One week under my belt with a Full Choice Studio

23 08 2015

I have officially launched my full choice studio.


Yes- it was scary but I feel I worked over my ideas of implementation over and so far we have been experiencing only minor glitches in the system.  The glitches are mainly due to use of browser choices by students that don’t like to play nice with my Google Form or Blendspace.  Haiku is a great platform to populate all of my resources and my students are able to access my Pinterest boards but only if they sign up for a free account.  Blendspace is working out great and my students have adapted to populating their resources, inspiration, and videos easily.  As the students make progress on their projects they will take photos of their work and add the photos to their Blendspace link.

This week we will wrap on loose ends from our glitches and move forward from our warm-up projects.  Students will have submitted project proposals with a Blendspace link on a Google Form to me by the end of the week.  I will be able to view their Blendspace links and see what Theme and Artistic Targets they have selected.  I helped my students select deadlines based on their proposals and we can revisit the deadlines as the dates move closer to the students proposed dates.

I had the opportunity, at Open House, to share with my student’s parents the whole concept of a full choice studio plus the student management platforms. The parents were all very excited and amazed at the blended learning opportunities I was providing their children.  Many of the parents understood the importance for their child to participate in the process of selecting and planning their projects. 

  I feel that if you would sketch a image of my parents, while I was explaining my course this year, it would have been one of wide-eyed adults and their hair blown straight back.  The over all expression from my parents was “Whoa!”in a good way.

Now- I know I am going to have hiccups on the journey of this blended learning process but I will be able to adjust as it goes.  My new exciting news is that I am experimenting with augmented reality to help me promote the studio process.  I will be documenting my students doing the work and then layering over an image of the final project.  It will help showcase the process while the viewers still see the artwork.  Eventually, my students will add this process of creating Auras to their art show displays to increase awareness of their artistic processes.

I am also excited by all the choices of directions my students have selected on the pathway of choice.  I have a couple of students interested in the 3D printer, throwing on the wheel, animation, and all mash ups of monoprinting techniques.  It’s an exciting place, a happening place, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

If you are interested in blended learning check out:  Blendspace, Haiku, and Aurasma.

Also if you are not on Twitter…what are you waiting for?  #artsed #k12artchat

"From Within"

“From Within”

Full Choice Art Studio

11 08 2015

CGbbbjuUAAAHStT copy

This seems to be what so many art educators are tweeting about and it has lead to many to reflect on what they are doing in the their art classrooms. I’m going full choice this year but only after a year of research and years of having modified choice in my artist studio. Making the change to a choice based studio does require a change in systems for you and your students. It also requires a lot of research and front-loading to have a successful program.

To help make my transition move along I am using two student management platforms that serve different functions. Blendspace is one I am using to set up lessons, professional development, and student portfolios. I like this platform because the sharing features are customizable for me and for my students. Link codes can be shared to create a single class sharing, only people with the link, or to the public. The information on the portfolio can be limited to full sharing and for viewing only. Collaboration can also be selected to meet the needs of the portfolio. Blendspace provides an embed code that I can place onto our other student management platform- Haiku. Our school has purchased the platform for the whole K-12 program to meet our needs, as whole school, but there are free accounts that also function well.

My biggest advice to anyone looking into transitioning to full choice is to do your research. Examine how will this be introduced not only to the students but also to the administration and parents. How will you be implementing choice to the studio? Stations, themes, media, and or calendar?

Warning: there is NO one best way to do this. You need to customize the implementation to best meet your goals as an art educator, your personality, space, and budget. There is NO lesson plan that will be passed out to you to fit your individual program.

