Monday, November 29, 2010

baby mama drama

Babies....cute...but should not be made by 14 year olds.......

My first year at my current school was the first year a 8th grade class, "graduated," in 20 some years. Last year was the 2nd 8th grade class. So that means the first group of 8th graders are now 15 year old sophomores.

You know what 15 year old girls like to watch on MTV?...16 and Pregnant. You know, the show where they follow around a teen girl who is having a baby showing what a mess it has made of her life, yet always ends with her holding her cute little baby and saying she doesn't regret having her baby (or sex for that matter)....she just wishing she had waited longer. Well around my school we don't need to watch the show because we have our own version with our ex-students.

Last year, as 14 year old Freshman, TWO of my ex students got pregnant. Both had babies during October. Both have dropped out. Last spring I was know to sporadically yell out, "NO BABIES!!!!!" during my middle school classes. As my 8th graders were leaving school for the last time in June I was screaming at them, "NO MORE BABIES!!!!." Stop any 8th grade girl in the hall and ask her what my, "thing," is and she will respond NO BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!! Apparently my yelling is not doing much good though.

During conferences in comes a ex-student, now a sophomore, who comes to see me pretty often. "Mrs. B, guess what!? You are going to haatttteeee it," she says. "Oh lord, what?" I ask. "C___ is pregnant!" Sigh. "Are you sure?" I ask. "Oh yeah, I'm sure." "NO MORE FREAKING BABIES!!" I holler. A little asking around proves that yes, it is true, a third girl from that first 8th grade class is now pregnant. There were 44 kids in that group of 8th graders. 21 were girls. 3 are now pregnant or have already had a baby. So that means (quick math...) 14% of the girls from that class are already deep in baby mama drama. To think they have two and half more years before they graduate. I will not be surprised if several more get pregnant. And I wonder why the high school graduation rate at the school we feed into is about 47%.

Ick in five years those babies born this fall will be in Kindergarten and could be my students. My student's babies as my students. I am not sticking around for that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

4th grade owls

Our 4th grade project was a dumbed down version of this stunning lesson from That Artist Women. I honestly don't have her skill level with watercolor painting but I sure like to try her projects myself to help improve my own skills and then simplify them for my kiddos.

This project started back when I was out sick and I had two different subs do the drawing of the owl with the kids. I had the sub follow the how to draw owl sequence I posted back in my owl project idea post. I still don't know where the drawing sequence came from! Anyway I had left a stack of card stock with the first step, a letter W in the place and in the size I wanted the kids to stick to. It must have worked out because 95% of the kids had a usable drawing when I got back.

During our next time together I had the kids use a sharpie to go over their pencil lines. Then we used brown oil pastel to add feather and branch texture to our owls. Next I gave them a white oil pastel to draw leaves in the background. Some kids were too frustrated with the white and used yellow instead and that worked out looking pretty good also.

During our third session we painted our owls and used the warm colors to paint the background. Some kids asked to add splotches of green and I said that was Ok. We also talked a bit about analogous colors and why owls would be brown like the trees they roosted in (aka what are the advantages of camouflage) then we talked about what snow owls would be white...camouflage and adaptation. Just a nice little science tie in. I asked the librarian to read Owl Moon to the kids to go with the project but she never got around to it. Oh goes it when you only have class for 20-ish min at a time.

5th grade owls

you know the drill, click to enlarge

Whooo loves owls? I dooooooo! We did owl projects in 5th-2nd grade and everyone whooo saw them liked them. Let's start with 5th grade.
I am working on building the 5th graders confidence in drawing and getting them to make artistic choices. This was my first, "artist's choice," drawing lesson. I choose steps of the drawing that were required and steps that were optional. This allowed each student to personalize their drawing to their own taste, interest, skill level and desired amount of work. Ohhh look at me, I differentiated.

