Thursday, October 17, 2013

Here it is: my Indie project!

There is nothing better than the feeling of "fait accompli!" I completed my final project for my first semester course--the independent project for my Curriculum course at the University of Florida, MAAE. I can't wait to teach this unit. In fact, we are jumping into it this fall with our 5th graders at RJR!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taking Chances

“Only those who risk going too far know how far they can go.” - T.S. Eliot

Our conversations in the art classroom involve students in exploring those chances we take throughout our lifetimes. We strive to take those kinds of chances where we will grow and discover what we are truly capable of being.

Thanks, Jason, for sharing that wonderful quote.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Critical-Making in the Studio

In the spring, several of us here at RJR got together to research and write a grant application to Crayola and the NAESP (the National Association of Elementary School Principals). Our school was a recipient of this grant in 2010. Not only did we receive art supplies from Crayola, which we used enthusiastically, we also received $2,500 to put toward materials for the Studio which connected the learning with several disciplines, especially Science. In addition to other supplies, we invested in LCD Microscopes (the kind they use at our high school) which allowed us to make observational and technical drawings which we applied to our art-making. Our project was shared in the supplement to Principal magazine, published by the NAESP in Sept./Oct. 2011 and distributed nation-wide. I am sharing this as I came across this wonderful quote from John Maeda, current president of the Rhode Island School of Design, which celebrates the cross-disciplinary thinking and "critical thinking-critical making" that occurs in an art classroom:

Creativity and ingenuity have always been central to the American story of progress. After two decades as a student and faculty member at MIT, my experience as the President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has reawakened me to the world of physical creation. RISD is the ultimate culture of makers. There is no greater integrity, no greater goal achieved, than an idea articulately expressed through something made with your hands. We call this constant dialogue between eye, mind, and hand "critical thinking -- critical making." It's an education in getting your hands dirty, in understanding why you made what you made, and owning the impact of that work in the world. It's what artists and designers do.

And that is what we do as thinkers and makers, too!
I am looking forward to hearing from Crayola and the NAESP to cement our plans for this awesome school year ahead. Regardless of the outcome of the grant process, we are "getting our hands dirty" and celebrating the multiple possibilities that occur through art!

To read more of the article: STEM to STEAM: Art in K12 Education

Monday, July 22, 2013

Found Drawings

It is amazing how something so simple can be so enthralling. Found Drawings are compositions that one captures with a cell phone camera, moments in time that speak like mini-paintings. Now I see them everywhere. 

It was my first week of graduate school. A semester's worth condensed to one very intense week of art making, discussion and just plain, hard work. It was fabulous. Today I start Week 2: Printmaking. 

I can't wait.

Take a look around you. What can you find?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lots of Excitement in One Day!

It's a big day. I am ready to go on a big road trip, the car is packed. I have snacks and art supplies. I am driving to Florida for the start of graduate school at the University of Florida. I am excited! I will be participating in the Summer Studio sessions for my Master's of Arts in Art Education. I am a little nervous, but the thought of focusing fully on creating work in the next two weeks, of being an art student in an art studio soothes the anxiety. Now I just have to get there.
Meanwhile, I got news this morning, that a video I remixed while on the road with my son in Salt Lake City and submitted to Education Closet's STEAMed Innovation Awards, was selected as a semi-finalist! Thank you, Animoto, ( for enabling remixing as I had the material just not the laptop!

Now we need your votes! There are ten awesome semi-finalists. Three of them can be Finalists. In order for RJR to be finalist, we need you to vote for "Crank It up a Notch!" You can vote early and often up until July 19th. Vote here:

Here is our video submission. Many thanks to Crayola and the NAESP for the Champion Creatively Alive Children grant that funded this project for the Fine Arts Studio in 2010.

STEAMed Innovation from the Fine Arts Studio @ RJR from Samantha Melvin on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Many Thanks to our Supportive ART Community!

How fantastic it was to get the email on Sunday morning that our student, Hayden, was selected as the 4th-6th grade Artsonia Artist of the Week!
Yes, his collaborative work was great~but it was the community-wide support for him that helped him win!

Thank you so much for taking a moment each day to support our RJR artist!

Hayden will receive a special plaque and a gift certificate for $50 for Dick Blick Art Supplies! The studio also receives $100 in art supplies.

Thank you to Artsonia and to Dick Blick for their support of art education as well, and many thanks to you, our families, community, and my awesome PLN, for celebrating our artists in many ways throughout the school year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We Need Your Vote!

Help us make Hayden3488, the 4th grade Artsonia Artist of the Week!

What makes his work so unique, you ask?
This particular work of art was a collaboration between Hayden3488 and his classmates. They wrote their artist statements using a Google Form. These statements were then copied and pasted into a Tagxedo word cloud text box. Their words describe the art they created for Seton Highland Lakes Hospital for their Valentine's Day party where Seton will present the new Care-A-Van, a specially-equipped RV that provides medical support and care in this region.
Their Valentines are being distributed to the care-givers, donors, doctors, nurses and volunteers who make the Care-A-Van possible. It is a gift that keeps on giving!

Please vote for Hayden3488.

Votes can be made daily. Thank you for your help~

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Interactive Media from MIT

I am getting ready for an exciting class through MIT's Media Lab. I looked into some material from Mitch Resnick, the director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group, who discusses in this TEDx presentation the idea of fluency leading to expression, regardless of medium. The idea of teaching coding to my students is exciting and daunting. However, as part of this journey, I may try to teach Scratch to a small group. Who knows what we will create? Isn't that the fun (and the challenge) of Art and Science?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let's Get Drawing with Stikz (and Xtranormal!)