You can find art educators that have a program that they have created to meet their needs but you still need to make the systems fit your situation. #TABchat

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 1.58.35 PM

I am using a blended classroom because I am in a one-to-one computer school with a purchased student centered learning management platform. I am also using Themes and Artistic Targets. My students are in one course designated by discipline i.e.: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Mixed Media. I do teach AP Art but that is another animal to deal with outside of the choice based studio. I have all three levels of experience in the same course at the same time. One room school style and it works.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 1.57.29 PM

I have formative and summative assessments on a Google form that is embedded on Haiku, along with resources and tutorials. I have Google forms created to submit proposals that provide drop down menus for Themes, Artistic Targets, level, media, area to attach links, and presentation submission. I have placed the designing, planning, implementation, and presentation in my individual students hands. The Google forms will send me a document to keep my students information in one place so I can carefully craft workshops, reflections, exit tickets, and working/ final critiques.

It will be my 26th year of teaching and I have to tell you, I have never been so fired up to implement this program. I am sure there will be tweaks and modifications to be made but I will be designing it along with my students so I know I will be able to create the best learning environment for them as possible.

Books that I recommend you read to help you form some ideas and some validation to make the changes include: #EdJourney A roadmap to the future of education by Grant Lichtman

Blended- using disruptive innovation to improve schools by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker.

Twitter followers hash tags: #artsed #K12artchat #DTK12Chat

I will be blogging throughout the school year on the bumps on the road and the successes that will follow.

Have a great new school year.

Summertime Professional Development and Some Down Time

16 07 2015
My Summer Mess- Home Studio

My Summer Mess- Home Studio

Yes- it is true it is summer and teachers have time to relax and enjoy a unscheduled day but there are many of us that are working to improve our craft during the summer while we refresh.  This summer I am able to enjoy running around flea markets, gardening, trying new restaurants, and creating a few works of art.  I have even completed a trip home, took in a few art gallery shows, and completed a few home improvement projects.

I also faced a fear this week and went on AOELive on a podcast!!!!  Tim Bogatz asked me if I would participate at the NAEA convention and he is such a nice guy I said, “Yes.” I will confess I am not really thrilled to be on camera and I prefer being behind the scenes. But I feel I do have a lot to say about art education and where education should be heading to benefit our students and the greater community.  I listened to the podcast and I was surprised my “Northern” accent, my students poke fun at me for, did not seem so pronounced and that I actually found talking about what I think pretty easy.  I still am not real comfortable on camera so I have not watched myself and I may never do that.  Anyways, I do hope what I had to say was helpful to some art teachers who are trying to make changes in their curriculum.

While I was listening to my podcast I also listened to a few other art teacher podcasts including AOE Founder Jessica Balsley, Cassie Stephens, and Ian Sands.   I found a few strands that seemed to link our chats together.

One is to follow your passion, two don’t be afraid you don’t maintain a perfect work/life balance (it will sort out eventually), and follow your instincts.

I feel we are all passionate art educators who want to improve not only our student’s work but to educate, share, and support others.  Another similarity is that we find ourselves holding ourselves accountable through our individual journeys that we document on various platforms.  It has helped all of us all to have a clearer focus, stronger voice, and a vision we wish to share with others. The Art of Ed Website

My Iries

My Iries

While I am still enjoying my summer I am also knocking out my Professional Development. This includes a few online courses, a text-#EDJourney, Twitter Chats #K12artchat, and presenting an art teacher session next week. I have been preparing for my session and it has forced me to review lessons from my past.  I was able to review photos of my students in the studio from over ten years ago and it makes me so happy to know I am still in touch with so many of my students today as young adults.  I love it.

I am hoping to get in a few more entries on this blog and to clean it up a bit with new information. It’s always a work in progress….

I hope you are enjoying your summertime and continue to learn and grow. And if Tim Bogatz or Andrew McCormick asks you to do a podcast…say YES! It’s a lot of fun and they are asking because you have something you need to share.

After 25 years….how my path has changed.

1 06 2015

Gracie K buildingEnjoying a fresh bowl of homemade guacamole with chips, I am reflecting on my school year. Wrapping up the twenty-fifth year of teaching art and thinking about how much I have changed my teaching style.