The drawing:
I started by guiding the class through a basic owl drawing. No tracers allowed for this one. We started towards the top of the paper and made a fist. I had them place their fist on the paper and "draw" around it with their finger. Then I had them use their pencil to draw a oval- circle shape about the size of their fist. Next we drew the body of the owl using a basic oval and the idea that the body should be about two heads high. At this point the kids added a beak, ears if they wanted them, design around the eyes and on the face and some w shaped lines for feathers on the tummy. Onto the wings. Students could make the wings laying to the side of the owl, stretching out or with one wing bent to hold something. Next we drew a branch for our owl to sit on and added the feet. Students could put leaves on their branch if wanted. Then I had students add a moon (in the phase of their choice) and stars if they wanted. Finally students could have their owl hold something. Some chose a heart, others had their owls hold baby owls or teddy bears or even a mouse for dinner. Everything was inked over with waterproof felt tip pen.

The painting:
After this was all done we spent two class sessions painting our owls (one class is still not done) I showed the kids how to mix different shades of brown with their watercolors and used touches of blue and purple to create different feather textures on the wings and body. We talked about painting one section of a drawing and then moving onto another area to let the paint dry before we went back to the first section to keep paint from bleeding. We practiced keeping our paint not to thick and not too watery. Eventually we did a wet on wet wash in the back and added salt to make the star/snow effect.

The results: I would say at leat 85% of the students felt good about their drawing. That is way better than usual. I was quite pleased with their drawings and creativity. Our painting results were less successful. We did our drawing on 60lb card "good" paper alternative. I can only afford to have students do one clay project a year and one project on good watercolor paper. As this was a new lesson I didn't want to risk the 5th grade's one piece of watercolor paper on it. I wish I had. Doing detailed watercolor painting on anything but watercolor paper tends to lead to so so results. Still quite a few kids got a pretty nice end product. It would be interesting to do this lesson with tempera and small small brushes, but I just love the look of watercolors.

stage fright and oil pastel landscapes

Well in the last week I have amassed over 100 followers who now look at my blog. I also got put on another top blog list. To some this might mean blogging me it means stage fright. I started this as a place to keep my lessons and vent. Then as a place to record for myself what the students artwork looked like from year to year. I feel like the more people who read my blog the more awesome it needs to be, the more insightful the dialog, the more impressive the projects and end result from my students. That is not really pressure I am looking for. Hence my stage fright. I'm also feeling more hesitant to talk about my personal struggles at my school. The more people reading my blog the higher the chance that someone will suss me out and rat me out to my school/my district? Then again, it seems of all the people who read my blog who show their personal info the closest person is in Seattle...well aside from a few of my personal friends. So I'm probably being paranoid. For now I will try to pretend/hope that only 20 people actually read my writing and the rest just scan my photos for lesson ideas and move along.

Onto the art. The oil pastels I can buy from my district wear house drive me nuts. I've always been unhappy with their lack of vibrancy, lack of coverage, how absurdly fast they are gone and how easily they break and the fact that they wont blend. To me a major part of using oil pastels is their ability to blend giving you new colors and a painterly effect. With my district ones one color just slides over the other or balls up. Very frustrating. To my great joy the kindergarten teacher was cleaning out her closets between conferences on Tuesday and found some boxes of Crayola oil pastels that a parent had brought in years ago. She did not want them and gave them to me. I promptly tried them out (the octagonal ones) Wow! I hate to be a brand whore but those Crayola's are a LOT better than the school's generic ones. I know what I will be using my next five weeks worth of Jo-anns coupons buying.

To the project at hand. It is a good standby for teaching landscape, warm and cool colors and using up the little bits of old oil pastels. I usually do this project with 3rd grade as they have the small motor control to draw with the glue. This lesson took 1 20 min session and 1 35 min session. We started by talking about foreground, mid ground and background. We made a practice sketch on white paper. We make a wave line at the bottom of the paper. Then we added hills/mountains for the mid ground. Finally we made a circle in the background and used concentric circles to fill the sky area.

After they made their practice sketch I gave each student their black paper and had them make their final drawing with pencil. I then showed them how to go over their lines with white glue. I emphasize that the tip of the glue bottle MUST touch the paper or the will get a blobby mess.
Set the papers FLAT to dry. During the next session I had the kids use the left over bits of oil pastel to color the for and mid ground in cool colors and the sky in warm colors. In the past I have let the kids choose to use cool colors in the sky and warm on the ground. Either way looks good. Lots of people use chalk pastels for this lesson, but then you have to spray to fix.

