Monday, April 19, 2010

is their prize money?!

Two posts ago I mentioned the art show that we have been making projects for was canceled. While I am scrambling to find a new place to hang the work (right now my best bet is the Church where one of my student's dad's is pastor) I haven't told the kids about the change in venue. This fun little convo went on during a middle school class today. Three 6th graders were talking to each other.
Student 1: This is taking forever, I better win with this thing.
Student 2: I wonder what the prize will be
Student 3: It better be money
Student 2: I wonder how much money it will be
Student 1: Well I am going to win the money or I'll be really mad
Student 3: No way. Mines is better

I finally realized they were talking about winning prize money from the art show. I had to break it to them them that art show and art contest are two very different things. I explained what a jurried art show was and that sometimes they had prizes...sometimes. Student 1 said he hoped the show was jurried. I told him it was a show open to everyone. There would be NO prize. He looked crushed. Student 2 was disgusted. Seriously she snorted, waved her hand and said there was no point in doing the project then. I told her prize or not, art show or not, she still was getting a CLASS grade on the project so it had to be done. "Well I at least want a participation certificate," she declared.

Ok now I need to go make participation certificates for my imaginary art show. What have I gotten myself into.

As a little side note, two of these students are recent additions to our school from much wealthier areas. I'm not sure how they ended up in our neck of the woods. Obviously their past experience with art shows or contests had money attached.

One of my 8th grade students who happens to live down the street from me, and has been in my class non-stop for the last two years, was at the table with them, listening to the whole exchange. After I explained there would be no money she rolled her eyes and added this comment:

"Where's the money coming from, you think we got money around here? Shit be grateful when she gives you a Jolly Rancher. 6th graders! (followed by dismissive noise) " "Amen sister" was my response in my head and that was the end of that conversation.

I will now be headed over to the $1 store to get achivement certificates to fill out for "participation" and a couple bags of Jolly Ranchers, my standard reward.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

end of year ideas

I know it is finally spring. My allergies are full force making my face swell like a bad joke and the kinders, 5th grade and 8th grade students are reaching their end of year regression/naughtiness.

My biggest challenge right now is my random 5th grade class that comes twice a week instead of once a week. They are my only k-5 class in the school to come twice. I have no clue why the schedule was set up that way. Anyway they are busting through my 5th grade projects at a unheard of rate and I can't get them into the middle school projects because I have to save those projects for the next few years. I think I have 15 classes with them till the end of the school year.

My usual answer would be a clay project but they have already done clay three times this year and frankly all of 1st and kinder still needs their chance at clay so any left over clay belongs to them. We already did a big painting unit, and a weaving unit. We have studied watercolor techniques pretty in depth for the age group and have drawn, drawn, drawn. I have used up all my budget for the year. It looks like I may have to give up my room and go onto a cart next year so I have been looking into the supply cabinets to see what we can purge.
I have found:
A roll of wire
lots of construction paper
tissue paper
fun foam
colored sand
small beads (seed beads)
colored chalk
A bag of leather and fabric scraps
plastic pippets
brown paper lunch bags
wall paper paste

so.... I am thinking we will use the construction and tissue paper to make geometric stained glass windows. I have scissors and 12 exact o knives. We can learn about the stained glass work of Andrew Lloyd Wright (2-3 classes)

The roll of wire, beads and fun foam can be used to create a Calder inspired mobile. Then we could look at the art of Keith Herring and sketch each other in poses and make simple wire people in Herring style. I have a fun tunnel box project I can use with Herring. (Up to 5 classes if I really milk the unit)

We have been talking about positive and negative space so it would be easy to explore that idea further by making fun foam prints of insects/bugs, positive on one side, negative on the other (2 classes)

I hate, hate, hate paper machie but we could always take those balloons, newspaper and wallpaper paste and make paper machie jellyfish with yarn tentacles. That would take up a few classes.

I was going to do a big space unit to match up with their 5th grade science unit on space...turns out they have been skipping science to do extra reading and writing instruction. I think they were supposed to be doing science on Fridays when they come to me a second time. So no space unit this year. I will still do a lesson that shows how to turn circles into spheres that we make into planets. That only takes a class or two. That might take us till the end of the year.

That leaves the leather and fabric scraps....they are really thick and our safety scissors can't cut them. Not sure what to do with them. Pippets and lunch a loss on those.

We can always make sand and glue paintings but I feel that would be better with 3rd grade

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No art show !?

Ok, when it rains it pours around here. I'm not only having issues with my hours for next year, and a spring cold, but the art show I blogged about several weeks ago, and that I have been having the kids make art for, was just canceled! I just got a call from my contact at the event and they are canceling it because the space they were going to hold the event is flaking out. This does not bode well for me. I have been pushing the 5th-8th graders through the most advanced projects I have ever given them for this art show. For many of them the only thing motivating them to push through the challenge was the idea of having their art on display outside of the school. This is going to cause some major trust issues with a lot of them. Working with the population of students I work don't just have them bust their buts on something and then say...opps sorry! There is only one solution as I see it. I need to find a new venue to show their work and I need to to it fast!