I really didn’t think I would make it this far. There were times of transition from being a middle school art teacher to elementary and then on to high school that I never thought would happen. But by far, the biggest change was my leap from public education to independent school education. Choosing to leave the public school system to a college prep school was not a popular choice among my public school teacher friends. It was a risk to leave the comfort of public school, there was a comfort because I was a public school student and I had predictable transitions to steer my career. I was in a comfortable position that I could have ended my teaching career at but I wanted to continue to grow and complete my Master’s degree. There was a time I thought of pursing a Doctoral degree in art education to follow in the footprint of my college professor and mentor Dr. Ernella Hunzinker.   But now so much has changed in education. I am very happy I followed a path that I chose not out of fear of change or job security. Because that has all changed in public education. No longer is art education valued in many schools nor is advanced degrees honored in school systems. It is very sad and I believe a dangerous decline in education. As an artist and an art student, I don’t think I would have survived middle school or high school without the opportunity to immerse myself in the art studio. I found my strengths, my value, and my future in the art studio. This is no different for many of the Fine Arts students I know.   How can this be happening in American schools when we have so much research on the ways minds work and how creativity is a valued as an asset to be a successful individual?

As a public school art educator I learned to be resilient by working with small budgets, large class sizes, and inferior working spaces. I learned it isn’t always what you are teaching but how you make the individual student feel. Yes, standards need to exist, along with skills, art history, and fundamental use of tools and equipment. But you need to tap into who are your students, what is it they need to be successful, and how do you the educator make the experience memorable and applicable to the students?

ECS quad full

My teaching style has also evolved over the years and at times I felt I was going rouge with my ideas because it didn’t fit the DBAE style of teaching that I was educated to implement in my studio. I found that the students had better ideas and learned more when I scaffold the learning and then let the students believe in their own strengths and let them go. Let them fail and try again. It’s not really failing, it’s practicing, pushing, discovering, and triumphant successes. Successes can look very different to everyone and it is my job to help my students to understand their successes in the journey of the discovery.

Angtuaco Little Friend 3

As I think back to my start as a long term sub in a middle school in Waukesha, WI and then the small school district in Reedsburg, WI, I remember the excitement I had in setting up my art studio. Decorating the walls to help guide my students and the lessons I was going to explore with them in the classroom. I remember how scary it was to run my own space and direct my own students. I remember the first day I walked into my studio at the University School of Milwaukee as the MS and Upper School art instructor in a highly respected prep school in the area where my father grew up as a child. The overlap of family history was unique and the opportunity to grow and build a stronger visual art program catapulted me to where I am today. Today, I live in Little Rock, AR and I teach in a small and very young prep school in the middle of the city. I am instrumental in writing curriculum, building partnerships with the Clinton Foundation, raising money for local and global organizations, and earning Arkansas Art Secondary Art Educator in 2015. I do not take that lightly and it is an honor to be recognized because I am in a small school in the State of Arkansas, I am a Northerner in a Southern territory, and I am again making changes to meet the needs of my students that runs against the norm. I have always pushed, challenged, and changed my program to meet the needs of students. I do it because I love what I do and I want to offer a quality program to my students. What works for me in my space may not work for others because we are all very different educators. We all need to find what works best to reach our students.


The changes I am implementing in my studio will fit much more into meeting the needs of all of my students. I have created a program to not only meet a variety of disciplines but levels of discovery. I will be able to continue to be the only Upper School art teacher in the studio. I am going to function as their resource, cheerleader, coach, mentor, and fellow artist in the studio. It’s an exciting time to be in my studio. We will have two 3-D printers, two sewing machines, one surger, one printing press, two potter’s wheels, in addition to all the traditional tools and materials. Yes- It will be a lot going on but I don’t really know how that is so different from teaching in two different elementary schools in two different studios with five grade levels, and 400+ students. At least I am in one space in one school. I am also functioning on a one-to-one computer school with multiple digital platforms to document and store all the progress of each student. I’d say I am ahead of the game.

