Starting a New School Year

5 08 2018

38521678_10216652476524693_6119544565268480000_nThe postings on the Art Teacher FB pages are buzzing with new classroom decor ideas, purchases, and ideas.  New educators are asking for icebreakers and best practice ideas.  It will be my 29th year of being an art educator.  I still get the before school start dreams/nightmares.  I love adding some new artifacts to my studio and also editing old things.

I have been busy all summer educating other art educators about new techniques to offer in the studio and ideas on how to create a Choice Art studio to their current environments.  I also completed my Google Level 1 training this summer that compliments my methods of delivering my studio content though my Google Forms and my LMS.  It feels great to have some established systems in place and the buy-in from my school population on my ChoiceArt practice and my desire to host a student driven program.

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There is a lot of front-end loading to prepare for when serving a blended studio program.  You have to create a solid method of content delivery for a diverse set of skills, media, content, research, and submission process.    I’ve worked with different methods but now I have settled into using Sway for studio documentation, Screencastify for presentation recordings, Haiku Learning Management Platform for my resource content, and Google Suite for submission forms.

I just revamped my older forms to streamline my questions and to freshen up the old ones.  I created a new Powerpoint to present to my new students and to remind my experienced students how to prepare for an Artist Proposal Submission.  I am currently reviewing my past ice breakers to come up with new twists for each of my different courses.  I am able to do all of this in the comfort of my home all online.  NO paper! It’s seamless and I love it.

I have one more Professional Development presentation to complete with about 40 LRSD art educators to complete before I get to start my own inservice prep for the new year.  I did spend some time in my studio straightening up my storage room but with a ChoiceArt program the studio doesn’t require loads of redesign.  My students maintain a good studio flow and it works for all of us.

New additions are two nice new computer stations loaded for my studio to create films and photography.  Plus- my keyboard garage sale find will make an appearance to add a musical component to the originality of our presentations.  I have a motivated group of AP art students and a enthusiastic group of student artists ready to turn the year into one of the best years yet.

The summer flies by more and more as my career advances.  My online PLN #K12ARTCHAT keeps me sane and motivated.  I’m so very thankful for their support and influence.  Soon enough I will be swimming in a sea of teenagers again so having my #HIVE to reach out to is a blessing.

#Hive #bepositive #K12ArtChat

Thank you #Hive #HiveMind

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Professional Development on the Flip-Side

1 07 2018

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I just completed a Statewide tour of Arkansas.  I was able to travel all over to areas I didn’t know and visit arts buildings to see the programs they offered the community.  I spent several nights in hotels and one magical night in a Bed and Breakfast.  I traveled with a talented artist from Arkansas who has an eclectic life story that matches her layered and fascinating art work. It was a fantastic experience and we matched up perfectly.

I have attended loads of PD in my almost 30 years of education.  I have presented at local conferences and at the National convention for years, but this was personal.

The professional development program was created by the Arkansas Education Department and it connects working local artists with art educators, to bring professional development for visual arts.  This an opportunity to engage with a local arts programs and become informed about the artist registry.

Jeri Hillis was the talented artist I was matched with for the workshop. After doing research on her, I figured that her work in collage was going to be our focus for the art making.  http://www.arkansasarts.org/artist-registry/jeri-hillis

Collage is a wonderful approach to introduce the methods of teaching how ChoiceArt is implemented into a studio classroom.  I was able to show how I implement ChoiceArt in my studio and I was also able to demonstrate to the educators how to figure out the methods that would best fit them as the facilitator plus meet the demographics of their school population, and how to explain the ChoiceArt methods to all the stake-holders. I also wanted my participants to get back in touch with the inner artist, and level up skills/techniques, and open their minds to my teaching practice.  I designed the professional development program to try to bring out the working artist in each participant with the focus on Appropriation and Collage.  It is very important to NOT jump right in but really think about how to implement this in your program.   Think about how you would educate the population in the school district.  Also, how to educate others on what ChoiceArt teaching practice will bring to the educational program.

