Tag: art education

The Halfway Restart, Art Teacher Style

Have Heart, a collage of text and magazines.
A snippet of a visual journal page created by one of my talented Painting class students, Fall 2020.

The day before school started, spring 2021, I laid in bed and felt something I had not felt in the last nine years. Dread.

Dread is a mental state and physical sensation of distinct weight that I often felt at my first art teacher job. Since moving schools and finding a supportive, happy place, I haven’t felt this in years. But, here it was again, reacquainting itself with me. And I hate it.

I love my job, I love my coworkers, I love my school. But, after a tough pandemic controlled first semester, it was hard to imagine going back. I felt more pessimistic about the start of this semester than I did the first semester because I knew what was coming. The combination of in-person, full virtual, hybrid feels like you are juggling and teaching three different classes in one. (Check out my survival tips here)

I hadn’t even closed my eyes and the exhaustion of what to come was already washing over me.

The next morning my husband asked how I was feeling and I was honest, I was unsure and wished I could just call it quits. He told me I couldn’t go in that way, I had to pull through because of my students.

He is so right.

We can’t let this get to us because we are responsible for so many others’ emotions. We provide care, support, and education to very malleable young minds. How we feel matters because it impacts how they feel.

I had to pull it together.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit I lamented with many others. That deep sighs hit me during my drive in and planning period. But, everyday, I will pull it together before my students step foot in my room. That is my goal, my motto for wrapping up this year. I plan to go out with just as much enthusiasm as I came in with nine years ago.

I’ve got this. We’ve got this. You’ve got this.

PREPPING FOR NEW CLASSES

The syllabus, contracts, and bathroom passes I use every year.

This semester, like many other middle and high school art teachers, I have three brand new classes. This means I get to hit the restart button (for better or worse).

Before I left last semester I printed and made copies of all my typical first day of school paperwork. Starting a new class with clear expectations, requiring parent signatures, and holding students accountable for turning them in is an important way to start the semester. (Check out my first day of school pack on my TPT and in my blog shop).

A few years ago I updated my get to know you sheets, creating a unique one for every class. I love using these as a time filler the first day, and I read every one to help me get to know my students from day one.

On the back of each get to know you sheet I always include a brief survey. I ask questions such as, what other art classes have you taken, what is your favorite art material, what is your least favorite project from another class? This helps me understand where each student may fall in terms of experience and gauge interest in different types of projects.

TIP: Include a favorite song or band question on your sheets. Use their responses to build a class playlist using Spotify or similar. Always check song ratings/warnings to make sure the music is appropriate before adding it!

ART KITS, TAKE 2

Art kits and brush tube sets to send home with students.

Before school started I once again prepped my art kits and brush tubes for my students to take home. Since we are starting the semester in hybrid mode, I need them to be able to make art at home. If we ever go full virtual, I know what is in each kit and what they are capable of creating.

All my art kits have paper sheets I have the students use as a check-off when they first go through their kit. If they are missing any supplies, they have to touch base with me to get them. This helps them see what they have in their kit and confirms they got everything (holding them accountable for it all at the end of the semester).

I have been using the brush tubes for years and swear by them. Each student gets their own set of 5 brushes that must be turned in, well cared for or replaced, at the end of the semester.

How to you keep the kids accountable? Give them a grade for turning everything back in. This won’t work in every circumstance but it is the best solution I found.

I am sending as many good vibes and happy thoughts to all you art teachers, general teachers, administrators, and more out there. If we can survive this year, we can survive anything.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. You can read more art teacher related posts here, visual journal posts here, and check out my teaching resources on my TPT and in my blog shop. Thanks for stopping by!

Teaching Tips for Hybrid and Virtual

THREE WEEKS IN HYBRID

I have to start this post with a disclaimer: my first two and a half weeks of school has been a lot of putting out fires, just barely hanging on, and feeling a bit like a failure. But, as I rounded the corner into week three of teaching in hybrid, I suddenly felt like my feet were on the ground. For the first time, I had a handle on my schedule, what projects were going on, and I felt more confident dealing with the technology component.

Below are eight tips that I have jotted down as I moved through the dumpster fire that is the start of the school year, pandemic style.

PLANNING YOUR YEAR

If you are anything like me you love to plan out your entire semester, maybe even the year, in August. I love filling out my planner with when I aim to start projects and my project progression. This year, throw all your past schedules in the trash (not literally, since COVID is temporary you may want to reference those again in the future).

