Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SLO's and Floor Murals

Well, I finally figured it out.  I am going to have to do SLO's for four out of seven grade levels that I teach...blech!  That means I definitely have to do the  pre- and post assessments for those grade levels.

I think the one thing that I worry about with this whole SLO's thing, is what if I don't cover everything I plan to cover?  For example, with my sixth graders, say we end up not having enough time to cover Native American art at the end of the year due to field trips, assemblies and what have you.  If I included this culture in my pre-assessment, I still have to include them in my post assessment quiz...this is what worries me, at least for the 6th graders who will be taking an actual test for their assessments.  Which brings me to a question that I have been wondering about in other art rooms... Do you impose a deadline to art projects and how strict are you at keeping these deadlines?  

Sometimes I find it very easy to complete projects within a deadline, especially with the younger kids, but with the older kids, I tend to find it harder to make the deadlines, especially when they have more in depth projects.  Some of the kids work at lightning speed and still do a good job on their projects compared to others.  The last two years, I would allow 5th and 6th grade students to come down to my room during their study hall if I had it free to work on their projects, but I have heard through the grapevine that they may not even have a study hall this year due to new additions to their schedules!

On a happier note for me, I started painting the play house floor with my private lesson student today.  Her younger sister and mom also helped out.  We spent about an hour and a half drawing it out and painting the water aspects.  I left them with some homework to give all the rocks a base coat of paint and to paint the grout in between the rocks on the cobblestone path that can't be seen in these pictures below.

We plan on adding some koi fish into the pond, as well as some waterlilies and flowers.  We will also add some flowers in the green grassy area.  The only thing left to do is figure out how to create the effect of grass in the larger areas...I'm leaning towards one of four options:  (1)Just paint using different tints of green, (2) Paint in patches of grass here and there, especially around the flowers we will put in and the stones, or (3) Use a stamping set to stamp in some texture similar to grass, or (4) Leave it the way it is!  The grass is the only thing I'm stressing about...grass seems a little difficult for me to paint from a top view and be successful!  Anyone have any pointers?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kindergarten Assessments...Check!!!

Well, I was planning on painting one of my bathrooms today, but that plan went out the window after I opened the can of paint we bought last September to find that it was severely separated and very hard at the bottom!  Soooooo, instead I forced myself to work on my Kindergarten assessment rubrics for my SLO's at the beginning of the school year and voila!  They are completed!  Well, completed for now...usually after I create something like this I need to sit back for a few days and then go back to review them.

Our new teacher evaluation system is based on Marzano so my rubrics follow his basic template:

In addition to exhibiting level 3 performance, the student’s responses demonstrate in-depth inferences and applications that go beyond what was taught in class.
The student’s responses demonstrate no major errors or omissions regarding any of the information and/or processes
The student’s responses indicate major errors or omissions regarding the more complex ideas and processes; however they do not indicate major errors or omissions relative to the simpler details and processes
The student provides responses that indicate a distinct lack of understanding of the knowledge. However, with help, the student demonstrates partial understanding of some of the knowledge.
The student provides little or no response. Even with help the student does not exhibit a partial understanding of the knowledge.

 The above two rubrics will be glued to the back of their projects and they will receive a number grade.  I've decided to give number grades instead of my normal E, S, N, U on projects, that way it's easier to show growth and the amount of growth.  They will still receive the letter grade on their report card however, because special teachers in my school are only allowed to give letter grades.

This is a separate rubric to be put onto the back of their self-portrait project.  I'm actually thinking I might be able to use this for both Kindergarten and 1st grade.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sterling Renaissance Festival

Phew, it was quite a busy but eventful weekend for me!  My husband and I did a lot of cleaning around the house, including shampooing the carpets and vacuuming out the heat ducts...yuck!  But, the highlight of my weekend was going to the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling, NY.  This was my first time at a Renaissance Festival, but it was actually quite educational for me!

Since I didn't dress up for the occasion and didn't want to pay big bucks to rent a costume, I bought this headpiece instead!

