What I learned after the first week.

26 08 2017


One full week of studio classes are running and I have learned a few new things for this year.  I learned that the students I had in my choice art/TAB art courses are ready to launch with ideas formed and research at the ready.  My “new to me art students” grasp the concept of choice art studio but still need direction on how to formulate the approach to filling out the artist proposal and make decisions.  My response is “What is the Why?”.  



Why are you in this studio class? Why are you choosing to work with this particular media? Why are you focused on this motif/idea? Why are you creating this?  Why?

Why do I need to know this?  More importantly, why do YOU NEED to know the answer to this question?

I spent my first few meetings with my students getting them to have a clear understanding of the studio expectations, how to interact with one another, and what will be their responsibilities to be successful.  I establish the importance of an ORIGINAL idea and how it is important to connect to what you are creating/designing.  I also ask my students to set up a challenge or a skill to level-up.  My students complete an Artist Proposal with Artistic Targets.  A series of questions are required to be completed that help the artist to form the skill building and research the artist will need to complete for evidence of learning.

For the first days of defining the individual Artist Proposals, I visit with each artist and reinforce the Themes and ask lots of questions.  I help students identify the skill-building techniques and how to work on building up the evidence of learning.

I am working on pushing my students to do most of their research outside of my class so they can utilize the art studio for the actual work to take advantage of the resources in the studio and guidance from me and the class mentors.

This week I had more students requesting to take the skill building work home and if they can work in their sketchbooks.  YES!!!  Students prescribing homework for themselves for self improvement…..Of course- YES!

I have been ordering specific materials my students want to engage in using and learning more about for their concepts.  I have more students interesting in working with digital draw pads and the 3D printer so I need to secure several draw pads for students use.  I have acquired three iPads with some apps for 3D printing and a budget for filament.  The new course Convergent Technology is humming along and we are mashing-up traditional art skills with new technology.  I am excited to get the Midi keyboard and microphone up and running to record original music, voice overs, and sound effects.  Think old school radio shows for our short films and you are getting the idea of what we are creating.

Collaborations and visiting artists is going to also be a feature I plan on exploiting this year.  It adds a whole new dimension to the Artist Studio and I believe it will keep the creative ideas growing.  Our teaching practice needs to always include changes and adjustments.  This year is no different.  Looking forward to all the new possibilities.




The Opening Matters

20 08 2017


We all want to start on the right foot.  We want our students to feel confident in enrolling in the art course, the students want to know they can be successful and gain new skills.  In a Choice/TAB studio class it is important that students grasp what is student agency.  What is required of them to be successful in the studio?  I started this past week with a collaboration project and also an icebreaker piece.  I build in assessment tools for me to gauge what the confidence level, skill set, and interest is in the course.  I believe in launching into using all the terminology and techniques needed to establish the expectations for the work. For some of my students, I might as well be speaking a different language, but I assure my students they will pick up the information quickly.


Here are my goals for the first week of class:

#1 Create a safe environment and work on a collaboration to help set the tone and share procedures.

#2 Set the expectations about original works and how to achieve independence and skill building evidence.

#3 How to document and research effectively for success.

#4 What is success in a Choice Based Studio? How are you assessed?

#5 Know the WHY in creating.

I am in the middle of setting the standard for creating original works and how to document progress, plus demonstrate skill building.  We are still using Sway.com to document and I am requiring more written reflections within the portfolio documentation.  Artist Proposals with Artistic Targets will help the artists set goals for the concepts they choose to create and Themes will also guide the concept shape.  I created student based assessments to help each artist decide to what degree they would like to develop their levels of content on the Sway link.  I am striving to support my student artists to be as independent in their process as possible so I can spend my time scaffolding their learning to level up their skills.

IMG_1624I have curated content on my student learning management platform to support the development of each project. Because my courses have multi-level students, in the studio at the same time, I also utilize studio mentors.  I find this to be very empowering for everyone.  It is exciting to see students engage in helping others achieve an individual voice in their art work.  We are off to a solid foundation and I cannot wait to share what we are creating.

This week we are dedicating student works for our school permanent collection with a wonderful reception.  I’m excited we are beginning to collect works from our talented artists for the history of our school.  This year we are going to make a call out to alumni artists to participate in an art show in the winter.  The school will then select a few for purchase to add to our school art collection.  Hoping to capture a few current works from our talented alumni.

Good luck on your start of the school year.  Enjoy the eclipse!


Preppin’ for the new school year!

5 08 2017

Preppin’ for the new school year.  I’m entering my 11th year at my current school and it is my 28th year of teaching. My teaching career has witnessed many changes in students and the way they learn.  I have also changed the way I approach my teaching style from the beginning of my teaching career.

Customizing your teaching style is something I feel younger teachers should know, you will change over time, it is a must if you want to be relevant to your students.  I want to tell you that it is okay to shift and change up things, follow your own instincts.  It is challenging because as a new educator you want to meet the administrations goals and the schools set curriculum but you can find ways to being your own twist to the situation.  It can be in how you handle daily rituals such as a morning routine or start of the class routine.  You can also set up your spaces to reflect your goals and approach, even if all you have is a laptop station.  Apply stickers to the front of the laptop reinforcing your attitude about the subject you are passionate about.  Students love it when you are passionate and show it.  Set up a space for you to display items that make the space yours with artifacts, small lamps, vase of flowers, photos of family…whatever you want to share and use for inspiration.  Something that you are inspired by and supports the classroom atmosphere.


I have personal goals to reach every year and they shape and influence my approach to the new school year.  I also have a philosophy that reaches beyond this school year to shape my career.  I am by nature a “work horse” who strives to help all of my students achieve and push to be greater than before.  I also have a goal to mix it up and level up my studio work and teaching.  I always strive to go further than the year before.  I cast off things that didn’t work and develop new ideas for the new year.  I find this to be a great motivator to keep me in the game.

One goal I have is to successfully launch my new Convergent Technology course.  This actually was inspired by a few students of mine who want to level up their abilities and mix in new skills.  It also taps into my love of stop animation and helping to develop quality creative content to share with the world.

Goal two is to bring in more guests to speak to my students about big issues related to the Themes that help shape the students Artist Proposals.  I feel when they hear from other experts or artists it brings it home for them and inspires original content.

Goal three is to keep creating…this includes my own work and writing about my experiences.  I feel I have a lot to share about how I’ve developed my teaching style and how I balance it all.

I am looking forward to joining my talented students soon.  I just need a little more time to get my studio ready for the busy hands and minds.


Best wishes to all of you beginning the school year.  I’m thrilled to have a new storage space and taking full advantage of the freed-up space in my studio to better serve my artists.

%d bloggers like this: