved on. We have so much more to explore within each art experience, and with each one, contemporary artists via Art:21 and from the community will provide real-life context. I am looking forward to exploring how these experiences will impact our way of looking at and thinking about art. I will share the journey. In the meantime, check out these amazing resources via Art:21.
What are some ways you weave a richer art curriculum for your students?

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Doing. Showing. Remembering. Making. Describing. Designing. Demonstrating. Engaging. Networking. Creating. Meeting. Chatting. Uploading. Downloading. Listing. Posting. Tagging. Explaining. Inspiring. Understanding. Analyzing. Applying. Persevering. Trying. Exploring. Extending. Evaluating. Synthesizing. Commenting. Programming. Experimenting. Editing. Journaling. Retrieving. Inventing. Connecting. Searching. Reviewing. Producing. Constructing. Sharing. Growing. Learning. PLN.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What is Art Ed?

As I gear up for my Art21 Educators Institute, I was asked to reflect on what the current trends are in art education and how I see this impacting how and what I teach. I used Wordle as a prompt for my analysis. What would you add?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

QR Codes in the Art Classroom

Several of my art colleagues have explored QR codes and have already implemented them in the art classroom for creating interactive art exhibits. I am inspired to do the same! So today, I set about creating my own QR code that links to this blog. Now I realize how simple it can be:
I envision a "scan"-venger hunt with QR codes linking to information about artists and artwork for the Studio, also inspired by this resource from @cybraryman1 on Twitter. I use the NeoReader app on the iPhone.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Active Participation

Twitter is amazing. It engages. It shares. It's short and to the point. We learn. We interact. How cool is that?
Today the NYTimes engaged me to visit and interact with its own website, to leave my #6words on a Mondrian-inspired installation. I took a picture--and there they are: my words. Now you can add yours! The work is by Ryan Gander, and is on exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Write a review in 6 words:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taking a Leap!

Well, I did it. I completed my first effort at National Board Certification. I know it isn't fully complete. I submitted my box amidst plans for school, community and state art exhibits for Youth Art Month, and a substantial list of other to-do's that in my zeal for getting it all done, somehow all culminated in being due at or around the same time. I could have decided to let it go, to not follow through. Instead I realized that sending the box in with two entries was better than not sending it in at all. Then it was year-end, and my daughter's wedding approached, and I had the assessment exercises to complete, as well as presentations for CEDFA. Like I wrote earlier, doesn't it all happen at once? Her wedding was the most important. I moved the other items way down the list. Somehow I felt it would all come together. I am so impressed with my colleagues who achieved NBCT in one year. "Wow!" That is something. But I had to decide what was right for me. That is why I am sharing this. I want to encourage others to take the leap of school (if that is what you interests you...) or national board certification (if that is what you want to try) and realize that taking a leap requires taking a risk. It is okay to leap and see where we land.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


We all learn from one another. We are inspired, fueled, and pushed by our observations of others' work, their aesthetic, and their techniques. At CEDFA's Summit XII, I was learning from the participants while I was sharing my approach to the work I do in and out of the art classroom.
I will be sharing more of what Nancy and I presented, but I want to take a side-step and share a blog that always catches my eye:
New City Arts is an incredible K-6 art program in St. Louis. I wish I could go to school there!
Take a look at her architectural projects with various grades. Check out the wonderful birds her students created from working pinch pots of clay. And the snails... The creative connections that New City Arts makes inspires her students to explore ideas and approaches. She gathers inspiration from her community, from Art21 and the multiple intelligences. Each work is celebrated. Each work is special. Thanks New City Arts for sharing your great work!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


As I logged in this morning to post a "I'm back!" blog-post, I caught a glimpse of others' blogs and saw that I am not the only one who felt that time was elusive this spring. To think that my last post was in February! I really only realized that yesterday as I was sharing my blog with attendees at CEDFA's Summit XII in Austin, TX. Nancy Walkup and I were co-presenting the focus on Assessment and the standards that relate to the Response/Evaluation strand of the TEKS (TX Essential Knowledge and Skills)
Bloom's Taxonomy was a first focus, where attendees created a flip-book with measurable verbs that take the students through the levels of the taxonomy. We then explored 21st Century Skills from the Partnership of 21st Century Skills. Bloom's (revised) Taxonomy and the 21st Century Skills, along with TEKS and National Content Standards for Visual Arts would then be applied to lesson planning/writing and the development of an assessment rubric. Here are some resources that I have collected over the years that connect to what I shared.
We were also creating! As part of our presentation, attendees participated in four different art activities that explored different media and techniques, engaging them as we would our students in thinking in new ways about their approaches to art making.
During the first session, participants created marbled paper for a silhouette project that Nancy shared:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Palette of Assessment Tools

