Monday, August 26, 2013

Reading List: Classroom Management

I always struggle with defining "Classroom Management" because to me it is a combination of so many things. Things I say. Things I don't say. Do. Don't do. The way I set up the learning space. The routines I establish. The lessons I prepare. The respect I have for my students and expect in return. So many things...

So that is why I am reading a new "teaching" book. At the very least I am hoping it helps me better express my experience with classroom management. At the most I am hoping it can improve it; after all everything about teaching can always take a little improving. That is how we learn, grow, adapt, etc.

I'm only about seventy pages in so far, but it has been a nice and easy read. And it feels good to have someone else put into words what I have been trying so hard to explain concisely whenever I am asked about classroom management. Its nice to read that I am pretty much doing things the way the fictional Mrs. Allgood would.

The book is... Conscious Classroom Management by Rick Smith. Veteran teacher or newbie, I totally recommend giving it a read. Your local library may even have a copy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pop Art Animals Workshop

In this painting workshop students talked about the Pop Art movement and looked closely at the Endangered Animal Series by Andy Warhol. A brief demonstration helped students break down animal reference images into basic shapes. Then they began drawing their chosen animals (for this workshop they could choose any animal, although normally I would keep with the endangered theme). Once the drawings were complete students went about painting and finishing their animal portraits in a similar style to Pop Art icon Andy Warhol.

Paint markers and water-soluble oil pastels were used to add lines and details.

Here are a few paintings that the students created:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Art and Percussion Workshop

One of the workshops from this month was for some of the youngest artists -- four to seven year olds. Using mostly recyclable materials and a few store bought art supplies the students learned about multicultural percussion instruments as they made rain sticks, egg shakers, maracas, and rattle drums.

The Chinese rattle drums were mostly made from bought materials. Round paper mache boxes were acquired from the local art supply store, along with wooden beads and wooden clothes pins. Other materials were glue, string,  construction and tissue paper (in China's imperial colors), and glitter. I pre-made the holes in the boxes using a x-acto blade and a sharp clay tool. I also used hot glue to glue the boxes shut once the beads were strung. The clothes pins were also hot glued to make sure they would not come loose. These rattle drums really do work just like the real ones!

The rain sticks were made in the way most art teachers employ.... paper towel rolls. These are the perfect size. They were painted and stuffed with crumpled newspaper on the ends. Dried beans were placed in side to get the appropriate sound. The ends were capped with felt scraps attached with elastics and adorned with feathers. With more time, the paper towel rolls can be decorated further, incorporating dot painting or other techniques.



The maracas were made from small water bottles, beads, and gift fill. Simply fill the bottles with the other materials, put on the caps and shake. Other, more involved methods could be used, but for the workshop this simple project acted as filler while the paint and glue on the other projects dried.

The last filler project was egg shakers. So simple, I am not even going to post a separate picture of them (you can see them in some of the pictures above). You simply put a few teaspoons of rice into plastic eggs. Close them and seal the seam with colorful duct tape.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fashion Design Workshop

During the month of August I have the pleasure of teaching a handful of short workshops at the Marblehead/Salem School of Music. What's art being taught at a music school you may ask. Well, I am also the office manager there, so the owners are letting me offer some workshops outside the music realm.

Today's workshop was Fashion Design. And the girls that signed up for it did a great job -- I'm sure they will all be on Project Runway in about ten years!

It was only a two-hour workshop, so the kids managed to make one or two designs each (adding color to at least one of them). I used colored pencils because they were on hand and affordable. Of course, depending on the group and the duration, the materials could get a lot more professional, even introducing computer design software.

I provided handouts referencing some fashion design books, provided inspirational imagery from saved boutique catalogs (like Anthropologie), and offered suggestions for ways to master the figure and drapery of fabric. My number one tip: Draw people all the time! Keep a sketchbook and draw them while you are waiting in a public place (like for an appointment). This is great practice and helps you better understand the human body so much more than using a mannequin or copying a template.

We used copy paper for first drafts and when the girls had a finished sketch that they really liked, I let them use the windows as light boxes to trace their drawings onto the "good" paper.

Here are some of the sketches and designs that were created:


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Soft Sculptures and Marionettes - Upper Elementary and Middle School

A few summers back I offered one of the more advanced puppet making classes I've ever taught. The puppetry component was the easy part. The hard part was that kids no longer seem to learn sewing and I had to start from the very basic concept of threading a needle.

I taught the same two-week workshop twice.

The first time we worked only from patterns and made very large marionettes, which most of the kids decided they liked better as just soft sculptures.

These are the large soft-sculptures that came from that first attempt. The theme was "Create a Real of Imaginary Character." Elvis is center-stage.

The second time I scaled them down and bought pre-sewn un-stuffed muslim doll bodies, which made things go a lot smoother. The students could make two each and focus on character design instead of sewing. The objective was to create two characters that could interact with each other to tell a story.