It's amazing how many resources and tools are out there for us to use! I love finding new tools, but I also appreciate how often it is my PLN (my professional learning network) that puts a product or tool to the test first and shares what they found. This neat tool was Tricia Fuglestad's find. She has it posted on her website, so I decided to play with Xtranormal too.

I wanted to get my students drawing more in their free-time, so I created this short movie to get them thinking about it, at the very least!

Let's Get Drawing with Stikz
by: fineartsstudio

Monday, February 4, 2013

Clip and Collect: Box Tops for Education

We have a mission!

Our goal is to get to the Blanton Museum of Art, in Austin, for our 5th grade field trip. It is an expensive trip. We take four buses into Austin for the day. We split up into groups, some tour the State Capitol first, others go straight to the museum, we meet back at the State Capitol grounds for a picnic and after everyone has had a full day of art, history and culture, we head back to school.

Help us get there! Clip and collect Box Tops for Education found on many grocery items. Collect them in a baggy and send them with your student to the Fine Arts Studio. Deadline for this year's collection is February 22nd. That will give us time to count and ship them to BFE. They are our tickets to the wonderful sights in the city!

Box Tops logo with website

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thank You, School Board!

In honor of School Board Appreciation Month, RJR says "Thanks" to our BCISD board members for their service and dedication to our district . The appreciation lasts all year long, as the work on behalf of our K-12th grade students is a long-term commitment. Thank you, Burnet CISD School Board! Thank you for supporting the learning on our campus, and especially, art education at RJ Richey!

I used an app for the "Rise & Shine" campaign theme for the district school board appreciation. Wordfoto allows one to add text to the image, and is available on iTunes. The tool is great for special messages, vocabulary and advocacy.

2000 Pieces in Motion

This incredible stop motion video was created by collaborators, Kijek and Adamski for a Japanese band, Shugo Tokumaru. The work is detailed, colorful and expressive. We shared this video in class and students requested that I share the link!
Katachi means "shape." The music in the video is by Shugo Tokumaru.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

QR Codes Share our Knowledge!

The Fine Arts Studio loves QR Codes. We have been using these digital tools as a means to sharing what we know beyond the confines of our RJR walls. QR codes link to a URL address using the specific coding design, enabling us to save the code as an image in JPG format. We upload this image to each gallery on Artsonia, enabling those who participated in the project to share with their respective families. The QR code can be read by a 3DS, iPod, iPad or smartphone, with apps (applications) like Neo-reader and Scan, which are free. The app views the QR code in the screen, "reads" it, and redirects to the site coded in the image. That's neat!

We created a QR code very easily:
After our VoiceThread was complete, we are able to share the VoiceThread through a specific link. I copied the link (right click, copy) then pasted the link into the URL shortening site called (right click, paste in the shortening bar) Click on Shorten link, and "presto!" the link is shortened. The next part is what one needs for the QR code:
Copy the shortened URL, paste it in the address bar at the top of the page and type " .qr" (dot, letter "q", letter "r") right at the end of the shortened address. Then, be ready for the QR magic: click enter, and a large QR code will appear. One can test the QR code by reading the code with a QR code reader. It should link directly to the website encoded in the image. I print that, take a photo to upload to Artsonia, then give that page to the student for them to take home.

Check out this "work of art" by 4th graders: The Historic Missions of Texas. Be sure to turn up the volume to hear their reports!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doodle 4 Google

It's time to Doodle 4 Google! This year's theme is "Your Best Day Ever!" Application forms are in the Fine Arts Studio, and include the Google template. Submissions can be turned in to Mrs. Melvin by March 5th or mailed directly (with the parent permission form) to Doodle 4 Google. Take a look at this video for more information!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Historical Connections

Texas has a rich history. This state, overwhich six different flags have flown, has been home to many people, the first being our native tribes. The Spaniards came across the ocean and tried to settle the land and its people. As they did, they constructed beautiful missions throughout the Central Texas region. Fourth graders study these missions in Social Studies, and we created collagraph printing plates as we did further research in the Fine Arts Studio. The photo above shows The Alamo, famous for the battle, and also known as Mission San Antonio de Valero. The collagraph is layers of cardboard from which rubbings and prints can be made. Here is a collagraph of San Juan de Capistrano by another 4th grader:
We have work on display at the local post office for the month of January! Congratulations, artists, on your historical connections through art!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Service-Learning in the Studio

How exciting it was to share what we do in the classroom with so many others! Our 2012 Empty Bowls Project did just that: we learned, we created and we gave, either by contributing our own work, or by donating funds so others could benefit. RJ Richey Elementary 4th and 5th grade artists, along with RJR teachers, staff, friends and siblings, created approximately 400 bowls for our first-ever, Empty Bowls event, held on December 18th. Our focus was on service-learning, learning how to do something new that is a benefit to others. We collaborated with Shells for NJ Shores to create work with a sea-shell theme to benefit our local food bank as well as serving those in need in NJ, impacted by Hurricane Sandy. We held a faculty meeting in the Fine Arts Studio, where all who attended learned how to create a bowl. Using Pinterest as inspiration, we viewed Mrs. Melvin's Sea-shells board as well as the Clay board. Take a look at the works of art in this video, all created by our fabulous faculty and staff! With our art work, we raised $2265.50! We sent $890 to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, and donated $1,375.50 to La Care, the food bank in Burnet. Congratulations and thanks, artists, big and small!