ChoiceArt FB page  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1699665476977044/?ref=br_rs

My presentation included the way I figured out a work flow, method of implementation, how to leverage my student learning management platform, my grading process, and how to communicate to everyone.  This has been a program developed over time.  I stressed that this is how it works for my school and for my personality.  I know myself well and I know my school community well.  It took a lot of front-end loading to get to where I am.  People can see and hear what I do but ultimately, the educator needs to customize the practice to suit the situation.  If I would move to a new school and teach a different population, I would need to make adjustments.

I had several participants at the workshop who were not visual arts educators and they came to learn about how students present their process and how to cultivate individual voices. I feel they were able to collect ideas from how I also stress the importance of building community by verbal critiques,  how to implement classroom mentors, how to  engage students to present their ideas in progress, and showcase the portfolio the students created for documenting the process for final critiques.  In addition,how to use  artist proposals and written reflections as a key to developing a voice that leads to a solid artist statement.

My goal was to educate and get educators back in touch with how they feel when creating, how they organize thoughts and materials, and how their individual pace in thinking/progress happens.  We often feel pressure of our daily schedule, expectations for evaluations, and the curricular requirements.  I wanted to remind the educators about how the most important part of what we do is visual communication.  How do we support our students where they start and meet their individual needs?  Where to do we leave room for thinking, practicing, experimenting, inventing, etc.?  This is all learning and it happens during the process.

IF the student is engaged the end product will speak for itself.

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Art educators are often under-appreciated for how well we juggle the materials, behaviors, studio space, and nurturing the soul of our students.  In our studio’s the space needs to be a community that is safe for everyone.  All students deserve a safe place to explore, learn, grow, fail, and succeed.  Succeed based on what the student has identified as success not by the appearance of the product.  The learning is an intrinsic value.  This is often invisible accept when there is time and a method to communicate the learning.  We need to continue to create methods to make the learning and the success from the process, visible beyond the finished product.

We need to meet our students where they are when they enter our space.  It is nearly impossible to meet the needs of everyone when we don’t even consider a student-centered approach.  I am not going to have everyone or even a handful of students become famous successful artists.

I will have all of my students aware of their visual communication skills, how to figure out their work flow, apply the techniques and vocabulary they explored, be in touch and aware of artists worldwide, blend seamlessly the other academic areas they love into the visual communication created in the studio.  I will have young people who understand the importance of the “WHY” when creating original works of art.  I will have students that are confident recording their thoughts, ideas, progress, failures, research, and the confidence to speak and assist others.  I will have students who see the visual arts as a powerful tool to communicate effectively in the world with the balance of understanding how to wield that power on social media.  Plus, have an understanding of the damage that can be done to oneself for not comprehensively planning what they share on social media.  Leveraging visual communication is powerful but it needs to be taught how to be effective.

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I communicated at the workshop that I feel that I am always perfecting my teaching practice and my studio is my lab.  It is my goal to be an effective practitioner of Visual Communication and this requires reflection and data points.  I utilize Google Forms and other digital platforms to gather and analyze how effective I am doing in my attempts.  Through my Google Forms and my student learning management platforms, I am able to collect information to adjust my practice.  I am also able to communicate with my individual students easily and to offer input and additional research, support, and plan scaffolding to increase student success.  This is work but with digital tools it makes it easier.

Wow! Didn’t think I’s write so much.  I guess my reflecting on my experience helped me clarify my own voice.  Funny…. I preach that all the time.  Again, practice what you preach.

So, glad I did this summer PD.  Looking forward to not driving and staying in hotels for a while.  I need some deep immersion into my own art before beginning my storage room clean out at school.

Happy summer to you all.35844716_10216298203188081_8844594361304875008_n

https://www.asc701.org/events/2018/6/28/taking-it-to-the-schools-iii-community-experiences-in-visual-art





How to fit in.