My husband and the "Queen" on her horse!  She took to quite a liking with him!

One of the awesome wooden sculptures on display by one of the many artisans there!

King and Queen!

The glass blowing demonstration was actually my favorite part!  I did my concentration in ceramics in college, but I've been starting to dabble in glass works, particularly fusing and slumping with my art club kids.  I was able to buy a single shelf, 12" round glass kiln with a pre-programmed electronic timer using grant money for my classroom.  

This year there was something new I found in the Nasco magazine...a kit to make slab bracelets out of glass!  I'm still not totally sure of myself when it comes to working with the more advanced glass techniques, and after I purchased the slab bracelet kit, I wasn't very confident that my kiln could be used safely with the procedure that needs to be carried out with the bracelets.

After fusing all the glass together, you have to put the flat bracelet strip on a metal bracelet mold inside the kiln...with kiln paper in between of course.  Then, you need to flash heat your kiln to 1400 degrees in 15 minutes, open it up, use the special metal tongs to completely bend the strip around the mold, and then shut it.  I've been very nervous to try this because my kiln is larger than the one they use in the direction booklet...I can probably fit at least four bracelet molds into my kiln, whereas the one used in the booklet is just big enough for one! 

So, I'm thinking that when I have to open the kiln, there's going to be A LOT of heat radiating from that.  Can the glass blow up?  Can something nearby catch on fire just from the radiating heat?  After the gentlemen finished his demonstration I was able to talk to him a little bit about my concerns and he eased my mind a bit!  As long as I can assure that my kiln has ample space around it, I should be fine!  Wear the proper gloves, hair tied back, no loose clothing, etc.  He also said I will always run the risk of the glass popping, but as long as I have followed the proper annealing process while fusing the glass and I don't take too long with the lid open, I should be fine.  He also told me to make sure to anneal the glass properly after bending it around the mold.  Considering the fact that he was constantly taking glass in and out of the glory hole while going through the glass blowing process, I think I should be fine if I have to have my kiln open for 30 seconds!

So, now my next task is to figure out how to properly program a fourth program into my kiln for the bracelet bending!

Friday, July 27, 2012

APPR/Common Core: Pre- and Post-Assessments

Well, I've spent the last few days figuring out exactly what I'm going to do for my pre- and post-assessments for art class.  Even though I'm only going to have to do SLO's for approximately three grade levels, I'm still planning my assessments for every grade...eventually I'll have to do these assessments in every grade depending on my enrollment each year!

When I first attended our regional staff development meetings during the school year, I wasn't very happy with the regional assessments we were putting together.  In a sense, they were too specific and they didn't align with what I taught my kids in each grade.  A college friend of mine teachers downstate in NY had her regional meeting for art over the summer.  She shared with me that they had decided to use the same pre- and post assessment for K-6:  self-portraits.  I'm not that into doing the same thing for every grade...I like changing things up from year to year, but she gave me the idea that I could save their self-portraits all the way up through 6th grade and then make a book for each child to have at the end of 6th grade when they transition into the high school.

After mulling this over, I decided that maybe I did like this idea after all, but it still didn't seem like enough of an assessment for me, especially since I don't plan on really covering self-portraits until 3rd and 4th grade with the kids.  So, this is what I plan on doing...each grade will do self-portrait at the beginning and end of the year, as well as one other assessment that will more closely pertain to what students will be taught during the school year.

Kindergarten:  Self-Portrait & Scissor Skills Worksheet
Kindergartners will have to cut these out and glue onto construction paper with Elmer's Glue.  We do A LOT of cutting and gluing projects in Kindergarten, so I feel this is an appropriate assessment!  By the end of the year, most students should be able to cut out those advanced shapes with no problem and glue them using a decent amount of glue!

1st Grade:  Self-Portrait & Drawing Test
For the drawing test assessment, students will have to split their paper into six sections.  They will be given six minutes for each section to do the best drawing they can of the following things:
~A tree
~A flower
~A fuzzy dog
~A house
~Your family
During 1st grade, I cover things such as adding good details, adding texture to drawings, using a horizon line, and so on, so by the end of the year, I expect to see these things in their post-assessment drawing.

