Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shape Trains (K)

Ohhhhh beginning of the year kindergarten... there is no amount of preparedness that I can be for you. ;)
I am so thankful for those few (and I mean FEW) kindergarten students that come in having already gone to pre-k - they're used to a structured school setting and help to create the illusion of some control and order in my classroom. I'm going to be honest with you.. beginning of the year kindergarten is CHAOS. Fortunately for me no one has peed in my classroom yet.. though some of my specials teacher colleagues have not been so lucky.
Many times it is the issue of students not having experience in a structured setting and/or not being able to adequately communicate their thoughts/needs because of limited English-proficiency (and with that cannot understand what I am asking of them). There is also the issue of class size; whoever said that class size does not impact the teaching abilities of quality teachers must have been inebriated because it ABSOLUTELY does. Every single student that is added to a class means the teacher must spread him/herself that much thinner. As class sizes go up, the ability to provide individualized attention and differentiation goes down. Case in point - I had 31 kindergarteners (with all the qualities listed above) in my classroom last week with no additional support (i.e. no parapros). Because of the size of my school, not enough specials classes, and split classes during specials - this is the norm for kindergarten.
Perhaps this would be more manageable if most of my kinders had gone to pre-k and could understand what I'm saying.. but alas - that is not my situation. Okay.. done with that little rant.
Basically what I'm getting at is that I needed some lessons that I could do with my kinders that would be manageable for the first rotation in art (remember.. I see the same group for a week straight).
So I was so excited when I saw this lesson on 'Shine Brite Zamorano'. "I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean" by Kevin Sherry is a book that I already use to start of the year with kindergarten.. so it was great finding a project that I could use along with the book!
After reading the book on the carpet with my kinders we talked about how the illustrator of the book is an artist. Then we looked at the expressions of the characters in the book and talked about what mood they were expressing and how the artist was able to make the character express that mood (happy, sad, angry, etc.). We mostly talked about the shape of the eyes and the lines used on the mouth.
Then students set out to draw their own giant squids with whatever expression they'd like. For this first drawing we drew together step-by-step - students told me what shape I needed to draw to create certain features on my squid, then they recreated it on their papers as well. The next day we either used watercolor paints to paint their squids in or if I didn't think the class could handle painting yet... we just moved on to the next project.







For this next bit we began by reading "Mouse Shapes" by Ellen Stoll Walsh and talked about how the images were created by arranging simple shapes together. From this idea we moved onto creating shape trains. Students were given a tub full of different colored and sized shapes from which they could create their own shape trains on a long sheet of blue paper. This project helped to reinforce student's color and shape vocabulary and was also a perfect opportunity for me to show them how to properly use a glue stick AND share! :)
I'm hoping that the next time I see each group of kinders, we'll be able to move onto using scissors.. but I just didn't feel like we were there yet.
I only have two eyes to patrol my classroom; they have 62 hands collectively capable of scissor catastrophes - not particularly enticing odds.








Monday, August 18, 2014

Now on Facebook!

Yes you heard it right.. 'Art with Ms Gram' is now on Facebook! :)



Follow and "like" my page to get centralized updates from my blog, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers store (and more fun freebies)!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Radial Origami Suncatchers (5th)

Figuring out the first art project of the year with my kids is always a daunting task for me. This is why I was so excited when I found this pin of suncatchers on Pinterest. I really wanted to do something that my students would have fun with and could easily be started late if new students joined my class throughout the week (I see mine for an entire week.. then rotate to the next class). My students absolutely LOVE origami and even though I'm not particularly skilled at it, the folds in this project were very simple.. so it was a easy choice!
I started this project by reviewing both linear and radial symmetry with my students. We talked about the difference between the two.. then sorted a number of images based on their type of symmetry. Once I was sure my students had it down, I moved on to demonstrating two folds that they could use for the project. I folded two different examples on my document camera, while my 5th graders followed along on scrap paper. 



After showing them the two folds, they decided which one of the two radial suncatcher designs they wanted to create... then picked out their colors. I originally intended for this to be a color wheel lesson.. but you need to have 8 different colored papers for these designs and not 6 like a standard color wheel has. So instead they had free reign on their color choices (either way they were getting some color mixing lesson). **The paper we used was a semi-transparent colored origami paper I ordered through School Art Specialty. 
It think these really turned out beautifully and they were very simple to make! On Friday I hung them up in the cafeteria windows.. they look stunning in the morning light! :)

Around 4pm.

Morning sun!

Morning Sun!







Thursday, August 7, 2014

Welcome Back Kiddos! :)

Yes I covered my desk with zebra-print
contact paper! :)
So here we are... already 3 days into the school year. Whew!