In 2009, I was invited to present to elementary level art educators at the Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts Summit X. The focus of the two-day session was on Assessment and the first strand of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) which focuses on Perception. Ronelle Howell, from Slaton ISD, who will be presenting this year at the Elementary Division Early Childhood Carousel at NAEA's convention in Seattle, and I, shared lessons and assessment strategies that would be seamlessly integrated into the teaching practice. Last year, Nancy Walkup and I furthered this discussion with our presentations for CEDFA's Summit XI that integrated digital portfolios as another assessment tool as we focused on the second strand, Culture and History. One example, Artsonia and its new "Artist Statement" component, added this year, allows teachers to implement reflection as part of the self-evaluation process, and publish the portfolio for family and friends to see. Digital tools like Voice Thread provide opportunities for students to engage others in dialogue over works of art, concepts and stories. This sample Voice Thread gave my students' Language Arts teacher an additional evaluation tool for a Haiku project, while I was also able to assess the learning in the Studio. The digital transformation of their work seemed to validate it for the students. I recommend this in any classroom!

Finally, I am so excited to share that Jessica Balsley from Iowa, and Erin Oldfield from Oklahoma, will be our other featured art educators for the Western Region Elementary Carousels, focusing on Best Practices and Creative Connections, respectively. Both are passionate educators, bringing a wonderful new voice to our Elementary Division! Jessica's blog, the Art of Education, shares another resource on assessment which is a treasure trove of links and material. Meanwhile, Erin teaches at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and maintains a great blog called Laugh Paint Create Her creative approaches to connecting to art at the OKCMoA engage children of all ages. Great educators to follow!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Two or three years ago, as I embarked on a "technology infusion" for my teaching, I became a member of Art Ed 2.0 and became virtual friends with amazing educators. From that virtual connection, came real friendships with two amazing teachers, Theresa McGee and Tricia Fuglestad. I was fortunate to be able to schedule a visit to their classrooms (who gets to do that when we teach full-time?) It was a great visit. Since then we have collaborated with each other on many projects. We get to do so again as we prepare for our presentation at NAEA's Seattle convention. Dynamic Collaborations II is the name of our session. I do believe that any opportunity we have to showcase our teaching and lessons causes us to think about other perspectives. It also causes us to re-evaluate our systems in order to make them more efficient--which we should be doing for our students in the first place.
Something I learned from Tricia which I just applied for an upcoming project is the use of Keynote and instant alpha--what magic!
If you use a Mac--the Keynote program has a special button that allows you to apply "green screen" technology to an image with 1 color around the object --the alpha button allows one to erase that color (by dragging the cursor over the area) and make it transparent. That allows the image beneath to be revealed... just like this one inspired by R. Magritte.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I am a Masterpiece!

Anything is possible with art!

One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

It is remarkable to watch the development of 4th graders as they conquer self-doubt and lack of experience with a medium to create magnificent works of art. My slogan is "Turn your mistake into a Masterpiece!" It is posted all over the studio. Students at the start of the year are so willing to give up. That is simply not allowed in the Fine Arts Studio! Instead, we have to look at what we have accomplished and keep going. Mistakes happen but they can be the springboard for turning our work into a masterpiece. We overcome our frustrations, transform our work and experience a new way of expressing ourselves.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More than a Virtual Trip to Greece?

Look inside >
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Inspired by Athletes, Myths, and Poets

I heard just a few weeks ago that I didn't get the funding from Target Field Trip Grants for our field trip to the Blanton Museum of Art for the lesson I published in School Arts in December. I can't complain as they had generously funded our art field trips for two years in a row. So, I am working hard to rally support so that this group of 5th graders can get there too! We are going to be hosting a Fine Arts and PE event in late February where KidsArt Fairs will be a part--Frames for the artwork are the fundraiser! Such a great idea, I can't wait to see if it helps us get where we want to go! At least I know we can get there... virtually.

What is Art?

As I prepared my classroom yesterday for the start of school and 2011, I set a group of prints around the easel for our Art of the Day discussion. The big question will be "what is Art?" As we explore the different approaches by individual artists, the cultural, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual implications of their works will hopefully shine through in the conversation. The constant evaluation of the students' personal connections to art and art-making, informed by a growing understanding of media and technique, will engage these 4th and 5th graders in what will be, no doubt, an interesting debate. I can't wait for 2011 to start in the Studio!

As I explored over the break, I found this awesome video that begs the question: What is Art? It is great for the laugh, and for the (edited) shortened clip to share with students in a discussion. The video is by Creature Comforts, and I found it on Art Matters. It is also a great example of claymation: