Thursday, February 6, 2014

a sad sign of my times

The sign says it all,

Last night I, along with a large number of my fellow Portland teachers, voted to go on strike in 10 days if the union and the district can not come to an fair compromise.  I am a keep to myself, stay out of conflict, kind of gal but I had to go down and vote for this one. I have classes of kids with up to 37 kids, many elementary schools in our district have over 30 students in 1st-5th grade classes and the poor high school teachers have numbers in the 40's. I know that is not what I want for my son when he reaches school age and I don't think it is fair for any of our students. That and some really wonky health insurance threats are my main motivation behind agreeing to strike. After years and years of teacher lay offs agreeing to pay freezes and other measures to make sure that we don't loose staff our district has announced they have found a "SURPRISE"  25 MILLION dollar surplus in this years school budget but are only willing to hire 88 new teachers next year (there are about 3,000 of us in the district).  At present time almost all 88 of those teachers will have to go to high schools because the high schools are currently out of compliance with state regulations for hours of student instruction. Most of our high school students are unable to take a full day of classes! For many the final period of "instructional" time they have each day is a study hall. Not too surprising that our HS graduation rates are less than impressive. I belong to a facebook group of local moms (over 2,500 of them in fact) who often post wanting to know what options they have for non public schools in our area siting concern about class size as their #1 reason for not wanting their kids to go to our local schools. If your public school class sizes are so big that parents want to leave the district then their student funding $$'s go with them and then that is bad for the district right? I am so seems that the board/district would want to use money to add teachers to lower class sizes to keep more kids at their neighborhood schools to keep/increase funding.  I just find this all very confusing and frustrating.   If we go on strike this will the first time in the history of Portland Public Schools that the teachers have struck. We are the largest district in the state and I hope that we can come to resolution before the 20th because this will have a major impact on the city of Portland.  My mom taught for her entire career and I watched her go on strike a few times. I can still very clearly remember the anxiety and stress in my household during those time.  The sick feeling I got watching the teachers on the picket line on the tv always out in the middle of a cold Colorado winter.  My mom's sadness and frustration when her classroom got trashed during each strike and the bitterness that was left behind after a contract was negotiated. I am so grateful that at only 2 years old that my son is blissfully unaware of the whole situation.

I am almost 100% sure I am the only art blogger from Portland, OR and maybe the only one in Oregon itself (frankly there are very very few art positions in public schools in our state due to funding cuts starting in the late 80's). I know many of you have gone through this in past years and I would appreciate your positive thoughts that we will achieve resolution quickly and would welcome suggestions on how to prepare my classroom if we do have to walk out.

I love my students, I love my school.  I deeply want quality schools for them and my son. And I need to be able to afford to pay for his and my health insurance too!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chuck Close inspired

Chuck Close inspired grid drawings or paintings done by last years 7th and 8th graders. This years group is starting them this week and I came across these photos from last year and realized I never shared. Sadly most of the kids took their artwork home before I could photograph it. Voted favorite project of the year by the 8th graders.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

complex color wheels and guitars

These were done by 7th and 8th grade everyday students. They worked very hard on them for several weeks.  They are quite large. The guitars are life size and the color wheels are 14" diameter. I saw the color wheel guitar idea here at the dieviantArt and tweaked it for our assignment needs.

Students had to either design a color wheel wedge slice with four sections and then trace twelve times or they had to draw their guitar body neck and head and divided into twelve sections then divided into four sections.

In each section students had to mix the parent color, a tint, a shade and show the complementary color of the parent color.

I allowed the kids to use: Red, Yellow, Blue, White, Black and Magenta tempera paint.

To top it off each student had to paint a gray scale for either the neck of the guitar or that corresponded with the content of their color wheel design.

more to come in the next few days

Monday, October 7, 2013

First lessons 2013

Whew...after a crazy start we mostly got our scheduling issues worked out. The only strange part is now I have one random class of 15 students and the rest are 30-35 students.

Anyway part of my job is keeping 12 large bulletin boards full. Usually that is not a problem... however, we have back to school night a whopping two weeks after the very first full day of school and I am supposed to have all the bulletin boards full of student artwork by that night! We only managed to fill 8 this year.

We did three of my lessons that result in good results fast....if you have followed my blog for a while you have seen all four but this is what this years results looked like. Sorry some of the photos are a little funny, my TA got creative with her photo taking.

Pattern initials:
Theses turned out really nice this year....I showed the kids how I wanted the stamping done and got much better results than the last time I let them carve stamps three years ago. Argg blogger keeps rotating the photos!

Radial names: We do them each year...I always like them. I let the kids use the Prang metallic markers that the sales rep brought me last spring. They loved them...I felt ehe about them and still like the ones that used standard markers best.  Tutorial is here.

Hidden names:  also turned out well and always a good exercise in brush control. We were out of crayola black and had to use some off brand that we had and man let me tell you the crayola or Prang black is worth the extra money. Whatever we had was more blue than black and did not have good coverage. I had to go to the store and buy better black by the second day of the lesson.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A SUPER start to the new school year (or so I hope)

Ah middle school, I love teaching them, I love doing art with them, I HATE doing rules and procedures with them. By the time my students are in 7th or 8th grade some of them have heard my rules and procedures presentation 6-8 times! So this year I have tried to think of a new way to do the rules and procedures and help the kids new to my program get acquainted with the room.


We are starting off with my first attempt at a Prezi and then each table group is going to do a "scavenger hunt" around the room for supplies and posted info. The scavenger hunt has five phases at after completing each phase the groups check in with me to get supplies towards their super hero challenge.   Here is an excerpt from the scavenger hunt

Answer the five questions below using your prior art knowledge or the information you find posted around the room. When you have answered the first five questions bring your paper to me to have your answered checked and receive your first set of materials.

1. What are the three secondary colors?

2.  What are three of the elements of art?

3. What are three art movements?

4. What information needs to be on each project or paper you turn in?

5. How do you correctly spell your art teacher’s name?

** STOP, send one group representative to me with a  paper and get your first set up supplies!

First group to get supplies gets a bonus item"

So the goal is in class one for student's to get through the Prezi and complete the scavenger hunt and acquire the supplies they need for their super hero challenge.

At the start of the second class each group will put their collected items on their table and then draw a "super power" from a basket. They then have the majority of the class period to, as a group, create a superhero persona and costume and dress one of their group-mates in said costume. These are the costume requirements:

* A cape
* A  logo displayed on the chest of the superhero
* One (or more) super accessories such as mask, hat, belt, wrist cuffs...or????

At the end of that time period you will need to dress your group’s superhero and be ready, AS A GROUP, to come up to the front of the room and present your superhero to the class and have a group photo taken.  

hopefully this will be a fun way to build some class community while also establishing classroom rules and expectations. I'll let you know how it turns out!