Figure out what your school’s plan is. Are you full virtual? For how long? Are you hybrid? Do the students switch off every other day? What does the daily/weekly schedule look like? Using this information, create your own schedule. Figure out what projects can be completed with low materials and decide which projects are most important for your art program.

In addition to roughing out the first few weeks, consider what happens at the end of a project. How are students submitting work to you? Set up your organization system NOW so students can learn it from day one. In the spring, I had students email me pictures of projects when they turned them in to be graded. That system was a hot mess. If I had to follow up with a student, or track down a project for grading, I was forced to dig through my e-mail.

This year, my school is set up through Teams and Blackbaud. I have chosen to train my students to access project information and submit work through Teams. Within our Teams group, each student has a folder with their last name. Every new project they create a subfolder with the project name, where they upload their artist research sheets, critique sheets, and pictures of their work. I know exactly where to track down their work, no questions asked.

Rough out your first few weeks of school. If you are in hybrid mode, count the number of days a project would typically take and apply those to how often you will see a student in person. When I realized I would be a hybrid teacher I opted for my students to work on one assignment at school and one assignment at home to prevent projects from traveling back and forth daily. This leads me to…

If possible, avoid having your student move supplies back and forth.

MANAGING SUPPLIES

Many teachers around the world are finding themselves in a situation where students can no longer share supplies. Art kits are being put together for at home and at school use, art suppliers are running low on watercolor and drawing supplies. As a hybrid teacher, I had to create art kits to allow my students to work on projects at home. However, I quickly realized this system would not function well if my students where lugging supplies and projects back and forth from school and home every day. Inevitably, things would get lost, projects would be left in the wrong place, and students would be left with nothing to do.

To avoid that situation, I decided to have a project for in-class, and a project for at home, running simultaneously. This presents its own set of challenges. For one, my students will be working on projects at home that I can’t offer the same amount of guidance as I would at school. Also, there are times I present a project to the entire class, both in person and on Zoom, but if the students are at home they won’t apply that information until the next time they are physically present at school. It was also very confusing at the start of the year when I had to present multiple projects a few days in a row, then split the students up to start working on assignments.

However, despite the challenges of juggling multiple things at once, I think it’s easier than trying to fill virtual student’s time with busy work or risking supplies traveling from location to location. My school does allow communal supplies in the classroom, as long as they can be disinfected between student use. For those who have to rely only on individual kits, traveling supplies may be inevitable.

PLAN AHEAD

As soon as you determine which projects you are going to start the year with, start typing up your instructions. If you are in full virtual mode this is incredibly important for students to reference if needed. If you are in hybrid mode, this is a helpful tool if you are busy with one group of students and need the other group to start working independently.

When I say type up instructions, I mean type up every step, detail, everything you would verbally tell the students to do. If a student is late due to technical issues (inevitable) or misses a class, you can direct them to these instructions without having to interrupt the rest of the class.

Record demo videos.

Just like written instructions, demo videos are a huge time suck to create, but an invaluable asset when it’s done. If you are working on a project example now, stop! Set up a camera and record your process. These videos can be uploaded to a location students can access when they are working independently, if they miss class, or simply for a review of instructions.

It can be overwhelming to look at a year of projects and imagine recording demos for every single one. Instead, start small. Look at your first two weeks. Can you get the demo videos done for just your full virtual projects? If you take one bite at a time, eventually you will eat the whole virtual monster.

Teaching with a breathable mask is key.

Before you even start your first day of school, go mask shopping. Order a few different styles from a few different companies. The most important parts of a mask are breathability, comfort, and safety. The mask is there to protect you and others, so make sure you have a quality mask that is actually doing its job. You will be wearing that sucker all day, so make sure it’s comfortable. I had headaches for two weeks solid, and I think a big part of that was adjusting to wearing a mask.

Finally, make sure you can easily take deep breaths in your mask. My nerves always kick into high gear on the first day of school. I talk a little faster, requiring bigger breaths between words. This year I had a particularly thick mask on the first day. When I took those nervous gulps of air the short moments between all of my informative words, I realized I wasn’t getting the level of oxygen I needed to not pass out in front of my class. I had to consciously take a moment to breathe, greatly slow down my talking, and a mask switch was necessary. I now have a thinner cotton one that allows me to talk more easily, while still protecting my health.

Also, wear your mask! Are you around people? Wear your mask! Are you six feet apart? Wear it just in case! Are you eating lunch solo or at a safe distance? Okay, fine, take off your mask.