2 06 2018

Interesting thoughts have been churning in my mind.  I’ve been reflecting on how many years I have been teaching and how much has changed in education.  I find myself thinking less about my career as a single subject and much more about educating and exploring individual growth of my students beyond a single subject.

As an educator approaching almost 30 years of teaching, I see my role much differently than I ever did in the past.  I’m wondering why I am feeling this way.  Is it that I am a Choice Art educator, my own multiple interests in learning, or my desire to expand?  Then I am left with questions of: How do I expand? What would this look like?  Is it possible?  In what way does this fit with my current position?  Can I push this into an actual idea? 

I do have many ideas on how it can be possible but to get the current structures of a school schedule to adapt to my ideas is very challenging.

I’m very interested in expanding into curricular areas that merge with arts in a real way.  I envision a large lab setting with outside access to nature like a field, trees, garden, and water.  I envision an outdoor class shelter with equipment available to construct, plant, and build. The educators and the students create criteria based on benchmarks that need to be met for graduation.  Students then turn to their imagination as to how to demonstrate and make their learning visible.  I see real life problems being solved and movements being carried forward; lead with student voice and choice.  I see corporations and organizations supporting and helping to elevate the students’ ideas into reality. 

I know it will be hard work but I can see my students intrinsically motivated to perform the work and that extends beyond the class period. I can envision students collaborating and creating solutions and designs to propel further good works. 

Great ideas are not created while sitting still.  Ideas percolate over time and arrive while actively creating or doing something.  Some of the best ideas happen while doing things like gardening, showering, walking, and playing.  Why can’t we accelerate that by providing larger amounts of time to focus on a concept and fiddle around with it?  Offer up a couple of educators to guide the process and support the ideas by providing experts on the subject.

Will students be more engaged and confident in striving to do the research, proof out ideas, fail and try again, apply divergent thinking, and learn how to communicate the ideas?  I believe the answer is YES. 

Does this mean we need to let go to traditional classroom physical walls and schedules?  YES.

Do educators need to pair up and organically work with each other and the community to bridge the unknown?  YES.

Do stakeholders in the school community need to find pathways to help support the learning experiences for the students?  YES.

Raising and educating young people isn’t the task of the school system alone.  We are to work as a community of parents, leaders in the area, and exceptional educators.  We need to all take an interest in what is working in the system to inspire young people.  What education looked like when their parents attended school is not how we should be doing education now.  Our schools should be one of the most vibrant hubs in the community where everyone wants to be a part of and everyone knows what is happening. Communities need to go to school functions hosted by our young people and hear, observe, and learn.  We need to do our best for the most important resource we have and that is our young people.

I have witnessed and experienced the power and enthusiasm of young people.  Our current world events have forced our young people to be more active in the world and they can do it.

I want to be a part of this kind of learning and doing.  I am much more interested finding inventive ways of creating this type of system.  I believe this is how I should be spending the rest of my career.  Now.  How do I make it happen?

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Students Leading Students

18 03 2018

Artist Workshop with High School Artists

On Thursday, March 8, ten of my art students traveled to Dover Middle School (approx. 1.5 hours away from our school) to present their research, process, and inspirations for creating their art work. The students who participated in the artist workshop were selected for their ability to present, relate to younger students, and their artistic style/voice.  I wanted themes and age-appropriate work to share with the middle schoolers.

How it all began.

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I was contacted by Ms. Jocelyn Alvey the Dover Middle School art teacher.  Ms. Alvey follows Schultz_Life Instagram and was so impressed by the work and level of engagement the Episcopal Upper School students have in their Choice Art program, that she reached out for some help for her students.  At first, Ms. Alvey wanted to Skype with our students about our process and presentations.  I knew we could do better than that so I hatched an idea to create a workshop program and take it on the road.  Anne Marie and Heather were instrumental in helping to plan the workshop and assisted with the details and materials. In the process of the workshop details I contacted Paul Leopoulos the Thea Foundation Director. The Thea Foundation provides art supplies and funds for art programs all around Arkansas.  All I did was ask him if he would provide some funds for our students to present to the Middle School art program.  Mr. Leopoulos was super supportive and wrote a check for $200.00 for the presentation.  Once approvals were made to travel to Dover, the Upper School artists prepared a Sway presentation of their work and practiced the techniques we planned on presenting to the Middle School artists.