2nd Grade:  Self-Portrait & Artwork Scavenger Hunt
In second grade, I really begin introducing critiques to students.  We do group critiques and class critiques a lot starting in 2nd grade.  Because of that, I like students to be able to describe their artwork using the Elements and Principles of Art that they have learned so far.  Therefore, my 2nd grade assessment will be a type of scavenger hunt.  I haven't actually made this yet, but I will definitely post it once I complete it.  Students will be asked to identify the Elements and Principles in various famous artworks.  Some examples might be, circle all the vertical lines with a blue crayon.  Circle the artwork that is symmetrical and put an "X" through the artwork that is asymmetrical. 

3rd Grade:  Self-Portraits & Fairy Tale Landscape Drawings
In third grade, I teach foreground, middle ground and background.  We also really get into landscapes.  I've seen numerous versions of the lesson "The Path to Grandmother's House,"
based on Little Red Riding Hood, such as the one here on the Painted Paper blog.  I decided that at the beginning of the year, I would read them the story of Little Red Riding Hood but I wouldn't show them any pictures from the book.  I would then assess their drawings based on how well they picked up details from the book and how they draw a landscape.  At the end of the year, instead of using Little Red Riding Hood, I will use another fairy tale, like Hansel & Gretel.  The landscapes might look slightly different in both, but students should be able to use their drawing skills to show me a more advanced landscape!

4th Grade:  Self-Portraits & Still Life Drawing
This one will be pretty self explanatory.  We will concentrate on using contour drawings to draw from real life quite a bit in 4th grade, including observing shadows and value.  So, I will simply have my students do a 2-3 day still life drawing in the beginning and the end of the school year, probably using colored pencils.

5th Grade:  Self-Portrait & Color Theory Quiz
In 5th grade, I start giving little quizzes.  I started doing this last year because my 5th graders weren't the best behaved group at special and when I started giving them graded quizzes, they started listening better!  I also really found out who was understanding the more advanced material.  Aside from the self-portrait, the other assessment I will use for 5th grade will actually be a quiz.
I found this handout on-line last year before I knew about Pinterest and I altered it to my needs...I hate that I can't site my source for this but it came from a 4th grade unit on color theory and it was off a school website!  I will continue to look for the original source for this so I properly give credit where it's due!

6th Grade:  Self-Portrait & Cultural Art Quiz:
In 6th grade, I align their art projects with the cultures they learn about in history class.  I decided the best way to assess these students would be to give them a quiz that asks them to identify what culture certain artworks come from.  I will cover the following cultures in class with students, at least half of which are also covered in their history class:  Prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Aboriginal and Native American.  The quiz will ask students to match the culture with their artwork and explain in 2-3 sentences how they know that artwork is from the specified culture.  Again, once I have this quiz completed, I'll post it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rainbow Cake!

Today was a major food day during our summer program!  Yesterday the kids prepared a lasagna from scratch and baked it today.  They also made a salad and we made a rainbow cake!  Yup, that same rainbow cake that has been floating around Pinterest!

I've made this cake on my own from scratch before following one of the numerous recipes I found on-line, but we simplified it a little bit for the kids to make and just used boxed cake.  We mixed two boxes of cake according to the instructions, and then split it into six separate bowls...it ended up being about 1 1/2 cups of batter per bowl.  We mixed in some gel food coloring and then baked each small cake for about 10-12 minutes in 9" round cake pans.

 After the cakes cooled, we started from the bottom of the rainbow and worked out way up!  Purple cake, a thing layer of frosting, blue cake, frosting, green cake...you get the idea!  After they were all stacked, I frosted the entire outside of the cake with plain white frosting.  It's so cool when you cut into it to see the colored cake!  After we had our lasagna lunch we cut into the cake!  Needless to say we spent time out on the playground for everyone to run off their sugar high!

Definitely kid approved!