Drink your coffee at the start of the day, you won't have time later.

CAFFINATE!

If you take nothing else away from the post, remember this one. DRINK YOUR COFFEE BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS. I made the mistake the first few days of lightly sipping on my coffee en route to school, answering a few e-mails, and then realizing my class was on their way. Once your mask goes on and class starts, sneaking those gulps of coffee is nearly impossible. I have days where my planning doesn’t hit until after lunch, and coffee that has been sitting around that long just isn’t worth the effort to drink it.

Develop a system for learning student names.

STUDENT NAMES

Now that you have a plan, are caffeinated, and masked up it’s time to start your year! Learning student names this year is nearly impossible!! If you are hybrid or full-on seeing kids in person, you are likely only seeing their eyes. If you are virtual, you are probably only seeing their forehead. Typically, in week three of school, I have a handle on 95% of student names. This year, I am still figuring it out.

The biggest help has been assigned seating, required at my school for contact tracing. I can easily refer to my seating chart to see who is sitting where. Also, when students are on our Zoom call I see their names on their screens. To help further solidify the name/face connection I also have a roster printed out with their picture next to their name. Find a way to get that name/face connection made to help you more easily connect to the students in a time when we can’t be closer than six feet.

TECH SWEAT

If I can promise one thing about this school year it is that you will be sweating… a lot… Technical issues will come up. On my third day, I got the blue screen of death in the middle of class. By the time I rejoined my Zoom call, the call had defaulted to a student and I couldn’t figure out how to regain control in order to share my presentation. Class ended early that day and I felt like I needed a shower afterward. I haven’t faced tech issues to that extent again, but at least I have a sense of control with my spare deodorant safely stowed in my desk drawer.

Teachers, be flexible and give yourself a break!

GOOD LUCK!

If I am being totally honest my mantra my first week of school was if I am just physically showing up every day, I am doing a good job. My expectations were very low, but as I have gained confidence in this new world of education, that bar is slowly starting to rise. It is going to be hard. You are going to be tired. You will feel like a failure. Tech will fail you. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will hit a point where you feel like you have a small handle on the situation. In a global pandemic, as essential workers, as a small lifeline of normalcy to the students we teach, we are doing a great job every day just by showing up.

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog or check my out on social media for more life experiences, project ideas, and art teacher nuggets. You can also cut out the typing up instructions and recording video demo by checking out art projects and resources on my blog here and here as well as on my TPT here.

Back to School Sale 8/4 through 8/5/20

25% TPT Sale 8/4 and 8/5

This is the strangest back to school I have ever experienced, but through it all you can always rely on the Teachers Pay Teachers back to school sale.

STOP! Before you read through this book of a post, help me prioritize your resource needs by sharing your opinion on what I should work on next in this survey and subscribe here to stay updated on your requests.

On Tuesday, August 4th and Wednesday, August 5th (2020) my entire shop will be marked down by 20% with an additional 5% off at checkout using the code, BTS20. As usual, I have spent my summer rearing children and TPTing. Read below for all the updates I have in my shop plus projects specifically designed for distance learning.

My blog shop will also be marked 25% off using the code BTS20 at check out. Shop here!

Principle of design handouts

This year marks the beginning of a career shift for me. I am moving from teaching three classes a semester and acting as the fine arts administrative assistant for our K-12 school to teaching 5 classes a semester. After an eight year break I am returning to teaching full time.

The change that pushed me to that point was the addition of a new class, Introduction to Design. My fine arts department chair approached me with the idea and I loved it. Our program is very traditional art focused and lacked digital or design based classes. This also provided me with the opportunity to design the curriculum from the ground up, which based on my TPT products, you know I love.

I had hoped to complete my curriculum this summer, but life sometimes gets in the way, but I have the first 1/3 of the semester complete. The rest will come together in the coming months, mostly because it has to! I will have to create the resources for me to teach the class.

The first pieces I created for this class are my elements of design and principles of design worksheets. They introduce students to the building blocks of design and they have digital fill in options through Adobe Acrobat Pro, Indesign, and Google Slides.

Shoe design project using Illustrator.

The first official project my students will work on is a design their own shoe assignment. They learn the basics of using Adobe Illustrator and are introduced to using color, shape, form, line, and pattern in design.

Next, students are introduced to the program Adobe Photoshop by redesigning a book or album cover. With this assignment they have to think more about designing for a client and how to best reflect their client through their product design.