 

 

We hosted two workshops to a packed art studio.  Several Upper School artists presented their Sway links and then we divided into small groups. Each Episcopal art student shared actual works of art with the small groups and told them about their ideas and how they created the work. We wanted the younger students to be able see, touch, and ask questions about the ideas.  Then each middle school artist was able to experiment with the new techniques we shared in our small groups.   We demonstrated a few techniques with the Dover artists, packing tape transfers, chalk paper marbling, and using images from books and painted papers.  We also provided painted papers, magazines, children’s books to cut up, and handouts about line designs.

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The sessions went great and the Dover students loved the new techniques and asked excellent questions.  When the first session was about to end, Anne Marie and Matt presented Ms. Alvey the large check to inform her about the donation.  She was very touched and the Dover students got really excited about being able to purchase new materials based on what the Episcopal artists shared.

 

 

Our second session was equally packed and the word was out about the Episcopal artists so they couldn’t wait to get into the art room.  After our second session, we met up with the Dover students at lunch to continue the conversations.  As we picked up our lunch the Dover students waved individual artists to their tables.  Carter brought along paper and pencil and gave a drawing tutorial at the table.  It was difficult to see what he was doing because of the large crowd that gathered around him to see and record his work with their phones.  Haley looked through a Dover student’s sketchbook and talked about drawing.  London was mobbed at lunch to talk about all kinds of ideas.  Matt and Rodney sat with a few Dover students and enjoyed talking about school and sports.  The rest of the Episcopal students sat with Ms. Alvey and shared what they experienced during the sessions.

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We all agreed that it was an amazing workshop and how much each artist benefited from the experience.  Anne Marie thinks we should start traveling all over and presenting to other art programs.  Well, you never know what will happen next…

Thea Dover check donation

Next up is a small group of art educator’s coming in April to observe my studio in action.  I have to admit I’m a little nervous but when I mentioned it to my students they got very excited about the idea.  It just proves that if you ignite their passion and let them lead the world opens up for them.

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As I am writing this I am looking through the NAEA18 Convention sessions.  I’m so looking forward to Seattle this year.  I cannot wait to all the ChoiceArt Educators at our meeting and to hear all of your successes from this school year.

 

 

 

 





I’ve been recharging.

18 02 2018

Contemplative

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been doing loads of thinking.  As my Choice Art studio evolves so does the challenges within it, in addition, my own individual school culture has been changing. Right now, I’m not sure what my place is in it.

My student population has changed from last year but my Choice system is the same.  As the culture in the school changes so does the manner in which students embrace Choice in the studio.  My days are measured day by day.  Yes- it’s a struggle sometimes but I strive to find the wins and focus on the students who are pushing themselves to learn, design, and challenge themselves.

I have been searching for inspiration and I have purchased two books that I hope will be fruitful.  I got Culturize by Jimmy Casas and The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King.  I am a fighter, I want to be successful, I want my students to be achievers.  I’ve got to get this right.

I am very reflective but I haven’t been as active on social media or this blog due to my need to figure things out.  I’m approaching my 29th year of teaching and I am always evolving.  In light of the recent school shootings it has also set me thinking about relationships teachers have with students.  Positive healthy relationships are key to help students.  No school is immune to violence so this weights heavy on my already pressured mind.  Education has changed since I started teaching.  Teaching isn’t for the faint of heart.

I am looking forward to the National Art Educators Convention in Seattle.  I NEED to be with strong educators with inspiring ideas.  I have been feeling more isolated than ever.  I feel like I have been pushing a large boulder uphill and I need relief.

Flight a

Reaching out to help others often is my counter balance to my own struggle.