If you decide to bake this cake, my only suggestion would be to make sure you use all the same types of pans while baking the separate cakes.  We used two regular round cake pans and two spring-form pans.  You can see from the layers that the cakes we baked in the spring-form pans were thinner on the edges and thicker in the middle, which made stacking the cake a little difficult.  I'm definitely not the Cake Boss so I didn't want to attempt to cut the layers even!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Private Art Lesson Day!

This last school year, a parent of one of my students asked if I would give her daughter private art lessons!  So exciting!  We started off with learning to draw a still life and observing placement.  (Oh yeah, my student was in third grade when she started these lessons with me.)  We went onto some basic shading and then added shading to the still life.  Here are some of her drawings she has done with me.

 She was having a hard time controlling regular pencil so we started off creating value with colored pencils.  After she got the hang of that, we moved to black and white shading.
Here is a one hour still life she did, shaded with colored pencil.

After the drawing lessons, we moved onto painting, which she is really enjoying.  I have taken pictures of all her paintings up until now, but we started with q-tip pointillism for mixing colors...We did a koi pond pointillism painting and then we created a Monet style water lily painting.  Those were both one hour paintings.  During her previous lesson, we started a peacock and it turned out really great!  This peacock painting is a two-hour painting.  

We started by doing a pointillism body.  We added details to the smaller green feathers with a fine tip brush.  The second art lesson, we added the tail feathers using a combination of brush painting for the stems of the feathers, an actual feather to create the wispy feathers, and pointillism to create the eyes on the feathers!  I think it looks awesome!

Recently, my student and her mother took a four hour painting class by a local artist and she really enjoyed it.  She was able to paint in oil paints and did a really nice job!  We're going to move onto watercolor paint (from the tube) and then eventually oil paints in our private lessons.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Collage Heads

Today we started a self-portrait collage project.  I purchased this foam head kit from Nasco.  It came with a large container of Mod Podge, 12 foam heads, foam brushes and a huge assortment of paper to collage with.  We talked a little about self-portraits and how they could be literal or abstract.  I also told them they had to cover ALL of the foam...no white foam is allowed to show through their collage.  The students didn't finish today but they really seemed to enjoy it!  They worked for almost an hour and a half without fuss and quite quietly as well!  More pictures to come as they finish these up in the next few days!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Relaxing Weekend in Alex Bay!

Since my parents were up visiting this weekend, we took a break from work and headed out to Alexandria Bay, NY, which is about an hour from where I live.  We've been to Boldt Castle quite a few times on Heart Island, so this time we took the tour of Singer Castle.  Yes, the same Singer that is the sewing machines!  If I remember correctly, the Frederick Bourne built this castle in the 1000 Islands on Dark Island and was a fifth generation CEO of the company. He built this castle as an intended hunting lodge!

Just a cool picture I took with my iPhone!

One of the exterior views of the castle from the base of Bridal Walk.

A view of the St. Lawrence River from castle and the six story clock tower features this clock face all around which is actually 6' in diameter!

The other cool think about Singer Castle is that Frederick Remington purchased an island across the way from where they built the castle for his art studio!  They said on the tour that he bought the island for the quiet atmosphere away from Canton, NY where his home was.  Instead of quiet  though, he faced all the builders, quarry men, and large boats from Singer Castle!  In the end though, Remington apparently forgave the Singers and sent them a bouquet of flowers when they moved in!  There were a few paintings and sculptures by Remington at Singer Castle inside, like this one below!

Now all I can say is, bring it on Monday!  I really need to get to work on my school stuff for next year!  I really feel like this summer is starting to fly by now that I've created my check list of what I need to accomplish before school starts....

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Friday!!

Today I was able to try out some paint bellows that I purchased for my classroom...as part of the summer program, each student gets a smock to wear while baking and painting.  They used a sewing machine to embroider their names on their smocks and then they decided they wanted to paint them as well...in a Jackson Pollock action painting style!  So, the next question...how to do this so the students don't get paint all over themselves since their smocks will be on the floor getting painted!