After the first two intro projects they shift into a focus specifically on graphic design and what that looks like as a profession. Branding and marketing is discussed and students are tasked with developing a brand for themselves. Through this project they learn the basics of working in Adobe InDesign. Check this project out here.

Up next, I am working on a graphic design project that focuses on rebranding a corporation of the student’s choice. This will bring together their understanding of Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign into one project. All my Intro to Design assignments will be posted here as they are finished.

DISTANCE LEARNING PROJECTS

Cell phone photography semester curriculum.

With the ongoing pandemic and so many districts shifting to distance learning for the first semester of school, I decided to put together a semester long photography curriculum that can be completed using a cell phone camera.

This is compiled from both my Introduction to Photography and Photography II curriculums. Rather than learning a DSLR camera and how to set up successful photographs, students learn about composition, subject matter, and lighting to create a successful photo.

K-5 distance learning project pack

My mom and I have been working incredibly hard to put together two kindergarten through 5th grade project packs that work great in a traditional classroom or from home. In addition to all the typical things you find in my project packs (lesson plan, handouts, presentations, rubrics) I also include parent distance learning instructions, teacher distance learning instructions, and demo videos students can watch at home or at school.

Check out distance learning art products below:

DISTANCE LEARNING TEACHER RESOURCES

Printable Supply labels.

With so many teachers having to shift to individually bundled supplies or sending supplies home with students, I knew check out labels and editable supply labels where going to be key to keeping teachers’ sanity. (Also check out my brush tube labels for even more organization).

I have four different styles of editable “property of” labels. This way every supply can be labeled with your name and classroom number so wandering supplies can find their way home. In addition, there are multiple versions of supply check out sheets. These can be used to track what is handed to individual students, classes, or for checking out individual supplies.

Everything in this pack is printable and editable to align with your needs.

ART CURRICULUMS

If you are worried about your school year, don’t stress yourself out! Hit the easy button and grab one of my curriculum during the sale. These are easy to transition to distance learning because you already have instructions typed out, handouts made, presentations put together that you can send to students to look through and fill out. Check them out below:

This year will be unprecedented in so many ways. I am sending all our essential workers out there, especially teachers at this time, the warm fuzzies, happy thoughts, and hopes that you all stay safe. Thanks for checking out my blog post and my new products! Want info about my new products delivered to your inbox? Subscribe here. Thanks for stopping by.

Elements of Design Worksheet Set

Eight elements of design handouts and activities.

Check out my latest TPT product, an elements of design worksheet bundle, pictured above.

As I approach the end to this very bizarre school year I have started to look ahead to next year. Many changes are coming my way and I am distracting myself from distance learning with planning for the future.

Next year I will be moving from my beloved classroom of 5 years to bunk up with the art teacher across the hall. In terms of scheduling, this makes sense, my room will go to a middle school art teacher who needs the space more than I. It also means a new challenge for me, overhauling another art room! This will be my third room at this school. At least it keeps me busy.

My artist inspiration chalkboard wall at school.

I will greatly miss my artist inspiration wall, but I will find a way to set up something similar the new space. My coworker has given me permission to take over and decorate… she has no idea what she has agreed to…

I am also moving from teaching 3 classes a semester and being the fine arts administrative assistant, to teaching 5 classes a semester and becoming a full time teacher at my school. I will miss many aspects of the administrative assistant position, but I am so excited to be able to focus just on teaching again.

The transition to full time teaching was made possible because of the addition of a new course: Introduction to Design. I will be teaching four sections of this class in our amazing Mac lab. Students will learn about the building blocks of design, design thinking, graphic design, web design, user experience, and they get to select a focus between urban design, fashion design, game design, or interior design.

Between moving classrooms and designing a brand new curriculum from scratch, I will stay busy. But, I am so excited to embark on this new project. As I develop my design curriculum I will share my lessons here and on my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. I just completed the first piece, handouts that go through the eight elements of design: color, form, line, value, shape, texture, typography, and space. Check them out here.

Don't miss 25% off my entire Teachers Pay Teachers store. Use THANKYOU20 at checkout.

If you are interested in the elements of design worksheet bundle, distance learning resources, or any other art education products, now is the time to shop! My entire store will be 25% off today (5/5/20) and tomorrow (5/6/20), use the code THANKYOU20 at checkout. Check out past blog posts about my products to read about other resources to make your teaching life easier.

To all you teachers out there, I hope you are surviving! Good luck wrapping up your year in distance learning. Summer is on the horizon.