William C hardedge

Within my first week of summer I have already slept almost a whole day, didn’t realize how much I needed that until today. Feeling awesome. I updated my Haiku digital platform for my studio launch in August and I completed two proposals for submission at NAEA16. I am super excited to go to Chicago and see my Art Education PLN group. I feel supported and challenged by all of you everyday and I am so thankful for all the friendships that started with a single tweet.

We need to continue to learn, grow, and share to keep arts education moving forward. WE do have multiple challenges ahead of us in the future but as art teachers we face them everyday with grace. Here’s to many more years in the art studio. I am sure of one thing and that my path will always be evolving and that I should never underestimate where I might end up.


Turning over new soil

21 05 2015

I’m wrapping up my school year and I will soon be emersed in my garden at home but I am also tending to my new courses for next year. I’ve scrubbed my tables, culled materials, recycled extra materials, and moved furniture around. After a year long journey of planning and presenting proposals, I finally have my ideas taking root in my studio. I have cultivated community support and I have enthusiastic students ready to jump in. After creating all my google forms, securing grants to purchase new equipment, and preparing supplies; I am feeling ready.  

 Tomorrow, I plan on revising my google docs, learning the Haiku management platform, brushing up my blendspace resources, and publishing my themes to post in the studio.  I don’t know what the whole year will look like exactly but I do know how I will present the new full choice program and record the evidence of developing ideas. I have plans created for public forums to allow my students to present their process, thoughts, and their projects. It’s my hope my students will inspire the greater community with what they learned and created.  

 I will continue to share my journey as it unfolds. All I can say is I am really excited to do this.

Art shows and Awards

5 05 2015

Figure Ground Alicia 17

Our school year is winding down and I am so busy pushing out the news, collecting artwork, and gearing up for wrapping up for AP and my seniors.  We have so many art receptions in a row it gets really busy.  It is the time of the year to reap the benefits from all of the hard work.

I always present a Power Point with music to show the whole school the wonderful work from the Spring Semester.  It is also the time I share all the honors and awards with everyone.  This is one practice that takes a lot of time to prepare but my students enjoy it so much.  I also take time to write down all the accomplishments and awards that was achieved during the school year.  I recommend you do this every year and either share it with your administration or at the very least put in a file to recall what happened over the past years.



Today was one of the last days we had with our Seniors in my Media Arts class so we celebrated by creating a fun photo shoot that included exploring Ben Heine’s Pencil VS Camera mixed in with a bright colorful parachute.  I find the activity of working together to make the parachute elevate above our heads and then sit under the colorful dome is a lot of fun, lots of giggling and amazing photos.

Our year was very successful at art show competitions and with our community service.

I am very proud of my students.  I am always impressed with what they can accomplish in a very short amount of time.

I have big plans for next year that will make all of my courses reflect more of a real life studio and closer to a full Teaching Artistic Behaviors Studio.  I have my 3-D printer coming and now if I can locate a program to help me implement the gamification workflow choice based project/job idea, I will be set.  I have a lot of research to complete and a studio to rearrange after my students leave for the summer.  I will be a busy art teacher.  I will let you know how my journey unfolds.

Ivy gysers

Recycle Fashion Runway Show Success

14 04 2015

Group Curbside 2015

Curbside Couture 2015

Sixteen art students ventured into another season of striving to create couture outfits from recycled and repurposed materials into wearable garments. We started in September and it concluded in on April 12th at the Clinton Presidential Center. It was a long journey with many bumps in the road.

If you are an artist you understand that what you conceive as an idea may not actually be the end result. Since we are not doing this as a studio art course and it’s only volunteers who participate. It limits the amount of time we have available to do the creating. Balancing all of our academics and athletic responsibilities is a challenge on it’s own. Then you add up the hours to be successful at this project and you understand why some students do not participate. This project takes guts.


I start collecting and storing materials all year long for the possibility that the materials may be chosen to be used on a garment. I encourage people in my school community to bring in anything they might feel we could use for the designs. I have strong community support and I nurture it often. So I end up with loads of very interesting stuff.