Well, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to pull out the neon paint and my new paint bellows and let the kids go at it!  I didn't think to take any pictures until just about everyone was done but a couple students had denim smocks and those looked really cool with the neon paint!  I'm thinking I can now safely do the Prehistoric Spit Hand paintings with these bellows!

As for our mural, we are finally alllllmmmooooossstt done!!!  My mom and dad are here visiting this weekend from Buffalo so I brought my mom to school with me and put her to work! ;)  I also had some of my steadier painters today so we were able to get a lot of the figures re-outlined.

My trusty painters today!

These three figures are all done, as well as the lettering!

We need to finish the yellow break-dancing guy by adding a music staff and music notes and his movement lines...Also need to finish the clouds and the swimming guy down at the other end...then we get to clear coat!

So the question I have for my few viewers as of right now...what would you suggest we clear coat it in?  I have some acrylic gel that is good to use as a varnish, but it dries with a gloss to it and I worry it will create a glare on the mural...I also have acrylic matte finish gel that I found online as a suggestion to use, but the bottle itself doesn't say anything about using it as a varnish.  Can anyone give me any pointers?  I really don't want to have to spray paint a clear coat over this entire thing!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Artists of the Week!

Yet again, for the third year in a row, I am changing my positive behavior incentives for the art room.  My first year of teaching I did a star chart based on whole class behavior, which started out great.  Eventually though, I started to forget putting stars on the chart!  

This last school year I did a Touchdown Challenge board (I'm from Buffalo, so of course I'm a Buffalo Bills fan!).  This also worked well in the beginning, but towards the half-way point in the school year, I started to forget to move footballs and students didn't really pay attention to it either!  Plus, I ended up taking away valuable art class time for parties/free periods/movies for the winners.

Finally, this year I think I have it!  At first I wanted to do an Art Bucks theme.  I found some cool artist renditions of American currency done in the style of Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo to go with the Mona Bucks, however when I tried to print them off, I was directed to a website to inform me of the illegal act of printing counterfeit money!!!  Oops!!  So instead, I decided to use this idea I found on Pinterest of course, on the blog For the Love of Art.  (She uses a bookmark as the prize for winning artist of the week, but I'm going to change it up a bit.) 

Artist of the Week glitter palette with glitter paint cans!

One paint can for each classroom teacher whose kids come to art!  I still need to add handles to them though...thinking of either using aluminum wire or silver paper...

A little closer up...Artists of the Week...Work hard! Have a positive attitude!  Work quietly!  Help others! Respect materials!  ARE CREATIVE!!!

I am positive that this will work this year for my students because they prefer that instant gratification, and this is closer to instant than a party every 10 weeks!  Every Friday when we have a full week of school, I will choose an Artist of the Week from each class.  They will get their name written up on their paint can and they will receive a "Sit by a Friend Pass."  (Of course, I will write their name on the back so they can't switch with others!)  I saw this pass idea somewhere on Pinterest, but can't remember where...apparently it was one of those rare things I didn't pin!  :(

Students are always asking me to switch seats or have an entire class change assigned seats, which I rarely do, so this will hopefully encourage them to be on their best behavior!  Plus...I'll save money from having to bake 100's of cupcakes every 10 weeks! ;) 

Of course, students will be responsible for keeping track of their card...if they loose it they won't get another!  I also plan on sending home a monthly art newsletter this year, so each Artist of the Week will have their name in the newsletter as well!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Common Core and A.P.P.R....ugh!