I've spent A LOT of time getting my classroom ready (ie. redecorating) during the past couple weeks... five hundred projects at a time. :) This is apparently how I work; I start a project... then get distracted by something else and start another one... which inevitably leads me to something else.. and so on - EVENTUALLY it all gets done though. ;)
Before I get started on this little art room tour, I must apologize for my not so pretty photos. I love my Galaxy S3.. but it does not take pictures NEARLY as well as the iphone!
Here are a few whole-classroom photos...

View from my classroom door!

View from my window!
Front of my classroom and my beautiful new rug!!
Desk area!

You'll notice that I once again went with the tape around the edges of my tables to distinguish table colors. I love this method - even though the kids love to pick at it!
I also use a sharpie to write seat numbers along the side of the table which correspond with my classroom jobs chart.




The photos above show you my word wall! I created word wall cards that feature the vocabulary word AND also have an illustration to help communicate the word's meaning. At the end of class my students line up along this wall - so they are constantly looking at them!

My pretty shape posters!
And pretty window decorations!
When I commit to a theme.. I commit!
Gotta remind myself of this sometimes. I teach elementary art. Even though sometimes I feel like I'm going insane and I want to scream... it could be SO much worse!

Yes I spent a huge amount of time wrapping my furniture in wrapping paper and adding a chevron backing with contact paper. :) I told you I commit!
Even had to change out the paper strip on my box to make it match!
Where I organize and store student work for the week. (I see the same group of kids for an entire week.. then switch to my next rotation the following week.)


Changed out my table buckets this year too! The old ones were just dirty and some were even broken! So this year I bought bathroom caddies from Wal-Mart and added some decorative ribbon to the handles!

New art centers storage! :) 
Yes I added a custom chevron backing. hahaha

This year I also decided I wanted to change up my classroom management system. For the past two years I'd been doing the 'ART' letters on my board. When a class was disruptive or talking too loudly, they lost their 'A'. If the behavior continued, they lost their 'R' and their right to talk. Then if they lost their 'T', they lost the rest of their art lesson that day and had to clean up early.
Last year I even took it a step further and tracked what letter classes ended up on at the end of class. Then at the end of the year as an added incentive.. the class with the most greens won an art party (which ended up being an ice cream party - yeaaa needless to say I gained some weight). Unfortunately although it started out as an effective classroom management system, it lost steam as the year went on. Whole classes ended up losing letters because of a few students.. and classes who left many times on yellow and/or red figured they weren't going to win the art party anyway and gave up caring.
Class Dojo app on my phone!
Well not this year! I'm over the 'whole class' model of classroom management as well as end of the year incentives! So this year I'm doing a table group point system on class dojo!
I've set up my class dojo account with 6 classes (one for each grade level). Then inside each class I've added 6 "students" (my table colors). When students are doing well (come into the room quietly, participate, use good manners, work hard, share well, clean-up ON TIME, etc...) they can earn dojo points! When they do the opposite, they can lose dojo points! *I also love class dojo because you can download it as an app on your phone.. so you can give and take away points from kids even when you aren't at your computer!!
So whhhhhyyy do the kids care if they win points or not? Great question!! Because now when we do art centers (if they finish their projects early or I decide to have a centers day), they can only pick from centers that they can "afford" with their dojo points! Hehehehee! Ingenious!
Naturally all of my super awesome centers (window drawing, jewelry, modeling clay, origami, etc) require a larger number of points.. while some of my less exciting ones require less (weaving, pattern blocks, etc). Table points reset at the end of the week so the next time my group see's me, they have a fresh opportunity to win points!
Now there is no more class vs class competitions, waiting until the end of the year to be rewarded, and no more buying prizes! Instead the kids are rewarded weekly with new art opportunities and experiences!

My 'analog' point system.. in case I don't have the class dojo screen projecting. Points are recorded for each table next to their color magnet!
My pretty pretty DIY magnets!

What are your classroom management plans for this school year??

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back in the Classroom!

So I went up to school today to work in my classroom for a bit (even though we don't officially go back until the 29th). I stayed for about 4 hours.. working the entire time.. and still feel as if it's only a drop in the bucket -- I still have SO much to do!
As promised I will be writing a back to school post (it's still coming), but I want to wait until I have my room fully set up so I can include lots of pictures! :)

I've been working a lot lately designing some extra things in Illustrator for my room and in the process somehow got sidetracked into making name plates.






These look super cute when put into a 5"x7" frame and placed on your desk!

If you would like one for your room just shoot me an email with some color specifications and I can make one for you too! :)


Also.. I was officially accepted into grad school today - so YAYYY! I'll be starting on my MAEd. in Art Education next month!