I am hosting a school visit from a couple of teachers from out of state, who are coming to see my studio at work.  They will experience it, warts and all.  My studio is small, I have everything in one space, and at times we are pushing beyond our walls.  Because it is a Choice studio, I’m not clear where my studio work will be when they arrive but it will be real.

I’m hosting for the first time a school visit with a panel of ten students. We are visiting a middle school in Arkansas to share how Choice works in our studio.  I got a request on Instagram to Skype in with her class but I felt I could do better.  It’s my experience that my students could influence her students better in person.  I have made it through all of the logistics and we are taking 10 students to present to her classes.  The entire middle school will go through three separate workshops with my students.   I have a few of my students planning the workshop and they will direct the sessions when we arrive.   I plan on documenting the experience.  If it is successful I might repeat this workshop at our local art conference.  This experience will benefit my students as much as the students we will be helping.  I’m excited to see where it goes.

Most recently, I was asked to host summer PD for art educators in AR by the Arkansas Department of Education.  I will be writing a professional development plan with a practicing artist to help art educators this summer.  I will mix in my Choice practice but also help nurture confidence in their creativity and leadership abilities.

In addition to all of the above, I have been creating my own art work.  I submitted to the Delta Art Show to be juried.  It’s a long shot but I have to try.  I need to practice what I expect my students to do.  I will do a complete book review and let you know how the books are helpful.

Keep striving to be your best, kids deserve it.

Peace

PS I designed a few t-shirts for the upcoming NAEA Convention- check them out here:

https://www.amazon.com/LIFReflect-ChoiceArt-Seattle/dp/B079C4VLP2?customId=B07537HNN5&th=1

https://www.amazon.com/2018-Seattle-Rainbow-Art-Empowers/dp/B079B9P283/ref=sr_1_4?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1518991080&sr=1-4&nodeID=7141123011&psd=1&customId=B07535Y1SC&th=1

https://www.amazon.com/LIFReflect-Art-Empowers-Pink/dp/B079GL5XJN/ref=sr_1_8?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1518991116&sr=1-8&nodeID=7141123011&psd=1

 





Art Students Work Like Artists

21 11 2017

Reflecting on my own personal method of creating art, I started brainstorming on how to create my Artist Proposal to help my students navigate the ChoiceArt studio.  This helped me to create the work flow first and then the form was born.  I created it to help my students be independent in the studio.   I anchored the whole work flow with a Google form that I named the Artist Proposal.

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When I created the form; I hit all the essentials I needed for recognizing the individual student and identifying the artists intentions.  The form functions as a guide to layout and describe the students art concept, Theme, Artistic Targets, and to attach the Sway link code.  The Sway link supports the selected concept with research, evidence of growth and experimentation (skill-building techniques), and written reflections with photographs/videos of the process.  This year, I included my standard based assessment rubric, so my students will be able to measure what they are establishing and how much effort is required to achieve the level they wish to accomplish for the proposal.

 

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I have several areas where the questions are marked with required and accumulate points for completion.Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 6.38.06 PM.png

My Artist Proposal includes several questions that my students need to answer before submitting their proposal.  The questions ask the “Why” they are making the project. What materials are you going to need? How is this project going to help you grow and develop? What was your inspiration? Why is this your focus at this time and how long do you feel this will take to complete?

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I recommend you create an Artist Proposal that your students can understand and complete independently. 

I created mine to support the environment and culture, I have created in my studio.  Often my student’s create a Sway link first and then complete the Artist Proposal. My students have a clearer understanding of what they are striving to achieve, because they have already collected research, prepared sketches, and have a connection to the “why” for creating the piece.

My Google Form with the Artist Proposal then gathers the data I need to support them with materials,  I can set-up work spaces and storage spaces,  I gather additional support like research, exemplars, and skill building exercises.  The data collected from the form also shows where my students are functioning throughout the semester.  I can see when they are developing and or working for mastery.  I can see what Themes are the most popular and what materials I need to stock up on.  In addition to the Google form, I can show my students growth with their individual Sway links and written reflections.  The class presentations are the bonus content that I leverage to help my students build confidence and level up their skills and voice.