Is anyone else using a lot of their precious summer time working and reworking their curriculum?  I hate to say it but I've been teaching for two years now and I have never actually written down a set curriculum for each grade I teach...I have used the NYSATA 2002 Visual Arts Curriculum Companion as my guideline and have a huge binder full of my own lesson plans in order from start to finish, so it's not like I've been out in space, but APPR and Common Core has finally kicked my butt into gear for writing my own curriculum.   Here are my intended learning outcomes for the grades I have finished:


  1. Students will create and identify basic lines, shapes, texture and patterns.
  2. Students will cut safely using scissors.
  3. Students will use an appropriate amount of glue for collage projects.
  4. Students will paint with watercolor and tempera paint.
  5. Students will create detailed backgrounds in their artwork.
  1. Students will draw detailed backgrounds using appropriate subject matter.
  2. Students will create realistic depth in art.
  3. Students will identify the Elements and Principles in famous artwork.
  4. Students will build sculptures using various art mediums.
  1. What is a critique?
  2. What is the difference between 2-D and 3-D art?
  3. What makes a good composition?
  4. What are warm and cool colors?
  5. How do I create depth using color?
  6. How do I create emotion and feelings in a piece of artwork?
  7. What does it mean to have contrast?


  1. Students will create depth in art using the foreground, middleground and background.
  2. Students will be able to identify symmetrical and asymmetrical art.
  3. Students will create emphasis in art.
  4. Students will create movement and rhythm in their art.
  5. Students will create form in architectural sculptures.
  6. Students will simulate real texture in their artwork.
  7. Students will draw proportional people.
  1. Students will create good compositions in their art in accordance to the Elements and Principles of Art.
  2. Students will create form in 2-D art using shapes, value and shading.
  3. Students will create various forms of abstract art.
  4. Students will understand and use a motif in their art.
  5. Students will identify and create radial art.
  1. Students will be able to identify the following color families: primary, secondary, warm, cool, analogous, intermediate, neutrals, monochromatic, and complementary.
  2. Students will use the above color families in their own art.
  3. Students will correctly utilize 1-point perspective to create a scene with a focal point.
  4. Students will create a focal point using the elements and principles of art.
  5. Students will create art that uses words and letters.
  6. Students will use contour drawings to create detailed drawings.
Not sure I'm totally happy with everything yet...these are just my rough drafts.  My sixth grade curriculum hasn't been started yet, but it will primarily deal with aligning a majority of their art projects with social studies/history.  

So, can anyone give me any suggestions/comments on what I have so far?  I will be spending the rest of my night working on pre- and post-assessment rubrics!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Hello everyone!

While I'm not new to viewing and using ideas from other people's blogs...I am new to creating my own blog...so please bear with me as I readjust backgrounds, the layout, etc. these next few days!

I am very excited to start my own blog!  As many of you probably are as well, I am an avid Pinterest user.  I have seen so many great ideas on Pinterest, I actually can't wait for the new school year to begin so I can put them into action!

As for my summer, it is currently quite filled with activities.  The school I work at received an Extended Day Program Grant a few years back.  The purpose of the grant is to provide fun, safe and educational activities for students to do after school for grades 4-8.  The grant will then study the drop out rates of these students. Anyways, this grant allows for four weeks during the summer to invite students to school to do some cool art projects, cooking, and physical education games.  Needless to say, I take full advantage of the opportunity to spend grant money for my classroom and for art needs!

This summer, our big project is a Keith Haring inspired physical education mural, which I have been waiting patiently to do since I started teaching!  My school does not have much for art work throughout the school and I am to change that!  This is the first mural since the new building was built about 20 years ago that the art department has been allowed to do ON THE WALL!!!  So far, we have spent a total of 6 days with anywhere from 3-8 students working on it at any given time.  I expect in 2-3 days, we will be finished with it!

 Day 1:  We traced our bodies in different activity poses and then transferred them to the wall.

 Day 2:  We started adding the color!

 Day 3:  Finished the grass and added all the clouds.

 Day 4:  Started painting the sky and touched us some of the green paint.

Day 5:  Finished painting the sky.

I didn't take any photos for day 6...we changed the color of the purple guy and the dark green guy because they were just too dark, and we also had to repaint part of the sky.  For some reason, the paint was drying differently, even though it was all mixed at the same time...I'm wondering if the humidity on those two days played a part in how the paint dried?  Either way, tomorrow we will re-outline all of the figures with black paint, add all the motion lines, and touch up the "Let's Get Moving!"