My students will collect a lot of their own materials too, especially if they have a strong vision for the concept. This project is not for anyone who is particular about being super neat but it will require organization.

FullSizeRender copy 6

The projects start either from an inspired sketch or by the actual materials. Our garments are created to fit the student models that have decided to be a big part of the process. Our models are not just hangers that wear our garments on the runway. Our models help with the construction, offer opinions, and dedicate hours of time to be available to constantly make adjustments to the design. The pieces are more like sculptures that move and fit like garments.

Pointers for the art teacher or students:

  • My advice to new students is to work on looking at what you like in fashion. I created a Pinterest Board for inspiration and I encourage my students to create their own inspiration board or have a sketchbook.
  • Second bit of advise is to rummage through the materials we already have in the studio for the project and figure out ways to reimage the materials in new ways.
  • Ask these questions: Can it be painted, cut up, weaved, braided, and or layered.
  • Ask questions on what can be changed? Color is an element to make a decision about, shapes are also a decision, dimensions in relation to the size of the model, what will move well and be comfortable?
  • I emphasize changing the materials so it looks like wearable beautiful garments. I want the viewers to see the garment and then wonder what is it made of not the other way around. It should surprise the viewer with how it is made and what it is made of.


This year I sat relatively invisible in the crowd and listened to the people in the audience as my students walked the runway. I heard people say “I’d wear that!” “Wow!”, “Episcopal Students pieces are always so good”. I am bursting with pride when people say wonderful things when they have no idea I am their teacher.

The show was a success because we had created dynamic and exciting garments. I was successful because I was able to get this group through another season of the recycle fashion show. It is a season and it is a long one with many hours outside of my regular school hours. I have had amazing talks with the students at our Saturday workshops. I learned so much about them. We laugh, we goof off, and we get to know one another. We build a level of trust and I love it. It is one of the most important elements of being successful with students. Building a community around positive and active ways to create art and make a difference in their lives. The art part will be the extra.


This year we are graduating three seniors. One of the seniors has been with me since the very first year of our venture in recycled fashion. The beginning was all new for me. I had a steep learning curve but it was fun because we were all doing it together. She has participated every year creating wonderful designs and encouraged others to get involved and take the risk. Although she may not have gotten the big prize, she has proven herself to all of us over and over. I am so very proud of her and I will miss having her in my studio.


I will also be losing my right hand for Homes for Haiti and our runway backdrop designer for the past two years. She is our cheerleader, a model, and always offers assistance.

Backdrop artists curbside 2015

Our last senior has only been doing the show for one year and she did a great job. She did not give up and she created a fun and inspired design and it was one of the favorites of my art teacher friends.


Lucky for me, I get to repeat again next year with a bunch of experienced and creative juniors. “Look out! We are coming hard next year.”

We not only had 16 students involved in the runway show but I had a bunch of student volunteers at the fashion bazaar selling our Homes for Haiti. We have been creating our pins, magnets, and ornament since the devastating earthquake in Haiti and five years later, $65,000 later we are still going strong. On this night we raised $80.00 at the runway show.


This event is a great opportunity to showcase what “art in action”, can do in helping young people realize new talents, take risks at being original, and to help students find ways to make the world a better place.

Reimagining materials that would fill up our landfills and creating an amazing event that hundreds people come to see. The room was filled to capacity with viewers lining all the walls, standing up to see what all the students created.

As an art educator witnessing this was awe-inspiring. If only more individuals, who make the decisions about cutting the arts, could realize the power of art.

The transformative power art does for a community is amazing.

I always get sentimental with my students when they leave the studio. It is not so easy when you work hard for many hours through frustrations, problems, disappointments, and successes. We get attached. I know my students have had a great time and have fond memories from all the activities we have done. All the beautiful art is all gravy to me.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 461 other followers

%d bloggers like this: