Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Yet another pet peeve - "can I have your lesson plan?"

For several years, I have willingly and openly used this blog to share projects I've done with my students, including instructions.  And I will continue to do so.  But instructions are not the same thing as lesson plans!
Often, particularly in various Facebook groups, someone will post images of a really cool project they've done.  It is not unexpected that people will get excited and want to know how it was done.  But more often than not, the request is "can you share the lesson plan?"
So today's post is a little reminder about what is and what is NOT a lesson plan.  "How-to" instructions  and lists of materials are NOT lesson plans.  A lesson plan will usually outline objectives, using whatever jargon is appropriate.  It might be that your objectives are written as Essential Questions and Student Outcomes, or Big Ideas, or SWK (student will know) statements, etc.  It might include Anticipatory Sets, Guided Practice, and so on.  You may need to include the Standards being addressed in the lesson.  There are many formats for writing lesson plans; a lot may depend on your education and training, the philosophy of the school district where you teach, and so on.
So, when you see a post of an interesting project by me, or by someone else, and you are intrigued and would like to try it out, think about what you are asking for.  I will gladly give you my instructions, a "how-to", but I will NOT give you my lesson plan, because your lesson plan should be unique to your situation.  Plus, if I give you my lesson plan, I'll feel like I'm doing your job for you.  And I don't want to. 
For example: I recently posted tooling foil samples.  Many people asked me for my lesson plan.  I gladly gave instructions, via some videos, some photos and text, and even a Google doc.  But none of those things were lesson plans.  What might my lesson plan have been?  My lesson objectives are individual to me and my unique needs, according to my teaching philosophy, my schedule, my student body makeup, and so on.  Perhaps my objective is for my students to learn to use tooling foil with appropriate tools to achieve deep relief.  Perhaps there's an expectation for my students to learn the vocabulary of working with tooling foil.  Perhaps the objective is to use the medium of tooling foil to create masks that share various characteristics used in African masks, like symmetry, use of geometric shapes, exaggeration, and decorative pattern.  Perhaps the objective is to discover how tooling foil can be used in a collage, whether as an animal, a robot, or whatever.  Perhaps the objective is to use the foil to explore the tooled metal folk art of various cultures from around the world.  Do you get my point?
And maybe there will be, in your situation, a written companion piece to the art-making project.  Perhaps your lesson plan will include how an objective about completing the piece for display.   Maybe there will be a critique element to your lesson plan.
Lots of times, I see projects that seem to exist for the fun of the project, and nothing more.  In my current business teaching after school art to kids who simply want more art-making time, this is absolutely OK.  If anyone were to ask for my objective, it would simply be for my students to explore various materials, and have a positive art-making experience.  But that might not be enough in your school.
 By the way, if you want some instructions for any of the projects pictured in this post, please feel free to ask.  Just don't ask for my lesson plan!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

My latest Pet Peeves *edited with additional goodies!

Every so often I express some personal opinions here on the blog, talking about stuff that bugs me, usually in regard to art education.  This little post is another one of those, sort of.  You can read previous "pet peeves" posts  HERE (September 2015) and HERE (October 2011).

Today's annoyances are simple ones.  Let me admit up-front that I'm kind of a freak about spelling and proofreading.  Yes, I make mistakes, but I try my best to keep them to a minimum, and to edit them if I am able to, so they don't appear for the world to see.  But there's two errors I've seen made frequently lately (in blog posts, and in several Facebook art teacher groups) that drive me bonkers!

 1) Tempera / tempura
I can't tell you how many places I've seen "tempura paint" written lately, not only in blog posts and on Facebook, but also, surprisingly, in some on-line shopping situations.

I happen to love both tempera (1st pic above) and tempura (second pic above), but they couldn't be more different.  We paint with tempera.  We do not paint with tempuraTempura is a Japanese meal where stuff like shrimp and veggies are fried in a crispy delicious batter.  It's delicious, but it is not paint!  Please don't depend on spell-check when you are writing about tempera paint.  Your phone or computer doesn't know that tempura paint isn't a "thing"!  (And by the way, NEITHER ONE of them is spelled "tempra", though I've seen that lately, too!)  Also, in case you're interested, tempura and tempera are both pronounced differently from each other.  The paintings pictured below, and the cat at the top of this post, are all painted with tempera.  I believe it represents us poorly when we talk about a common art material and confuse it with a food! 

2) Borders / boarders
A boarder is someone who pays you to stay in your home with meals included (hence "room and board").  A border is an edge or boundary.  In art, we usually think of a border as a frame that is built into your artwork, or as a decorative edging on fabric.  But over and over again, I've seen people write about putting boarders on their artwork, or putting a boarder on their bulletin board.  (Hopefully you don't have anyone living on your bulletin board and eating meals there! )
I don't have boarders in my home, but I'm kind of a nut about borders on student artwork.  I think a decorative border can really enhance a piece of artwork.  When I retired, someone collected quotes from my students to share at a retirement dinner.  Evidently several kids quoted me as saying stuff like "put a border on it!" or "everything is better with a border!"  I didn't even know I ever said that!!

Again, you can't depend on spell-check for this, because your electronic gadgetry doesn't know what you are trying to write about! The artwork pictured above and below all have decorative borders, not boarders.
 And the paintings pictured below all have white borders

There's other words that can be similarly mixed up or confused.  For example, palette and pallet both have completely different meanings.  We generally use palettes in art.   Can you think of other words that can present a spelling challenge, or that sound alike but have different meanings with different spellings?