On this pluse side I have a steller collection of Oregon bird colored pencial and watercolor renderings and oregon native plant watercolors framed with french curve desgins.

Friday, April 16, 2010

promises, promises

Monday the list of job openings for next year goes out. When I was un-assigned I was promised that today, Friday, that I would get to see that list so we could do an administrative transfer if a .4 position was open. This morning I went looking for my Principal. He is out of the state for a wedding. I went looking for my vice principal, he is not in today and out of town to boot. I asked the secretary for the list. She hasn't seen it and doesn't have the slightest clue where to find it.

Because I can't get an administrative transfer request in before the list goes public I will loose that opportunity.

I'm still learning, at my relatively young age, that people don't really keep their promises.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Watercolor Doves

Let me start by saying this lesson came from That Artist Women who I've spent the year stealing lesson from in an effort to improve my student's painting skills. We tweaked the project just a touch. It took two 40min lessons with a 5th grade group.
Each student got a sheet of watercolor paper and were asked to cover the paper with lots of color. We used wet on dry and wet on wet technique. Then we dropped some salt on and THEN we put saran wrap on top. I learned to make sure the paint is wet but not too wet. The next day I gave the kids two dove templates and a selection of quotes from various people about the concept of Peace. I asked the kids to choose a quote they liked, glue down the dove and write their peace quote either around the dove or in the dove.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In the Jungle unit ideas

My ocean unit went over well. Easy to display everything and have a pretty big impact with all those works of art that were united. I made a set of templates that worked for 1st through 5th grade. Everyone was pretty happy with their finished product.

Seeing that I will be at my school part time or maybe not at all next year I'm just going to pull out all the stops now and deal with next year next year. I want to do a jungle unit, a space unit and a dinosaur unit.

I'm going to do the jungle unit next. Pretty straight forward. Plan goes

Kinder: not sure yet, something elephant

1st: Paper plate lion mask

2nd grade: painted paper elephants from Mary Making. We will use a template for the elephant body.

3rd grade: painted flamingos using an almond shape template. I had the 5th grade students look at the work of James Audubon and talk about observing and drawing and painting birds. They though his work was interesting. I will also introduce him to the 3rd grade students and hopefully find this book

4th grade: is going to spend half the class finishing their Georgia O'Keeffe style flowers.
Then we will try this several class lesson from Deep Space Sparkle on painting parrots. Everyone loves a good colorful parrot and it will be good drawing, painting and color mixing practice.

5th grade:
Has been doing a ton of painting and drawing lately. Really they should do a 3-D project but I am out of clay and pretty much out of money. I can stall for a week because both classes are working on their bird drawings for the Earth Day art show coming up. I'll have to be scouering the internet for ideas. The only things that comes to mind is a printmaking project, but once again we are out of print foam and print ink. I have a roll of tooling foil so we could make something with tooling foil. Still all our sharpies have dried out so we can really add color. Oh the end of the year sucks. Might be time to collect recyclables.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We are doing you a cutting my hours in half!?

It took three weeks but I now sort of know what will happen to my job next year. I mentioned before spring break that I was informed that our school needed to add a few sections of foreign language and that our principal wanted someone part time to oversee the technology at our school.

After spring break I was brought into the principals office and told I would be dropped to .9 or at worst .8, but would still receive full time benefits and status to get off probation at the end of next year. I was told this small decrease in my hours would pay for the foreign language teacher.

Two days later he drops by my classroom between classes and asks me what my licenses are again? K-12 art and 3-6th contained classroom I reply without any though. (yes back in grad school we had to choose two subject areas to get licensed in, I added a contained classroom upper elementary license. I student taught in a regular 5th grade classroom and while I liked the kids, I knew it was NOT anything I wanted to do in the future)
He says ok, thanks and leaves. Odd.

At the stuff meeting he says he is going to announce some of the changes for next year. My decrease in hours is not mentioned. Hummm. He adds that not only will be have a two day a week foreign language teacher but he also found the money to have a full time librarian/technology person. I turn to the person sitting on my right...our school librarian...."what?" we mouth to each other. Another teacher raises their hand and points to our school librarian and says, "don't we already have a librarian?" We are reminded that she is a EA who happens to be our librarian. So he is adding a licensed librarian to the school who will mostly teach technology classes but sometimes be in the library. Our current librarian will stay our librarian. I find this a bit confusing.

On the way out of the staff meeting he asks me to stay and talk with him. He has made some more changes. I sit down confused. He asks me to list my licenses again. Didn't I tell him that just a few days ago? I tell him again. He informs me that he crunched numbers and talked to HR and decided that he needed to free up more money and FTE to pay for the technology/librarian position. He has decided to drop me to .6 and "share" me with another school. The other school will have me .4. So three days at my current school and two days at another school.
I am told, "really we are doing you a favor, now you can still have a full time job."

