Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Holy Hand-grenades, Batman!  The last few weeks in the art room have been a flurry of activity!  Seriously, I need a break.  Good thing Thanksgiving is coming up fast. It's all been great and fun but we have been so busy!


I am very fortunate to work in a district that has implemented a 1:1 chromebook initiative with all the high and middle schools.  High Schools got theirs last year and thankfully, worked out some of the bugs and we got ours mid-first quarter.  At first, I was a little bit hesitant wondering what in the world I would be able to do with them in the art room, but they have turned out to be a great asset. 

I started out by creating Google Classrooms for each grade level and had the students sign in, using a specific code for their class.  Using Google drive, I can send out messages, assignments, photographs of examples, slide shows and any number of resources that students can refer to at any time.  The kids are so much more tech savvy than I, which is saying a lot because I really consider myself pretty darn good with technology and they have totally embraced using the chromebooks in not just my class, but most of their other classes as well. 

Working on the Art Scavenger Hunt in Google Classrooms

Neil found the information about American Gothic fascinating.

Google Classrooms and a chromebook in every student's hands makes leaving sub plans a breeze!

Art Club
The art club recently completed their first project. We meet every Monday afternoon for about an hour and work on some kind of project that I generally can't do on a large scale.  I had some old vinyl records donated last year and was hoping to get enough to do this project with a whole grade level but only got about 30 so I decided that it would be an art club project.  We took a couple of weeks and drew on the records using plain old crayola colored pencils.  

We drew lines and patterns and just colored them in until one side of the record was completely covered.

We took them down to what was, at one time, the old careers classroom that has a small 'efficiency' kitchen in it and boiled water in a shallow skillet.  I have to tell you that I was worried sick that 1. It wouldn't work 2. The designs that they drew on the records would wash or melt off 3. Somebody (me) would get scalded with hot water. 

Much to my surprise, IT WORKED!  We were all thrilled to pieces with our record bowls and took home our first (successful) project.  Trust me, MizzSmiff breathed a sigh of relief.

I created an Art Club classroom in Google Classrooms and sent them all a message to let them know that we wouldn't be meeting this Monday.  We only have 2 days this week before Thanksgiving and many of us will be out of town and busy with preparations for the holiday.  I took the opportunity to let them know that our next project will be a canvas painting.  They are so excited and want to know what it will be.  The truth is, I really haven't decided yet, but I have an idea.

The art club and their record bowls

 Field Trip
The 'Arts Department' at AMS (that would be me and the band teacher, ha) took the 8th grade art, chorus and band students on a field trip about a week ago.  

We filled a bus with our students and headed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  G'boro is a little over an hour's drive from AMS in a car and we were expecting it to take much longer by old yellow school bus, but thanks to Ms. Watkins, we were there in record time. 

I know you aren't supposed to take pictures in museums but I couldn't help myself.  This was part of the 'Art on Paper' Exhibition.  I wish I would have written down the artist who did this piece.  I love it!  It was done by tracing shadows of iron gates, then cutting them out.

We saw an Opera, toured the school of music and the art students visited the Weatherspoon Museum of Art while the band students sat in on a practice session.  I have never been to the Weatherspoon before and was pleasantly surprised by their collection.  I was thrilled that the kids got to see art, in person, in a real museum.  They asked the docents a lot of smart questions and I think that they enjoyed themselves. By the end of the tour, they were tired and asking what we were doing next and when we were going home.  It was a long day with a lot of walking.

That all being said, I hate to admit that I think the highlight of the trip was having lunch in a real college cafeteria.  Can I just say that college cafeterias have been stepped up their game since I was in school back when the crust of the earth was cooling?  I'm not kidding.  It was overwhelming.  It was huge.  The kids didn't know where to start and what to do. We heard a lot of 'Can we have anything we want?' and 'We can go back for seconds?'.  There was a lot of wandering with plates out and eyes glazed over.  Apparently, the tater tots were amazing, mashed potatoes with a side of bacon bits make for the best lunch ever and cookies can be stuffed into back packs and the pockets of cargo pants for the long ride home.   

We also hit the bookstore up right before we headed back to the bus, I got wrangled out of 20 bucks for Starbucks for I don't know how many kids (did I really do that?) and we got back to school about an hour and a half later than we expected.  I really hope that we put a spark in their minds about what a large college campus looks like and what they can expect in just a few short years when they head off to college.

Teacher Artists
The next few pictures are of a 'Painting Party' we had in my classroom last Saturday.  This idea all started at the end of the last school year.  Usually, a bunch of us like to do something fun to commemorate the end of the year and thought that it would be fun to do one of those 'Wine and Design' or 'Paint and Pour' activities.  There was a Groupon out and as much as we tried, we just couldn't find a date that would work for most of us. Jennifer Walker, 6th grade science, assured me that I could teach a group of teacher to paint SOMETHING, but I really just wanted to go to an event to see how it was done before I tried to do it myself.  Fast forward to early October.  I'm not sure how it started, but someone, I think it was Heather, found a cute snowman painting on Pinterest and I exclaimed "OMG!  We can do that!  I promise!"  It started with about 5 of us. I ordered 5 canvases from Blick.  Then we said, We have to invite so and so.  And She needs to come! And I ordered 5 more canvases.  And we haven't seen Her in so long!  So, 10 more canvases. And it turned into a THING.  And I said "Eh, fuggedabout it." and ordered 10 more.  I realized quickly that no one had enough room in their house for 25 women, canvases and paint so I emailed my principal and said "Ummmm, Beverly, there are a few (a lot) of us that want to get together and paint a holiday painting on a Saturday and I was wondering if maybe we could use my art room and if maybe you could turn the alarm off so we could use the bathroom and stuff and you can come and paint with us too if you want."  

We had a blast.  And we didn't even have any wine with our design or pour with our paint.  AMS teachers, former teachers, former students, moms and friends came.  We are already thinking about what we are going to do the next time. 

I say this a lot and I know that I am not the only one on my staff that feels this way, but we are so lucky to work with people that we call friends.  We all know that teaching is a hard job and above all, we need to support each other.  Hanging out and just having fun with each other is so important.  

Staci and her masterpiece, pre snowflakes.

Heather,  working diligently.

Maureen.  Notice she put her flakes along the side of her canvas!
Kat adding her snowflakes.
Nancy, Jennifer, Chaundra and Brooke with their finished projects!

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