Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Late Breaking News! Idea Redeemed!!!

(That's my son giving the thumbs-up after completing the world's highest commercial bungee off the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa last summer. The photo is in the correct direction even though it looks sideways. He is being hauled back up after the jump.) For those of you who need a little perspective, below is the Bloukrans Bridge. Yikes. The bungee jump is right from the middle. Egads!

Why the thumbs-up? Because after my last post, bemoaning the lack of internet to present a workshop on blogging at my state conference, I emailed the workshop coordinator. She already emailed me back (thanks!) and there will be internet access arranged for in a couple of rooms, so I can present the workshop after all. YEAH!!!

What have I gotten myself into? I'll be teaching a 2-hour hands-on workshop and a 1-hour blogging workshop, hopefully one right after the other. My idea is to get it all done, breathe a sigh of relief, and then just have fun for the rest of the day. Am I crazy? Will I have time to go to the bathroom? I guess I figure these two things:
  1. I'll probably retire in year so there's only so it's time to give back to other art teachers rather than get new ideas for myself, and
  2. I've attended some less-than-adequate workshops in past years (and some wonderful ones). I do not like having my time wasted, and know I'll give the best workshop that I can. Hopefully nobody will be disappointed.

A great idea shot down...

Every year I attend the annual conference of NYSATA, the New York Art Teachers Association. One thing I look forward to is presenting a workshop. I've been doing this for about 8 years, so I know what to expect. I know that when you present a workshop, it's pretty hard to get to a workshop either directly before or after it, unless there is something you want to attend in the same room where you will be presenting.

I'm presenting a 2 hour hands-on workshop (making flexagons & kaleidocycles, what fun!), hopefully on Saturday morning, so I thought "what if I presented ANOTHER workshop directly after it?" Then it would be time for lunch and I wouldn't have time with nothing to attend. So my plan was... (drum-roll please) to present a workshop about BLOGGING! Here's what I had written:

"Enter the world of art teacher blogs to expand your educational horizons. It's easy to share ideas and expertise, and before you know it you'll have a network of new colleagues and will be communicating with art teacher globally. The presenter is an experienced art ed blogger."

So before I submitted the proposal, I called the hotel. It turns out that the LOBBY has free WiFi, but the conference rooms do NOT. The organization would have to pay a fee to set up its availability when planning the conference. This isn't going to happen. :-(
I obviously cannot teach a workshop on blog
ging without the internet. So I'm bummed...

I guess instead I'll be spending more tim
e at the distributor's booths. Darn. Here's my cat pretending to be grumpy:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is it?

I know these photos are all pretty similar, but I'm hoping that with several views, someone can figure out what this "thing" is. The focus unfortunately isn't great, as I was shooting macro from a kayak on lake water that refused to stay still. I tried grabbing a branch with one hand to steady the kayak for the photos, but I had to hold the camera at strange angles over the water, and anyhow, macro can be a challenge even when I'm not moving!

Let me put the pics in
context: yesterday I was paddling around in my kayak on Loon Lake in the Adirondacks. The lake water was rather high, and there was a lot of debris washed into the water - mostly pine needles and branches from the shore. I found this near at the shore in an overgrown shallow area, under overhanging branches. It was probably 2 or 3" in diameter, and almost a yard long, with root-like stuff sticking out of one end. It reminded me of a pineapple type of growth, but I'm sure you realize that pineapples don't grow in Adirondack lakes. I even picked it up and examined it; and that didn't help, though I know for sure it is plant matter of some sort. Later I found two dead bullheads (a catfish-like fish) bloated and floating and I totally freaked when my paddle touched one. My husband looked at these photos (above) and said "You'll touch THAT but not a fish??!!! You DO realize they are in the lake when you are swimming, don't you?" Yeah, dear, but they are not dead and ugly. Bullheads are UGLY fish! Anyhow, here's a few more photos from the lake.

I'm thinking perhaps the feather (more macro) came from a loon..

** I know this is another non-artsy post, but please don't give up on my blog! I promise to post more art teacher stuff soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

School's out, and here's a cool video link!

This bug that I photographed last weekend is evidently some type of "parasitic wasp". When googling to find out more info about these insects, I came across one of the coolest videos I've ever seen. Check it out! (By the way this has nothing to do with art or education but will intrigue you if you have any natural curiosity about things that are unfamiliar.) Here's the link:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free or inexpensive, and FABULOUS

Are there dopey little things in your classroom you can't imagine being without? While cleaning up, I took photos of a few of these faves. First, the containers from Kool-Aid ~ these are the BEST water containers for long-handled brushes. They curve in slightly at the top so messes drip inward rather than outward, and their wide bottoms make them very stable. The blue bowls were given to me (I don't know where they came from) and are marvelous for short-handled brushes.

Then there's the old lunch trays, freebie toothbrushes, and the containers from frosting.

I use the lunch trays for EVERYTHING. When we wash paint brushes, we do NOT put them in their containers to dry, as then the liquid drips into the ferrule and shortens the brush life. So instead we place the brushes on newspaper (on a tray) to dry and it makes the brushes last longer. I can't begin to tell you all the uses I have for these trays.

The toothbrushes are used for cleaning clay out of little fingernails, or ink out of ink pens.

