Wednesday, July 28, 2010

update, the good and the really sad

(felt, play fruit I made for my nieces and nephews )

I haven't posted for a while because I was on vacation in California. On top of that, the last few days have had some good news and some really bad news. In a surprising turn of events I will be re-hired FULL time at the start of the school year as our music teacher has decided to teach math instead and our principal has decided to cut music.

However, I will not be the one in my classroom the first few months of school, or maybe at all this school year. On Friday we learned, very very out of the blue, that my father has stage four terminal cancer of the esophagus. A very hard cancer to treat. He was given weeks or months to live and my mom, dad and I are in shock. I am an only child and live out of state so I knew immediately that I needed to go back home and stay there for an indefinite amount of time. Thank god my husband is an awesome person and is helping me deal with the fact that I will need to leave our home and assure me that we, as a couple will make it through this crisis.

I am happy to say my father has handled his first chemo treatment amazingly well and is feeling better than he has in weeks, we don't know how long that will last though.

So much to my principals chagrin I have decided to take the three months of family and medical leave. I just can not imagine, or justify, trying to work full time at my intense school and getting home as much as possible, when needed. I am nervous about leaving my art program in the hands of a stranger but relived that I can focus on my family right now. I was terrified of bringing home a illness from the school and giving it to my father.

Soon will come the issue of finding a long term sub. While the pay is quite good, I still struggle to find people that are a good match for my school and my student's issues, let alone someone who can deal with the K-8 thing. Our hope is, that with the district wide (126 position) layoffs occurring next week, that I will be able to snag a art teacher from another school to go into my classroom. I wonder how that will impact that persons ability to get unemployment though.

I also am struggling with how much guidance I want to leave my long term sub. Should I just fully hand over my classroom and let him/her establish their own rules, routines and lessons? What will that be like, if/when I return later in the year. Or should I push to have my established rules and routines continued and give the basic framework for the lessons I want covered so that I know my students are on track when I get back to work.

This year WAS going to look like this:
k-1st : Art though books (as always, same as year before)
2nd-5th: Why art? (why do people make art? what function does art serve to individuals, small groups of people, and large groups of people)
6-8th the ism's of art (major art movements and 3-ish artists from each movement post Renaissance) We did ancient civ and traditional cultural arts last year and art as personal expression the year before.

I wanted my 2nd-5th to think of how art records people, places, things, events and stories. Self portraits, portraits of others, symbolism in portraits (especially animals) our yearly harvest still life, recording changing seasons through the landscape, important physical structures such as buildings or Portland bridges, art to record historical events, art to record pre-written history (lower grades turn at some Egyptian art work) and art to record personal stories such as story quilts, personal collage and designing of personal symbols.

I also wanted the 4th and 5th graders to think about how art is used as social activism or to challenge ideas including looking at murals, social artists like Kieth Herring and what causes he donated his time and effort towards and have students create a series of posters using print making that reflect a issue they feel strongly about....from saving the polar bears to getting swings on the playground.

So how much of my program am I willing to let go of? Will a sub be offended if I set down a curriculum map that I want followed or is that how things are usually done? How will I feel/deal with the possibility of the kids NOT wanting me back and wishing the sub would stay on? I don't know, it's all very overwhelming and right now its hard to plan more than a day or two ahead.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Painted Ladies

This project was heavily inspired by one of Patty's lessons over at Deep Space Sparkle. I really want to link the lesson but I'm having trouble finding it! She had her students do pen and ink drawings of Victorian houses that were so fun to look at.

We have a fair number of Victorians around Portland so I knew it would be a subject matter my students were familiar with. I did this project with 4th grade and it took three 40 min class periods. My students in both classes were really engaged and interested in this project. Girls and boys alike. I think the students really embraced the idea of creating their ideal home/house.

To make sure all students had a good start and were working at the same speed I gave them a basic house template that we traced onto watercolor paper.

We looked at photos of Victorian houses for ideas. We discussed the flair, detail and the fun nature of Victorians. We looked at all the colors used on Victorian houses and students were excited to create their own house.

I then slowly guided students top to bottom on how to make their house unique. I demonstrated several types of roofs, windows, shutters, gables, dormers, bay windows, doors, front steps and the foundations.

Students then traced over all of their pencil lines with their black crayon or sharpie. Then students painted their houses. We agreed you had to use at least 3 colors, or at least shades of a color to make your house pop.

Last students cut out their houses and glued them onto black paper so they made a neighborhood and then added stars into the sky with glitter paint.

One HUGE mistake though! When we glued the houses onto the black paper we ended up covering the names. Next year I will have the students put a name label on the grass right under their house.