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My assessment forms are also Google forms and student’s answer questions reflecting on their accomplishments.  The data collected from these additional forms help support the culture I am creating with ChoiceArt in my studio.  I am supporting the creating and thinking.  The end product is a bonus and the quality remains high because the students are engaged in the process and have a clear understanding of how to be successful.

I hope this blog post on the Artist Proposal is helpful.  I have a week to relax and then it’s on to this year’s Arts Reveal Night.  I have eight wonderful female artists lined up to present their work.  The group ranges from experienced to only one quarter of studio experience.  I know they have evolved so much but it’s time for them to step out and show the rest of our community.

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Busy times…

13 11 2017

Arts Reveal Night 2017smWow!

I have been so busy and I just wrapped up on the Arkansas State Art Conference.  I presented two sessions, I assembled three sessions which included ChoiceArt educators meeting up to greet each other, offer grade division specific sessions, and to get the ChoiceArt educators signed up for a shared folder for content.  I also presented on Design Thinking on a topic that I feel many art teachers found direct application for their classrooms from the session experience.

Getting back to my life at home, I took time to make a few magnolia leaf wreaths and bake some sour dough bread from a starter.  This always relaxes me and I need it because I will be hosting a NAEA webinar on the ChoiceArt Studio.  I am very excited to present and show how teaching Choice can be implemented in a classroom.   On my school agenda; I am hosting a recycle fashion workshop, a parent coffee about the Visual Arts program, and launching into our next Arts Reveal Night.  Presenting is important for so many reasons.

Just as attending conferences for our own development and learning so is presenting.  During my presentation at the AR conference, I stressed the importance in sharing and presenting what and how we do our practice.  I know it is more work and it is scary but we need to move past this if we want to get better.  We can only become better at what we do by sharing how we do it and reaching out to each other.  Art educators are notorious at being extraverts when it is necessary but then retreating to our safe spaces when we can.  I do this all the time.

I am perfectly comfortable with my students and working with them brings me so much joy.  I am not the most comfortable in front of a large group, writing and publishing my thoughts, and basically always pushing out my thoughts.  I am a very cerebral person and I process my ideas for some time until I am comfortable with it before letting it out.  I am getting better at it and I keep pushing on through it.

I make my students present for this same reason.  You know yourself better and why you do what you do, when you have to tell someone about it.  Artists do love to share their accomplishments with like-minded people.  Standing in front of a crowd and explaining your ideas or process is much harder.  But I want my students to do it because it will make them stronger and much more confident.  I know this because it has worked for me.  I believe in modeling what I ask my students to do and then supporting them to do it to.

I was sitting next to Dennis Inhulsen an accomplished art educator and school principal and now, the NAEA Chief Learning Officer. At the conference luncheon, we chatted about the Arts Standards that he helped to write.  He admitted that he was never a great writer but he got better by being put in the position to have to do it.    Now, he represents the NAEA all around the country and presents to educators the importance of the Art Standards.  Presenting is one of the new standards that is emphasized in my studio.  I also balance presenting with writing/reflecting on the process.  It is essential for student growth and confidence.

I walked away from my sessions and I hoped that I clearly expressed the importance of connecting with other art educators and sharing what they are doing in their own teaching practice.  I feel my role as the Co-President of the ChoiceArt Interest Group is to encourage individual voices to gain volume and confidence.  It’s not my own voice that always needs to come forward.  I want other educators who are working through how to teach with offering more Choice to their students to share.  The teaching theory of ChoiceArt embraces individuality and voices.  We help our students find their passion and elevate their voice….We need to do it for ourselves too.

Join an organization, sign-up for an interest group, write a blog, participate in a forum, post content you created and share it….just do it!

Please join the NAEA Webinar on November 15 @7-8PM EST when Nikki Kalcevic and I present Teaching the Visual Arts Through Choice. NAEA Virtual Art Educators WebinarScreen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.24.29 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.24.17 PM.png

 








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