Monday, November 15, 2010

see the trees

hey look, I don't just steal art projects and talk about doing them, I actually have the kids do them and eventually take photos and put them up. Hear is a snapshot of our tree unit with photos of a about half of the lessons. Enjoy.

the "raindrop" tree project I made up to teach 3rd grade about overlap and working on perspective

2nd grade's texture trees inspired by the lesson at We Heart Art
4th grade once again did this lesson from Kids Artists. We ran out of black paper for the background and we used blue instead....I like it better with black. This year I also had them practice their tints to create variegation around the "moon" using paint instead of oil pastel. Too early in the year for this...they got really frustrated. Lets not even talk about how frustrated they got cutting out the black trees. This was one of my fav projects last year. Next year I'll go back to the original version.

Too many people have done this project to give any one person credit for it anymore. But it is the basic tape resist tree. Lots of people do it as a winter Birch painting. We don't have Birch trees in Oregon so we did a fall version. This was 5th grades 1st time painting with acrylics. They liked how rich the colors where and how fast it dried. I liked how each student was able to take the basic directions and come up with their own unique twist on the cluster of trees.

and as always the office bulletin to enlarge. In there are some 1st grade Klimt inspired trees that I didn't take close up photos of for some reason. I did those with a very small group of 1st graders who were done early with some test.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lesson for week before thanksgiving

Oh November you strange month you. Well I guess you are not strange...its just all the holidays in you that makes you strange. This is our only full week of school this month. All of next week is non school days for the students thanks to conferences and Thanksgiving. On the plus side we have made excellent progress on our owl projects. All of 3rd grade has completed their owl collages. Two out of three 4th grade classes have painted their owls in the foliage. 5th grade has done their owl drawings and are ready to paint. Best of all, both the students and staff are feeling good about the kids work. I'm telling you...owls are always a hit.

So this week:
Kinder- I lost track of time so we will stick with our concentric circle turkey as we are working on shape right now and I found the site this came from Preschool daze

1st grade made their corn for their harvest collages and their gourds so all we have to do is cut out all the pieces, pumpkin, corn, gourd and create our composition with them and add some silk fall leaves.

2nd grade: hum, thanks to holidays one class is done and ready for a new project while the other classes still need to finish their texture owls and leaves.
Cas-2 finish texture owls
Cul-2 finish texture owls
Pru-2 has big moon paintings from a Halloween project that fell through. I want to take the big moon as the background and do the scarecrow drawing from Art Projects For Kids, have the kids cut out the scarecrow and glue it on the moon so we get a little perspective going on and we can hopefully use up some of the bag of raffia I was just given. I figure the drawing will take up the 20 min long class session and the painting will take up the 30 min class session

3rd grade: Just did some really fun owl collages/mixed media with my old stash of scrapbook paper. About this time each year I have the kids do a simplified black glue landscape. In the past I have done the one from artsonia (basically this project...not sure where this photo is from, you know the project)
with black paper and oil pastel or chalk pastel. This year I'm going to let the kids choose....two tables will have oil pastels, two tables will have chalk pastels and two tables will have tempera paint.
we will sketch and black glue during our 20 min class and then add color during our 35 min class. Am I crazy for letting them choose their media? Possibly. Am I so low on oil pastels and chalk pastels that I don't have enough for a entire class at a time? YES. I may rethink this later and have everyone paint.

4th grade: Brady still needs to paint their owls, everyone else is done with their owls
J-4 and C-4....torn between two projects also from Art Projects for Kids (can you tell I was cursing her site for projects?) The first one would hit up a ton of 4th grade standards (Oregon has no specific elementary art standards aside from make art, look at art and learn about artist so I use California standards for lack of better idea)
This project works on proportion, figure drawing, positive and negative space and can use complementary colors in the background.
(I'm sure we will end up doing this)

However, I want to do this entomology project sometime soon! I need to find out what grade level studies bugs and then decided if they are old enough to make the little box the bug goes into. You could draw so many types of bugs! From moths to stink bugs to stick bugs!
maybe after Thanksgiving break I will have the 4th and 5th graders make them. They could do a little research on their bug/insect and make a label like in a museum (always trying to squeeze in some writing)