Since I wrote this post yesterday, I've received many responses about other words that should be on this 'pet peeves' list.  So without further ado, here they are:
  • Complementary/complimentary: Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel.  A compliment is a praise or approval.
  • Principal/principle: your principal is your pal.  Don't give up your principles to do something you don't agree with.
  • A tortillon is a blending tool.  It is not spelled 'tortillion'.  And it is not a tortilla!
  • Pollock/Pollack: Jackson Pollock is the artist. Check out the spelling! Sydney Pollack was a film director, producer, and actor.
  • The spelling is Michelangelo, not Michaelangelo!  
  • Lose/loose: you lose a marker, you set a wild animal loose.  
  • Jewelry is the correct spelling for adornments like rings and bracelets.  Not jewelery, or jewlery.  
I'm sure there's still lots more common misspellings, but the ones listed above are probably the ones you are most likely to use in an art room!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Thoughts on Early FInishers in the Art Room

This month's Art Ed Blogger's Network topic is Early Finishers.  I'm retired, and I work now with very small groups, so this is not much of a problem for me these days, but I don't think my opinions have changed much anyhow.
Activities for Early Finishers 700x700.jpg
I'll admit it; I was never one of those art teachers with a 'maker-space' or some other fancy setup for early finishers to find stuff to do.  I think if you have such an inviting open-ended location in your room, it actually can encourage kids to rush to finish early so that they can go 'play'.  I always aimed to have the projects we were working on to be engaging enough that the kids wouldn't be in a rush to finish them; instead, I wanted them to be so engaged that class time would run out and the challenge would be to get the kids to stop working, clean up, and line up to leave.
Still, inevitably, there were kids who were done before others.  With some projects (weaving, and perspective, in particular, come to mind), kids who were very proficient, and therefore could finish more quickly, became helpers for kids who find the process more challenging.  A sign on my classroom wall posted the rule "Ask 3 Before You Ask Me".  The early-finishers were often good people to ask for help when I was not available.
But yes, sometimes there was the possibility of 'free choice' art-making when work was done quickly.  But just as often, early finishers became classroom assistants.  They would be given staple pullers to take down artwork, and then they would sort and stack the work.  Or they were asked to match student work with name tags.  Or to fill glue bottles.  Or clean the white board.  Or clean the sink. [ I suppose I'd better explain the bizzaro photo below.  This is a pic of a student's unusual cleanup procedure.  Every water bucket was rinsed out out, filled with water, and then had a sponge stuffed inside.  Careful and methodical, but not exactly what I expected when he offered to clean up the sink area.]
Or the early finishers/helpers would deliver sorted artwork to classrooms.  Or cover and organize cups of paint in color order.  Or hang the background for a new display.  Or color in signs for displays.  Or sort paper.  Or test markers and separate out those that don't work.  Or scrub tables.  Or wash paintbrushes.  Or water the plants (I had lots of house plants in my classroom).  Or sweep the floor. Or...... I think you get the idea!
Frankly, I learned that most elementary kids LOVE to help, love to organize.  They'll gladly give up lunch time or recess to help hang up an art display or use a scraper to clean dried glue and paint off the tables. And some of them really love to organize, in particular to arrange things in some sort of meaningful order.  They organized the yarn into trays of warm colors, cool colors, neutrals, and assorted crazy yarns.  For some reason, there's always kids who love untangling yarn messes (we call them 'tangle-bombs') and sorting the balls of yarn.
 Look at the spontaneous sculpture created by a student sorting rolls of tape! 
Or this, my personal favorite, a lovely symmetrical castle-like tower of water bowls, arranged at the sink to drain out and dry.  Perfect!
And even now, as I work with my classes of about 5 to 8 students, they will fight over the opportunity to wash the table or sweep the floor at the end of class.  I wonder how many of them like to clean up at home?

Thanks for visiting!  This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.  You can use the links below to hop on over and visit some of the other blog posts on this month's topic.
Art Teacher Blogs

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Double Dose of Chihuly!

While in Seattle for the NAEA convention, I had two Chihuly experiences.
I registered early to the convention and scored a coveted ticket to a tour of the Chihuly Boathouse.  The Boathouse is his working studio, and is not open to the public, so this was a special opportunity.  We watched as some of the glass workers created a "Persian", a piece for an upcoming ceiling installation.
And we toured the rest of the facility, which included a swimming pool with Chihuly glass structures under the water.  Chihuly himself swims in this pool, which was incredibly inviting!
There's also an aquarium room, with fish swimming in an aquarium filled with Chihuly glass structures.
And a room made of tin. 
And much more.  Despite the bus driver getting lost on the way there (how does that happen, in this age of GPS?), it was still a fabulous opportunity.  By the way, the bus driver didn't exactly SAY he got lost, but it took 45 minutes to get there.  My map app said it was an 8 minute drive, and the bus driver said it would take 15 minutes in the bus, so 45 minutes was a bit excessive!  We seemingly drove in circles, pulled into a parking lot and did about a 40 point turn to turn around, went back the other way, and drove in more circles...  On the way back, we skipped the bus and took a Lyft to tour the Theo Chocolate Factory (and sampled lots of chocolate), and then took another Lyft back to the hotel, and it was a much easier trip.
Then, a couple of days later, we went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, an indoor and outdoor museum/installation of his work.
As it turns out, many of the pieces were very familiar to me, from a visit to the Boston MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in 2011.  The Seattle installation opened a year later, so I believe I'm correct when I say that some of these are the same pieces I saw in Seattle.   I posted about the Boston MFA visit in a post you'll find HERE.
 This past July, I saw a Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden, and I posted about it HERE.  I've also posted about a Chihuly tower my students made in my former classroom, HERE, and HERE.