"So what school am I being shared with?" I ask. "Oh I don't have a school for you to go to." He replies. "We just have to hope that one wants an art teacher two days a week and then we will send you there."

My heart drops, "Has anyone mentioned wanting an art teacher to you?" I ask, "Well no," he answers, shifting in his seat. "Do I send out a email to principals letting them know I'm available? Do I mail a flier saying will teach art and walk your dog?" I joke half heatedly. He says he will let the principals know I'm available and then as soon as the opening list comes out I will get first shot because the school district still owes me a full time job.

"Aren't the school plans to use FTE due on Thursday I ask. Will you send out an email before then?" He assures me he is going to a principals meeting on Thursday and will tell them then. "What happens if there isn't a .4 art job for me to take?" I ask. "Oh then you will just go a classroom teacher at another school for a year. Once I learned you had your contained classroom license it opened up so many more options for me to add a full time technology person." He proudly answers.

"But I don't want to teach a contained classroom. I am an art teacher!" "Its only for one year. He says. I'm pretty sure we will have enough students in another year to bring you back full time. We think you are a great art teacher and we don't want to loose you to anther school. Know that this is not a reflection of your quality of teaching. If we didn't want you here we would have just eliminated art. This is only temporary." He says, stand, pats the table, smiles and says he will let HR know so they can make the paperwork. My head is bobbling around in a half yes half no of shock and disbelief.

STOP: Ok let's review. I am being drooped to part time to pay for a librarian when we already have a librarian? I might have to go teach a contained classroom? Wasn't I told I would have full time beniffits and get off probation next year!? They expect me to go somewhere else for a year and then just come back. WTF!!!!

My husband convinces me this could be a good thing. I could get into a really great school half time. That is if any schools know if time to set aside some money to have an art teacher.

Thursday passes, before I leave for the night I ask the principal to please mention me at the meeting that night.

Friday morning arrives. I see him in he hall. "Did anyone seem interested in having an art teacher?" I ask. "Hum, what? Oh we had more pressing matters to talk about. Really meaty stuff. I didn't get around to mentioning it," he says distractedly. "Are all the FTE plans in now?" I ask. "Oh yeah, they all went in last night," he says and walks off.

I AM SCREWED. Please let someone retire so I can apply for their job.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

habitat lesson ideas

The Oregon state flower the Trillium

I'm having a hard time doing my lesson plans for the up coming week. What can I say, I'm just not feeling it. Usually I love looking for lessons, going through my archives of lessons and pictures deciding what to do this week, but it is not happening today. It could be the rain, or the fact that it is a holiday and I'm crashing from too much sugar eaten with my little nieces, nephews and cousins.
It could be that the principal called me in on Friday to say they want to decrease my hours by 20% (that magic number that basically makes it impossible for me to pick up another school to make up my hours but enough to kill my salary. ) More on that after I have a long chat with my union rep. Any way... theoretically I'm taking some of my kids art to a earth day/neighborhood environment art show that the neighborhood association is planing for the end of April. They keep wavering on if the event will happen or not so I'm not sure if I need to plug ahead with projects based on their theme or just call it a loss.

We had talked about having the kids do works of art based on the flora and fauna of Oregon, particular the habit of the creak that is near our neighborhood. I like that idea because 2nd grade is studying habitat right now. I guess this being arbor and earth month that I should go forward with this idea.

So what animals or plants would you find by a creek in Oregon
nootka rose
evergreen huckleberry
salmon berry
swamp rose
Oregon iris
swamp lantern
wild strawberry

red wing black bird
wood duck
Harlequin duck
stellers jay
scrub jay
Chick Dee
Allen's humming bird
blue heron
Western Meadowlark
Yellow headed blackbird
Western bluebird
yellow breasted chat

salmon (coho and Chinook)
rainbow trout
brook trout

dragon fly
butterfly(Oregon swallowtail, Oregon silver spot (endangered) Anis swallowtail, western sulphur, western tailed blue, monarch, fenders blue (threatened) )
lady bug
may fly
back swimmers

So what can we do with this information?
I am seeing several ideas here:
2nd grade patterns and watercolor bugs and butterflies with black sharpie
3rd grade painted paper ducks (I need the 3rd grade on Monday to make the painted paper for the other classes and then have them do the project the next week) I think we should stick to mallard and wood ducks
4th grade: Watercolor crayon or oil pastel Georgia O'Keeffe inspired state plants/flowers
5th grade: Color pencil state birds
1st grade: I think we will make a "rainbow" of trout. I will give students a trout black line and have them glue an assortment of items in one color onto their fish. I group students by table groups so i will have a representation of each color of the rainbow.

kinder: something with sheep.

Like skills: this sheep watercolor resist lesson from art project for kids that i love

other life skills class will talk about the rain outside as part of April showers bring may flowers and do this umbrella and rain project from all kids network