I love putting stuff in the frosting containers, as you can see! And by the way, those are my FAVORITE brushes - they are
Royal & Langnickel Big Kid's Choice brushes, and long-handled Q-tips. I actually keep the 3 containers of brushes, the container of Q-tips, and another container with Popsicle sticks in a small kitty litter pan. It is a perfect size!

And then there's these ugly sponges. I got the big ones by mistake a couple of years ago, and they are absolutely USELESS for washing tables. But we use them when painting, for wiping brushes. My mantra: wipe, wash, wipe! The kids all know it. Depending on what we're doing,we might use newspaper, or else the oval sponges. And since our table washing sponges are rectangular, there's no confusion. I also use the little round sponges in little pans of water, when we are using colored paper-tape. No licky-sticky! Hands are too germy. So we dab the tape on the damp sponges.

The other photo is of my FAVORITE style
staple-pullers. You can pull about 20 staples onto one of these before you need to dump them off, and they do not tear paper like the "jaw-style" staple-remover. Since I hang a LOT of student work on 5 or 6 different hallway bulletin boards, and change them every week or two, we do a LOT of staple-pulling and it helps to have great tools.

I forgot to take a photo of the microwave TV dinner dishes that a bus driver brings to me. She must eat one for lunch or dinner every day! They are black and there's low flat ones, bowl-shaped ones, divided ones, etc. I put paint in them for stamping w/sponges, we use them for palettes for mixing colors, and a zillion other uses. And they don't me cost a dime!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What we did with our colorful coffee filters

With the school year running out, students had some fun creating with the "tie-dye" coffee filters they had created (with markers and a spray bottle filled with water).

Dad's day at the lake

Isn't this a cool bug? I took lots of pics of it and now just need the time to edit to see if I've got anything special.

My stepdaughter and her two boys joined us at the lake for lovely father's day with their grandpa, my hubby (who bumped his nose and head giving our son's car a break job)!

Our son was not able to be here for Dad's day, but he did remember to call!

And to my sweet daddy, who passed away when my son started kindergarten in 1994, we know you're up there somewhere, probably wishing you could have stuck around long enough to own an iphone or some other cool modern gadget and also to be there for your youngest grandchild (my son), but we bet you're keeping busy making heavenly ham radio contacts!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's not a Box, not a CD

It's not a CD, it's a dinosaur!

Or it's a race car, or a hip-hop dude spinning music.

Or it's a fat bumble-bee, or a flower

or an army guy, or a critter.

Here's the book, and Charlene with her "not a CD" flower.

This lesson was begun when I was out recuperating, and I thought it would be fun and easy for the sub. She read the book in grades K, 1, and 2. Students in K & 1 were given a piece of paper with a square or rectangle of cardboard glued on, and their challenge was to make it "not a box".

The 2nd graders got paper w/old CD's hot-glued on them, and had a similar challenge to make it "not a CD". There were so many good ideas - butterflies, and grandfather clocks and so much more.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What makes an artist an artist?

Mr. R has an intriguing post
over at his blog Stop over and look at the youtube videos he linked and express your thoughts either at his blog or at mine. (You'll see my rather strong thoughts in a comment over there. I've never been one to hold back when it comes to calling something like I see it.)

Meanwhile, while you are here at my blog, in a recent post I asked art teachers from NY state their opinions on my workshop proposal for our annual conference, and I didn't get any responses expressing an opinion or preference. You can find the post here: . I am still looking for advice as I haven't yet submitted my proposal. But I need to get it in soon, so if you are going to the conference, I'd love your opinion ASAP, please! Thanks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Relic of days gone by....

A deserted Tardis, perhaps? Is Dr. Who somewhere nearby, perhaps having an ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlor in Chestertown?

I know this has nothing to do with art education, but I wanted to share these photos I took, of a phone booth that I actually used to have occasion to use. The phone inside has a dial - kids today have never even used a dial phone! And the phone book hanging inside is about a dozen years old. Perhaps the phone company will come some day to remove it, but in the meantime, I'm tempted to pop in a quarter and see if it will work (though my hubby insists it is no longer wired up). Anyhow, the mosquitoes attacked me so I'll have to check again some other time :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm not a coffee drinker, but...

But boy do I love these giant coffee filters!!!

I left this project for my sub to begin while I was out, and boy are the results coming out spectacular! It started when I was given about a ZILLION giant coffee filters, from the nearby convenience store. How could I say no??

Each student (in this case, 3rd graders) got one filter and a 12" square of white paper. Their name went on the white paper, and the coffee filters were colored with Crayola markers, NOT the ones labeled "washable".They had to pay careful attention to the order of the wheel to prevent their filter turning to mud.

When the filter was colored, it was placed on top of the white paper, and brought to the "spray station". The filter was sprayed with water, and put away in the drying rack on top of the white paper. In all these photos, the dried filter is on the left, the white paper "print" from underneath is on the right.

The kids are cutting up the filters to make them into tie-dye T-shirts, etc, and hung on a bulletin board with a "clothesline". The white papers are being drawn/doodled into with Sharpies. I'll show you some when they are done. Two projedcts for the price of one!!

These filters would also make fabulous flowers, wouldn't they? And I'm also thinking Chihuly... I'm going to play with them to see what will work to make them hold in curved shapes.

Meanwhile, my
sub is going to make them with kids in a summer program at her church, and they are going to stuff them and make them into fish with tissue paper tails, etc. Cool, huh? I want to do a project with them earlier in the year next year, so I have a chance to display them!