A letter to all the worn out teachers dealing with distance learning.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and my TPT. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 55: Bedtime Bear

A collage with a dog and sleeping zzzzs, made for my Kody Bear a German Shepard, Husky mix.

When I realized what visual journal page I was blogging about today I was equal parts heart warmed and melancholy. This visual journal page is for my Kody Bear who lived a long 13.5 years, but went on to puppy heaven two and a half years ago.

Kody Bear was sweet, snuggly *at his discretion,* so fluffy, a close talker, pushy, stubborn, and so very smart. His stubborn/intelligent combination caused a great deal of frustration in college. But he eventually settled into the perfect dog.

Loosing a dog as an adult was different than loosing a dog as a child. I was so close to my family dog growing up. He was my baby. But, by the time he headed up the white staircase to puppy heaven I was two years into college and didn’t see much of the end of his life. Kody Bear was different because I was there, I witnessed his last breath, which I am forever grateful for, but it was almost impossible to bare. I am endlessly thankful that he was sick for such a short period of time after living a very healthy 13.5 years before that. I am thankful I opted to drive home from the beach just in case this was it. Because it was and I was there for Nick and him.

But, this post isn’t just about losing Kody in the end, it was about the sweetness I witnessed those last few years. Kody was a wild pup who took a lot of discipline and training to wrangle. But, he eventually found a balance that worked for all involved parties. He loved being outside, sitting near you (but never touching), and was 100% Nick’s dog. I believed he viewed me as a bonus, but not his person.

I can’t blame Kody for that. After all, when I met Nick he and Kody were already a pair, they came as a package deal. At 19, a sophomore in college, he had inherited him from his sister. I think Nick was the only one who could handle his wild spirit. I think Kody realized he had met his match with Nick and he developed great respect and love for him as a result.

And although for 11 years of his life it was all about Nick and Kody, those last couple of years he settled into some routines with me. My favorite was every night when I would go to bed he would follow right behind. It didn’t matter who was still awake, if a party was going on, or if it was 5 pm. My bear was right behind me as we headed up the stairs together.

It’s the little things that make you realize you are bonded with someone. It’s the everyday, repetitive, tiny moments that add up to such beautiful things. The moments that Kody showed me he cared, by supporting decisions for an early bedtime or laying nearby when I was upset or simply warming myself next to the fire, I truly felt connected to him.

Today, I have another bedtime buddy named Harper. She is about 80% as fluffy, 25% of his size, and is just as wild. Despite her high energy, as soon as I hit the steps heading up to bed, she is right behind me. I like to think that she represents a piece of Kody, a piece of me, and a piece of my life right now.

Sweet dreams Kody Bear.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue
  • Book pages
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Sharpie
  • Packing tape
  • Laser printed image

VISUAL JOURNAL HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with a printed image of my bear snuggled up and snoozing. I had come up with the idea of having snoring zzzs floating around him as I began developing this visual journal page. It was easy to opt for a tape transfer, so you could see the layers of zs coming from Kody and spreading to the rest of the pages.

To create a packaging tape transfer you need a laster printed image, you can also use newspaper or inkjet but they aren’t as successful. Tape strips of packaging tape directly on top of the image. Flip the image over and rub the back with something hard, like scissor handles or a wood spoon. The burnishing process helps stick the ink to the packaging tape. Next, run the back of the image under water until the paper starts to raise up and peel away. Rub the paper off of the tape, leaving only the ink stuck to the tape.

The end result of a tape transfer is a semi-transparent image. Any white sections are completely see through and any dark sections are semi-transparent or fully opaque. Next, I set aside the tape transfer and started working on the background.

I first glued down strips of bleeding tissue paper I had set aside in my visual journal stash. In a previous project I had wet sheets of bleeding tissue paper to stain paper with color. I then set aside the used sheets to dry, which can result in tie dye looking tissue paper.

Next, I began writing the letter Z on pieces of ripped out book pages. I cut each one into a square then glued it down to the background. I filled the area I knew the trap transfer would be placed and slowly spread them out as it moved away from Kody. Once I was satisfied with the way the background looked, I glued the transfer of Kody on top.

Last but not least I wrote out my text on book pages, cut it out, and glued it to the right page.

Check out more visual journal pages with tape transfers here, here, here, and here.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a loss in your life. Use a tape transfer to help illustrate it.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my tape transfer how to handout) here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post to my sweet Bear. Help me spread the word about visual journaling by sharing with others! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates straight to your inbox or follow me on facebook or instagram. Thanks for stopping by!