5th grade: both classes need to paint their owls. My twice a week class is going to get started on the 5th grade clay project which is scissor birds (I wish I knew where I got this lesson/photos from so I could give them credit!!) I've had these photos on my laptop for several years and finally feel confident enough to try the project. We will start by making the collage version and then after break we will make the clay version.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

good vibrations

as always, click to enlarge

I'm not good a posting projects in order...oh well. This was a quick project after the 6-7th grade students completed their complex color wheels. I asked them to choose a music symbol anything from a music note to a music instrument to an Ipod. After students did a simple sketch of their music symbol I had them make radiating outlines of the symbols shape. I asked them to think like their symbol was creating waves of vibration just like a real music instrument. I then asked students to choose three colors to paint their work. I liked seeing the color choices they made when left to their own devices. Of all the music symbols that were chosen the music notes and notation were the strongest. This would also be a good lesson for exploring monochormatic tints and shades. I also think 4th-5th grade could handle this lesson.
P.S. I got the general idea for the lesson from Arts and Activities

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alphabesties lesson

Click photos to enlarge...till I can figure out how to make them big

About a month ago I posted about a "new to me," book I found in the typography section of the library. The book is called Alphabesties: and other amazing types. Each page of the book features a animal that is made up of the first letter of that animals name. Different types of fonts are used to create the animals. The animals in the book are great and each page shows several fonts that go with that animal and get students thinking about how text and type can create an image.

I know you could do some great lessons with photoshop or maybe even picnik and different types of fonts. I don't have access to our schools one computer lab so that is not an option for me...but I would love to see what someone else (with more comp knowledge than me) could come up with.

Instead I saw this book as a way to incorporate writing not only into our art class, but also into the artwork itself. For the second year in a row our 1 school improvement goal is to improve student writing. The other elective teachers and I keep getting dinged on our evaluations for not doing enough writing instruction in our classrooms. (Like I have a ton of time in 20 min classes...)

I did this lesson with 2nd - 7th grade students and they were equally interested with it. It got pretty quiet in my classroom as student had to think how to turn letters and words into images. I did break out my two sets of stencils for this project so that students could focus on the text aspect of the image and we could get done in a timely manor.

For this project each student choose an animal stencil (older students could use two)
Students could use pencil to outline their animal but then had to switch to marker. I asked students to fill in their animal using the first letter of the animals name (2nd grade) or the name of the animal, or a combo of both. Then students were asked to create the environment that their animal lived in using the name of the object. So the sun was drawn using the word sun, waves were drawn using the word wave and so on. Some classes created a boarder using their own name. It was easy to adapt this lesson to different grade levels and the younger students got great handwriting practice and were challenged to use their problem solving skills. I'm afraid I was too sick to get photos of the lower grade work before I let them take them home (and they wanted to keep them for once!) but I did get photos of some 5th-7th grade works.

***I also left this as a sub plan and got equally nice results, so I think this would make a great sub lesson since many grades can do it and it takes minimal materials. I have also found a fun set of Alphabesties flashcards that make a big puzzle. I think these would make a great addition to the classroom and would work just as well as the book.*********

Monday, November 8, 2010

reflections of you

I blogged about this lesson last month and now I present some of the results.
We looked at several works of art that featured eyes and reflection, primarily Escher and Magritte.
Then we talked about the physical parts of the eye and "built" an eye from skull eye socket to the eyelashes. After practicing drawing several eyes students were asked to draw a LARGE eye. In place of the pupil and iris students were asked to draw a noun (person, place or thing) that is important to them. We brainstormed a big list as a class to help us think of what we could draw. The results were incredibly varied both in skill and creativity and in what students choose to draw to "reflect" themselves. To include our writing requirement we wrote a sentence explaining what we choose to draw. Click to see enlarged.
earth, wind, fire and water

summer vacation at the Oregon coast

her two cats

This student was born in the Ukraine, the star marks where he was born, the X marks where his grandparents still live. The flag marks the city where they exited the country from.